Welcome to our first www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter of 2011. In this edition we bring you a host of new developments and site features:
- Our latest report, The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads, examines the challenges and opportunities universities face in realizing an anchor institution mission that leverages university intellectual and economic activity to benefit local communities. Now with its own dedicated webpage, you can easily access direct links to report sections, case studies, and more.
- Progress continues in Cleveland with the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative. Most recently, the Initiative has launched the Neighborhood Voice, a community-based information source (both print and on-line) designed to foster dialogue and partnership between neighborhood residents and Cleveland’s major anchor institutions. Updates on Evergreen events have recently been reported on by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Neighborhood Funders Group, Social Velocity, and Rural Cooperatives.
- In the seventeenth of our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders, we interview Lisa Hagerman of More for Mission, who discusses the growing campaign for impact investing.
- We also profile our twenty-second community wealth city: St. Louis, Missouri.
- The Democracy Collaborative has entered the social media age: check out our new accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
- As always, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* 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:
Past Mistakes in Nonprofit Sector Provide Learning Opportunities
In Mistakes to Success: Learning and Adapting When Things Go Wrong, Robert Giloth, Colin Austin, and case study contributors analyze past mistakes in the nonprofit sector and how they can contribute to future success. Looking at a variety of projects, including an ethnic marketplace in Chicago, a childcare assistance initiative in New York City, national workforce development initiatives, and an innovative program to help working families purchase affordable used cars, the authors examine how careful analysis of “constructive failures” can help shape future innovation.
Community-Based Strategies Tackle Foreclosure Crisis
This National Community Reinvestment Coalition report highlights community-based strategies to achieve sustainable economic recovery. All of these responses are viewed within a larger effort that focuses on preventing foreclosures, recapturing vacant properties, and leveraging community rebuilding to create sustainable employment and entrepreneurship. Included in the best practices are the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Philadelphia’s attempts to mitigate foreclosures, and Portland’s efforts to create “green,” local jobs through its Clean Energy Works Portland initiative.
Guide Provides CDFI Industry with Strategies For Improvement
In Capital Markets, CDFIs, and Organizational Risk, Charles Tansey, Michael Swack and Michael Tansey offer CDFI (community development financial institution) practitioners a guide to strengthening their organizations by improving their operations and reducing their credit risk exposure. Noting the struggles faced by the CDFI industry over the past two decades, the authors answer their own question of whether CDFIs should cease to operate in the lending business with a resounding, no! Although the CDFI model is not perfect, CDFIs provide better, personalized loans and a greater commitment to the community than the traditional lending industry.
IN THE NEWS:
Civic Engagement Opportunities Show Potential for Low-Income Individuals
This report from Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) is based on a nearly two-year effort to explore the idea that service and civic engagement can be used as tools to promote workforce development. Recommendations include engaging the nonprofit sector to create workforce development programs that emphasize nonprofit skills, providing financial support to universities that encourage young people to take part in civic engagement, and integrating service into post-secondary degree programs for low-income youth.
Community Land Trusts Build Wealth and Maintain Affordability
In this study of seven shared equity programs across the nation, the Urban Institute provides a rare empirical assessment of how successful these long-term ownership programs are at preserving affordability, building personal wealth, providing secure tenure, and fostering upward economic mobility for low-income families. Additionally, the seven programs combined had only one delinquency, a foreclosure rate well below that of their surrounding regions.
Asset-Building Policy Agenda Outlined for 2011
Offering a broad overview of various strategies to improve savings and asset ownership, this report by the New America Foundation presents a public policy agenda that can be used to improve the limited resources of low-income individuals. Among the many policy recommendations highlighted, notable ones include implementing different types of universal savings accounts, including Childhood Development Accounts and PLUS Accounts, and expanding low-income Individual Development Accounts.
Report Calls for Comprehensive Approach to Mitigate Foreclosures
In July 2008 Living Cities funded ten pilot projects across the nation seeking to address the foreclosure crisis. This report takes a look at those efforts, called the Foreclosure Mitigation Initiative, and examines the obstacles these groups found, as well as highlighting ways to move forward. Key findings suggest that states should give localities broad powers to create strong land banking programs, philanthropic institutions should fund capacity building for community development organizations to deal with the present crisis, and the federal government should have the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and Government Sponsored Enterprises, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, take the lead in implementing strategies to promote tenancy, maintenance, and disposition programs for foreclosed properties.
Inadequate Social Safety Nets Create Need for Asset-based Social Policy
The New America Foundation’s Rachel Black argues strongly for an asset-based social policy that works for low-income Americans and not just middle- and upper-income families, highlighting the serious flaws and inadequacies of state and federal social safety nets during the current recession. Black provides several policy recommendations geared towards improving saving among low-income families, including removing the maximum asset requirements for many public assistance programs and introducing a “Saver’s Bonus,” a dollar-to-dollar match up to $500 for contributions made to an approved savings product.
