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Community wealth building

What is community wealth building (CWB)?

Community Wealth Building (CWB) is an economic development model that transforms local economies based on communities having direct ownership and control of their assets. It challenges the failing approaches that have been widely accepted in American economic development for too long, and addresses wealth inequality at its core.

Where did it come from? 

First articulated by The Democracy Collaborative (TDC) in 2005, CWB takes progressive elements like community land trusts, worker cooperatives, public banking, and more – elements that have previously only existed as one-offs – and supercharges their power, systemically connecting and scaling them to change people’s lives and the economic future of our communities. It does so in coordination with local governments, economic development teams, anchor institutions, and community leaders and organizations: helping them to work in harmony, identify what elements are needed, and see the big picture as they replicate successful new tactics.

The Democracy Collaborative believes that when practiced in a holistic and interconnected way, CWB can democratize our economy from the ground up to build the equitable and sustainable political-economic system we all need.

Who is CWB for?

While its principles can and should be applied at all levels by all actors within a local economy, CWB is especially powerful as the defining framework of a local government. It is made for cities and localities not satisfied with tinkering around the edges, and those who are ready to reset the system entirely – challenging the very ideas that have been widely accepted in American economic development for too long, and addressing wealth inequality at its core.

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A new era for community wealth building

This report shows how community wealth building uniquely meets the crises of our time and how this model is already reshaping cities and communities across the globe, including a landmark opportunity in Chicago.

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Community Wealth Building Technical Assistance Taskforce

The Democracy Collaborative’s Community Wealth Building Technical Assistance Taskforce is a group of individuals and organizations with expertise in specific areas of community wealth building (CWB) and associated sectors.

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Community wealth building showcased on The Laura Flanders Show

Award-winning journalist Laura Flanders has just released a half hour documentary called “Community Wealth Building: An Economic Reset.”

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Scotland the Brave: Community wealth building makes national progress

Scotland has made significant progress in placing community wealth building at the core of economic policy. This is what we learned from a recent fact-finding trip.

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Owning the Future: After COVID-19, a new era of community wealth building

The COVID-19 pandemic could become a moment of crystallization, with communities and governments working together to build a genuinely inclusive economy. But to do so, we need ambitious interventions, both at the national level and at the level of a new common sense, built upward from community.

CWB: 8 Basic Principles

Community Wealth Building: Eight Basic Principles

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.

Next City Local Economy

Local Economy Preservation Funds: A Plan to Save Local Businesses and Create Broad Prosperity

Local economies are being decimated in the COVID-19 pandemic. By this point, every community has stories about a business that has closed and won’t re-open and friends and family members who have been laid off.

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Community wealth building: The path towards a democratic and reparative political economic system

In this paper, we review and analyze the history and practice of community wealth building, including its origins in the tumult of the 1960s and ‘70s, how it has evolved over time, and how it has spread from the US to the rest of the world.

Revisiting community control of land and housing (Photo: Derek Liang/Unsplash)

Revisiting community control of land and housing in the wake of COVID-19

As our housing crisis worsens during the COVID-19 pandemic, we urgently need new approaches and institutions that center permanent affordability, community ownership and control, and the long-term goal of decommodification.

Community control of land and housing

Community Control of Land and Housing: Exploring strategies for combating displacement, expanding ownership, and building community wealth

This report seeks to broaden awareness, discourse, and adoption of community control of land and housing strategies among various stakeholders who have a genuine desire to see stable, healthy, equitable, and sustainable local communities flourish.
Constructing the democratic public bank

Constructing the Democratic Public Bank: A governance proposal for Los Angeles

Public banks have the potential to address a host of economic, social, and ecological crises. This report proposes a democratic public bank model for Los Angeles and elsewhere that addresses key questions of how public banks can best live up to that potential.
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Building Resiliency through Green Infrastructure: A Community Wealth Building Approach

How investments in the green infrastructure needed for climate resiliency can be leveraged to build community wealth with worker cooperatives and social enterprises.

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Building Community Wealth through Community Resilience

If climate planning efforts do not take concerns around equity, justice, and power into consideration during implementation, they have the potential to further segregate U.S. cities; contribute to widening economic, social, and health inequality; and even, in the e

Wealth inequality

Democratising ownership to address wealth inequality

The Democracy Collaborative’s testimony to the U.K.’s leading progressive think tank on how to bring about a thoroughgoing democratization of our political economy. In the fall of 2017, Institute for Public Policy Research reached out to The Democracy Collaborative requesting evidence from the U.S. on broad-based ownership strategies and recommendations for how wealth can be generated and shared more equally.

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Anchor Collaboratives: Building bridges with place-based partnerships and anchor institutions

How anchor institutions can collaborate locally, leveraging the power of their economic assets to address social and economic disparities and to revitalize their communities.

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Urban and Metropolitan Universities: The Transformative Power of Anchor Institutions

This report focuses on the role of urban and metropolitan universities as anchor institutions in their community to address long standing inequities.

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An Indigenous Approach to Community Wealth Building: A Lakota Translation

Drawing on the work done in the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, Stephanie Gutierrez explores how a systemic approach to inclusive local economic development needs a process of active translation to resonate with the traditional values at the core of Native communities.

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Cities Building Community Wealth

Coverage of TDC’s report highlighting best practices in inclusive innovation from twenty cities across the country, and offering a unified vision of the underlying new paradigm of community focused economic development.
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Conversations on Community Wealth Building

There’s a movement afoot to build a more equitable, democratic economy in the United States. This movement has a name: it’s called community wealth building.
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Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources

This report showcases some key emerging best practices in state and local policy-making to support community wealth building.