Dear Colleague,

In the first few weeks since the new President took office, it has become clear that the chilling rhetoric of the campaign is translating into action. We at The Democracy Collaborative are deeply concerned that the new administration and the current Congressional majority will attempt to dismantle essential elements of the nation’s Federal community development infrastructure. If this goes forward, it will severely impact affordable housing, job creation, environmental justice, and capital investments in underserved communities, both rural and urban. We risk seeing decades of progress in community development unraveled, the burden of which will undoubtedly fall on poor residents and communities of color.

In order to ensure public awareness of and a robust debate about these proposals, The Democracy Collaborative has developed the Rolling Back Inclusion tracker. The tracker will provide continuous updates regarding the status of inclusive community development programs so that efforts to gut this critical infrastructure do not pass by under the radar. As you, our friends and allies, learn of new government attempts to diminish support for community wealth building, please report them to us at so that we can keep this resource up-to-date, and follow developments on twitter with the hashtag #RollingBackInclusion.

Yet even as the landscape becomes more uncertain for the community wealth field, we remain convinced of the transformational power of local action. The most promising such efforts often start with conversations that bring communities together to map the challenges they face, the assets they hold, and the vision they share. This month, we release two new publications that suggest ways to begin these conversations in your community: Jacksonville’s Community Wealth Building Roundtable, by Michelle Barth, details how a city-led convening unfolded in Jacksonville, Florida; and Sparking the conversation in your community, by Justine Porter, provides insights from a “Do-It-Yourself” convening process in Poughkeepsie, New York. Read more about these publications and our Community Wealth Innovators Series below. We are excited to welcome the author of the second paper, Justine Porter, to our staff as a Senior Associate in our Washington, DC office starting this month.

I would also like to extend my welcome to Jenny Kassan who will be joining us as a Fellow. Jenny has over two decades of experience as an entrepreneur and attorney and helps her clients with mission-aligned financing in her private legal and coaching practice. She is also the President of Community Ventures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the economic and social development of communities. Throughout 2017, Jenny will be contributing a series of articles based on themes found in her forthcoming book about how businesses in the New Economy can raise capital in ways that neither concentrate wealth in fewer hands nor require fast growth at any cost.

Healthcare is another area where I am inspired by local innovation despite the threat of federal rollbacks.  Much of this innovation is reported in our recently issued Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities toolkit series. Dana Brown, Deputy Director of the Next System Project authored a blog post on the array of local models for affordable healthcare. In addition to efforts like these, there is a growing movement to fundamentally shift the conditions that create poor health in the first place. The Democracy Collaborative’s work on anchor institutions and inclusive, local economic development is profiled in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s new report, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity. By linking efforts to extend the provision of care with this anchor institution support for community wealth building, we can begin to move the bar on health and well-being in the United States.


Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative


New from The Democracy Collaborative

Two new guides on how to plan local convenings to advance community wealth building

We are excited to release two new installments in our Community Wealth Innovators Series, in which we work with practitioners in the field to document critical lessons learned during on-the-ground efforts to build more inclusive and equitable local economies. Both publications provide resources and insights into how to convene a conversation about advancing community wealth building. The first, Jacksonville’s Community Wealth Building Roundtable details a municipally-led process in Jacksonville, Florida. Written by Michelle Barth, then the Mayor's Deputy Chief of Staff, the report details how the City convened stakeholders to develop new strategies to address chronic disinvestment in Northwest Jacksonville. In the second, Sparking the conversation in your community, Justine Porter chronicles lessons learned from a volunteer-driven effort to convene a similar summit in Poughkeepsie, New York. We hope these two new publications can help both city officials and concerned residents alike better and more effectively navigate the process of bringing their communities together to create a more inclusive local economy. 

Find out more

Upcoming events

Financing Broad-Based Ownership Models for Community Wealth

Washington, DC
Monday, February 27,
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST

The Democracy Collaborative’s Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly will be joining a panel on advancing broad-based ownership models for inclusive economic development in Washington D.C. on February 27th. Co-hosted with SOCAP 365, Marjorie will be joined by Yanique Redwood,  president and CEO of the Consumer Health Foundation; Jennifer Bryant, community organizer & cooperative developer with Cooperation DC; Harold Pettigrew, executive director of the Washington Area Community Investment Fund; and Rob Wilson, CEO of CEI 7(a) Financing. Find more information and register online.

Michael Hudson Presents "J is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception"

Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, February 21, 7pm EST
Baltimore, MD
Wednesday February 22, 7:30pm

The Democracy Collaborative and the Next System Project will be hosting renowned economist Michael Hudson in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland for a discussion of his new book, J is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception. A former Wall Street analyst, government adviser, and fierce critic of neoliberal economic order, Hudson is Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and Professor of Economics at Peking University in China. He is the author of many books on the global economy, with a focus on financial history, debt, land tenure and related economic institutions from antiquity to the present. Find more information and register online for the Washington, D.C. event or the Baltimore, MD event.

Recommended reads

Equity is not a zero-sum game

“Opportunity doesn’t trickle down; it cascades out and up,” writes PolicyLink’s CEO Angela Glover Blackwell in this new article published in the Winter 2017 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Using the transformational success of disability activists in the 1960s and 70s as an example, Glover Blackwell describes how programs designed to benefit the most marginalized groups often end up yielding considerable benefits to society at large,. She applies this principle to addressing income inequality, noting that programs that build the wealth of the most vulnerable will create greater prosperity for all residents. Read more>>

Connecting small business lending to quality job creation

This report from the Opportunity Finance Network details how community development financial institutions (CDFIs) can support quality job creation as a way to reduce income inequality. Noting that this approach is currently underutilized in the field, the report draws on five case studies of CDFIs that are using tools such as debt and equity products, interest rate reductions, and technical assistance to not only grow small businesses, but ensure access to quality jobs for low-income communities. The report makes recommendations for how to scale this approach in the CDFI field.  Read more>>

Featured Websites

The Ohio Benefit Bank

Launched in 2006, The Ohio Benefit Bank, a program of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, is a resource that connects residents to tax credits and other supports. Using the Solutions for Progress Benefit Bank model, the Bank has connected over 800,000 individuals to over $1.5 billion in benefits to date, including wealth building opportunities. Similar benefit banks exist in Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Find out more>>


REVES, translated as the European Network of Cities & Regions for the Social Economy, is a member-based network of local and regional organizations in the EU working to promote cooperatives, mutual societies, and other organizations grounded in democratic ownership and solidarity. Their website includes a list of EU policies that promote the social economy, case studies of different sectors, and a map of existing partnerships and initiatives.
Find out more>>

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