Welcome to our latest www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. In this fall edition, we bring you many new developments and site features:
- Our Community-Wealth.org web portal has undergone a major redesign. We hope this will provide you with even better access to the vast array of community wealth building resources, innovations and developments across America and in many places around the world.
- In September, the Cleveland Foundation received the HUD Secretary’s Award for Community Foundations for their work on community wealth building in low-income neighborhoods. We congratulate them for being one of the inaugural ten recipients of this award that recognizes community foundations for their leadership in housing and community development.
- On October 18th in Oakland, CA, the feature length documentary “Shift Change” will have its world premiere. This documentary features extraordinary reporting on the Mondragón Cooperatives of Spain, as well as the stories of many cooperatives across the United States. Other screenings are planned across the U.S. and you can learn more about them on the calendar page at the Shift Change website.
- On November 12th and 13th, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania will host an international conference on the role of university-community partnerships in creating more democratic communities. I’ll be speaking on a panel about the role anchor institutions can play in economic development. We hope you can join us to celebrate the Center’s 20th anniversary.
- The Democracy Collaborative continues to examine broader economic and environmental challenges facing our communities. In Solutions, Gar Alperovitz, along with co-authors Steve Dubb and Thad Williamson, explain how building local economies that anchor capital in place through broader forms of ownership (including community, worker, or public ownership) is a necessary component of sustainability planning and any comprehensive solution to climate change. In his speech at the New Economics Institute’s “Strategies for a New Economy” conference in June, Gar explored the broader economic and societal trends challenging our system and the new economy strategies that are laying the foundation for fundamental system change.
- In the twenty-fourth of our continuing series of conversations with community wealt building leaders, we interview delegation members from the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union, who discuss the history and current state of the cooperative movement throughout Japan.
- We also profile our twenty-eighth community wealth city: Providence, RI.
As always, we have added new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Don’t forget to view our regularly updated C-W Blog. You can also follow new developments on Facebook and Twitter.
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative
Universities Positioned to Foster Community Development
We are pleased to announce the release of The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads. The publication represents the culmination of a project that began with a report we issued two years ago. Authored by Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb as part of Michigan State University Press’ series on Transformations in Higher Education, the book features ten in-depth cases and examines how universities, by pursuing an anchor institution mission to improve surrounding communities in cooperation with community partners, can positively impact the welfare of low-income residents. You can order a copy on-line at MSU Press. Be sure to use the code “COMWEALTH” to receive a discounted price of $27.00 (discount valid until December 31, 2012) or you can download this discount coupon.
Practitioners Highlight Promising Anti-Poverty Strategies in Nation’s Communities
Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund, Investing in What Works for America’s Communities is a collection of essays highlighting promising anti-poverty strategies in communities across our nation. Released in September, the book calls on the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to work together to build on what we already know about addressing poverty, featuring contributions from leading practitioners in a broad range of sectors including federal agencies, philanthropy, housing academia, health, and the private sector. One chapter, written by Ted Howard, focuses on how the Evergreen Cooperatives model can help build community wealth, stabilize local communities and address issues of growing inequality.
America the Possible Explains How Systematic Change is Still an Option
In America The Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, leading environmentalist and former presidential advisor James “Gus” Speth offers a vision for a transformed economic system that can adequately address the increasing social and environmental troubles in the United States. He includes 12 features of the political economy where change is essential and possible. Speth argues that pro-democracy reform and system change begin at the local level, where people and groups plant the seeds of change through a variety of initiatives that create models of a new political economy committed to sustaining human and natural communities.
Communities Reclaim their Energy Sources and Create Jobs
Power From the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects is the second book from the Community Resilience Guide Series, a project in partnership with the Post Carbon Institute exploring innovative examples of community sustainability in response to the current economic crisis. Greg Pahl, author and energy activist, examines how both urban and rural communities are taking control of their energy sources and programs, investing in local renewable energy resources, and finding alternative methods to generating power in more sustainable ways. Local renewable energy also serves as a starting point for creating green collar jobs for low-income and displaced workers, as well as creating local wealth.
New Models Offer Ownership Alternatives
In Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution, Marjorie Kelly, director of ownership strategy at Cutting Edge Capital, draws upon worker-owned businesses, such as the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, and community-owned facilities, such as the Hull Wind Project in Massachusetts, to highlight alternative business ownership models. She stresses the importance of a generative ownership model that aims to create the conditions for a better life for future generations. One important feature of a generative ownership model is its rooted membership in the hands of employees, families, and communities, connecting mission and market in a way that keeps organizations focused on their social and ecological impact.
