Welcome to our latest www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. This quarter we bring you the following new developments:
- The Democracy Collaborative continues to work with the Cleveland Foundation in implementing an innovative “economic inclusion” and wealth-building program in six of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Crain’s Cleveland Business reported on the initiative in early January. The Foundation has also produced a brochure on the economic inclusion strategy, which provides an overview to the entire initiative.
- We feature the ninth in our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders: Ramón León of the Latino Economic Development Center, a Minneapolis-based community development corporation with a focus on public markets business development.
- We’ve added a new 30-minute video to our website, featuring The Democracy Collaborative’s co-founder Gar Alperovitz. Provided to us courtesy of New Mexico documentary filmmaker Jim Kavanaugh, the video presents Alperovitz speaking to members of the La Montanita Co-op in Santa Fe about issues of wealth and inequality in our nation’s economy.
- The Democracy Collaborative’s Steve Dubb is interviewed about hybrid forms of for-profit and nonprofit organizations in this winter’s issue of Nonprofit Quarterly.
- We also profile the “Twin Cities” as our fourteenth community wealth city: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.
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. And don’t forget to view our regularly updated C-W Blog.
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative
NEW & RECOMMENDED:
Shared Ownership Strategies Offer Promise for Building Wealth
This paper, commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, explores a variety of shared ownership strategies that allow low-income individuals to share both the risk and rewards of home or business ownership. Reaching out to leaders in the asset-building and shared-ownership movements, the authors focus on how strategic partnerships with individual asset building efforts can be developed using a variety of shared ownership strategies, including cooperative housing, community land trusts, resident-owned manufactured home parks, and worker-owned cooperatives.
A Green Prescription for Our Economic Blues?
The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Center for American Progress lay out a green economic recovery program. The plan calls for spending $100 billion through a combination of tax credits, direct government expenditures, and federal loan guarantees over the next two years. Expenditures would be targeted at six green infrastructure investment areas, including transit oriented development and renewable energy - wind, solar, and next-generation biofuels - to help create over two million jobs and begin the long-term effort to develop a low-carbon economy.
Employee-Owned Companies Respond to Economic Downturn
This issue brief contains survey results on the impact of the credit crunch on ESOP companies, as well as articles by experts on the state of ESOP financing, how to deal with more difficult credit markets, valuation concerns, and ideas for communication with employees. Among the highlights: Loren Rodgers of the National Center on Employee Ownership reports on an October 2008 NCEO survey on the financial impact of the credit crunch on ESOP companies. Available for $15 for NCEO members and $25 for nonmembers at:www.nceo.org/pubs/downturn.html.
IN THE NEWS:
Social Franchising: Coming to a Nonprofit Near You?
Given scarce resources in the philanthropic sector, nonprofits must constantly innovate to generate the necessary income to accomplish their social missions. Franchising offers one such opportunity, allowing groups to increase and stabilize their earned income and revenue stream without all of the obstacles of establishing original for-profit enterprises. This report from Community Wealth Ventures details the advantages (e.g. established customer base and supply chain) and the many important considerations and steps (i.e. does the nonprofit have a healthy revenue stream or capable manager) that any nonprofit should carefully explore when considering social franchising.
Report Profiles Concentrated Poverty in the United States
Contrary to popular belief, concentrated poverty is not strictly a phenomenon of older inner cities in the North. It can be found throughout smaller cities of the South and West, immigrant gateways, struggling areas of Appalachia and the Delta, and Native American lands. This report highlights the unique factors that contribute to concentrated poverty across the nation, profiling sixteen communities in areas as diverse as Miami, El Paso, and the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. The authors offer strategies to address the challenges facing these communities, including a combination of place-based and people-based initiatives tailored to local needs and assets.
Land Bank Policies Offer Opportunities for Creating Community Wealth
Effective land banking policy allows communities to proactively respond to the large number of vacant and abandoned properties that have been created as a result of the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the long-run decline of older, industrial regions. While states and local governments have taken the first steps towards establishing these policies, this paper advocates a comprehensive federal approach that capitalizes local and regional land banking, encourages local and state code and tax reform, and advances regional problem solving to help these struggling communities.
Community Banking: Bigger Isn’t Always Better
During 2008, big banks failed at a rate seven times greater than small banks. Small institutions actually outperformed large banks on every important metric. Ellen Seidman and Phil Longman of the New America Foudnation present a strong case for why government policy should support small-scale, traditional depositary institutions. They argue that policy, by lowering small banks’ high fixed costs and easing access to capital, could help these banks address some of our nation’s deepest financial problems.
