Welcome to our latest www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. This quarter we bring you the following new developments:
- The Democracy Collaborative will be participating in a LISC webinar on “Linking Your CDC to Local Anchor Institutions.” The webcast event will take place Wednesday, April 23, from 2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern Time. Click here to visit www.lisc.org for details.
- Our nation’s capital is not only the seat of the Federal government, but also home to a network of local community wealth-building models and initiatives. This quarter we present the eleventh in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth Cities: Washington, D.C.
- We also offer the sixth in our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders: Eric Weaver of San Jose, CA-based Lenders for Community Development. For more than a dozen years, this CDFI has effectively combined individual wealth-building programs with microenterprise and community development lending.
- We’ve made a number of enhancements to our C-W Blog, including adding links to related blogs and adding RSS feed and e-mail services that allow you to get regular updates on additions. If you know of something we should announce or feature, please let us know!
As always, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol to find the most recent additions.
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative
NEW & RECOMMENDED
Creating Community Change Step by Step
Written by veteran community organizer Michael Jacoby Brown, Building Powerful Community Organizations provides a soup-to-nuts “toolkit” for building the community organizations that make community wealth building possible. Full of case studies and exercises, the book covers a wide range of community-building organizing topics including: visioning, goal setting, organizational structure, one-on-one recruitment, leadership development, fundraising, tactics, and campaign strategy.
- For more information or to purchase a copy of the book, visit: www.buildingpowerfulcommunityorganizations.com.
Can Transit Oriented Development Stem Global Warming?
Published by the Urban Land Institute, Growing Cooler notes that since 1980 the number of car vehicle miles traveled in the United States has increased at three times the rate of population growth. If this trend continues, growing usage will more than offset any benefits provided by regulatory changes such as raising car mileage standards. Avoiding or mitigating global warming, the authors argue, will thus require changes in overall development patterns, through the implementation of transit-oriented development and other forms of smart growth. chapter-ewing-et-al.pdf (7.3MB introductory chapter only).
- For more information or to purchase a copy of the book, see: www.smartgrowthamerica.org/growing-cooler.
Social Enterprise History Aims To Guide Others
Based in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Melwood has become one of the nation’s leading social enterprises. From humble beginnings in the 1960s (in 1966, the organization had a total budget of $31,000), Melwood has grown into a $72 million organization (with earned income contributing 85 percent of its overall budget) that provides job training, employment, housing, and recreation to more than 2,100 people with disabilities. Authored by long-time Melwood president Earl Copus, Jr., Melwood: A Story of Empowerment traces this history, while also providing a “toolkit” for budding social entrepreneurs.
IN THE NEWS:
Los Angeles’ Homeboy Industries builds growing web of social enterprises
Homeboy Industries was founded by Father Gregory Boyle in the wake of the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King trial verdict. Today, Homeboy has grown into a set of social enterprises, including a bakery, a café, and a silkscreen shop that generate over $5 million in business a year while providing jobs that pay $9 to $10 an hour (plus health benefits) for former street gang members. As James Flanigan of the New York Times reports, the nonprofit may be poised for still greater expansion.
Universities, community leaders collaborate to rebuild New Orleans’ 9th ward
When community members rejected a plan that would convert much of New Orleans’ 9th Ward into an urban park and wetland buffer, an unusual partnership, involving the New Orleans-based Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and Cornell University faculty, led to the formation of the ACORN Housing/University Collaborative. In the fall of 2006, more than 80 graduate and undergraduate students from a number of campuses inspected over 3,000 buildings and interviewed more than 200 families to help produce a 400-page written report, much of which was incorporated into New Orleans’ revised comprehensive plan.
Shared equity housing gains prominence
“Though their numbers still make up only a small percentage [of housing] nationwide, more and more people are embracing shared equity arrangements to become homeowners,” writes author Judy Newman in On Common Ground, a publication of the National Association of Realtors. In the article, Newman examines community land trusts and other forms of “shared equity” housing in Boulder, CO; Vermont; and Washington, DC.
Heron Foundation’s “mission-related investment” brings positive returns
Many foundations dedicate 5 percent of their assets to grants while the remaining 95 percent is invested to maximize economic return. The Heron Foundation felt, however, “that the 5 percent payout requirement was the narrowest expression of its philanthropic goals. The other 95 percent of assets, the corpus, could give the board the tools it needed for greater social impact.” Heron’s portfolio places 18 percent of its assets in “market-rate mission-related investments” (in addition to 3 percent in grants and 6 percent in below-market program related investments). Still, Heron achieved an above-average rate of economic return on its overall portfolio for the three-year period of 2004 through 2006, reports Michael Swack, Dean of the School of Community Economic Development at Southern New Hampshire University.