Research Shows Local Ownership Leads to Community Improvements
Referencing a variety of studies, this Institute for Local Self-Reliance article argues that residents in areas with a high concentration of small, locally owned business are healthier and more politically engaged than those living in communities dominated by a few big firms. Local ownership increases social capital through community improvement especially in infrastructure, self-sustainability, and social ties. The article calls for grassroots efforts to overhaul giant retailers like Wal-Mart and Target and improve distressed neighborhoods through local ownership.
Read more »
Report Shows a Persistent “Good Jobs” Deficit
The National Employment Law Project (NELP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to tracking the current economic recovery in terms of unemployment, wages, occupational, and industry growth patterns, released a new report in August of 2012, Low-Wage Recovery and Growing Inequality. The report finds that employment losses from 2008 to 2010 were concentrated in mid-wage occupations. However, the new jobs that have been created since 2010 have been concentrated in low-wage occupations, growing three times as quickly as jobs in mid-wage and high-wage occupations. The report shows that the United States not only has a job deficit, but a “good jobs” deficit.
Read more »
Hybrid Businesses Combine Social Welfare and Revenue Generation
This Stanford Social Innovation Review article explores businesses that more fully incorporate a for-profit component to fund a social mission than traditional nonprofit social enterprises. A primary challenge to the hybrid model is the constant tension between mission and market, where the search for more profitable markets may ultimately crowd out the very people the organization is attempting to serve. However, other challenges – and opportunities – exist. This hybrid model has gained increasing notice in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. To date, sector growth has been modest. Nonetheless, Echoing Green, a nonprofit that supports early stage social business development, reports 50 percent of their 3,500 applicants now rely on this hybrid model, up from just 37 percent in 2006.
Read more »
Study Advocates Movement for Good Food and Good Jobs
Released in July 2012 by the Applied Research Center, this report highlights the struggle for good food and good jobs as a key facet of the movement for racial and economic justice. More than 110 million people in the U.S. suffer from “dangerously” unhealthy diets – nearly two-thirds of whom are African American and Latino. Additionally, 40 million Americans lack food security as a result of poverty, with African American and Latinos representing more than half. To improve access to productive jobs and healthy food, the author advocates that community-labor alliances must support two main sectors: small and medium sized food manufactures that produce ethnic cuisines without violating labor laws and state and local governments that purchase locally produced food.
Read more »
CDCs Shift Focus to More Comprehensive Services
Released by Next American City, this article highlights the successes and challenges of two community development intermediaries, Midtown Detroit, Inc. and University Circle, Inc. (UCI) of Cleveland. Faced with an unstable community, Midtown, Inc. with a revenue exceeding seven million dollars, partners with local funders, foundations, and city departments to manage over 40 projects, including new construction and rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure. UCI (strongly supported by the Cleveland foundation) has been responsible for more than $3 billion in projects, including hosting a private police force that employs 25 officers and operating a new bus line.
Read more »
Scottish Report Examines Co-op and Employee-Owned Businesses
This report, sponsored by Co-operative Education Trust Scotland, introduces employee ownership and uses case studies to demonstrate how cooperatives have not only survived and performed better than investor-owned businesses in the most recent economic crisis but through the last 200 years of social and economic turbulence. One example, the Co-operative Bank, created in 1872, is Britain’s largest consumer cooperative with over 350 branches, more than six million customers, and operating revenue of £108.6 million in the first half of 2011. The bank continues to increase its profitability, and credits its success to its customer-led ethical policy, which has resulted in the withholding of more than one billion pounds in funding to businesses that violate the policy.
Read more »
Community-Based Research Uncovers Hidden Community Assets
PolicyLink, partnering with the University of California’s School of Public Health, released this paper, which promotes participatory research as a critical component for community-driven efforts to improve health and foster policy-level change. Drawing on eight best practices from around the country and from six case studies from California, this paper demonstrates how community-based participatory research (CBPR) works to improve community well being. One promising CBPR practice is asset identification, where communities identify and validate their own strengths and capabilities to better address community problems or concerns.
Read more »
Task Force Calls for More Civic Education
In this report, the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement challenges America’s universities to embrace their responsibility to rebuild and renew civic learning and democratic engagement. A national student assessment found that students’ perception of whether their university promoted awareness of important social, political, and economic issues declined from an already low 45 percent of first year students to just 38 percent of fourth year students. The Task Force calls for colleges across America to expand education services to hone students’ civic knowledge, skills, values, and actions that will prepare them for lives and careers as public servants. If universities embrace reciprocal partnerships with communities, socially responsible businesses, and governmental agencies, their research, teaching, and learning can benefit students and the community, while replenishing civic capital.
