The latest news on community wealth building initiatives!
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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our November 2015 newsletter:
  • We are pleased to announce the release of our latest report, Cities Building Community Wealth, written by Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly and Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinley. The report profiles the work of local officials who have taken up the community wealth building approach to creating inclusive and sustainable economies. Already, this report has received favorable coverage from Forbes, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Next City, and YES! Magazine. The report will be the centerpiece of a convening involving mayors, directors of economic development, scholars and practitioners on January 29, 2016, co-hosted by the CUNY School of Law Community and Economic Development Clinic. Find out more about the convening here, and read more about the report below.
  • The Next System Project released a collection of essays by Co-Chair Gus Speth entitled Getting to the Next System: Guideposts on the way to a new political economy. This second report in the Next System Project research series outlines the nature of system change, pathways forward, and a vision for a new American Dream. Read more below. The Next System Project also published a poll, adapted from Getting to the Next System, that allows community groups and activists to assess how their work contributes to system change. In other Next System Project developments, co-chair Gar Alperovitz, in an article in Al Jazeera, notes local experiments around the country that draw from traditional socialism, but promote democratic ownership in a “radically decentralized, populist and very American form.” And on November 9, Gar participated in an online panel as part of New Economy Week.
  • In October, Sarah McKinley and I had the opportunity to visit St. Paul, Minnesota to meet with Nexus Community Partners, a community development intermediary in the Twin Cities focused on building community capacity. Building on The Democracy Collaborative’s economic development framework, Nexus recently published a report about designing and implementing a community wealth building strategy for St. Paul’s East Side.
  • Democracy Collaborative staff continue to contribute to the field. Director of Special Projects Steve Dubb wrote an article for Shelterforce’s blog Rooflines on the $1.2 billion social enterprise industry and delivered the keynote address at the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) conference. Manager of Healthcare Engagement David Zuckerman was interviewed by Catholic Health World about strategies hospitals can take to strengthen their local economies. The Anchor Institutions Task Force highlighted Democracy Collaborative publications in a recent literature review and the National Resource Network cited The Democracy Collaborative’s work in their most recent report on creating partnerships between city economic development strategies and anchor institutions.
  • The Democracy Collaborative congratulates our friend at Cleveland’s Evergreen Energy Solutions (E2S) on their ranking in Fortune’s list of the 100 fastest-growing inner city businesses. We are also delighted to welcome new members to our growing team! We have gained Michelle Stearn as our Communications Associate; Dana Brown as our National Teach-Ins Coordinator; Jason Jaffery as our Director of Philanthropy; Jamal Dillman-Hasso as the Special Assistant to the Co-Founder; Melissa Wood as our Takoma Park Office Administrator; Noel Ortega as the Next System Project's Senior Associate for Community Engagement; and Carla Skandier as a Research Associate for the Next System Project.
As always, we continue to add new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions.

Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative

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See all of the report's infographics here.

In this Newsletter:

New from the Democracy Collaborative

Recommended Reads

Featured Websites

On Our Blog:

Can Community Wealth Building Redefine City Economic Development?

What the defeat of marijuana legalization in Ohio tells us about the kind of economy people are sick and tired of

From cafeterias to farms: How students are mobilizing their universities to build a more local, just, and sustainable food system

On Our Calendar:

The Aspen Summit on Inequality and Opportunity
Washington, DC
November 19, 2015

Scaling U.S. Community Investing: The Investor-Product
Sponsored by the Federal Reserve System's
Connecting Communities Initiative
November 19, 2015

Cities Building Community Wealth: A Gathering at the CUNY School of Law
Sponsored by the Democracy Collaborative
January 29, 2015


New from The Democracy Collaborative

Report Highlights Cities Pioneering Inclusive Economic Development

Traditional economic development has done little to address rising inequality and current trends threaten to worsen. Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds wealth and prosperity for everyone? Our latest report, authored by Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley, profiles twenty cities across the U.S. that are beginning to embrace this approach. It details how economic development professionals and city leaders are working in partnership with foundations, anchor institutions, unions, community organizations, progressive business networks, workers, and community residents to develop a new paradigm of development centered on building community wealth. Find out more»