Vancouver, Canada uses real estate revenue to finance transit expansion
Vancouver’s transit authority, TransLink, has launched a real estate division that it estimates could raise up to $1.5 billion over the next 10 years. Under the plan, TransLink will purchase land near new transit developments and use zoning to raise land values and partner with private developers to create high-density commercial and residential developments, thereby helping finance transit expansion.
Subprime loans: symptom of America’s two-tiered society?
“Reform of predatory lending practices is a necessary first step, but a comprehensive approach must take into account the connections between the evolution of financial services and rising inequality,” writes Gregory Squires, Chair of the Department of Sociology at George Washington University. According to Squires, growing income and wealth inequality helped create a two-tiered financial services market with one tier “featuring conventional products distributed by banks and savings institutions primarily for middle- and upper-income, disproportionately white suburban markets and the other featuring high-priced, often predatory products, offered by such ‘fringe bankers’ as check-cashers, payday lenders, pawnshops, and others, targeted at low-income and predominantly minority communities concentrated in central cities.” paper-squires.pdf (250KB)
Wharton Business School quantifies value of urban greening
Advocates commonly claim that “greening,” by transforming blighted vacant lots through debris removal, community gardens, newly landscaped commercial corridors, and the like can arrest housing abandonment rates, restore the property tax base, improve the quality of life, and spur economic growth. Analyzing Philadelphia city data on property sales from 1980 to 2005, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School researchers found impressive results. For example, streetscape projects were found to increase “surrounding home values about 28 percent relative to similar homes in comparable areas without streetscape improvements.”
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
Eric Weaver is Founder and Executive Director of Lenders for Community Development (soon to be Opportunity Fund), a community development financial institution based in San Jose, California. Since its formation in 1993, Lenders for Community Development has disbursed over $5.6 million to more than 2,300 savers through its individual development account (IDA) program, the nation’s largest. The group has also made over 600 loans worth more than $8 million to support local microenterprise and has directed over $115 million in community investment into affordable housing and community facilities.
The eleventh in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth Cities: Washington, DC. Although best known as the center of national politics, Washington D.C. is also a city marked by many distinctive neighborhoods and home to a number of innovative community wealth building initiatives, including an effort that uses city and local bank financing, along with New Market Tax Credit equity, to develop a 1,000-household community land trust.
Smart Growth Advocates Seek Shift in Federal Policy
Close to 1,200 people from around the country attended the 7th annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference, held February 7-9 in Washington, DC. Organized by the Local Government Commission, the conference brought together a wide range of smart growth advocates to develop a common policy agenda, focused largely on revising the anticipated 2009 federal transportation reauthorization bill in favor of smart growth principles and transit-oriented development. “We need to shift what we do to go into campaign mode,” implored Smart Growth America CEO Geoff Anderson.
Fed Conference Explores Challenges of Rebuilding Older Communities
Over 500 community development lenders, funders, planners, and government representatives came to Philadelphia to attend the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Reinventing Older Communities conference, held March 26-28. The biennial conference aims to bring practitioners and researchers together to discuss major issues facing redevelopment efforts in older cities. Among the highlights of the 2008 conference were addresses by Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution; Valentino Castellani, former Mayor of Torino (headquarters of Fiat); Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania; and Sandra Braunstein, Director of the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs of the Federal Reserve System.
National CDC Association Holds Second Annual Summit
The National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations held its second annual Policy Summit in Washington from March 31 to April 2. Highlights included two roundtables on the foreclosure crisis, as well as an address by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who announced her plans to introduce legislation on the foreclosure crisis at the conference.
Green for All
Green For All is a national group that aims to build an inclusive green economy in a way that alleviates poverty and pollution at the same time. Launched at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007, Green For All grew out of the work of Van Jones, who helped create a “Green Job Corps” in Oakland, California, as part of a program at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
Minnesota Diversified Industries
Over the past four decades, St. Paul-based Minnesota Diversified Industries has employed a social enterprise model to assist people with disabilities and disadvantages by offering progressive development and job opportunities. As of the end of 2005, the firm, which provides packaging services and manufactures plastics, employed 610 workers in 3 cities (58 percent of whom were disabled and 14 percent of whom were disadvantaged) while enjoying gross sales of $40.3 million. The average wage of the workers exceeded $9 an hour at its two satellite locations and $11 an hour at its St. Paul headquarters site. Business sales provided 98 percent of all nonprofit revenues.
Now in its third year, the Phoenix Project works to foster mutually beneficial partnerships between colleges and universities in Virginia’s most economically distressed communities; recruit and train future nonprofit leaders; and work to accelerate the development of social entrepreneurship throughout the state.