In cities across the nation, a few enjoy rising affluence while many struggle to get by. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us. Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone? Read more about Cities Building Community Wealth...
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...
Based on Ted Howard's remarks to the recent Alternative Models of Ownership conference, we've distilled the eight basic principles behind community wealth building—a transformative approach to local economic development—into this handy one page guide. Read more about Community Wealth Building: Eight Basic Principles...
Engaging with eds, meds, and other anchor institutions to help them help communities.
Our new report, Higher Education's Anchor Mission, examines how an ongoing—and expanding—effort to track the impact of colleges and universities on the financial and social well-being of their surrounding neighborhoods is helping these anchor institutions align their resources to build stronger community partnerships and create more inclusive local economies.
CLEVELAND, OHIO — MAY 10, 2018 Evergreen Cooperative Laundry (ECL) announced a major expansion today in collaboration with Ohio’s second largest employer, taking over management of the Cleveland Clinic’s laundry facility in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. This additional location complements ECL’s original facility in Glenville. The expansion brings more than 100 new employees into the company, joining the 50 workers employed at the original laundry.
Celebrating this milestone for the workers at this employee-owned business, a proclamation from the City of Cleveland was delivered, highlighting the collaboration between ECL and Cleveland Clinic that will help strengthen and support the vitality of the local economy. “The City of Cleveland welcomes the opportunity for all businesses—new or well established—to participate and grow in our community,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “Investments from employee-owned companies like Evergreen Cooperative Laundry help create more wealth for people in our neighborhoods while making our city an even more desirable place to live, work, play and do business.”
ECL is part of the Evergreen Cooperatives, a nationally celebrated network of companies in Cleveland, Ohio, that creates jobs and builds community wealth through cooperative business ownership. These businesses are located in historically disinvested neighborhoods. For Brett Jones, Executive Vice President at the Evergreen Cooperatives, “this expansion validates the core idea at the heart of the Evergreen model—that businesses owned by workers can succeed and thrive in the market, helping close the wealth gap.” Read more about Evergreen Cooperative Laundry Expands to Second Plant, More than Tripling Its Workforce...
Best practices and policy
Resources to advance community wealth building and help it scale.
with support from Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE), the Civic Consulting Alliance, and The Democracy Collaborative
Anchor institutions can play a key role in helping the low-income communities they serve by better aligning their institutional resources—like hiring, purchasing, investment, and volunteer base—with the needs of those of communities. The recommendations in this “playbook,” drawn from research carried out to help Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) align around its Anchor Mission, are being published to help other hospitals and health systems accelerate their own efforts to drive institutional alignment with community needs.
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.