Read more »
Head Start Program Provides Long-term Economic Stability Framework
The Corporation for Economic Development (CFED) argues that the federal Head Start program, which offers early education services to nearly one million children and their low-income families, is a logical venue for connecting low-income families and participating teachers with a range of services that foster short term financial security and long-term economic prospects. The Head Start Program works directly with 1,600 local agencies that provide education and social services, such as first-time homebuyer assistance programs and access to individual development accounts, to economically disadvantaged individuals and families. Although 80 percent of Head Start’s funding comes from federal grants, in 2010, 16 states provided an additional $147 million in supplemental funding to allow an additional 17,000 more Head Start-eligible children and families to participate.
Read more »
Oakland’s Foreclosure Practices Lead to Spike in Non-Local Ownership
This Urban Strategies Council June 2012 report seeks to answer the question, “what happened to the homes that have gone through foreclosure in Oakland?” Field surveys of the properties owned by Oakland’s two largest foreclosure investors found that 93 percent of properties acquired by investors were located in low-income neighborhoods, that only ten of the top 30 foreclosure investors in Oakland are actually based in Oakland, and that 81 percent of the 10,508 completed foreclosures (since 2007) ended up being owned by banks or other financial institutions. Consequently, this spike in non-local ownership and non-owner occupied housing present concerns for asset building in low-income neighborhoods. The report recommends that banks and Government Sponsored Enterprises improve their first-look programs to give owner-occupant buyers and nonprofits priority to obtain foreclosure holdings.
Read more »
C-W INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
In this edition, a delegation of members from the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union who visited the United States in August, discuss the history and current state of the cooperative movement throughout Japan. Founded in 1965 as a buying club by 200 housewives, today the Seikatsu co-ops have over 340,000 members, affiliated cooperatives in 21 of Japan’s prefectures, an annual turnover of US $1 billion, and an average member share of US $1,300 per member.
Read more »
The twentieth-eighth in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth Cities: Providence, Rhode Island. In recent years, Providence has seen aesthetic and economic changes, uncovering its natural rivers and starting to stabilize neighborhoods across the city. Aiding this revival are a number of community wealth building initiatives, including multiple anchor institutions, numerous community development corporations seeking to increase affordable housing options for low-income residents, and policies to foster local job creation, such as the Jobs Now! Providence program.
Read more »
Asset Building Advocates Call for National Movement to Reform Federal Policy
More than 1,200 people attended the Corporation For Enterprise Development’s biennial Asset Learning Conference, making the event the organization’s largest ever. Conference speakers encouraged attendees to join a newly formed Assets and Opportunities Network, which aims to build a social movement with the political clout necessary to make promotion of asset building and savings for the poor a core element of federal tax policy.
Read more »
With revenues exceeding $48 million, Aspen Pointe is the largest nonprofit in Colorado Springs, comprised of 12 organizations that serve more than 30,000 individuals and families each year through employment and career development, education services, and housing programs. The coalition also functions as a social enterprise, offering five business services and enterprises that train and employ disadvantaged residents, at-risk youth, and veterans.
Join Bank On
JoinBankOn.org is a web-based resource for individuals affiliated with or interested in Bank On and other financial access initiatives that focus on connecting those with barriers to banking and increasing access to the mainstream financial market. Managed by CFED and supported by the National League of Cities and the New America Foundation, the website allows users to locate a local Bank On Program, research your community, and identify tools on how to start a Bank On Program.
Mission Investors Exchange
Launched in May 2012, Mission Investors Exchange is the culmination of the integration of PRI Makers Network and More for Mission, along with more than 200 Foundations and mission-investing organizations that use mission-related investing as a strategy to accomplish their philanthropic goals. The group offers a variety of tools, workshops, webinars, and a national conference for foundations interested in program-related and mission-related investing.
Launched by the Post Carbon Institute, Resilience.org is an interactive, community-based tool that seeks to act as a clearinghouse for the best ‘resilience’ building ideas and models that are helping move the world toward a more equitable and sustainable future. Serving as the new face for the current energybulletin.net, this new website will offer daily content from more than 50 contributors; an interactive map of local organizations and community projects; and a resource section with best practice models, tools for practitioners, and community ideas.
The Rhode Island Foundation
Founded in 1916, the Rhode Island Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country and the only one serving the state of Rhode Island. In 2010, the foundation awarded 51 discretionary grants exceeding $1.7 million to increase the availability of affordable housing, provide ample rental and homeownership units, and increase job training and readiness that address the workforce needs of the communities.