Community Wealth Building
Fighting inequality with comprehensive and transformative solutions for community economic development.
It is easy to be distracted by what passes for economic news these days, focused as it is on short-term fluctuations and assurances of recovery and revitalization. The simple truth, however, is that year by year, decade by decade, life in the United States is steadily growing ever more unequal.
Developing new models to promote equity and anchor capital in communities.
As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.
On June 13 and 14, 2016 in Washington, DC, many of the nation’s leading experts in employee ownership, sustainable business and finance, community and economic development, and philanthropy came together in a Learning + Design session. Co-hosts for the meeting were Marjorie Kelly and Jessica Bonanno of The Democracy Collaborative and Camille Kerr of Democracy at Work Institute. The purpose of the session was to discuss how to achieve unprecedented scale of employee ownership by focusing on achieving an audacious goal: 50 million U.S. employee-owners by 2050. This report summarizes and expands upon the June meeting:
Connecting the Field
Building a stronger network of practice for community wealth builders across the country.
Our new Learning/Action Lab program helps amplify local capacity to deploy new strategies for building wealth in low-income communities, connecting grassroots leaders with the models and best practices they need for transformative economic development. Our first cohort of Lab participants is bringing together five Native organizations for ongoing training and consultation as they develop new community-owned enterprises.
Vision and Strategy
Helping orient our work today as community wealth builders towards the world we want to see tomorrow.
Our co-founder Gar Alperovitz sketches out the major institutions of a systemic alternative based in plural forms of democratic ownership, oriented around community at various scales—what he has called “The Pluralist Commonwealth.” Visit thenextsystem.org for more resources and information.Read more about The Pluralist Commonwealth...
This new working paper from The Next System Project—prepared as an invited contribution to the "After Fossil Fuels: The New Economy" conference in Oberlin, Ohio from October 6-8, 2016—explores the intersections of systemic economic and ecological crisis, and propose that only a break with the mechanisms of corporate capitalism is capable of guaranteeing a sustainable future.
Engaging with eds, meds, and other anchor institutions to help them help communities.
This study seeks to introduce a framework that can assist anchor institutions in understanding their impact on the community and, in particular, their impact on the welfare of low-income children and families in those communities.
Healthcare’s role in creating healthy communities through increasing access to quality care, research, and grantmaking is being complemented by a higher impact approach; hospitals and integrated health systems are increasingly stepping outside of their walls to address the social, economic, and environmental conditions that contribute to poor health outcomes, shortened lives, and higher costs in the first place. Read more about Can Hospitals Heal America's Communities?...
Best practices and policy
Resources to advance community wealth building and help it scale.
with support from Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE), the Civic Consulting Alliance, and The Democracy Collaborative
Anchor institutions can play a key role in helping the low-income communities they serve by better aligning their institutional resources—like hiring, purchasing, investment, and volunteer base—with the needs of those of communities. The recommendations in this “playbook,” drawn from research carried out to help Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) align around its Anchor Mission, are being published to help other hospitals and health systems accelerate their own efforts to drive institutional alignment with community needs.
Our Community-Wealth.org site is an essential resource for practitioners and policy makers working to build community wealth. For almost a decade, our site has served as a central clearinghouse for key research and reports from the field, cutting across traditional community development silos and offering a comprehensive guide to local wealth building strategies.