New State & Local Policies

Metro Justice

Founded in 1965 as Friends of FIGHT, a group aiming to achieve equal access to good jobs at Kodak, Metro Justice is a member-driven, grassroots organization dedicated to social, economic, and racial justice in Rochester. Read more about Metro Justice...

San Francisco’s Urban Agriculture Program

Launched in January 2014, San Francisco’s Urban Agriculture Program aims to facilitate the use of urban land for farming and horticulture, apiaries, and animal husbandry.  To do so, it supports and manages a program of community gardens on city-owned property, where members can grow produce and ornamental plants for personal use, and Urban Agriculture Resource Centers, where all levels of urban agriculturalists can access free supplies (e.g., mulch, compost, and soil) and participate in educational opportunities.  As of December 2014, the program encompassed 38 community gardens and had established its first resource center at the Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco’s Office of Financial Empowerment

Aiming to help more of the City’s lower-income residents enter the financial mainstream, San Francisco’s Office of Financial Empowerment provides and promotes a range of programs and partnerships designed to help residents learn about money, open a checking account, take advantage of tax credits, save for education, overcome setbacks, and gain independence.  One highly successful initiative is Bank On San Francisco.  Developed in 2006, Bank on San Francisco was the first program in the U.S. focused on helping people without access to mainstream financial institutions to obtain accounts at banks or credit unions.  The program, which results in 10,000 new checking accounts being opened in the San Francisco region a year, has been so successful that over 100 other localities have started or are in the process of developing their own local program.  In 2010, the Office launched its Kindergarten to College initiative, which is the first publicly funded, universal children’s college savings account program in the U.S. Every child entering a City public kindergarten is given a College Savings Account (CSA) with $50; children enrolled in the National Student Lunch Program receive an additional $50.  Designed to ensure every child can save for post-secondary education, the initiative also includes incentives to promote savings and financial education.  Since the program’s start, more than 13,000 accounts have been opened.

Our Kind of Town: A Financial Plan that Puts Chicago’s Communities First

Saqib Bhatti and Carrie Sloan

Despite the fact that municipalities have a default rate of 0.02 percent on their loans between 1970 and 2012, credit rating agencies frequently threaten cities with credit downgrades, a “political ploy” that often serves to transfer public assets into Wall Street hands. In this report from the ReFund America Project, an initiative of the Roosevelt Institute, Executive Director Saqib Bhatti and Senior Research Analyst Carrie Sloan charge the City of Chicago to resist corporate interests and put residents first. They offer a series of suggestions to stabilize the local economy and provide resources for essential public services, which include ending corporate tax subsidies and tax breaks, partnering with other cities to fight against financing fees levied by big banks, and creating public banks to foster reinvestment.

Inequality’s Dead End—And the Possibility of a New, Long-Term Direction

Gar Alperovitz
Nonprofit Quarterly

It is easy to be distracted by what passes for economic news these days, focused as it is on short-term fluctuations and assurances of recovery and revitalization. The simple truth, however, is that year by year, decade by decade, life in the United States is steadily growing ever more unequal.

Excluded from the Financial Mainstream: How the Economic Recovery is Bypassing Millions of Americans

Jennifer Brooks, Kasey Wiedrich, Lebaron Sims, Jr. and Solana Rice
Findings from the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard

One in five households regularly rely on fringe financial services to meet their needs. Nationally, 55.6 percent of consumers have subprime credit scores, meaning they cannot qualify for credit or financing at prime rates. In its 2015 Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) describes these and other difficulties faced by many Americans and breaks down disparities by race and state. The report also outlines how a combination of state policies such as protections against predatory lending and the establishment of housing trust funds can help families achieve economic security.

New Orleans Lot Maintenance Program

Launched in 2013 and expanded in August 2014, Mayor Mitchell Landrieu’s Lot Maintenance Program aims to eliminate blighted properties while creating employment opportunities for neighborhood residents.  To do so, the program has partnered with Covenant House’s White Dove Landscaping program, a social enterprise that will train at-risk youth and other hard-to-employ populations to clean up about 100 overgrown lots a month.  As of September 2014, the program cleared 1,000 lots and aimed to complete 9,000 grass cuttings over the next year. Read more about New Orleans Lot Maintenance Program...

New Orleans Economic Opportunity Strategy

Launched in September 2014, Mayor Mitchell Landrieu’s Economic Opportunity Strategy aims to recruit, train and connect the city’s hardest to employ residents to jobs and match local businesses to opportunities for growth.  The strategy hinges on leveraging the city’s anchor institutions: the City plans to establish a collaborative of local anchor institutions committed to expanding economic opportunity, form a workforce intermediary that connects disadvantaged job seekers to employment opportunities through anchor institutions, create a procurement intermediary that connects businesses to Read more about New Orleans Economic Opportunity Strategy...

Sustainable Oakland

The Sustainable Oakland program aims to help Oakland become a more sustainably city, in which all people have the opportunity to live safe, happy, healthy and fulfilling lives, now and into the future.  The program focuses on catalyzing collaborative approaches to improve Oakland’s sustainability performance, and tracking and reporting on its progress.  One current collaborative initiative is Oakland Shines, which helps businesses manage energy costs by offering free technical assistance and cash rebates to eliminate or defray the cost of installing energy efficient equipment.  The city al Read more about Sustainable Oakland...

Oakland Green Jobs Corps

Considered a national model for urban, green-collar job training, the Oakland Green Jobs Corps is one of the first U.S. initiatives designed to help disadvantaged community residents transition to green careers.  Launched in 2008 in collaboration with the Ella Baker Center and other local nonprofit groups, the initiative provides college-credited training in green construction, solar installation and energy audit, followed by paid, on-the-job training and full-time employment.  The program has about 125 graduates per year and a 70 percent job placement rate. Read more about Oakland Green Jobs Corps...

Local and Small Business Enterprise Program

Updated in 2011, Oakland’s Local and Small Business Enterprise Program aims to provide economic opportunity for all residents and businesses, stimulate economic development, and nurture a stronger, local economic base.  The program specifies requirements for the city’s contracting and purchasing, which include a 50 percent minimum participation rate of local firms in all construction contracts over $100,000 and all professional services contracts over $50,000; preference points and bid discounts to emerging and start-up businesses, and businesses employing Oakland residents and new hires; Read more about Local and Small Business Enterprise Program...

Economic Analysis Of Detroit’s Food System

Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development, LLC

The food economy in Detroit is already the city’s third largest economic sector, and is poised to be the next largest growth sector for the city, note Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development in a report written on behalf of The Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative. In their report, the authors outline several strategies to foster equitable growth, including connecting local, small-scale food producers and manufactures to anchor institution demand. Only by engaging Detroiters and supporting the local, small, and medium sized actors in the system, the report argues, will food sector growth be effective in creating jobs and building community wealth for Detroit residents. 

City Halls Help Plant Seeds for Community Co-ops

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year.

Crossposted from Rooflines, The Shelterforce blog.

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year. The amounts are modest, but the trend is clear—mayors and economic development leaders are beginning to add cooperatives and community wealth building to the economic development toolbox. Read more about City Halls Help Plant Seeds for Community Co-ops...

Local First Milwaukee

Established in 2006 by a group of independent business owners aiming to make Milwaukee a more sustainable community, Local First Milwaukee is a business alliance comprised of more than 250 of Milwaukee’s independent, locally-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations. Business members must live and work within the metropolitan Milwaukee area, participate in community activities, and assist local charities. Read more about Local First Milwaukee...