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

Welcome to our March newsletter. This month’s developments include: 
  • We are pleased to release our first annual impact report, providing a snapshot into programs and initiatives in 2014, including an overview of our work with mayors, community foundations, community-based organizations, anchor institutions, and other partners nationwide. We hope it captures the growing breadth of the community wealth building movement and the sense of hope and innovation that we observe across the country. Read more below.
  • In the current issue of Nonprofit Quarterly, Democracy Collaborative Co-founder Gar Alperovitz discusses the growing wealth and income divide in the United States and the importance of state and local activism in forging innovative solutions. Read more below. Gar also co-authored an article with Senior Research Associate Thomas Hanna in YES! Magazine, in which they discuss the Federal Communication Commission net neutrality decision and the role that community-owned broadband might play in promoting a more democratic economy.
  • The Democracy Collaborative is excited to announce that we will be working with the City of Rochester, New York to develop a plan to launch worker-owned cooperatives in partnership with local anchor institutions. The work complements Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s anti-poverty strategy and is partially inspired by the Cleveland model. Politico Magazine also highlighted the Evergreen Cooperatives and their role in the Greater University Circle Initiative in this article and video.  
  • Our recent report, A New Anchor Mission for a New Century, has been widely cited. In YES! Magazine, Laura Flanders suggests that community foundations, as local capital providers, can support local business and cooperative development. Peter Berliner, managing director of Mission Investors Exchange, points to A New Anchor Mission as “a catalog of community-building examples.” In the Lexington Herald-Leader, Gerry Roll, Executive Director for the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, emphasizes the report’s call for community foundations to act as anchor institutions.
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
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative

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In this Newsletter:

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Featured Websites

On our Blog:

How a credit union is increasing access to affordable, responsible financial services

Cooperation Among Cooperatives Rebuilds Equitable Food System


New from The Democracy Collaborative

New Report Highlights The Democracy Collaborative’s Impact in 2014

Our 2014 Impact Report highlights The Democracy Collaborative’s work with a growing community wealth building movement that includes everyone from mayors, university presidents, hospital leaders, young activists, and community foundation CEOs, to leading academics, management theorists, cooperative developers, and others. What unites them is a shared commitment to move beyond a sense of helplessness and engage together in practical, visionary work to create an economy that is both sustainable and inclusive. We look forward to building on this work as The Democracy Collaborative enters its sixteenth year. Find Out More»

Gar Alperovitz Outlines His Transformative Vision in Nonprofit Quarterly

The legacy of Occupy Wall Street and scholarly works like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty First Century have both drawn attention to our nation’s growing income and wealth inequality. However, argues Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz in this year’s spring edition of Nonprofit Quarterly, “It is less clear that our national political conversation has confronted the magnitude of the problem—to say nothing of the corresponding magnitude of the necessary solutions.” Gar contends that solving this challenge requires a transition to an economy grounded in values of democratically owned wealth and points to localities, acting as “laboratories of democracy,” that are helping build the groundwork for this transition by advancing worker cooperatives, public banking, and community-owned utilities. Find Out More»

Recommended Reads

2015 Asset Scorecard Identifies Policy Solutions for Financially Precarious Families

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. Read More»

Zillow Report Documents Persistent Racial Inequality in U.S. Housing Market

More than 50 years after Dr. King fought for equality, “it is apparent that the American dream of homeownership is not equally shared,” notes real estate firm Zillow’s chief economist Stan Humphries in a study coauthored by Zillow and the National Urban League. To build wealth in communities of color and reduce wealth inequality, the authors call for the removal of institutional barriers toward homeownership, such as policies that advocate arbitrarily high down-payment requirements, as well as an expansion of predatory lending protections. Read More»

New England Worker-Owners Share Stories of Cooperative Empowerment in New Anthology

Based on 50 field interviews with current and former worker-owners from Western Massachusetts to Southern Vermont, Building Co-Operative Power shares stories from worker cooperatives across a range of sectors, from energy and water co-ops to credit unions and agricultural producer cooperatives. The authors also highlight the successes of the Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives, a $7 million, 70-member cooperative network stretching from Connecticut to Vermont, in promoting, developing, and facilitating the growth of worker cooperatives. Featured cooperatives include Common Wealth Printing, Collective Copies, Pedal People, Green Mountain, and the Toolbox for Education and Social Action. Read More»


New Jersey Community Development Corporations Contribute $12 Billion to State Economy

This new report from the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey quantifies the impact that community development corporations have had in New Jersey. Over the past 25 years, CDCs have added 82,000 jobs, contributed $12 billion to the state economy, and added $320 million to state tax rolls. The Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program, a 100 percent state tax credit that encourages private investment in low- to moderate-income communities, enabled New Jersey CDCs to leverage each dollar more than seven times over. Read More»

Featured Websites

Local Progress

Launched by the Public Leadership Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy, the national network Local Progress works to support, connect, and unite progressive local elected officials and allied organizations working on economic justice campaigns, such as community benefits agreements, living wage laws, and paid sick leave guarantees. The website offers a library of policy briefs, lists of legislative victories, and webinars. Find Out More»

The Workers Lab

Based in Oakland, California, the Workers Lab is the nation’s first union-backed innovation accelerator. Noting that by 2020, low-wage workers will make up 48 percent of the U.S. workforce, the Workers Lab seeks to interrupt this trend by investing up to $150,000 in businesses that promise to improve conditions for low-wage workers. The group’s investment strategy centers on partnering with social movement leaders, philanthropic institutions, technology entrepreneurs, and high road employers to develop viable businesses that are committed to providing workers with living wage jobs. Find Out More»

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