Getting to the Next System

“We have encompassing problems because of fundamental flaws in our economic and political system,” Gus Speth notes in Getting to the Next System: Guideposts on the way to a new political economy. In this second installment in the Next System Project’s research series, Gus focuses on the need to understand the structural elements that generate our current economic, social, and environmental crises, as well as what the components of a next system might be. Gus also discusses the need to distinguish system-changing initiatives from reforms that seek social betterment within the current system, and provides metrics for assessing whether an initiative is transformational or reform based. Find out more»

Recommended Reads

Report Identifies Opportunities to Scale Community Investment Infrastructure

This new report from the Global Impact Investing Network assesses the state of the U.S. Community Investment (USCI) field and offers strategies on how to expand it. The authors describe the major types of USCI products currently available, the parameters used by different types of investors to evaluate investment opportunities, and the barriers to and opportunities for increasing investment. To encourage prospective investors to take part in the growing USCI field, the authors recommend a coordinated marketing and investor engagement effort to reach those best positioned to provide patient, low cost, and flexible capital. They also recommend further development of USCI tailored platforms such as ImpactUS Marketplace (developed via a partnership between Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. and City First Enterprises). Read More»

Economic Incentives Favor Big Business over Small Business

Good Jobs First has assessed the distribution of more than 4,200 economic development subsidies in 14 states and found that big business received between 80 and 96 percent of the subsidies’ dollar value. To enhance local economic competitiveness and strengthen small business, the authors recommend that states narrow subsidy eligibility to exclude very large recipients and cap dollars per deal as a safeguard to end “megadeals.” This would help fund public investments in job training, education, and transportation, which small business owners have highlighted as a pressing need. The authors also recommend that states broaden access to credit, the greatest challenge facing small businesses today. Read More»


Over $30 Million Allocated Through Participatory Budgeting in New York City


Using data from 9,000 surveys and 104 in-depth interviews, this new report from the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center analyzes New York City’s most recent year of participatory budgeting (PB). It evaluates the local political landscape, winning projects, levels of engagement, and methods of outreach used in the City’s fourth year of PB. To ensure that participatory budgeting is inclusive of all, including immigrants, public housing residents, and young community members, the authors recommend that the City provide additional resources to expand outreach, translation services, and childcare services, among others. Read More»

Communities Gain Organizing and Educational Tool for Local Economic Development 

To help catalyze a hands-on, democratic approach to local economic development, the MIT Community Innovators
Lab (CoLab) and the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative developed the Economic Democracy Training Series. This 10 workshop series includes units on economics and oppression, worker cooperatives, community asset mapping, local economic development policy, and labor unions. Each unit includes a workshop agenda, learning objectives, materials for facilitators, as well as interactive reference materials and readings for participants. Read More»

Featured Websites

The Local Clean Energy Alliance


Founded in 2008, the Local Clean Energy Alliance is a coalition of organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area that work together to promote clean energy, sustainability, and local economic development. The Alliance aims to develop the infrastructure necessary so that 100 percent of Bay Area energy demand can be met through a mix of renewable energy, efficiency improvements, and conservation, while also maintaining a focus on sustainable business, social equity, and community resilience. The website includes research resources on decentralized renewable energy development, examples of Community Choice and other state and local policies, as well as video and presentation materials from the Alliance’s yearly conference. Find out more»


The National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) represents nonprofit community development and asset building organizations that focus on building wealth in Latino communities. To support their members in this work, NALCAB provides grants for asset building projects, offers access to technical assistance and training resources, and hosts national conferences and regional summits. Its unique programs include Inversiones, a National Small Business Investment Initiative that is helping to direct $70 million toward small businesses in predominantly Latino communities, and the Border Communities Development Program, which addresses the efforts of nonprofit asset building organizations in the U.S.-Mexico border region. NALCAB’s website hosts a job board, a research library, and a webinar series on relevant policies and programs. Find out more»

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