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Research

We build knowledge and leadership for the community wealth building field with cutting-edge research.

How can policy makers and neighborhood stakeholders learn what strategies work most effectively to build wealth in their communities?  How can practioners learn about emerging best practices to rebuild local economies? 

Our research at the Democracy Collaborative focuses on providing high-quality information and analysis that can be put to work in the field and on the ground.  Our reports and publications are based in extensive interviews with leaders from communities across the country, offering sophisticated and pragmatic assessments of strategies for local wealth building.  With a focus on measurable impacts and institutional experience, we build empirical cases for innovative approaches to community-focused economic development, highlighting the key challenges faced in this work. In particular, we are a leading research center for the growing "anchor institution" movement that looks to use the economic power of place-based nonprofits to support and sustain their surrounding communities.

Building off our extensive surveys of ongoing community wealth building efforts nationwide, we also develop recommendations to advance the state of the art, helping anchor leaders to better align institutional activity with community need, and providing policymakers and community development advocates with gamechanging approaches that stabilize neighborhoods and localize wealth.

Our research portal, community-wealth.org, provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the field, drawing together advances in community wealth building across sectors and silos. Through interviews with leaders in the field, profiles of organizations and efforts incities across the country, and our continuously updated directory of models and best practices, we provide critical research support for anyone interested in effective strategies to fight poverty and democratize wealth.

On the ground, our work alongside initiatives like the Evergreen Cooperatives (a trailblazing effort to link anchor procurement to a network of green worker cooperatives lifting low-income neighborhood residents out of deeply entrenched poverty) gives us a uniquely practical perspective: our analysis and recommendations are deeply informed by real work in communities across the country. 

If you'd like to find out more about the research we do, have a question you think we can help you answer, or would like to explore the possibility of engaging the Democracy Collaborative for a research project, please contact Thomas Hanna, Director of Research, at tmhanna@democracycollaborative.org.