Dear Colleague,
Later this month, I will be travelling to the United Kingdom to keynote the 'Transforming our Economy' Conference in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, part of the Labour Party’s Regional Economy Conference series. I will also join members of parliament and other public officials at Co-operative Party roundtables in Manchester and London on advancing inclusive economic development. These events build on a growing number of exciting developments across the UK: Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell recently gave a speech on the opportunities of cooperative ownership; our colleagues at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies released a report on the role of British anchor institutions in scaling community wealth building; and Preston city councillor Matthew Brown, architect of the “Preston Model”—which links anchor procurement to inclusive, economic development—was profiled in The Guardian. I will joining Matthew in Preston for public events to advance the community wealth agenda.
Transformative developments are also unfolding here in the U.S. to advance mission-related impact investing. The Surdna Foundation recently announced a commitment to devote $100 million of their $1 billion endowment towards investments with social returns, aligning their investments with their grant making activities around inclusive and sustainable economies. Read more about Surdna’s impact investment approach in our recommended reads section below and in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Another exciting development in the field of impact investing is a growing focus on employee ownership. On January 18th the 50 by 50 initiative and The Foundation For Enterprise Development co-hosted a convening to discuss the role that impact capital can play dramatically expanding employee ownership.
The Next System Project released the fifth volume of papers in the “New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals” series, edited by NSP co-chair Gus Speth. This volume offers visions ranging from an Economy for the Common Good and Earthland to a decentralized United States in Million Utopias and Community Economies. The Next System Project also released a new working paper on gender equity by Research Associate Cecilia Gingerich. Read more below. 
Healthcare systems are continuing to rethink their roles in the communities they serve. Manager of Healthcare Engagement David Zuckerman recently authored an article in Hospitals and Health Networks discussing how health systems are pioneering the strategies highlighted in our Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities toolkit series on inclusive and local procurement, hiring, and place-based investment. I am also pleased to share a new report about the emerging Healthcare Anchor Network, a group of health systems dedicated to advancing this approach, which grew out of our December convening Advancing the Anchor Mission of Healthcare. Read more below.
Conversations on innovative strategies to address inequality are also emerging at the city level across the United States. The Democracy Collaborative’s Chief Financial Officer and Director of Employee Ownership Programs Jessica Bonanno recently presented on community wealth building strategies at a city council committee meeting in South Bend, Indiana. Read local news coverage here. Senior Fellow and Executive Vice President Marjorie Kelly was recently interviewed in LIFT Economy’s podcast Next Economy Now about opportunities for broad-based ownership to support rural economic development.

Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative

New from The Democracy Collaborative


In December 2016, leaders from 40 of the country's largest health systems gathered in Washington, DC to discuss how to leverage their institutional assets to benefit the long-term well-being of the communities they serve. This new report provides a synthesis of the conversations and innovations discussed at this convening, including the emergence of the Healthcare Anchor Network, a group of health system leaders committed to pioneering and scaling this approach.
Read the full report


On International Women's Day, The Next System Project released "Towards Gender Liberation: The Necessity of System Change," a working paper by Cecilia Gingerich that looks at the inherently sexist nature of our current political and economic system and beyond to some of the visions that have been put forward for a more gender-equitable society. The paper calls for further work to clarify the transitional steps, models, and policies we need to adopt in order to begin moving towards a better system of gender relations in the hope of inspiring the development of still more developed visions and pathways to change.

Read the full paper

On our blog

I Can’t Keep Silent about this Anymore: Women and Capital Raising

Democracy Collaborative Fellow Jenny Kassan discusses the gender gap as it relates to raising capital among mission-driven entrepreneurs.


Featured Video

Nexus Community Partners presents Community Wealth Building

In this short film, Saint Paul MN’s Nexus Community Partners presents its approach to community wealth building, particularly among the communities of color with whom they work.


Recommended Reads

New Report on Closing the Gender Wealth Gap

While the pay gap between men and women is widely discussed, the wealth gap is even more pronounced: single women own 32 cents for every dollar owned by men, with women of color owning pennies to the dollar. This new report from the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative discusses the systems and dynamics that generate this gap, including disparate access to business equity and home ownership opportunities. The author recommends tax reforms that make wealth building subsidies more accessible to women of color in particular, as well as strategies like cooperative ownership and more flexible savings account options.


Surdna Foundations Releases “Atlas for Impact Investing”

Earlier this year, the Surdna Foundation announced the creation of a $100 million impact investment fund (roughly 10 percent of their portfolio) in order to align their investment practices with their grant making activities. This new guide distills the lessons learned in establishing the fund, including their research on the spectrum of mission investment tools available to philanthropy, detailed information on their internal processes and timeline, and discussion of key milestones and challenges.


Featured Websites

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Launched in 2007, Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity aims to create a broad dialogue on how to address growing poverty and economic hardship after the Great Recession. The website includes commentaries from policymakers, advocates, and academics, original research on economic mobility, and a compendium of state efforts to reduce poverty. Learn more at
Start-Up CLT HUB

A project of Grounded Solutions, Start-up CLT Hub provides resources for establishing community land trusts, including tools and publications from organizations in their network and from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The website includes worksheets, guides, and information for creating business plans, determining the governance structure of the CLT, coalition building among residents, and gaining support from local government. Learn more at
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