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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our August 2015 newsletter:
  • We are pleased to announce the release of our latest report Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth. Written by Senior Associate for Policy and Strategy Keane Bhatt and Director of Special Projects Steve Dubb, the report documents how community-based organizations committed to economic inclusion address critical questions related to education, training, and empowerment. The report has already received coverage from Next CityRegister for the launch webinar on September 9, 3PM EDT, download the companion poster, and read more below
  • In the New York Times, Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz and Research Director Thomas Hanna wrote about “Socialism, American-Style,” highlighting the prevalence of public ownership in the United States and how conservative states like Texas, Alaska, and Nebraska have embraced it as a means to provide social services and lower the public’s tax burden. Gar and Thomas further discussed public ownership with Elias Isquith in Salon and Gar spoke on the same subject with Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes. In The NationGar marked the seventieth anniversary of Hiroshima by challenging Americans to face the reality that the atomic bombings were not, in fact, a matter of military necessity. 
  • The Next System Project was recently cited in MintPress News as an important development in the growing movement to transform American politics. Gar, co-chair of the project, discussed the effort on WBAI’s Building Bridges radio program and in an interview with Social Capital Markets (SOCAP). He will be a featured speaker at SOCAP’s 2015 conference, and on August 19 at 3:30 EDT, SOCAP will host a twitter conversation with the Next System Project about new political-economic opportunities. Join the conversation via Twitter using: #NextSystem
  • In a piece for Medium, Director of Communications John Duda emphasized the need to think critically about who benefits from solar energy development, highlighting institutions and policies that are building wealth in low-income communities and communities of color while at the same time creating a more sustainable energy system. 
  • In June, I had the opportunity to present at the Aspen Institute’s "Rooting Opportunity: Doing Economic Development Differently" conference. Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinley also spoke in a joint session on anchor institutions. Our presentations, as well as materials from several of our key partners, are now available online. A recent article in 3BL Media discussed the BALLE-RSF Community Foundation Circle convening, during which Executive Vice President Marjorie Kelly facilitated a conversation on how community foundations can align their financial practices with their missions.
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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New from The Democracy Collaborative

Report Highlights Strategies to Grow Local Community Wealth Building Capacity

How do community members who are involved with creating and sustaining inclusive economic institutions cultivate and pass on skills, commitment, and knowledge—especially when many have long faced barriers to education and employment? Equally important, how should communities strike an appropriate balance between utilizing local knowledge and accessing outside expertise? Our latest report, Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth, written by Senior Associate for Policy and Strategy Keane Bhatt and Director of Special Projects Steve Dubb, utilizes a case study approach to assess how innovative community-based organizations are navigating these questions. Drawing from these experiences, the report outlines a range of empowerment and education strategies to help communities grow their capacity to build community wealth. These range from participatory learning to inclusive governance to investments in youth development and study circles. Along with the report, we are also releasing a poster showcasing some of the main findings. Find Out More»

Recommended Reads

Federal Policies to Expand Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing Suggested 

Performance incentives that direct corporate profits to top executives have fueled dramatically unequal post-recession growth, with more than three-quarters of real income captured by the wealthiest 1 percent. This report from the Center for American Progress highlights how employee ownership, along with other profit sharing mechanisms, can help reverse this trend, as well as build community wealth and improve company performance. The authors encourage policymakers to expand loan guarantees and estate tax relief for firms converting to employee ownership. They also call for the creation of a federal “Office of Inclusive Capitalism” that would support a network of outreach and technical assistance centers modeled after employee ownership centers in Vermont and Ohio. Read More»

Using the “Connected Economy” to Usher in a New Era of Prosperity

This essay from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society’s Leap Forward program, outlines a new vision for California’s “Connected Economy” (which is based on the growth of digital communication technologies). Founder Mark Gomez asserts that the time has come for progress-minded activists to “craft an inspiring new narrative that moves us past a stubborn cynicism and boldly imagines how we can transform people’s lives again.” To promote broadly shared prosperity, Gomez proposes a framework for economic security that combines greater wage standards and a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit. Read More»

New Survey Identifies Innovative City Financial Inclusion Strategies

This survey, conducted by the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families (in conjunction with United Way Worldwide and the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), documents the emergence of financial inclusion as a municipal economic security strategy. Of the 118 cities surveyed, the researchers identify a cohort of 25 leading cities, noting that these share the “building blocks” of a strong champion, community involvement, and coordination between programs. To expand and institutionalize municipal financial inclusion strategies, the authors recommend community engagement, ongoing research, and partnerships between city government and community organizations. Read More»


Strategies to Integrate Financial Services into Community Organization Programming

This new guide, prepared by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, provides a roadmap to help community-based organizations integrate financial capability services into their programming. The guide suggests ten services organizations can provide to help families build financial capability, as well as an assessment framework to determine how to deliver integrated financial capability services. It also includes tools to help organizations develop action plans and build stakeholder buy-in. Read More»

Featured Websites

Community Wealth Building Network

Developed with support from The Denver Foundation, Community Wealth Building: Metro Denver’s Economic Prosperity Network educates and builds relationships to foster community wealth building in the Denver metro area. The regional collaborative hosts open monthly steering committee meetings and networking events to build the local community wealth building ecosystem. In June, the Network released its first paper, An Introduction to Financing for Cooperatives, Social Enterprises, and Small BusinessesFind Out More»

Racial Equity Tools

The recently re-launched Racial Equity Tools compiles resources and curricula for communities and organizations working to advance racial justice. The site features learning modules, films, and discussion guides designed to build understanding of how structural racism and other forms of inequity affect employment, food justice, and other human development issues. The site also includes concrete planning tools for practitioners to launch social media campaigns, create popular education and training strategies, evaluate progress, and advocate for policy and system change. Find Out More»

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