Overview

Worker Cooperatives

Worker-owned cooperatives are business enterprises that are owned and governed by their employees. All worker cooperatives have two common characteristics: 1) member-owners invest in and own the business together, and share the enterprise’s profits, and 2) decision-making is democratic, with each member having one vote. Currently, there are over 300 worker-owned cooperatives in the U.S. operating in a diverse range of industries. While the majority are small businesses, with fewer than 50 workers, there are also notable larger enterprises. Read more about Worker Cooperatives...

University & Community Partnerships

Institutions of higher education have an obvious vested interest in building strong relationships with the communities that surround their campuses. They do not have the option of relocating and thus are of necessity place-based anchors. While corporations, businesses, and residents often flee from economically depressed low-income urban and suburban edge-city neighborhoods, universities remain. At a time when foundations that help establish community-based projects are commonly unable to continue with ongoing involvement over long periods of time, universities can play an important role. Read more about University & Community Partnerships...

Anchor Institutions

Anchor institutions are nonprofit institutions that once established tend not to move location. Emerging trends related to globalization—such as the decline of manufacturing, the rise of the service sector, and a mounting government fiscal crisis—suggest the growing importance of anchor institutions to local economies. Indeed, in many places, these anchor institutions have surpassed traditional manufacturing corporations to become their region's leading employers. Read more about Anchor Institutions...

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-Oriented Development is a municipal development strategy that aims to develop compact, walkable, mixed-use communities around public transportation nodes such as rail stations and major bus lines.  While “TOD” is a relatively new term, organizing development around transit hubs is a very old concept and was the norm in U.S. cities before World War II.  Today, the concept has become increasingly popular as municipalities struggle to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and encourage more efficient land use patterns.

State & Local Investments

City and state governments have adopted a wide set of policy tools to spur community wealth building, including creating loan funds to start up local businesses and venture capital funds that give cities and states an equity stake in the outcome of their public investments. Another important strategy has been economically targeted investments, which employ pension assets to support local jobs and community economic development. Read more about State & Local Investments...

State Asset Building Initiatives

Increasingly, state officials are designing broad-based efforts to support wealth building by low-income families. While states and localities have supported different forms of community wealth building in some areas for at least the past couple of decades, it is only within the last few years that this has become an explicit policy goal. Read more about State Asset Building Initiatives...

New State & Local Policies

While community wealth institutions and efforts are expanding around the country, many U.S. federal tax and expenditure policies act in a contrary manner, concentrating wealth and income among a few, rather than building community wealth. One result of this growing income and wealth gap has been to make it increasingly difficult for state and local governments to provide basic public services.

 In response to these trends, there has been a flurry of grassroots activity at the state and local level. Key areas of innovation include the following: Read more about New State & Local Policies...

Municipal Enterprise

Municipal enterprises are businesses owned by local public authorities that provide services and often revenue in cities across the United States. Increasingly, local governments have turned to municipal enterprise to both raise revenue and promote local jobs and economic stability by developing a more diversified base of locally controlled wealth. Read more about Municipal Enterprise...

Urban Agriculture

Across the world, the practice of urban farming - the process of growing food or raising livestock and then processing it and distributing it within an urban environment - is not unusual. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, 15 percent of the global food supply is grown in an urban setting. Although in the United States this number is significantly smaller, this may be changing. Read more about Urban Agriculture...

Socially Responsible Investment

One feature of the U.S. economy is the growing importance of institutional investors, including pension funds, universities, and foundations. A September 2005 report by The Conference Board found that at the end of 2003, public sector pension funds alone had $2.27 trillion in assets, of which roughly $1.3 trillion were invested in stock. Public pension fund stock holdings totaled 9.7% of the stock market's value in 2003, up from 7.6% just three years before. Read more about Socially Responsible Investment...

Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are defined in many ways, but typically are nonprofit organizations that operate businesses in order to generate revenues and fulfill their missions. The concept has become increasingly common in the past three decades as a result of a combination of government funding cuts to social programs. Read more about Social Enterprise...

Reclaiming the Commons

The United States is full of everyday commons management systems such as public libraries, the Internet, blood banks, and parks. Although commercial intrusion into previously public or “common” space is widespread, new efforts to preserve and expand what is held to be in the public domain have emerged in recent years. Three factors, in particular, have spurred this development: Read more about Reclaiming the Commons...

Program Related Investments

Foundations use many tools to spur community wealth building. Grant-based initiatives are one prominent strategy. Here, however, we focus on program-related investments. Program-related investments, also known as PRIs, leverage limited foundation dollars—most often by providing long-term, low-interest loans—to promote community wealth building and other mission-related foundation goals. Read more about Program Related Investments...

Outside the U.S.

The international asset building and cross-sectoral strategies reviewed here provide illustrative models that suggest possibilities for future efforts in the United States. While we cannot be comprehensive of our coverage of international developments, the links and information sources here provide a good starting point for looking at exciting developments in asset strategies throughout the world. Read more about Outside the U.S....

Individual Wealth Building

Individual wealth building programs aim to increase the savings of low and moderate-income individuals. One of the pioneering efforts in this area is the Individual Development Account (IDA). Individual Development Accounts illustrate a central feature of the community wealth-building approach: namely, that to end poverty, communities—and the people in those communities—must be given the tools they need to develop their own, long-term income-generating capacity. Read more about Individual Wealth Building...

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP) companies are for-profit entities in which employees own part or all of the businesses for which they work. ESOPs are created through a pension plan with two unique features: 1) most of the employee pension money is invested in the company where the workers are employed, and 2) workers may borrow against future corporate earnings to purchase company stock. Money or stock the business contributes to fund the plan is tax deductible. Read more about Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)...

Cross-Sectoral

A critical challenge for practitioners and foundations is how to develop linkages across sectors in a way that broadens and deepens the overall impact and support base for community wealth-building strategies. Ideally, an integrated approach would encompass mutually reinforcing government, community, and individual wealth-building efforts. It might include direct government asset-based efforts that promote local job stability (such as local investment policies and municipal enterprise), matched savings programs, and community-based wealth-building efforts. Read more about Cross-Sectoral...

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