Dear Colleague,

In light of recent developments such as the newly released White House budget, we have redesigned our Rolling Back Inclusion tracker to capture attempts to dismantle the Federal infrastructure that supports community and economic development. Our hope is to bring light to the programs and agencies that might not receive regular coverage, but are critical supports for poverty reduction, job creation, affordable housing and providing much needed capital to disinvested communities. In furtherance of this, Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly has written about how proposed corporate tax cuts threaten incentives that promote employee ownership and community development in Rooflines; Research Assistant Kaylee Thornley has catalogued specific proposed agency cuts that would threaten community and economic development; and Research Director Thomas Hanna discussed the effects of cuts on regional efforts to combat poverty with a reporter from Yes! Magazine.

Even as we work to defend important Federal programs, we must also look to the future and begin to build a stronger foundation for equity, inclusion, and democratic ownership. In a new Chronicle of Philanthropy op-ed, Democracy Collaborative co-founder and co-chair of the Next System Project Gar Alperovitz and I outline how funders can invest in the new “laboratories of democracy” to support innovative and scalable, local and regional wealth building models. The Next System Project also released a forward looking policy brief, written by Ellen Brown, Democracy Collaborative fellow and founder and president emeritus of the Public Banking Institute, which details how an alternative approach to funding and financing infrastructure could generate prosperity for many rather than the few. Read more below. Thomas Hanna discusses  this plan and America’s desperate need for infrastructure investment in In These Times

Another powerful path forward can be seen in the growing number of anchor institutions committed to addressing inequity and reinvesting in communities. YES! Magazine has published an article that discusses efforts by two of the health systems featured in our Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities toolkit series, including Johns Hopkins, which recently released a report on the first year of their HopkinsLocal initiative. I am also pleased to share a report from the West Side Total Health Collaborative, a new initiative looking to channel anchor institution resources towards community health improvement on the west side of Chicago. Many of these examples are drawing inspiration from Cleveland’s Greater University Circle Initiative and Evergreen Cooperatives, which continue to develop and prosper. Recent local news coverage details how Green City Growers is providing living-wage jobs and a path to ownership for Cleveland residents. Read more about The Democracy Collaborative’s work scaling employee ownership below.

Many of the issues facing our communities are not new, nor are they unique to the U.S. Thomas Hanna and Executive Director of the Next System Project Joe Guinan discuss this larger global context and the systemic nature of our current political crises in an article in Renewal. During my recent trip to the UK, I met with local government officials working to address similar histories of community disinvestment and I was able to share with them many of our experiences and lessons learned. Read a synthesis of my trip on the Co-operative Party’s website. This article in The Guardian and accompanying video provide a useful overview of some of the developments on the ground in the UK, and how they've adapted the Cleveland model. 

With the upcoming People’s Climate March, it is exciting to see the growing intersections between broad-based ownership and climate justice. The Democracy Collaborative has now released re-designed print copies of our “energy democracy” card deck, and I am also pleased to share that Next System Project Research Associate Carla Santos has been awarded a Climate Strategies Accelerator fellowship and will join a select cohort of climate change thought leaders who are building out ideas to reduce our planet’s dependence on oil. Finally, I would like to welcome two new Research Fellows: Alexander Heaton will be researching public banking and Devin Case-Ruchala will research the past, present, and future of the Community Reinvestment Act.

Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder
The Democracy Collaborative


New from The Democracy Collaborative

New Policy Brief on Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure

In this new policy brief from the Next System Project, Democracy Collaborative fellow Ellen Brown, founder and president emeritus of the Public Banking Institute, explores alternative ways to fund and finance the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure. Rather than the likely approach of the Trump Administration, which focuses on forms of private investment that would impose a huge cost upon local residents, Brown’s vision focuses on public strategies for investment in infrastructure. The use of public depository banks could cut the financing costs by as much as $1 trillion and the interest generated from the loans would return to the public, rather than to private entities. The plan outlines mechanisms for the federal government to directly cover the costs of the pressing upgrades and repairs to our nation's roads, bridges, dams, water supplies, electrical grid, and transit lines by creating and investing new money. 


Opportunities for Impact Investors to Accelerate Employee Ownership
On January 18th, 2017, our Fifty by Fifty initiative joined The Foundation for Enterprise Development and the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations to convene a meeting on the role  of impact investors in taking employee ownership to scale. Hosted in New Brunswick, NJ, the meeting brought together leaders in the employee ownership field with impact investors to examine barriers and opportunities for moving more impact capital into employee ownership. Read the summary report here. Following on this conversation, the conveners are excited to release the first-of- its kind original research on the intersections of impact investing and employee ownership to date. The paper, titled "Impact Investing: It’s Time that Employee-Owned Enterprises are Considered Part of the Income Inequality Solution," is authored by Mary Ann Beyster, president of The Foundation for Enterprise Development, and will be published by The Democracy Collaborative in May.


Featured Videos

Interest and commitment to community wealth building grows in the UK

Democracy Collaborative President and Co-Founder Ted Howard was invited by the UK’s Co-operative Party to present at a series of roundtable discussions in Manchester and at Westminster in London on community wealth building. Watch this short video about his trip here

Ted Howard’s Keynote Remarks at the Labour Party’s New Economics Conference

Ted was also invited to speak at the Labour Party’s New Economics Conference in Newcastle. Watch his full keynote address on the possibilities of a new economics grounded in cooperation and community here

Recommended Reads

Thought leaders and activists look to redefine what generates value: 

In conventional economics, the notion of value is often discussed as being the same as price, thereby excluding systems and services such as social cooperation, care work, and nature. This new report written by David Bollier synthesizes conversations from a workshop that brought together leading academics and activists to discuss how to redefine value and the role this redefinition could have in creating a more equitable and sustainable political economic system.

Read the article >>

Building community wealth and community power in Massachusetts: 

This new report from the Solidarity Economy Initiative profiles organizing efforts across low income communities of color in Massachusetts, exploring how these efforts are both building power and creating the foundation for an alternative economic system. The eight case studies include worker cooperatives, community land trusts, and community banking efforts. The report calls for a reorientation of the funding community to support infrastructure for organizing and incubation to further build this solidarity economy movement.

Read the full report>>



Featured Websites

Blue Collar Jobs Tracker

This new tracker from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) tracks employment in manufacturing, construction, and mining & logging. The goal is to compare the stated intent of the Trump Administration’s “America First” trade policies with monthly data on job creation by state, and in particular rust belt states. Find our more>> 


Far Nearer

Funded by the Friends Provident Foundation, Far Nearer documents local efforts to build economic resilience in the UK. The site includes a map of projects and organizations that promote economic inclusion and systemic change, including those related to banking, housing, energy, health, and more. It also provides links to interviews with leading practitioners in the field. Find out more>> 



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