Dear Colleague,
For more than a decade, The Democracy Collaborative has worked with anchor institutions across the country to leverage their economic power to benefit their surrounding communities. This approach has transformative potential: taken together, just three types of anchors—hospitals, universities, and community foundations—represent around $2 trillion in resources that can advance inclusive, equitable economic development.
Today there is a growing movement among anchor institutions to help strengthen their local economics and communities. Last week, the Funders Network released a new report on how funders are helping to catalyze this work, from Albuquerque to Chicago. We are proud to be part of the national ecosystem that is helping to build this movement across America.
The Democracy Collaborative works to develop tools, resources, and networks to realize this potential and help these institutions adopt an “anchor mission.” That is: a commitment to intentionally apply an institution’s long-term, place-based assets in partnership with community to mutually benefit the long-term well-being of both. Through strategies such as inclusive, local purchasing and hiring, supporting democratized ownership, and place-based investment, anchors can work with partners to begin to reverse trends of disinvestment in their communities.
Currently, we are working with three different peer learning cohorts in order to accelerate the adoption of anchor mission strategies and to foster sector-wide collaboration and innovation:

The Healthcare Anchor Network:
Launched in June 2017 with support from the Kellogg and Surdna Foundations, the Healthcare Anchor Network is a national collaboration of more than 30 leading healthcare systems working to strategically improve community health and well-being by intentionally integrating local economic inclusion strategies into their core business practices. Taken together, these 30 health systems employ more than 1 million people, purchase over $50 billion annually, and have over $150 billion in investment assets. As backbone of the Network, The Democracy Collaborative works with member health systems to facilitate peer learning and the development of new tools to accelerate adoption of these strategies across the healthcare sector. Learn more about the Healthcare Anchor Network on its newly launched website.
The Anchor Dashboard Learning Cohort:
With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Democracy Collaborative has convened a cohort of six universities to advance strategies that align university resources with community need. During the most recent gathering at Rutgers University - Newark in late June, the cohort further refined a set of indicators and core metrics, worked on a report about the steps needed to operationalize anchor strategies, and began a process to scale-up this work throughout higher education. The kickoff event for this expansion will coincide with the Coalition for Urban and Metropolitan Universities annual conference in Denver in October 2017. Learn more about the Anchor Dashboard here.
The CFLeads Family Economic Security Action Alliance:
Developed in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Alliance brings together six community foundation teams from across the country to advance strategies that help build community wealth through a variety of means: local small business development, anchor collaboratives, inclusive transportation models and the use of Children’s Savings Accounts. The Democracy Collaborative, along with the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, serves as a “content expert” to support participating foundations to design and implement strategies of inclusive and equitable economic development. Learn more about the anchor mission of community foundations here.

In addition to these cohorts, we are supporting communities across the country to foster anchor collaboratives, from Rochester, New York, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and most recently in South Florida and Houston, Texas. We are also seeing interest in the anchor mission approach take root outside the United States. In July, I had the opportunity to present about the transformative potential of health systems adopting an anchor mission to the National Health Service leadership in the UK.
In 2018 and 2019, one of our key anchor priorities will be to further equip anchor leaders with the tools they need to drive change within their institutions and communities. Earlier this year, we released the Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities toolkit series, developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which compiles best practices, case studies, templates, and other resources for getting started. We will be developing additional tools for implementation and dissemination networks in order to accelerate and expand the adoption of anchor mission strategies.
The anchor mission is just one of many areas where Democracy Collaborative staff and our partners are working to advance equity and inclusion, build wealth, and strengthen democratic life. By helping to build resilient local ecosystems of community wealth building, we strive to create fundamental systemic change across our nation. I invite you to read more about the many arenas where our staff and partners are working in the sections below.



Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative


Community Wealth Building in the News

  • Responding to the State of Wisconsin’s offer of $3 billion in tax incentives to Foxconn, Executive Vice President Marjorie Kelly authored an op-ed putting forward an alternative: employee ownership. Rather than extremely costly corporate attraction strategies which often fail to produce meaningful jobs and tax revenue, Marjorie suggests allocating these resources towards supporting employee owned businesses, which would build and root wealth locally. Read more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Madison Capital Times.
  • We should be prioritizing health equity and the investment we need in our communities as we carry on this health care debate,” writes Deputy Director of the Next System Project Dana Brown in a recent article for Truth Out. Dana goes on to further discus the need to address wealth inequality in order to truly transform our health care system.
  • The Cleveland Scene recently published a profile of Brett Jones, president of Evergreen Energy Solutions, one of the worker-owned businesses that are part of Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives. “We can create a new ownership class in America, close that income inequality gap, improve lives, [and] create a new economic class,” shares Jones. Read the full profile here.
  • In New York City, the department of Housing Preservation and Development recently announced $1.65 million in funding for community land trusts in order to expand permanently-affordable housing. Read more about the organizing behind this effort and the land trust model in City Limits.

New from The Democracy Collaborative

New Report from The Next System Project on Solutions to Rising Inequality

The Next System Project recently released Reversing Inequality: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of an Equitable Economy, a co-published report with the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Authored by Chuck Collins, who directs the Program on Inequality at IPS and is co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good, the report discuses the origins and trajectory of economic inequality in the United States. Collins then charts out practical interventions that would help reverse the trend towards growing inequality and deconcentrate extreme wealth. Read the full report here.

Read the full report here

Featured Videos:

Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Next System Project Gar Alperovitz appeared on C-Span to discuss his book Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth. Watch the full video here
Gar was also interviewed on the Laura Flanders Show about the book, which outlines the principles of a next system rooted in democracy and community. Watch the full interview here

Recommended Reads:

How Funders Are Helping Anchor Institutions Strengthen Local Economies

Published by the Anchor Institutions Funders’ Group, part of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, this new report assesses how funders are working with anchor institutions to support community health and well-being. The report includes case studies from Albuquerque, NM, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Denver, CO and the Twin Cities, MN, and details how funders have moved beyond their traditional grant making roles to convene anchor collaboratives. Read the full report here.

Guide Outlines Steps Localities Can Take to Build Community Wealth

This new guide, published by the UK’s Co-Operative Party, outlines the steps needed to develop a community wealth building ecosystem. Aimed at local officials and public-sector institutions, the guide provides information on these steps, from developing leadership to shifting procurement, a background on community wealth building, a case study of this approach in Preston, England, and recommendations for actions localities can take. Read the full guide here.


New Book on Universities and Community Engagement

Leaders from the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships recently authored a new book on the role colleges and universities can play in fostering greater democracy and collaboration. Drawing on the history of education reformers, social theory, and a case study of Penn’s own community engagement work, the authors discuss strategies to leverage research and learning to advance social change. The book is available for purchase here.


Featured Website

All-In Cities Policy Toolkit

The All-In Cities initiative, a project of PolicyLink, provides resources for local leaders to advance racial and economic equity at the city and municipal level. The site offers a policy framework, as well as a toolkit that provides resources around specific initiatives ranging from how to conduct racial equity impact assessments to developing equitable contracting and procurement policies. Each toolkit section provides key definitions, information on who can implement that policy, important considerations for program development, and case studies of where the strategy is being implemented. Access the full toolkit at:

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