Dear Colleague,
This month, I am pleased to share several new community wealth building developments ranging from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to the West Side of Chicago. Earlier this month, the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation launched Owíŋža Quilters Cooperative, the first business in a social enterprise strategy to create jobs and build community wealth on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Thunder Valley CDC, a participant in The Democracy Collaborative’s Learning/Action Lab, has provided investment to start the enterprise as well as technical assistance to help grow this women-owned cooperative. Read more here.
Last month, Chicago Magazine published a powerful series about massive health disparities on the West Side of Chicago, outlining the gravity of the life expectancy gap as well as the efforts underway at Rush University Medical Center to address the root causes of poor health by intentionally leveraging their economic assets. The Democracy Collaborative’s Director of Healthcare Engagement, David Zuckerman, is quoted about the opportunity of this anchor mission approach, highlighting the work of the Healthcare Anchor Network to advance practices such as inclusive, local hiring and inclusive, local sourcing. Read the full Second City series here and learn more about Rush’s work in The Anchor Mission Playbook.
Increasingly, anchor institutions, local governments, foundations, and communities are realizing the potential in this place-based collaborative approach and are working to develop infrastructure to coordinate and scale inclusive economic development at the city level. In June, The Democracy Collaborative, in partnership with several other organizations, will convene many of these anchor collaboratives from across the country to share lessons learned and best practices. Read more about the event below.
As we’ve noted several times over the past few years, community wealth building is increasingly being embraced outside of the United States as well. Executive Director of the Next System Project Joe Guinan recently traveled to the UK to continue our work with local leaders there. The Democracy Collaborative will serve as a senior advisor to the new Community Wealth Building Unit, housed in the office of Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party. In support of this work, The Democracy Collaborative recently released a one-pager outlining the 8 Basic Principles of Community Wealth Building to articulate the alignment between this approach and the Labour Party’s platform around building an economy that works for the many, not the few.
Ted Howard
President and Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative


Community Wealth Building in the News

  • Earlier this month, the Rutgers School of Management and Labor launched the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. The Institute will advance research that addresses economic inequality through broad-based ownership. Read more about the Institute and its activities in Business Wire.
  • The upcoming wave of retiring baby-boomer business owners, known as the “Silver Tsunami,” creates many challenges for business succession. However, it is also an important opportunity to scale and expand worker ownership, as noted in recent pieces from The Beneficial State Foundation and the Fifty by Fifty blog
  • In The Times recently published an article about how the Minneapolis-based Association for Black Economic Power helped launch the Village Trust Financial Cooperative, a black-owned credit union that will provide accessible banking options while reinvesting in local communities.
  • As part of The Guardian’s new series The Alternatives, Aditya Chakrabortty discussed how business owners in Scotland were able to transfer ownership of their enterprise to employees in order to retain jobs and ensure the sustainability of the company. Read the full article.
  • West Oakland’s Mandela Foods Cooperative is highlighted in a piece in Fast Company that discusses how the black-owned and worker-owned enterprise is addressing food insecurity and serving as an “economic and health engine” in the community.

New from The Democracy Collaborative

The Democracy Collaborative is joining the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Baltimore Integration Partnership, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond–Baltimore Branch, and the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities to host the Anchor Collaborative Convening, June 11-12 in Baltimore, MD. The convening will bring together leaders from across the country, representing a diverse array of initiatives and networks that are focused on leveraging anchor institution resources to catalyze inclusive, economic development. The event will focus on sharing best practices and lessons learned, as well as identifying the tools and resources needed to scale this work. The event is by invitation only, but if you or your colleagues are involved in an anchor collaborative and not already connected to this effort, please email us.
Find out more

Featured Audio

Next System Podcast: Resist & Rebuild with Emily Kawano
Emily Kawano, coordinator of the RIPESS and co-director of the Wellspring Cooperative, joins the Next System Podcast to discuss her work on the Solidarity Economy.

The Alternatives: worker-owned businesses
The Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty interviews a Scottish business owner about his decision to sell his successful sign-printing business to employees rather than an outside investor.

Recommended Reads

People-Driven Alternatives to an Unjust Housing System

This new report from the Homes for All Campaign of the Right to the City Alliance puts forward a vision for permanently affordable and democratic housing grounded in community control, affordability, inclusivity, permanence, and health. Highlighting solutions such as Limited Equity Cooperatives and Community Land Trusts, the report identifies policies to advance these approaches including public bank financing, increased tenant protections, and inclusionary zoning. Read the full report here.


The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes

For every 100 extremely low-income renter households in the U.S., there are only 35 affordable rental units available. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual gap report found that this housing shortage exists in all states and calculates the need for an additional 7.2 million affordable rental homes. The report calls for the expansion of federal programs the provide capital investment and rental assistance. Read the full report here

Featured Website

This new resource from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society provides resources for community organizers to engage anchor institutions around issues related to inclusive economic development. Drawing from the experience of community leaders who negotiated a community benefits agreement with the Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond, CA, the toolkit includes video interviews with organizers and resource guides that distill lessons learned. Read the full toolkit here.


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