Dear Colleague,

It has been a busy summer at The Democracy Collaborative. Last week, we released a new animation that describes how strategies such as employee ownership, public banking, and local procurement fit into the Pluralist Commonwealth, a systemic vision for a more democratic and inclusive society developed by Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz. Watch the video here and read the accompanying article published in Yes! Magazine.

In June, we co-hosted an event with the Democracy at Work Institute focused on strategies to dramatically expand employee ownership in America by the year 2050. It marked the launch of a new initiative called 50 by 50, which is an ongoing network focused on taking employee ownership to scale. Read more about the event and a new certification for employee-owned companies below.

In August, Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly contributed an article to The Hill, in which she described how broad-based ownership models can help reduce income-inequality, and the Imagined Economy Project featured our work in a report on municipally-led cooperative development. These ideas are gaining support across the political spectrum. Recently, for instance, The American Conservative highlighted The Democracy Collaborative’s work in Cleveland, Ohio and Rochester, New York in an article discussing cooperative ownership as a means to address growing poverty and unemployment.

Journalist Jay Walljasper recently published a story in On the Commons magazine about Native American Natural Foods (NANF), a for-profit Native-owned business specializing in healthy and organic food (their signature product is the Tanka Bar). NANF is a participant in our Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, a program to promote social enterprise and community ownership in Indian Country. Headquartered on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, where 97 percent of people live below the poverty line, NANF is in the midst of transitioning to an employee-owned company that not only creates local jobs but also helps to restore Buffalo on native land. Jay’s article reports on how well-funded corporate competitors with no authentic ties to Native communities or foodways threaten to displace Tanka from grocery store shelves, continuing the exploitation of Native culture and peoples.

We are looking forward to the upcoming release of the Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities toolkit series. The toolkit will provide hospitals and health systems with resources to harness their everyday business practices to drive community health and well-being. Democracy Collaborative Manager of Healthcare Engagement Dave Zuckerman and Research Associate Katie Parker have led a year-long process to create these tools, engaging and interviewing dozens of leaders in healthcare. Stay tuned for the first toolkit on inclusive, local hiring, which will be released in the coming weeks.
Those of you who have followed the work of The Democracy Collaborative over the past decade will be familiar with Steve Dubb, who served as Director of Research and subsequently Director of Special Projects. His contribution to our work, particularly in building knowledge and expertise in community wealth building, has been enormous. This month, Steve has transitioned out of a staff position, but I am happy to report that he will continue to participate as a Senior Fellow of the Collaborative. His most recent contributions to the community wealth field include a post to Shelterforce’s Rooflines blog in which he discusses universities’ growing interest in anchor institution strategies. Steve also recently developed a set of online tools for Campus Compact that compiles resources for universities committed to exploring and fulfilling their anchor mission.

Finally, I would like to share three new job openings with The Democracy Collaborative. We are currently hiring for a Media and Design Associate and a Program Associate for the Next System Project, based out of our Washington, DC office, and a Senior Editorial Associate based out of Boston, MA.
Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative

New from The Democracy Collaborative

50 by 50 Event Launches Network to Create 50 Million Employee-Owners by 2050

On June 13 and 14, The Democracy Collaborative joined the Democracy at Work Institute to host a convening of leaders in the fields of employee ownership, community economic development, sustainable business and finance, and philanthropy. The purpose of the event was to launch a new network, 50 by 50, focused on dramatically scaling up employee ownership in the United States. Specifically, the Learning + Design session focused on how to achieve the audacious goal of 50 million U.S. employee-owners by 2050. Discussion topics, a list of participants, and next steps identified by attendees can be found in the event report and website. One of the Design Team members of 50 x 50 was Thomas Dudley, who is also Co-Founder of Certified EO, a new certification program being developed to raise the profile of employee ownership in America. Read more about Certified EO in our featured websites below.
Learn more about the 50x50 initiative

Featured Video

The Pluralist Commonwealth

Pluralist Commonwealth

Watch our most recent animation that outlines Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz’s vision of the Pluralist Commonwealth, a community sustaining political-economic system. 
Watch the video

Recommended Reads

Community-Owned Energy Generates Environmental and Economic Benefit

This new report from TREC, an Ontario, Canada based developer of community-owned renewable energy and member of the Federation of Community Power Co-operatives, assesses opportunities to build community wealth stemming from Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff program (FIT), which provides higher payment rates to renewable energy providers. The report recommends focusing the FIT on cooperatively-owned, First Nations-owned, and municipally-owned enterprises, finding that that every dollar spent on such community-owned energy efforts results in $2 more in additional local economic activity. The authors suggest publically-funded loan guarantees to grow the capacity of these enterprises.


City Governments Promote Cooperative Business Development

This new report from the Imagined Economy Project assesses municipally led cooperative development approaches used in ten cities across the United States. Highlighting The Democracy Collaborative’s work in Cleveland, Ohio; Rochester, New York; and Richmond, Virginia, the report identifies Anchor, Ecosystem, and Preference as three distinct approaches to advance worker-cooperatives as a means to achieve inclusive economic development. The author discusses the impact of City efforts to date and cites the establishment of cooperative development programs within city agencies and the funding staff positions for this work as best practices. 


Worker-Ownership Reduces Economic Inequality 

Amongst developed nations, the U.S. is a leader in unequal income distribution. But according to a recent Century Foundation report on the role of worker-ownership models, this is a trend that can be changed. The author examines how a cohesive national regulatory framework, national tax incentives, a U.S. employee ownership bank, and increased support for employee-ownership technical assistance centers can bolster U.S. worker-buyout policy. In aligning regulatory, technical, and financial support for worker-cooperatives, the United States can bring scale to this key economic equalizer. 


Without Changes, Racial Wealth Gap Will Persist for Centuries

Between 1983 and 2013, the average wealth of white American families grew by 84 percent—three times and 1.2 times the growth experienced by African American and Hispanic American families respectively. The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and CFED examine this and other racial wealth gap trends in their new report, and offer policy solutions to reduce wealth inequalities which include: conducting a government-wide audit to examine the ways in which current federal policies perpetuate racial wealth inequality, creating universal children’s savings accounts, and exploring progressive taxes such as a wealth tax.


Featured Websites

Certified EO is a new certification program being developed to raise the profile of employee ownership in America. Certified EO plans to leverage the reach of thousands of employee-owned companies to reach millions of people and make employee ownership part of the national consciousness. The program also provides resources for employee-owned companies to help them increase sales and recruit top talent. 
Learn more at

Launched by the Pratt Center for Community Development in collaboration with PolicyLink and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, the Equitable Innovation Economies Initiative (EIE) aims to help cities develop inclusive economic growth strategies with a specific focus on the manufacturing sector. EIE recently launched pilot projects in Indianapolis, IN; New York City, NY; Portland, OR; and San Jose, CA, through which it will identify barriers to, refine approaches for, and track the impact of their development strategies. 
Learn more at

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