Survey Highlights Co-op Sector’s Role across the Country
Did you know that U.S. cooperatives directly serve 130 million Americans and that almost every American experiences an indirect daily co-op connection? This updated survey of the co-op sector features intriguing personal co-op stories and up-to-date information on the expanding co-op industry. The report highlights some impressive numbers, calling attention to the fact that nearly one-third of all produce is marketed through producer-owned cooperatives. The report also points out that nearly one-third of all Americans are member-owners of cooperatively owned credit unions.
Can Federal Economic Development Leaders Learn from State & Local Models?
Five large and commonly used economic programs funded by the federal government, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program (CDGB) and the Department of Labor’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) lack many of the best practices that some states and cities have established in their programs to protect taxpayers from misuse of subsidy dollars. This report urges changes in federal policy to revamp these programs by drawing on established local precedents that have encouraged community wealth building, supported transit-oriented development, and reduced global warming air pollution.
California’s Energy Efficiency Policies Lead to Economic Gains
California has led the country in energy efficiency measures over the last 35 years. This report looks at some of the economic benefits of these policies, including a net gain of 1.5 million jobs with a total payroll of $45 billion, and household energy savings of $56 billion from 1972-2006. In addition, the authors assess the potential benefits that they think will be created from California’s continued aggressive policies to reduce carbon emissions by 2020.
Guide Demystifies Mission-Related Investment
Although foundations have increased their program- and mission-related investments in recent years, confusion still remains regarding legal restrictions. This report analyzes the legal considerations applicable to these institutions under state and federal law, reaching the conclusion that foundations have considerable latitude to make these investments. Mission-related investment can take place in three ways: through screening of investments, through direct investments that advance the foundation’s mission, and through shareholder and proxy voting.
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
Ramón León is the founding Executive Director of Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), a nonprofit organization serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The group was founded by Latino community development leaders and is dedicated to creating economic opportunity for Latinos. Prior to joining LEDC, Mr. León was the founding President of Mercado Central, which today is a thriving marketplace with 47 businesses, with the market itself owned by the vendors as a cooperative. In this C-W.org Interview, León discusses the group’s business development model as well as broader issues facing asset builders in the nation’s growing Latino community.
More interviews at www.community-wealth.org »
The fourteenth in our continuing series of profiles ofCommunity Wealth Cities: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. While the Twin Cities have a long history of rivalry and differ in appearances, together they both are home to many community wealth building initiatives and organizations. Among them: two community land trusts, City of Lakes CLT and Rondo CLT, are working to keep housing within the city limits permanently affordable for succeeding generations.
Community Land Trusts Aim to Expand Neighborhood Stabilization Efforts
More than 200 people attended the National Community Land Trust (CLT) Network conference in Boston. Participants celebrated the low foreclosure rate (well below one percent nationally) enjoyed by CLT residents and sought ways to scale up operations to expand their impact. The group also launched its National Heritage Lands Initiative, which aims to counter land loss and foster community land trust development in African-American communities.
Forum Fosters Common Ground among Wealth Building Advocates
The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Asset Funders Network jointly convened a group of employee ownership, shared equity housing, and asset-building advocates to develop ways to better collaborate. Effective asset building, many conference participants suggested, requires employing a combination of individual and community (or shared ownership) based strategies.
Created by the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education, CasePlace.org is a resource that provides teaching material on business and sustainability - from corporate governance to sustainable development. With the recent addition of the Curriculum Library on Employee Ownership, the site is home to the largest collection of teaching resources on employee ownership.
Innovation@CFED is a new resource site launched by CFED, a leading asset-building organization, which hopes to facilitate the next generation of effective strategies to build economic opportunity. The Innovators-in-Residence program will help identify individuals with promising ideas who would benefit form additional monetary and technical support.
Providing community-based solutions to the foreclosure crisis, Stablecommunities.org is a new resource site for community development practitioners. Sponsored by NeighborWorks, the site features sections on how to address the increase in vacant property, gather support from various programs and partnerships, and successfully advocate for policy changes on the state, local, and national level.
Northland Poster Collective
Northland Poster Collective, based in Minneapolis, was established in 1979 after eleven artists, meeting in a workshop, discussed how best to use their artwork as a way to support social change. The group promotes the art of social justice, the tools of grassroots union organizing and labor activism, and the craft of union workers. www.northlandposter.com