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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our May newsletter. This month’s developments include: 
  • In an article in The Nation, William Greider challenges Hilary Clinton to incorporate a call for systemic change into her presidential platform. The Next System Project was also featured in the first article of YES! Magazine’s new “Checkerboard Revolution” series, which will examine how community organizers and local movements can “preserve their rich diversity while overcoming the isolation that leaves them vulnerable.” Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz discusses the Next System Project in an interview in Orion Magazine. Registration is still open for the free Next System Project launch webinar on May 20, at 3pm EDT. Register here.
  • Community wealth building is taking root in cities across the country and abroad. Articles in Grist and Next City highlight The Democracy Collaborative’s work in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Rochester. The Philadelphia City Controller’s Office recently released a report on opportunities to develop an anchor-based local procurement strategy. The City of Toronto is working with some of the city’s largest public employers to develop an anchor mission. Across the Atlantic, the City of Preston, England is drawing from the Cleveland Model to develop cooperatives. In 2013, I had the opportunity to visit with Preston city officials to discuss opportunities to strengthen the local economy. This new report, prepared by the Center for Local Economic Strategies for the City Council of Preston, outlines opportunities to leverage anchor procurement for local benefit.
  • The Democracy Collaborative is excited to announce the launch of the Community Clean Water Management Group in Prince George’s County, the first business launched under the Washington Regional Association of Grantmaker’s Community Wealth Building Initiative (CWBI). On Monday, May 18, I will speak at the CWBI briefing, which will focus on efforts to promote worker ownership in the DC metropolitan area. Register for this free event here. I will also be a featured speaker at the Aspen Institute’s Rooting Opportunity Conference, held in Washington, DC from June 1-2, along with Sharice Davids of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, and Emily Kawano of the Wellspring Collaborative and the Center for Popular Economics. A full list of speakers and registration can be found here.      
  • Research Director Steve Dubb gave the keynote address at the Community Wealth Building Roundtable in Durham, North Carolina. While there, he was interviewed by the North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC, where he spoke about the value of cooperative employment as a means to build equity and economic security. 
  • Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly moderated a webinar on cooperative conversions, co-sponsored by The Democracy Collaborative and Project Equity. A recording is available here. Marjorie also keynoted the BALLE Impact Investment Summit in Asheville, North Carolina. 
As always, we continue to add new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions.

Ted Howard
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative

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New from The Democracy Collaborative

C-W City: Indianapolis, Indiana

The thirty-fifth in our continuing series of Community Wealth Cities is Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis faces major challenges, including having one of the nation’s highest levels of segregation and rapidly growing poverty, but many in Indianapolis are working hard to reverse these trends and promote economic and social inclusion. Community wealth builders like the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which created a $2 million revolving loan fund to support community revitalization, the Indiana Cooperative Development Center, and the Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis, a national leader in adopting an anchor mission, are making great strides in expanding economic opportunity to all. Find Out More»

New Report Identifies Opportunities for Small-Business Healthcare Partnerships in New Orleans

Our newest report, Healthcare Small Business Gap Analysis, prepared in partnership with New Orleans based DMM & Associates on behalf of the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), outlines procurement practices and supply chain needs of New Orleans healthcare institutions and the capacity local business to fulfill those needs. The report provides recommendations on how to leverage New Orleans’ hospitals’ $1.5 billion in procurement spending to promote greater local procurement and economic inclusion in a city where only 48 percent of African American adult males are in the formal labor force. This report is based on interviews with nearly 50 representatives from area hospitals, additional anchor buyers, technical assistance organizations, small businesses, and other public stakeholders. Find Out More»

Recommended Reads

Austin, Texas Residents Promote Growth of Local Cooperative Sector

Austin, Texas is widely known as a high-tech hub, yet many do not benefit: indeed, the city ranks tenth nationally in income segregation. Co-op activists in Austin, however, are responding to this challenge. Cooperation Texas is organizing worker co-ops in low-income neighborhoods, while the Austin Cooperative Business Association has had some modest policy success, including getting City Council to commit $60,000 for worker co-op technical assistance. This new report, “Beyond Business as Usual” identifies a strategy for further co-op development, which includes expanding education, training, and research programs for worker cooperatives; converting local businesses into worker cooperatives; inclusion of worker co-ops in the city’s MBE/WBE Procurement Program; linking cooperatives to anchor institution procurement; and strengthening local co-op associations and development organizations. Read More»

A Community Wealth Building Financial Plan for Chicago


Despite the fact that municipalities maintained a loan default rate of 0.02 percent between 1970 and 2012, credit rating agencies frequently threaten cities with credit downgrades, a “political ploy” that often serves to transfer public assets into Wall Street hands. In this report from the ReFund America Project, an initiative of the Roosevelt Institute, Executive Director Saqib Bhatti and Senior Research Analyst Carrie Sloan charge the City of Chicago to resist corporate interests and put residents first. They offer a series of suggestions to stabilize the local economy and provide resources for essential public services, which include ending corporate tax subsidies and tax breaks, partnering with other cities to fight against financing fees levied by big banks, and creating public banks to foster reinvestment. Read More»


New Report Highlights Best Practices in Cooperative Conversions

With 70 percent of privately held businesses expected to change hands over the next two decades and 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day (many of whom lack succession plans), the nation has the opportunity to preserve these businesses by converting them to worker cooperatives. This new report from the Democracy at Work Institute and the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives provides case studies of successful cooperative ownership transitions for cafés in Washington and Oregon; an architecture, building, and energy business in Massachusetts; a natural conservation consultancy firm in Wisconsin; and a landscaping business in Massachusetts. The authors examine how owner involvement, financing, governance structure, and other critical factors affect the conversion process and highlight the need for greater technical assistance and peer support from the cooperative community. Read More»

Study Finds Institutional Local Procurement Generates Jobs and Positive Health Outcomes

Minneapolis-based Crossroads Resource Center and the Illinois Public Health Institute contribute to the growing body of research on the health and economic impacts of local food procurement by institutional purchasers. The authors examine how communities in southern Arizona, Kentucky, southwest Wisconsin, San Diego County, and Burlington, Vermont foster collaboration and structure local procurement activities, and they identify the policies, systems, processes, and procedures that maximize health and economic benefits. The study outlines several key principles for expanding and enhancing support of local food procurement and outlines practical strategies for building networks, educating stakeholders, and marketing local food programs. Read More»

Featured Websites

Build Healthy Places


A project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Build Healthy Places Network works to break down divisions among researchers in the fields of community development and health and to identify opportunities for coordinated investment in low-income communities. The Network hosts regular convenings and offers a digital library which includes examples of healthy communities and supportive policy, as well as best practices in data collection and measurement. Through an interactive platform, practitioners and community members can report successes, document challenges, and discuss needs and opportunities. Find Out More»

Economics for Equity & Environment

Economics for Equity & Environment, E3, connects community organizations to economists with expertise in climate, energy, natural resources, and the environment. Its website offers research papers and a “Green Economist Directory,” which lists pro-bono and fee-for-service economists, searchable by topic area and location. Economists who are part of E3 regularly consult and work with major environmental organizations, foundations, members of Congress, and state and federal agencies. E3 also offers workshops, internships, and fellowships for economics graduate students to build the field. Find Out More»

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