Community Wealth Building
Fighting inequality with comprehensive and transformative solutions for community economic development.
It is easy to be distracted by what passes for economic news these days, focused as it is on short-term fluctuations and assurances of recovery and revitalization. The simple truth, however, is that year by year, decade by decade, life in the United States is steadily growing ever more unequal.
Developing new models to promote equity and anchor capital in communities.
As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.
On June 13 and 14, 2016 in Washington, DC, many of the nation’s leading experts in employee ownership, sustainable business and finance, community and economic development, and philanthropy came together in a Learning + Design session. Co-hosts for the meeting were Marjorie Kelly and Jessica Bonanno of The Democracy Collaborative and Camille Kerr of Democracy at Work Institute. The purpose of the session was to discuss how to achieve unprecedented scale of employee ownership by focusing on achieving an audacious goal: 50 million U.S. employee-owners by 2050. This report summarizes and expands upon the June meeting:
Connecting the Field
Building a stronger network of practice for community wealth builders across the country.
Our new Learning/Action Lab program helps amplify local capacity to deploy new strategies for building wealth in low-income communities, connecting grassroots leaders with the models and best practices they need for transformative economic development. Our first cohort of Lab participants is bringing together five Native organizations for ongoing training and consultation as they develop new community-owned enterprises.
Vision and Strategy
Helping orient our work today as community wealth builders towards the world we want to see tomorrow.
Our co-founder Gar Alperovitz sketches out the major institutions of a systemic alternative based in plural forms of democratic ownership, oriented around community at various scales—what he has called “The Pluralist Commonwealth.” Visit thenextsystem.org for more resources and information.Read more about The Pluralist Commonwealth...
This new working paper from The Next System Project—prepared as an invited contribution to the "After Fossil Fuels: The New Economy" conference in Oberlin, Ohio from October 6-8, 2016—explores the intersections of systemic economic and ecological crisis, and propose that only a break with the mechanisms of corporate capitalism is capable of guaranteeing a sustainable future.
Engaging with eds, meds, and other anchor institutions to help them help communities.
Cities are increasingly turning to their “anchor” institutions as drivers of economic development, harnessing the power of these major economic players to benefit the neighborhoods where they are rooted. This is especially true for cities that are struggling with widespread poverty and disinvestment. Urban anchors— typically hospitals and universities—have sometimes isolated themselves from the poor and struggling neighborhoods that surround them. But this is changing. Since the late 1990s, as population, jobs, and investment have migrated outward, these “rooted in place” institutions are becoming a key to the long, hard work of revitalization. In Cleveland, the Greater University Circle Initiative is a unique, multi-stakeholder initiative with a ten-year track record. What is the “secret sauce” that keeps this effort together?
Best practices and policy
Resources to advance community wealth building and help it scale.
How can cities redeploy their economic development resources to focus on building a more inclusive economy grounded in broad, local ownership? How can policymakers get strategies like worker cooperative development the support and resources needed to reach truly meaningful scale? How can collaborations between communities, local government, and key institutional stakeholders build pathways to economic equity for the people left behind by the traditional trickle-down economic playbook? Read more about Municipal leaders share visions for cities that build community wealth...
Our Community-Wealth.org site is an essential resource for practitioners and policy makers working to build community wealth. For almost a decade, our site has served as a central clearinghouse for key research and reports from the field, cutting across traditional community development silos and offering a comprehensive guide to local wealth building strategies.