Strategies and Models

Local Communities

Sector:

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provide credit and financial services to people and communities underserved by mainstream commercial banks and lenders.  CDFIs encompass a range of nonprofit and for-profit entities including community development banks, community development credit unions, community development loan funds, community development venture capital funds, and microenterprise loan funds. Read more about Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)...

Community Land Trusts (CLTs)

Community land trusts are nonprofit, community-based organizations designed to ensure community stewardship of land. Community land trusts can be used for many types of development (including commercial and retail), but are primarily used to ensure long-term housing affordability. To do so, the trust acquires land and maintains ownership of it permanently. With prospective homeowners, it enters into a long-term, renewable lease instead of a traditional sale. When the homeowner sells, the family earns only a portion of the increased property value. Read more about Community Land Trusts (CLTs)...

Cooperatives

Cooperatives are businesses governed on the principle of one member, one vote. There are several common types of co-ops (as well as hybrids—which combine more than one type), including cooperatives owned and operated by: Read more about Cooperatives...

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...

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)...

Green Economy

The term “green economy” describes a sustainable economy that provides a better quality of life for all people within the ecological limits of the planet. Integral to such an economy is the creation and expansion of green collar jobs, which are an important sub-set of green jobs—i.e., all the jobs created by firms and organizations working in environmentally-focused industries. Read more about Green Economy...

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...

Individual Wealth Preservation

Individual Wealth Preservation initiatives help low- and moderate-income people maintain and grow the assets they possess. As the foreclosure wave that began in 2007 painfully reinforced, in order to build wealth, it is critical to preserve existing resources. In 2008 alone, Americans lost $2 trillion in housing wealth, with low-income communities and people of color the hardest hit. Even in non-crisis times, those who have the least often pay the most for financial services. Read more about Individual Wealth Preservation...

Outside the U.S.

While the mission of Community-Wealth.org is to serve as an information platform for community wealth building within the United States, the forces driving these efforts — most notably, economic globalization and growing fiscal constraints on government — are hardly unique to the United States. It should therefore not be surprising that the community wealth building approach is not unique to our country. Indeed, while the growth of U.S. Read more about Outside the U.S....

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...

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...

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...

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...

Local Food Systems

A local food system is a collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management in order to enhance the environmental, economic, and social health of a particular area. Increasingly, communities are organizing “food hubs” around co-ops or other community wealth building enterprises to anchor local food systems. Read more about Local Food Systems...

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...

Public Solutions

Sector:

Municipal Enterprise

Municipal enterprises are businesses owned by local governments that provide services and typically generate revenue for local communities. Local governments have long operated public utilities and public facilities such as ports, parking lots and airports. Many are now entering fields traditionally dominated by private companies. This is motivated in part by political resistance to tax increases and new user fees as cash-strapped municipalities seek to raise revenues, as well as public pressure to create jobs as the economy has faltered. Read more about Municipal Enterprise...

New State & Local Policies

Even as community wealth building efforts expand across the country, many U.S. federal tax and expenditure policies continue to act in a contrary manner, concentrating wealth and income among a few. As a result of this growing inequality, many state and local governments are having greater difficulty providing basic public services. Read more about New State & Local Policies...

State Asset Building Initiatives

Increasingly, community groups are organizing at the state level to build broad-based efforts to support wealth building by low-income families. While each initiative is unique, they all share the common goal of enabling lower-income families to build wealth and rely on strategies such as financial education; policy development to encourage savings for education, homeownership, small business development, and retirement; access to insurance; regulations to limit predatory lending; and access to tax-based savings for lower-income families. Read more about State Asset Building Initiatives...

State & Local Investments

Over the past several decades, U.S. city, county, and state governments have increasingly adopted a wide set of policy tools to spur community wealth building. Most commonly, local and state governments are investing directly in local businesses through economic development programs, which make loans to or investments in local enterprises, and through the active targeting of pension fund monies to support businesses within their regions. Read more about State & Local Investments...

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.

Place-Based Institutions

Sector:

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...

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...