Community Wealth Blog

Organized by the Blue Green Alliance, an organization founded by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, the 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference —to take place February 8-10 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. — is the nation’s leading forum sharing ideas and strategies to build a green economy that creates good paying, green collar jobs. The 2011 Conference will bring together thousands of labor, environmental, business, elected and community leaders.

The Illinois Asset Building Group recently its first statewide asset building conference last fall on “Increasing Savings, Expanding Ownership and Protecting Consumers.”  Attended by over 125 asset building advocates and organizations from across the state convened in Bloomington to discuss the importance of individual wealth building and individual wealth preservation strategies. The Illinois effort is part and parcel of a growing number of state asset-building initiatives and coalitions.

The 2011 CDFI Institute will take place on March 1-2 in Washington, DC. Founded in 1992, the Coalition of Community Development Financial Institutions, through its member organizations, the Coalition represents community development financial institutions working in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This national network of CDFIs includes community development loan funds, community development banks, community development credit unions, micro-enterprise lenders, community development corporations, and community development venture capital funds.

In “Fixing the Future: Now on PBS,” award-winning host David Brancaccio travels across the country, searching for innovative and sustainable approaches to building the new economy. From one coast to the other, he speaks to individuals and groups who are experimenting with new models of job creation and business development. These models include worker cooperativessocial enterprisegreen-collar jobsprogram-related investments, and other innovations aimed at rooting prosperity to local communities.

Living Cities, a consortium of the world’s 22 largest foundations and banks, announced late last month that it would award a minimum of $80 million in grants, loans and program-related investments to five urban areas to help them tackle the greatest barriers to opportunity for low-income residents, including education, housing, health care, transit and jobs. Living Cities and its members are making a total investment of $15 million in grants, $15 million in low-interest and $50 million in commercial debt.

Earlier this month, on October 12th, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard paid a visit to the first of these businesses, Evergreen Cooperative Laundry. The Senator’s visit marked the one-year anniversary for the worker-owned cooperative. A new report, prepared by the Cleveland Foundation is available here.

Here at, we have long highlight the important wealth building role of Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) companies. As noted by the National Center on Employee Ownership (NCEO), as of the end of 2007 there were 12.7 million Americans who were employee-owners of about 10,500 companies owned in whole or part by ESOPs, with an estimated total value of $901 billion in asset holdings. Yet despite their size, ESOPs rarely receive public attention.

On October 5th, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced a major new development in individual wealth building in the United States with the official launch of Kindergarten to College (K2C), the nation’s first universal children’s savings account program. The K2C program will automatically open a savings account for parents when their child starts kindergarten, with an initial $50 deposit from the City of San Francisco. Lower-income children will be eligible for an additional $50.

On July 23, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced its first round of Social Innovation Fund awards.  Nearly $50 million in Social Innovation grants were awarded to 11 organizations and is anticipated to leverage an additional $74 million in non-federal match funds.

Innovation@cfed, an initiative of the Corporation For Enterprise Development (CFED), a nonprofit association that supports a variety of forms of individual and community wealth building, with a focus on expanding economic opportunity for low-income Americans, announced this month its newest Innovator-in-Residence.

Last month, Rep. Wu (D-OR) introduced the the Urban University Renaissance Act (HR 5567) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Text of the legislation is available here.  At a press conference held at Portland State University, Rep. Wu noted that, “Urban universities can serve as the heart of economic renewal by sharing their skills and resources with the communities that surround them.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a joint planning grant program. The effort will be coordinated by the newly created HUD Office of Sustainable Communities, announced here last February. The new HUD Office is led by Shelley Poticha, former CEO of the transit-advocacy group Reconnecting America.