California Community College Partnerships Show Potential
PolicyLink reports that California’s community colleges and public sector infrastructure projects can provide young adults with economic mobility by offering the workforce education and middle-skill jobs needed to get ahead. Public policy support can help bring existing community college infrastructure sector training programs to scale. In particular, the report recommends hiring agreements and targeted investments in low income areas that ensure low-income workers and communities receive equitable level of access to jobs and workforce training.
Speth Calls on Progressives and Environmentalists to Join Forces
In his speech at the 13th Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures, James Gustave Speth makes the case for why the progressive and environmental movements must unite in arguing for a sustaining economy that prioritizes people, communities and nature over economic growth. Speth stresses the need to support innovative models of “local living” and for-benefit businesses that prioritize community and environment over profit and growth. Emphasizing the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland as one such model, Speth stresses support for community development financial institutions, local banks, community land trusts, employee and consumer ownership, local currencies and time dollars, municipal enterprise, and non-profits in business.
Childhood Development Accounts Help Families Save for Children’s Future
Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment (SEED) is a pilot program that tests the effectiveness of policies for a national system of savings and asset-building accounts for children and youth. SEED’s Childhood Development Accounts (CDAs) to date have benefited 1,100 children across 12 states, demonstrating CDAs’ success across political and geographic lines. Other findings show that automatic enrollment and a progressive program structure are necessary to ensure that CDAs do not increase wealth inequality and that community-based organizations play a key role in increasing program participation and success.
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
Lisa Hagerman of More for Mission talks about the growing movement within philanthropy to engage in mission-related investing, which involves tapping into the corpus of endowments and making sure that foundation investments align with the mission of their grant-funded work.
The 22nd in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth Cities: St Louis, Missouri. The Gateway City is growing for the first decade since 1950 with the historic Old North neighborhood being among the communities leading the revival. The Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group (a community development corporation) has helped to spearhead this effort, collaborating closely with the University of Missouri and other community partners. Together these groups have focused on historic preservation, home maintenance, and financial literacy, and have helped to establish the new Old North Grocery Co-op.
Community Revitalization Advocates Gather in Cleveland, Ohio
More than 950 community revitalization advocates convened in Cleveland, Ohio for the third — and, by far, largest — national conference focused on ways to restore vacant property. Sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Community Progress, the conference sought to bring together advocates working on the land use side with those seeking to build new sustainable industries on that land. In the words of keynote speaker (and Cleveland Congressman) Dennis Kucinich, reclamation advocates are “rebuilding cities and hopes in a tangible way.”
University Leaders Gather to Advance University-Community Partnerships
A group of over sixty university presidents, researchers, and university-community partnership center leaders gathered in Baltimore, Maryland to discuss how to use university resources to build community wealth. The Forum, convened by the Anchor Institutions Task Force (coordinated by New York City-based group Marga, Inc.), with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, aimed, in the words of the University of Pennsylvania’s Associate Vice President Ira Harkavy, to foster “deep sustained significant partnerships” that can make a difference in local communities and to connect that work at the local, regional and national levels.
Bank on San Francisco
Started in December 2005, Bank on San Francisco serves the city’s “unbanked” by removing barriers that have historically limited access to mainstream financial institutions. Working with community groups, credit unions, and banks, the program seeks to change bank products and policies to increase the supply of starter account options, raise awareness among consumers about the benefits of checking and savings accounts, and provide quality financial education to San Franciscans. To date, the program has led to the opening of more than 25,000 new bank accounts.
Cities for Financial Empowerment
Bringing together cities and counties from across the country, Cities for Financial Empowerment leverages local government to implement innovative financial empowerment initiatives. To date, the coalition consists of eleven local governments, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and the County of Hawaii. Partners include The Annie E. Casey Foundation, National League of Cities, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
Cooperative Food Employment Directive (CoFed)
The Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFed) is a new nonprofit organization designed to help students create cooperatively run cafés that serve sustainable food on college campuses. The catalyst for CoFed, the Berkeley Student Food Collective, opened November 15th. By tapping into students’ enthusiasm for sustainability, CoFed plans to open dozens of new campus-based sustainable food storefronts reaching the mouths and minds of over 700,000 college students by 2015. CoFed’s core Launch Committee includes Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben and Josh Viertel.
Pagedale Development Project (Washington University)
The Pagedale Development Project strives to create a long-term, sustainable revitalization of Pagedale, a lower-income, majority African American suburb of St. Louis County. Partners include Washington University, the nonprofit group Beyond Housing, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The groups intend to build community wealth through developing a grocery store and affordable housing, as well as encouraging savings through an individual development account (IDA) program.
University Northside Partnership
The University Northside Partnership is an effort to improve the social and economic environment of North Minneapolis involving the University of Minnesota, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and community groups. The initiative will increase job training and business opportunities, improve reading skills and learning outcomes for young children, and respond to the identified needs and interests of the community.