Dear Colleague,

On either side of the Atlantic, overlapping economic, political, and social challenges—from climate change and austerity to the growth of reactionary populism—are producing powerful countervailing responses and innovations at the level of both ideas and action. In both Europe and North America, cities are where much of the innovation on alternatives is already occurring and where city-level initiatives are having a large impact and demonstration effect. In the current political climate, cities offer the most promising venues in which to successfully pursue tangible progressive change. 

I recently travelled to Richmond, Virginia where I had the opportunity to meet with Mayor Levar Stoney, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and other officials to discuss policies that can advance a more inclusive economy throughout the Commonwealth. I also met with leaders of the City’s pioneering Office of Community Wealth Building (OCWB), which was established in 2014 to catalyze innovative social enterprise solutions to address Richmond’s persistent poverty. Read and watch local news coverage about the office’s work connecting residents to living wage jobs here. OCWB recently received a $1.9 million grant from the state to support and scale their community wealth building program.

The City of Newark is also charting a path toward a more equitable economy with the launch of Hire. Buy. Live. Newark. Led by Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the initiative includes Newark 2020 which sets the ambitious goal of connecting 2,020 Newark residents to jobs by 2020. This effort will include anchor institution partners such as RWJBarnabas—New  Jersey’s largest health system and a founding member of the Healthcare Anchor Network we launched in early June—that will work to develop training and hiring pathways for specific positions at their institutions. Read more about the initiative in The Atlantic and read the report that catalyzed these initiatives, “Bridging the Two Americas,” in our recommended reads section below. 

A recent article in Forbes highlights Fifty by Fifty’s report Impact Investing and Employee Ownership, which suggests strategies investors can use to promote employee ownership. Scaling investment capacity is one of several solutions put forward by Fifty by Fifty, which has the goal of catalyzing the creation of 50 million employee owners by 2050. Fifty by Fifty recently launched a new blog that will provide readers with the latest news and commentary related to employee ownership. 

The latest installment on our blog is a post from Democracy Collaborative Fellow and social enterprise expert Jenny Kassan. In the post, Jenny discusses misconceptions about the terms “investment” and “investor,” and details strategies mission-driven businesses can use to raise capital. Read the full blog post here

The Next System Project recently published an interview with Alicia Wilson, Executive Director of La Clinica del Pueblo, a healthcare provider based in Washington, D.C. that has served the city’s Latino and immigrant populations for more than three decades. The interview discusses the history of La Clinica and how grassroots, community-driven solutions can lay the groundwork for systemic change. Read the interview in English and in Spanish


Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative


Community Wealth Building in the News

  • “We can forge inclusive prosperity every day at ground level, prompted by local partners who demand an economy that works for all,” writes Matt Bergheiser, president of Philadelphia’s University City District in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The article discusses the work of the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, which connects residents to training and career opportunities at local anchor institutions. 
  • An article in In These Times reports on the growth of the solidarity economy in Massachusetts, in particular profiling the Boston Ujima Project, a newly launched democratically-controlled investment fund to seed and catalyze community businesses. 
  • Kaiser Permanente and Bon Secours Health System recently announced a partnership to develop a new community resource center and business incubator in West Baltimore. Read more in the Baltimore Business Journal 

New from The Democracy Collaborative

New CW City: New Haven, CT

The forty-second in our CW City series is New Haven, CT. New Haven has a high degree of economic inequality, with the top 20 percent of households earning 6.5 times more than the bottom 20 percent. To address this and other concerns, anchor institutions, non-profits, and the City government, among others, are developing various strategies to build community wealth. For example, the Small Contractor Development Program provides minority and women-owned businesses with technical assistance, mentoring, networking, and loans. All city construction contracts of $150,000 or less are reserved for contractors registered with the program.

Read the full profile

Recommended Reads:

“Re-Municipalization” Offers Alternative to Growing Austerity and Privatization

This new report from the Transnational Institute (TNI) explores how localities across the globe are fighting privatization through the “re-municipalization” of goods and services. Drawing on 835 examples in 45 countries, the report finds that public ownership offers greater efficiency, affordability, and democratic control in sectors ranging from healthcare to energy. The report synthesizes trends in public ownership and includes detailed infographics on the findings.

Read the full report here

Report provides blueprint for bridging racial economic divides in Newark, NJ

While Newark, New Jersey is home to several major Fortune 500 companies, local residents are largely excluded from this economic growth and hold only 18 percent of all jobs in the city. This new report, published by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, explores the origins of this economic divide, which predominantly affects communities of color, noting a history of discrimination and an absence of pathways to middle-skill jobs. The report calls on the City to implement local hiring provisions for city contracts and calls on anchor institutions to develop local hiring and procurement strategies.

Read the full report here

Featured Websites

Prosperity Now 
Prosperity Now, formerly CFED, launched a new website alongside their rebranding and renaming. The updated website includes new features such as map to link practitioners across the country, an “improve your program” section featuring resources for program staff, and a new advocacy resource section for policies that advance prosperity at the federal, state, local, and tribal level. 

Developed by Partners for the Common Good in 2012 and relaunched in 2016, CapNexus is designed to provide the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry with a forum to connect organizations seeking capital to lenders. The website includes a searchable database that categorizes opportunities by interest area, geography, and asset type, as well as educational and field building resources. 

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