Dear Colleague,

Over the last month, staff at The Democracy Collaborative have been reflecting on the connections across our work in 2017 (read more in our annual impact report below). Perhaps most exciting is when stories of how our work positively impacts local communities emerge on their own. Take Newark, New Jersey:
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted the ways that hospitals and health systems can leverage their hiring and buying power to improve resident
wellbeing. In the article, the author tells the story of a local entrepreneur and HVAC mechanic who was able to scale his sock business through contracts with RWJBarnabas Health. The company is now working with other area anchors and plans to hire a dozen more employees, feeding into the City of Newark’s ambitious goal to work with area anchors to hire 2,020 unemployed Newark residents by the year 2020.
The Democracy Collaborative has had the privilege to watch these developments in Newark unfold first hand through our support of institutional leaders who are implementing the policy and practice changes needed to drive this work: RWJBarnabas is a founding member of our Healthcare Anchor Network; Rutgers University - Newark is continuing their anchor work as part of the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative (launched earlier this month with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities); and The Democracy Collaborative has been providing advisory services to the emerging anchor collaborative in Newark—one of the teams that will be represented at our June Anchor Collaboratives convening (which will bring together leaders in the field to accelerate best practices).
The imperative for these types of new approaches has never been clearer. From climate change to increasing inequality, we face a systemic crisis that needs systemic solutions. Earlier this year, I reflected on how tough-minded work on the ground in places like Newark can form the basis of a “new political economy devoted to sustaining human and natural communities.” Read my full remarks to the Environmental Funders Network in Cambridge, England here.

Ted Howard
President and Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative


Community Wealth Building in the News

  • Director of Healthcare Engagement David Zuckerman was quoted in an article published in Next City on ways cities can shift their procurement policies to ensure minority- and women-owned businesses get public contracts.
  • This Twitter thread from The Democracy Collaborative provides a snapshot of what universities that are part of the newly launched Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative are doing to support local, inclusive economies. Read the press release about the initiative here.
  • New Hampshire Public Radio produced a segment on the role cooperative businesses can play in building a more inclusive, sustainable economy.
  • Next City published an article on growing support in Baltimore for the use of community land trusts to create and preserve permanently affordable housing, noting that the city has committed $100,000 to get community land trusts up and running.

New from The Democracy Collaborative

Our 2017 Impact Report

Our new 2017 Impact Report highlights the work we did in the last year to build community wealth and advance a more democratic economy. It has been an incredible period of growth for The Democracy Collaborative and our projects, including The Next System Project, the Healthcare Anchor Network, and new transatlantic initiatives (especially in partnership with community wealth builders in the UK). Without a doubt, demand is rising for systemic solutions to the problems faced here in the US and abroad, and we are excited to be able to bring both theoretical vision and practical on-the-ground experience to bear in helping meet this challenge. As our Co-Founder and President Ted Howard notes in his introduction to the report, the “acceleration and deepening impact of our work in 2017 testifies to the urgency of our mission.” Read and download the full report here.
We need your help and support to deepen and expand our impact in 2018 and beyond. Please consider donating now:
Donate now

Featured Audio

Next System Podcast: Extraction & Resilience in Appalachia 
Program Associate Adam Simpson interviews Elizabeth Catte, author of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, to discuss the narratives that have been constructed to explain the region’s poverty and how those narratives fail to serve Appalachia’s people in this episode of the Next System Podcast.

Recommended Reads

How debt disparities are widening the racial wealth divide

While the proportion of Black and white households with debt is similar, more Black households experience “troublesome debt,” or difficulties with debt and bill payments. This new paper from Prosperity Now discusses this connection between the racial wealth gap and debt, highlighting how disproportionate access to wealth building opportunities such as homeownership and credit perpetuates this disparity. The paper calls for federal reforms that would create greater income and wealth building opportunities for communities of color. Read the full paper here.


Employee ownership: a triple-win solution

This new one-pager from the Democracy at Work Institute and the National Urban League provides a succinct summary of the benefits that employee ownership provides to employees, businesses, and local economies. Noting that the number of minority-owned businesses is increasing but that many of these businesses lack a succession plan, the info sheet highlights the opportunity to help these businesses convert to employee ownership to retain jobs and stabilize communities. See the full info sheet here.

Featured Website

Eviction Lab

Housed at Princeton University, the Eviction Lab recently published the first public dataset of evictions in the United States, compiling eviction rates and eviction filing rates at the census tract level since 2000. The website includes a map which allows users to visualize evictions over time, compare eviction rates, and generate custom reports. The website is also available in Spanish. Find out more here


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