Welcome to our latest www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. This quarter we bring you three new developments:
- We are pleased to announce our latest report: Linking Colleges to Community: Engaging the University for Community Development (PDF 1MB). University-community partnerships are becoming an important element in reinvigorating our civic life. Yet, overall, higher education remains a “sleeping giant” when it comes to strategically using its considerable resources to meet the challenges facing our communities. This report proposes a comprehensive strategy for foundations and others to leverage the $350 billion higher education industry for community benefit.
- The Democracy Collaborative has entered into a partnership with the Cleveland Foundation to help develop the economic development component (PDF 140KB) of the foundation’s multi-pronged initiative focused on the city’s Greater University Circle neighborhoods. The initiative seeks to leverage the economic practices of local anchors (such as universities, hospitals and cultural institutions) to support community wealth building strategies.
- We have also begun a partnership with the Leading Institute of Rutgers University and the Center for Public Leadership at George Washington University. Together, we will design and organize a workshop for mid-level planners and development practitioners that will debut this October in Washington, D.C. The program will include six full-day training sessions and three months of one-on-one executive coaching about the most challenging and relevant topics facing mid-level community building professionals.
I also wanted to bring to your attention two new features of the C-W.org website:
- We’ve entered the blogosphere via our C-W Blog. Each week we post items about up-to-the-moment developments, breaking stories, new legislation, and more. If you know of something we should announce or feature, please send it along.
- This month we unveil a new Community Wealth Building Toolbox. Our goal is to provide a starting point for practitioners seeking to implement community wealth strategies locally. Here you’ll find manuals and other how-to materials. Combined with the links to support organizations in the different sections of our website, we hope these tools will provide a leg up for all of you who are initiating wealth building efforts in your communities. Please send us your own favorite tools so that we can include them in our toolbox.
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:
Study Reveals 17 Million American Households in 2005 Spent Half Their Income on Housing
Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies’ annual State of the Nation’s Housing report found that a record 17 million American households (up from 15.8 million the year before) spent over 50 percent of their income on housing, a level that qualifies such households as “extremely cost burdened” (typically, for housing to be considered affordable it should cost 30 percent or less of income). In 13 states, including California, New York, and Florida, more than half of all low-income households applied more than 50% of their earnings to meet their housing needs.
Asset Building Comes of Age
In a Spring 2007 article in the National Housing Institute journal Shelterforce, C-W.org’s Gar Alperovitz, Steve Dubb, and Ted Howard examine growing efforts nationwide to integrate individual and community wealth building. Surveying innovative practices in a number of cities, the article explores the growing potential of across-the-board asset accumulation strategies that can more effectively benefit low-income communities.
Confronting Race & Building Equity in Cleveland
In a May 2007 report from the African-American Forum on Race & Regionalism, researchers from the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, and PolicyLink adopt a wide ranging approach to issues of racial inclusion and economic growth in Cleveland. Using “equitable regionalism” as a framework, the study seeks to balance “in-place” approaches that focus on directing investment to low-income areas with approaches to better link residents of low-income neighborhoods with job opportunities beyond the neighborhood. Recommendations center in five areas: education, economic development, housing, transportation, and public health.
For full report, see,
IN THE NEWS:
Community-University Partnerships Anchor Wealth Building in Worcester, MA
As detailed in a discussion paper sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Worcester has become “a living laboratory for university-community partnerships.” The city’s University Park Partnership (UPP), led by Clark University, is seen as a national model. Clark’s endowment investment has helped finance both improved K-12 schools and physical neighborhood revitalization. Other area colleges have also undertaken innovative approaches, including the College of Holy Cross, which has used loan guarantees to support affordable housing development, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which is building a multi-use facility (housing, office, retail, and lab) in a former brownfield site.
Social Enterprise Study Sparks Debate
The Limits of Social Enterprise, a June 2007 Seedco Policy Center study, has generated considerable attention, including coverage in the Wall Street Journaland The Nonprofit Quarterly (link to article no longer active). Sparked in part by an internal examination of complications Seedco itself had in developing a social enterprise, the report provides a cautionary tale regarding the challenges of developing businesses that generate revenues while helping to fulfill a nonprofit’s social mission. However, as Social Enterprise Alliance President Kris Prendergast (PDF 76KB) points out, such caution can be taken too far. After all, despite the difficulties, nonprofits that generate revenue are hardly new. As Prendergast notes, “universities and nonprofit hospitals are some of the most successful and long-standing social enterprises around.”
ESOPs Featured as Wealth Building Strategy at National Policy Conference
At the Campaign for America’s Future “Take Back America” conference in Washington, DC (June 18-20), John Logue, founder and Director of the 20 year-old Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University, delivered a presentation on the wealth building and job anchoring effects of employee ownership. To date, Logue’s Center has helped generate or sustain 14,500 jobs in Ohio, as well as secure $349 million in equity for Ohio employee-owners. By creating similar centers in other states and integrating employee ownership into economic development strategies, Logue contends that similar results could be achieved throughout the country.
New America Unveils 2007 Asset Policy Agenda
In April, the New America Foundation released its 2007 Asset Policy Agenda. Key policy priorities include support for children’s savings accounts and a wide variety of other mechanisms to encourage savings (including for retirement and college), expand financial education, raise asset limits in public assistance programs to avoid forcing people to reduce their savings in order to qualify for aid, support microenterprise development, and strengthen protections against predatory lending, payday loans, and other “asset-stripping” practices.
Report Offers Vision of a Community-Based Economy
An oft-heard refrain is that anti-globalization activists are better at saying what they are against than what alternatives they favor. This report, coauthored by four activist non-governmental organizations, provides a framework for a 20-year agenda to redesign markets in ways that might protect common assets and redirect capital to meet community needs, while building countervailing community-controlled institutions that can enhance community rights.
Brookings Study Highlights the “High Cost of Being Poor”
Following up on a national report last year on a similar theme, this Brookings report focuses specifically on the high cost of being poor in the state of Kentucky. Not only are lower incomes themselves a constraint, but people with lower incomes face higher prices for the services they do buy. Among the added expenses faced by those making $20,000 or less a year in the state of Kentucky: car insurance, on average, costs the poor $384 a year more and cars of comparable quality $500 more. Low-income Kentuckians pay an average of $363 a year more in home insurance. They also receive less favorable rates for financial services and loans. To reduce these cost burdens, the study recommends developing financial services targeted for low-income residents and creating insurance pools that can help balance the scales.
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
Seema Agnani of Chhaya Community Development Corporation
Seema Agnani is founder and Executive Director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation, based in the Queens borough of New York City. Founded in 2000 to serve New York City’s rapidly growing South Asian community, high land prices have forced Chhaya to innovate in its affordable housing strategy. Rather than developing new housing, the CDC has worked with City officials, architects, and homeowners to improve and legalize New York City’s growing market (which now numbers over 100,000 units citywide) of “in-law” or “informal” housing. C-W.org interviews Agnani to get her perspective on current issues facing CDCs and the South Asian community, both in New York City and nationally.
C-W City, Summer 2007: Baltimore, MD.
(eighth in our continuing series of city profiles)
Once an industrial town with an economic base driven by steel processing, shipping, and manufacturing, Baltimore’s economy increasingly centers on its “eds and meds,” most notably Johns Hopkins University and Hospital. Both the promise of anchor-led development as well as the threat of displacement for many long-time residents have led to a number of innovative community wealth-building efforts.
Co-op Association Sets Path For Creation of National Co-op Equity Fund
The National Cooperative Business Association and its foundation arm, the Cooperative Development Foundation, held their Annual Meeting on May 1, 2007. Among the highlights of the conference was a proposal to launch a feasibility study to create a national co-op fund that, in the mold of a socially responsible investment fund, would preferentially invest in cooperatives.
Co-op Bank Highlights Purchasing Co-op Struggle against “Big Box” Stores
Hundreds gathered at the annual meeting of the National Cooperative Bank held May 2, 2007, in Washington, D.C. The centerpiece of the meeting was a roundtable discussion, that included Stacy Mitchell, Senior Researcher of the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, and author of Big-Box Swindle and a DC hardware store owner who is also an active member of the Ace Hardware purchasing cooperative.
City First Enterprises (Washington, DC)
Founded in 1993, City First is launching a community land trust initiative that aims to create one of the largest community land trusts in the country. With $10 million in support from the District government, which will leverage $65 million in socially responsible investment funds supported by New Markets Tax Credits, the group plans to develop 1,000 units of community land trust housing. Ultimately, City First aims to develop a total of 10,000 permanently affordable housing units.
Homeward Bound (San Rafael, CA)
A project of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the Community Investment Network provides information on issues ranging from Community Reinvestment Act ratings on banks, predatory lending policy debates, and financial educations programs, to community development policy and links to local community reinvestment coalition organizations across the United States.
National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations
Founded in March 2007, NACEDA brings together 15 state associations of community development corporations (CDCs), serving as a new national organization for the CDC movement. Goals of the new association include advocating for public policy to support community economic development at the federal level, providing peer-to-peer support and development for state association staff, and supporting the development of new and emerging state associations.
Social Venture Network
Founded in 1987, SVN is a community of leaders—company founders, private investors, and social entrepreneurs—who share a commitment to building a just and sustainable world through business. SVN’s work aims to provide a forum where socially responsible businesses and innovative nonprofits can meet and address in commons issues of social and economic justice.
Founded in the summer 2003 by the leaders of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, The Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, TriHealth, Inc. and the University of Cincinnati, the Uptown Consortium illustrates how nonprofit anchor institutions can help build community wealth. To date, the trustees of the University of Cincinnati alone have allocated $100 million from the university’s $1 billion endowment to support the effort. All told, Consortium investments for redevelopment, new construction and neighborhood improvements in Uptown Cincinnati have totaled over $400 million.