Dear Colleague, 


We are pleased to welcome Valerie Piper as the new Vice President of Engaged Practice at The Democracy Collaborative. Prior to joining our staff, Valerie served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development at HUD, where she led the development and launch of President Obama’s Promise Zones Initiative. Her distinguished career has consistently focused on advancing practical, cross-sectoral collaborative strategies at scale to make a genuine difference in low-income communities, and we anticipate that her knowledge and experience will play a key role in taking our work in the community wealth building field to the next level. More information about Valerie can be found here.

We are also pleased to announce that our colleagues Executive Vice President & Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly and Chief Financial Officer & Director, Employee Ownership Programs Jessica Bonanno, have recently been honored by the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations with fellowships to further their research on employee ownership. Marjorie has accepted a J. Robert Beyster Fellowship and Jessica has been named as a Rutgers Research Fellow, allowing them to join a prestigious community of scholars and practitioners working to promote this key strategy for economic democracy. This announcement comes at a time of many exciting developments in the field of employee ownership. Senators Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand recently put forward a pair of federal bills to make employee ownership more accessible. Read more in Common Dreams and In These Times. The Colorado State Legislature recently passed a measure to embed technical support programs for employee ownership in the State’s Small Business Assistance Center, and Rochester, New York's Market Driven Community Corporation has launched its first enterprise which will be worker-owned. Read more about the launch below and further coverage in Next City and Democrat and Chronicle.

In an article in The Nation, Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz, Next System Project Executive Director Joe Guinan, and Research Director Thomas Hanna put forward the idea of “quantitative easing for the planet,” in which the government would buy out fossil-fuel companies in order to keep unburnable carbon in the ground. Such a measure would break the political opposition of large fossil fuel corporations to climate saving measures and help to shift the resources needed to transition towards a just and renewable energy economy. The groundwork for this new energy economy is outlined in The Next System Project’s Climate Energy Deck, which was used to workshop pathways and possibilities with partners in the run up to the People’s Climate March in April. The Next System Project also announced the winners of the “What’s Next?” essay contest, which drew hundreds of submissions suggesting alternatives to our current political economic system. Read more below. 

Building up our Rolling Back Inclusion tracker, we have added a feature that maps which appropriations subcommittee is responsible for each of the community economic development programs included in the tracker. Each program includes links to the Members of Congress from both parties in each of those subcommittees, providing their phone, email, and social media contact information. Our hope is that this will be a resource to help those concerned about federal support for community development learn how to make their voices heard. The tracker was recently featured in an article in Yes! Magazine.


Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative 


New from The Democracy Collaborative

Rochester's Market Driven Community Corporation Launches First Start-Up

We extend sincere congratulations to Mayor Lovely Warren and our other partners in Rochester, NY, for the launch of ENEROC, the first startup business incubated by the Market Driven Community Corporation (MDCC), an independent non-profit focused on the development of worker-owned businesses within the City.  Known as ENEROC, the new business has secured a contract install LED lighting at Rochester General Hospital and is expected to create between 9 and 14 new jobs for local residents. Find out more

Find out more

Next System Project Announces Essay Contest Winners

After reviewing hundreds of submissions from 30 different states and 26 countries, The Next System Project announced six winning original essays from the 2016 “What’s Next?” essay contest. The winners were selected with the help of distinguished guest judges Naomi Klein, Raj Patel, and Dayna Cunningham, and put forward a wide range of alternatives to the current system, from a renewed participatory democracy to establishing present-day commons. Read the winning essays here. 

Find out more

Community Wealth In The News

The City Council of Richmond, Virginia voted to renew funding for its Office of Community Wealth Building. Read more about the community organizing that led to the development of the office on the Living Cities blog and in US News.  

  • Communications Director John Duda was quoted in an article in The Nation about the work of Cooperation Jackson, which is working to build a more just and equitable economic system for residents in Jackson, Mississippi. 
  • Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinely was interviewed by AGORA, a platform focused on sustainable economies based in Spain, about the potential of community wealth building to catalyze a new economic system. Read the interview in English or in Spanish

Featured Videos

Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder and Next System Project Co-Chair Gar Alperovitz discusses the potential of buying out fossil fuel companies as a strategy to combat climate change on Reality Asserts Itself. 

Democracy Collaborative President & Co-Founder Ted Howard discusses the role of anchors in building resurgent cities as part of a TedX event at Cleveland State University. His remarks begin at the 5-minute mark. 

Recommended reads

Best Practices for Social Value Procurement
While a growing number of institutions are recognizing the need to integrate social, economic, and environmental values into their purchasing decisions, few actually evaluate and measure these values, limiting the uptake of this approach. This new paper from the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation reviews existing social value procurement frameworks, including Cleveland’s Greater University Circle Initiative, and puts forwards common themes and lessons learned. Read the full paper here.

Series Explores Stories of Milwaukee’s Persistent Poverty

Published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “What Happened to Us?” is a series by reporter James Causey that examines the challenges faced by Milwaukee’s black community by following the lives of his third-grade classmates. The series includes sections on housing, incarceration, and jobs, as well as a segment that outlines how models such as Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives offer a pathway forward. Read the full series here. ​

Featured Websites

Trade-Offs: Taxpayers Your Money, Your Choice

Developed by the National Priorities Project, “Trade-Offs: Taxpayers Your Money, Your Choice” is an interactive tool that allows users to see the dollar amount that taxpayers in a particular locality are contributing to national budget items. This is paired with a list of other budget items that these resources could be diverted to, and users can create their own custom combination based on their priorities.   


Visualizing the Small Business Closure Crisis
Six out of 10 business owners in the U.S. plan to sell their company
of the next decade. This series of data visualizations created by Project Equity shows the impact this will have on employees of these firms and the opportunity it provides for worker cooperative conversions. The site includes national level data, as well as detailed data on the San Francisco Bay Area and Western North Carolina. It maps the number of baby boomer owned businesses, the number of employees that would be affected by a potential sale or conversion, and a breakdown of the economic impact of specific industries. 

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