As highlighted in a recent post for The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Democracy Collaborative's new report Raising Student Voices, co-published with the Responsible Endowments Coalition, insists that "everyone benefits when colleges invest in local businesses and sustainable economic development, and that students and community organizations should work together to push for more such alliances."
Encouragingly, student audiences have quickly proved very receptive to the idea, excited by the way university-community partnerships around investment offer a very practical approach with the potential to scale up to the size of the problems faced by economically marginalized communities. At the 2013 Policy Expo organized by the Roosevelt Institute's Campus Network, Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz underscored the need, in an age of "systemic crisis", for young, engaged students to be thinking seriously and creatively about solutions for building community wealth at scale.
Meanwhile, report co-author, and Democracy Collaborative Research Associate Sarah McKinley, along with the Responsible Endowments Coalition's Annie McShiras, offered a workshop exploring possible student strategies for catalyzing university investment in local communities at the New Economics Institute's reRoute conference, which aimed to connect young activists with the tools they need to help build a new economy. Watch the video of (a part) of their session here:
Online, Democracy Collaborative research director Steve Dubb and Responsible Endowments Executive Director Dan Apfel, together with Lisa Davis from the Ford Foundation, conducted a joint webinar detailing the tremendous possibilities for community investment from university endowments, operating funds, and procurement budgets, with discussion of the kinds of strategies students can use to encourage these kinds of potentially transformative shifts in institutional investment and purchasing patterns. Watch the video from the webinar below, or read the live tweet stream from @DemocracyCollab: