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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our July newsletter. We celebrate the 237th anniversary of the American Revolution with a number of new developments:

  • Mark your calendars for July 19 at 1pm when The Democracy Collaborative and the Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC) host a webinar presenting the findings of our jointly published report Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment. This study explores how students, faculty, community organizations and college administrators can work together to help ensure institutional investment policies benefit the communities in which America’s colleges are based. RSVP for the webinar by contacting Annie McShiras at REC. We hope that you will be able to join us. 
  • In May, I had the privilege of speaking at a St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank event, entitled “Exploring Innovation in Community Development,” which was simultaneously webcast in four cities and broadcast nationally via streaming video. Speaking from the Memphis branch, my presentation focused on how community wealth building offers a new paradigm for sustainable economic development and included examples of best practices from across the country.
  • In June, we continued our work to help expand the conversation on how hospitals as anchor institutions can improve the physical and economic health of their communities. On June 17 and 18, I spoke as part of an industry forum organized by Emerald Cities and hosted by The California Endowment, entitled “Leveraging the Power of Health Institutions to Build Community Wealth.” On June 27, research associate David Zuckerman keynoted a workshop at the Connecticut Hospital Association on the opportunities for advancing an anchor mission created by the new Affordable Care Act requirements. For the first time, nonprofit hospitals have to assess and implement strategies to address the health needs for their surrounding communities.
  • Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz continues his book tour for What Then Must We Do?.  On June 18, Gar was interviewed by David Brancaccio on NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report. Later that week on June 20, Leonard Lopate of WNYC — the New York City NPR affiliate — interviewed Gar. His work was also highlighted in Think Progress and on Shareable.

As always, we have added new links, articles, reports and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions.
Ted Howard
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative

CW Interview: Kate Sofis


This month we interview Kate Sofis, founding Executive Director of SFMade, a non-profit organization launched in 2010 to support the building of a local manufacturing base in San Francisco. By building strong local manufacturing companies, SFMade aims to sustain and create job opportunities for the City’s low-income communities and individuals with less typical education, experience, or skills. In this interview, Sofis discusses key elements that make SFMade’s approach unique, the state of manufacturing in San Francisco and the challenges of working with the manufacturing sector, overlaps with environmental sustainability and cooperative models, and whether and how this model could be adopted in Rust Belt cities. Read More»

Recommended Reads

Paper Reviews Existing Knowledge of Anchor Institutions


This paper from the Anchor Institution Task Force is a review of existing literature on anchor institutions that seeks to provide insight on the role of anchors in the transformation communities and guide future research. The paper finds that while an understanding of anchor institutions is growing, the field needs to extend the base of knowledge and continue to encourage institutions to have a leading role in the building of democratic communities and local economies. Read More»







Financial Cooperatives Are a Credible Alternative to Mainstream Banks


Released by the International Labor Organization, this report focuses on how financial cooperatives survived the global economic crisis and succeeded while many investor-owned banks struggled. Tracing their history from Germany in the 1850s to the present, the author, Johnston Birchall shows how these financial cooperatives continue to provide banking services to people with low incomes, to stabilize the banking system, to regenerate local economies and to create employment. The report recommends that government promote and partner with financial cooperatives as a means of fostering stability, development and poverty alleviation. Read More»



Study Shows that Working Renters Bear the Brunt of Housing Cost Burdens


A recent study from the Center for Housing Policy shows that, for the third year in a row, working renters face increased housing costs. Using data from the American Community Survey collected in 2009, 2010 and 2011, this paper shows that despite falling mortgage rates and home prices, more than one in four working renter households (26.4 percent) spent more than half of their income on housing in 2011. This paper asserts that some of the underlying causes of these trends result from a loss of work hours among low- and moderate-income households and rising housing costs for renters, while housing costs dropped for owners. Read More»


Documentary Film Highlights Local Approaches to Creating a New Economy 


Now available on iTunes, Fixing the Future, a documentary film hosted by former PBS anchorman David Brancaccio, profiles people and organizations across America that are attempting to reinvent the American economy. As part of a national campaign led by JumpStart Productions, Area23a, and Active Voice, this film features communities using sustainable and innovative approaches to create jobs and build prosperity, and highlights effective, local practices such as: local business alliances, community banking, worker cooperatives and local currencies. Find Out More»





Featured Websites


The Community Toolbox


A project of the University of Kansas, The Community Toolbox offers universities working in their surrounding communities over 7,000 pages of practical information to support community health and development work. The website’s goal is to connect people with resources that provide step-by-step guidance in community-building skills, such as conducting community needs assessments, developing a strategic plan, facilitating group discussions and problem-solving, getting grants and resources, using evaluation methods to assess impact and planning for long-term institutionalization. Find Out More»



Responsible Endowments Coalition

Founded in 2004 by student activists, the Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC) works for social and environmental justice by encouraging universities to change the way they invest. REC initiatives include the “Move Our Money” campaign to invest endowment dollars in community banks and credit unions, participation in a campaign calling for universities to divest their holdings from coal and fossil fuels and a movement to form multi-stakeholder committees to oversee university investment decisions. Find Out More»








Publication date: 2013-07-01

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