Dear Colleague,
At The Democracy Collaborative, our goal is to surface and accelerate solutions that shift our economy so that equity and inclusion are inherent outcomes of, not at odds with, economic development. This month, I am excited to share a number of developments that start to give shape to the institutions and practices—new and longstanding—that point to the type of systemic transformation we are working to bring about.
Earlier this month, the Evergreen Cooperative Corporation launched the Fund for Employee Ownership, a groundbreaking new investment strategy designed to expand the reach of employee ownership throughout Cleveland and Northeast Ohio by purchasing privately held companies and converting them to employee ownership. Read more about the development of the Fund and how it will create quality jobs for local residents in Fast Company and Next City.
I am also pleased to share the latest publication in our Community Wealth Innovators Series, An Indigenous Approach to Community Wealth Building, authored by Stephanie Gutierrez, co-founder of Hope Nation LLC. Stephanie articulates a framework for Lakota Community Wealth Building, noting that “we are not talking about a completely new economic strategy, but rather, reclaiming and revitalizing tradition.” The report outlines the process of community building and translation that generated this framework, highlighting how Native communities are decolonizing and redefining economic development. Read more below, and register for a January 22 webinar about the report here.
A critical element of building community wealth is also addressing legacies of disinvestment in low-income communities and communities of color. The Next System Project recently released a new paper on the Community Reinvestment Act, providing a historical analysis of the legislation and a framework for
a next system of community reinvestment. Authored by Democracy Collaborative Fellow Devin Case-Ruchala, the paper includes an accompanying guide for practitioners advocating for CRA reform. Read more below.
We are also seeing an increasing number of anchor institutions that are working to intentionally reinvest in their surrounding communities. This is reflected in a growing number of anchor collaboratives, as well as developments such as the inclusion of anchor metrics in the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. The Democracy Collaborative recently provided comments to the Surgeon General's Call to Action on “Community Health and Prosperity,” suggesting how these strategies can be integrated into the broader public health agenda. Read the full comments here
Lastly, I am pleased to celebrate the US book release of Our Common Wealth: The return of public ownership in the United States, authored by Director of Research Thomas Hanna. The book provides an analysis of the surprising prevalence and resiliency of public ownership in the United States, debunking frequent misconceptions around the inefficiency of public enterprise and highlighting the growing opportunity to democratize public ownership. Read more here and read Thomas’ commentary on recent wins related to public ownership in Baltimore.  

Ted Howard
President and Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative


TDC & CWB in the News

  • Writing in Shelterforce, Democracy Collaborative’s Manager of Advisory Services Justine Porter and Senior Communications Associate Bich Ha Pham document the growing movement of anchor collaboration, highlighting successes from across the country as well as shared challenges.
  • The City of Rochester, NY recently announced that KeyBank will be donating $50,000 to OWN Rochester, the independent nonprofit established to support emerging worker-owned businesses in the city’s economically challenged neighborhoods. Read more here.
  • A recent op-ed in Truthout highlights the growing interest in the democratic economy, highlighting the opportunity to build a progressive agenda around shared ownership and control.

New from The Democracy Collaborative

An Indigenous Approach to Community Wealth Building: A Lakota Translation

“Using the CWB framework, Native communities have the opportunity to decolonize their economic approach and to reclaim the way they managed their economies long ago,” writes Stephanie Gutierrez in the latest edition in our Community Wealth Building Innovators series. Drawing on the work done in the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building—a peer-driven cohort of Native communities supported by The Democracy Collaborative and the Northwest Area Foundation—Gutierrez explores how Lakota community wealth builders at Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Reservation worked to center their own experiences, language, and history in the process of launching two social enterprises. Rather than a one-size-fits all model, Stephanie articulates how community wealth building must be decolonized and reimagined based on local context and values, reflected in the development of enterprises such as the Owíŋža Quilters Cooperative. Register for a January 22 webinar about the report here.
Read More

A Next System of Community Reinvestment

This new paper from the Next System Project, authored by Democracy Collaborative Fellow Devin Case-Ruchala, puts forward a vision for a next system of community reinvestment, identifying opportunities to reform and deepen the impact of the Community Reinvestment Act. Passed in 1977, the law has compelled banks to channel investments back into lower-income communities and communities of color that were traditionally exploited or ignored by the financial sector. Today, the law is caught between a changed financial services industry that is resistant to further regulation and communities that want a law that raises the bar on community investment. The paper addresses the immediate challenge—a pending reform proposal that could significantly weaken the CRA—and offers a longer-term agenda for refashioning the law as a tool for community wealth building. The working paper is also accompanied by a 12-page guide for practitioners. 
Read More

Jobs in CWB

Featured Audio & Video

Connecting healthcare anchors and communities
The Healthcare Anchor Network recently released a series of video recordings from the Network’s Spring convening, featuring leading voices on the imperative for hospitals and health systems to address the economic determinants of health and the steps they can take to advance racial equity. Watch the full panel conversations here.

What banks owe communities
On this episode of the Next System Podcast, Editorial Manager Isaiah J. Poole hosts Next System Project Fellow Devin Case-Ruchala in a discussion about the future of the Community Reinvestment Act with John Holdsclaw, senior vice president of corporate affairs at National Cooperative Bank, and Gregory Jost, director of organizing at the Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association in New York City.

Recommended Reads

Scaling Community-Owned Enterprise in the UK
Authored by Power to Change, a charitable trust that supports community businesses throughout the United Kingdom, this new report provides a bold vision for a more inclusive and democratic economy by 2030. Based on interviews with leading experts and practitioners, the report highlights existing “entrepreneurial communities” across the UK that are working to broaden ownership and decision-making. The report includes recommendations for how to scale these models and develop infrastructure to support social enterprise and community-owned businesses. Read more here.


Step-By-Step Anchor Mission Guide

This new set of toolkits from Drexel University—a participant in the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative—provides insights from Drexel’s anchor mission initiatives over the last eight years, synthesizing lessons learned from their Hire Local, Buy Local, and Build Local strategies. Each toolkit includes detailed sections on implementation, from elements such as which staff members and community partners should be at the table to what data points to collect, as well as profiles of staff members and community partners who are advancing the work. Read more here.

Featured Website

Wellbeing Economy Alliance

With a goal to advance “shared wellbeing on a healthy planet,” the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEALL) is a global network of organizations across a variety of sectors focused on economic transformation. WEALL works to connect and amplify existing initiatives, highlighting alternative models, while developing a broad movement for systemic change. Read more here.

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