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Democratizing ownership

Developing new models to promote equity and anchor capital in communities.

Across the nation, at the grassroots level of communities and cities, a movement is under way that is developing the models and infrastructure and democratic momentum for building a new economy – an inclusive, sustainable economy rooted in community: an economy that works for everyone, and that can sustain our life on this planet for many generations to come. In seed form, this economy is already begun. In the face of widespread dissatisfaction with the current economy, in the midst of pervasive poverty, unemployment and economic suffering, communities are being driven by their pain to experiment with something new – an economy built from the ground up by democratically controlled organizations like cooperatives, social enterprises, community land trusts, employee-owned firms, and municipally owned enterprises. For our nation to realize its founding democratic vision, wealth must be held broadly, with economic power wielded through democratically designed institutions of governance. Inclusive wealth – and inclusive opportunity for those normally excluded from our economy – is integral to the vision of Community Wealth Building.

Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan

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.

Taking Employee Ownership to Scale: Learning + Design Session

Democracy at Work Institute, The Democracy Collaborative

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:

Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale

Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale

Public interest in cooperatives has surged since the global financial crisis, as people cry out for an alternative to business-as-usual. In spite of their many benefits for individuals, businesses, and society, however, cooperatives are not well understood in the United States. The field of worker co-op development is just beginning to create the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to increase its scale and impact. Read more about Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale...

Shift Change: Putting Democracy to Work

This new documentary highlights the work of the Mondragon Cooperatives as well as companies across the United States, such as the Evergreen Cooperatives, which are owned and governed democratically by their employees. Airing on PBS stations across the country in the summer of 2014, the film includes interviews with the Democracy Collaborative's Ted Howard. Find out about the Washington, D.C. premiere here.