Dear Colleague,

I am pleased to announce the publication of The Pluralist Commonwealth, a new book authored by Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Next System Project Gar Alperovitz. For nearly a half-century, Gar has been working to renew and rebuild the very concept of “community” as the foundation of a next American system. His vision is one in which democratic life is built from the ground up; broadly shared ownership linked to community transformation serves as the basis for equitable and inclusive local economies; and a new array of democratic institutions and local political engagement set in motion an “evolutionary reconstruction” of our political-economy. Designed as a small, easy to use handbook, The Pluralist Commonwealth provides concrete and hopeful examples of what can be done locally to build a new, truly democratic political economy from the ground up. The book is available for free online, and a limited number of hard copies are available for local reading and organizing groups; if you are interested in receiving a copy for these purposes, please let us know

One of the hallmarks of The Democracy Collaborative is linking the big vision of what’s possible to focused, on-the-ground practice in communities across the country. One way we do this is by working directly with anchor institutions, including hospitals, universities, community foundations and local government to foster community wealth building. Earlier this month, The Democracy Collaborative launched the Healthcare Anchor Network, a group of more than 30 health systems working to improve community well-being by building inclusive and sustainable local economies. Participants in the meeting worked on developing plans to scale these approaches in their own communities and across the sector. What was perhaps most inspiring was to learn of so much work already happening and to witness the wealth of knowledge and commitment in the room. Read more about the meeting and the work of the Network in a blog post from Network member Kaiser Permanente. 

Commitment to these new approaches and to community wealth building is also growing in localities across the U.S. and abroad. I had the opportunity to contribute an essay to the newly released Colorado Impact Report which brings together several leading efforts to build more inclusive and sustainable economies in Colorado. Co-produced by Cornerstone Capital Group and KP Advisors, the anthology details place-based impact investing and other community wealth building initiatives taking place across the state. Meanwhile, across the pond in the United Kingdom, just days before its successful showing in the recent general election, the UK’s Labour Party released a report by an expert group on alternative ownership models, focusing on how worker ownership, cooperatives, municipal ownership, and public ownership at the national level can be used to address rising inequality. Read the full report here.

This month also saw a number of exciting developments in the field of worker ownership: The Democracy Collaborative’s Fifty by Fifty initiative has published a new report on the role impact investing can play in scaling employee ownership, authored by Mary Ann Beyster, president and trustee of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED). Read more below. Democracy Collaborative Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly recently spoke at the annual Vermont Employee Ownership Conference about the transformative opportunity for advancing worker ownership through business transitions as baby boomers retire. Read more about her remarks in the VT Digger.

Finally, I would like to extend a welcome to Lauren Worth who is joining our Washington, DC office as a Program Associate in our healthcare engagement division and Molly McSweyn, our new communications intern. 


Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative


Community Wealth Building In The News 

  • Nexus Community Partners, one of our partner organizations located in St. Paul, Minnesota, was recently featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune for their work around supporting business conversions to employee ownership.
  • Nineteen of New Jersey’s higher education institutions released a joint-declaration around their role as anchor institutions. Read more about the initiative, which includes Anchor Dashboard member Rutgers University, on
  • A few weeks ago, we featured a powerful series by James Causey that highlighted the lived realities of disinvestment in Milwaukee, ending with a call for solutions like the Evergreen model in Cleveland, Ohio. Now, these solutions are on the way to becoming city policy. Read about new developments in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Bon Secours Richmond Health System has helped support the creation of the first land trust in Richmond, Virginia in order to increase access to affordable housing for residents in Church Hill, a rapidly gentrifying area. Read more in  Richmond Magazine 

New from The Democracy Collaborative

New Report on Opportunities for Impact Investors to Scale Employee Ownership

With income inequality in the United States at historically high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential opportunity to disperse wealth more broadly. This new report by Mary Ann Beyster, president and trustee of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), published by the Fifty by Fifty initiative of The Democracy Collaborative, explores the role of investment in bringing this solution to scale. The report synthesizes six months of research, and finds that while the opportunities for impact investors are currently limited, an investing infrastructure is beginning to emerge across asset classes.

Read the full report

New CW City: New Haven, CT

The forty-second in our CW City series is New Haven, CT. New Haven has a high degree of economic inequality, with the top 20 percent of households earning 6.5 times more than the bottom 20 percent. To address this and other concerns, anchor institutions, non-profits, and the City government, among others, are developing various strategies to build community wealth. For example, the Small Contractor Development Program provides minority and women-owned businesses with technical assistance, mentoring, networking, and loans. All city construction contracts of $150,000 or less are reserved for contractors registered with the program.

Read the full profile

Featured Videos

“Worker-owned co-ops blaze a trail out of poverty”

This new video, produced by Ideastream, explores how Cleveland’s network of employee-owned businesses, the Evergreen Cooperatives, is building wealth in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Watch here > >
“A Conversation on Employee and Community Ownership”

Ahead of her remarks at the Vermont Employee Ownership Conference, Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly sat down with Matt Cropp, Associate Director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, to discuss employee and community ownership.  

Watch here >> 

Recommended Reads

New Book Explores the Devastating Health Effects of Inequality

Authored by Dr. David Ansell, Senior Vice President of Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, The Death Gap dives into the drivers of the thirty-five-year difference in life expectancy between the wealthiest and poorest communities in the U.S. In order to make headway and eradicate these alarming health inequities, Ansell argues we must address the systemic drivers of inequality and structural violence. Health equity can be achieved by building up the capacity and autonomy of local communities, and Ansell discusses the role that health systems and other anchors can play in doing this.

Read more here>> 

Employee Ownership Associated with Greater Household Wealth, Job Stability, and Employment Quality

This report from the National Center for Employee Ownership synthesizes research on the impact of employee ownership on economic outcomes for young workers, ages 28-34. The authors find that compared to non-employee owners, these workers have higher household net wealth, higher median incomes, increased job stability, and greater access to benefits such as childcare, retirement plans, and tuition reimbursement.

Read more here>> 

Featured Websites

Up & Go

Launched earlier this month, Up & Go is a web app that connects New York residents to worker-owned cleaning cooperatives. Noting that larger competitors have been able to get more business through app platforms, Up & Go will connect co-ops to consumers while allowing workers to get more take-home pay than they would with other apps. Read more about the development of the platform in Fast Company 
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