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Dear Colleague,

In the two months since we launched Community-Wealth.org, we have added more than 150 new links to wealth-building innovations, policies, articles, reports, and resources of all kinds. Many of these have come from you – web site visitors who shared new developments and ideas for community wealth building. (Look for the *NEW* symbol to find our most recent additions.)

This month, a new feature of our site is a survey of the high leverage community investment strategy known as Program-Related Investments or PRIs. Most of us think of foundations only as grant-making philanthropies. PRIs are long-term, low-interest loans to community development corporations, community development financial institutions, nonprofit businesses, and other institutions that anchor capital locally. One foundation estimates that $1 million invested in a PRI is the equivalent of $5 million in grant expenditures. Visit our Access Panel for links to all of our PRI pages.

We also are grateful to colleagues in the wealth-building field such as Local Initiatives Support Corporation (www.lisc.org), the New America Foundation (www.assetbuilding.org), and the Social Enterprise Alliance (www.se-alliance.org) that have linked to our web site from their own. Each link helps us to become a more effective resource. If you would like to offer a link to Community-Wealth.org, logo graphics and HTML code is available on the Link to Our Site page. Thanks!

Ted Howard
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative

 

 NEW & RECOMMENDED:

When Corporations Undermine Community Wealth
Greg LeRoy, founder of Good Jobs First and author ofNo More Candy Store: States and Cities Making Job Subsidies Accountable, has written a new book. The Great American Jobs Scam provides a thorough examination of how state and local economic relocation incentives often undermine community wealth building. LeRoy’s book also outlines a number of community-building alternatives that can promote sustainable job creation.

Beyond the Classroom:
the Economic Power of Universities

In 1996, urban universities spent $136 billion on salaries, goods, and services — more than nine times what the federal government spent on urban jobs and economic development programs. Given recent trends, these anchored institutions today are even greater economic engines in their communities. The essays in The University as Urban Developer, edited by David Perry and Wim Wiewel, examine how that money is spent and what could be done to make urban universities more effective community wealth-building partners.

How Social Investment Builds a True Ownership Society (PDF 462KB)
Building a Real “Ownership Society,” by J. Larry Brown, Robert Kuttner, and Thomas M. Shapiro assesses the role government asset-building policies have played over the past century in creating America’s middle class. The paper critiques current Bush Administration efforts to build an ownership society and presents an outline of an alternative, progressive wealth-building vision. Published by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis and The Century Foundation.

 

 IN THE NEWS:

States Surpass Feds on Minimum Wage (PDF 120KB)
Is there a progressive minimum wage movement afoot outside the Washington, DC Beltway? When Wisconsin raised its minimum wage this past June to $5.70 and then $6.50 in a two-step process, it became the 17th state to establish a wage floor higher than the $5.15 level that has prevailed under federal law since 1997. A dozen of those states have acted in the past 18 months alone.

First US College Dedicates Fund Exclusively to Community Investment (PDF 213KB)
In June, Mount Holyoke College became the first American higher education institution to establish a separate fund completely dedicated to community investment. The Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) fund was proposed by a campus student group and approved by the school’s Trustees. Says Rose Levine, a senior on the college’s SRI Committee, “We believe we have a unique opportunity to make this institutional investment highly successful and a model for other colleges and universities.”

The New Battle Over Who Will Own Broadband
One hundred years ago, municipalities around the country established publicly owned utilities to provide electrification for regions that were passed over by investor-owned companies. Today, more than one out of seven Americans (40 million of us) relies on power from one of the nation’s 2,000 public utilities.

The movement toward publicly-owned broadband is a growing phenomenon in cities today – more than 200 communities have chosen to build publicly owned information networks – but federal telecom policies are biased toward private telephone and cable companies, according to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (PDF 33KB) In June the Institute for Local Self-Reliance issued a report, “Who Will Own Minnesota’s Information Highways?” which can be downloaded for free.


French Fund Commits 600 Million Euros to Socially Responsible Investment
A new fund seeks to drive innovation and best practice through a significant infusion of cash into the European SRI asset management community.


National Vacant Properties Campaign (PDF 87KB)
Backed by a grant from the Surdna Foundation, four groups — Smart Growth AmericaLocal Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech — have launched a joint effort to reclaim vacant and abandoned properties and restore vitality and livability to city neighborhoods. Focus cities for the first round of the campaign will be Baltimore, MD., Bridgeport, CT., Buffalo, NY, Indianapolis, IN., Richmond, VA., Spartanburg, SC, and Tucson, AZ.

 

 SITES OF THE MONTH:

OurBiz, launched in May by the Southern Appalachian Center for Cooperative Ownership (SACCO), provides a national worker cooperative forum for information sharing and discussion.
www.ourbiz.biz

Coastal Enterprise is a rural-based Maine non-profit that is both a community development corporation and a community development financial institution with over $200 million under management.
www.ceimaine.org

The Beyster Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the use of entrepreneurship and employee ownership to build stronger, higher performing enterprises.
www.beysterinstitute.org

The Calvert Foundation invests more than $54 million in community development financial institutions and other non-profits working in urban and rural communities around the globe. 
www.calvertfoundation.org

Publication date: 2005-08-01

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August 2020

Each passing day we are faced with further evidence of the scale of the crisis we are now facing. A potentially unprecedented wave of evictions as moratoriums come to an end; the threat of far-reaching utilities shutoffs as residents struggle to make ends meet; small businesses shuttering with little relief in sight. And all this on top of the heartbreaking and uneven landscape of preventable death, with Black, Indigenous and other people of color bearing the brunt of the pandemic and its fallout. The scale of the crisis necessitates immediate and decisive action. But these actions will be ineffective if we do not acknowledge a fundamental truth: we were already in crisis long before the COVID-19 pandemic. What we are observing now are the logical outcomes of a political-economic system that by design puts profit and “shareholder value” over peoples’ lives and the health of our planet.
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Arundhati Roy, the Indian author and activist, has written: “Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to ‘normality,’ trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
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