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Democracy Collaborative Reports and Publications

Impact investing and employee ownership: Making employee-owned enterprises part of the income inequality solution

Mary Ann Beyster

With income inequality in the United States at record high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential solution to spreading wealth more broadly. Most recently, research from the National Center for Employee Ownership released in May shows that employee owners have a household net worth that is 92 percent higher than non-employee owners. They also make 33 percent higher wages, and are far less likely to be laid off. 

But employee ownership requires new investment in order to get to scale. A new report by Mary Ann Beyster, president and trustee of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), published by the Fifty by Fifty initiative of The Democracy Collaborative, examines the investing landscape for potential opportunities in employee ownership. The report, Impact Investing and Employee Ownership, reports on the results from six months of research showing that the opportunities for impact investors to support employee ownership are limited, but that an investing infrastructure is beginning to emerge across asset classes. 

Advancing the Anchor Mission of Healthcare

Nancy Martin, on behalf of the Healthcare Anchor Network

In December 2016, leaders from 40 health systems gathered in Washington, DC to explore the potential to more fully harness their economic power to inclusively and sustainably benefit the long-term well-being of American communities. Together, they discussed best practices and strategies to advance the Anchor Mission of healthcare.

At the conclusion of the convening, the Healthcare Anchor Network was formed to support health systems collaborating nationally to accelerate learning and local implementation of economic inclusion strategies.

This report summarizes the events of that convening and next steps, inviting your hospital or health system to join the Network and help advance the Anchor Mission of healthcare in your institution, in your community, and nationally. 

Strategies for Financing the Inclusive Economy

Broad-based ownership models bring substantial benefits to communities and workers, particularly those of low and moderate income. These models are poised for substantial growth as tools for solving the massive problem of economic inequality. In an economy where wages have been stagnant for decades—and a disturbing 40 percent of jobs are now part-time, temporary, or contingent—public interest in models fostering broad-based ownership has grown substantially.

Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities: Inclusive, Local Hiring

David Zuckerman and Katie Parker

Every day, we learn more about how patients’ health outcomes are tied not only to the healthcare they receive but also to the conditions in the communities where they live. Social and economic inequities, amplified by race, often emerge as the leading factors explaining differences in health outcomes and life expectancies.

Through local and inclusive hiring, health systems can invest in an ecosystem of success that lifts up local residents; helps create career pathways for low-income, minority, and hard-to-employ populations; and begins to transform neighborhoods. In the process, health systems can develop a more efficient workforce pipeline, meet sustainability and inclusion goals, and ultimately improve the health of their communities. Establishing a local and inclusive hiring strategy is an important first step towards rethinking your health system’s role in the community. This toolkit can help you get started.

Conversations on Community Wealth Building

There's a movement afoot to build a more equitable, democratic economy in the United States. It's a movement led by community-based activists who, each in their own way, are building new institutions to support social and economic justice, rooted in community-controlled land and enterprises. This movement has a name: it's called community wealth building.  

Taking Employee Ownership to Scale: Learning + Design Session

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:

Cleveland’s Greater University Circle Initiative: An Anchor-Based Strategy for Change

Walter Wright, Kathryn W. Hexter and Nick Downer

Cities are increasingly turning to their “anchor” institutions as drivers of economic development, harnessing the power of these major economic players to benefit the neighborhoods where they are rooted. This is especially true for cities that are struggling with widespread poverty and disinvestment. Urban anchors— typically hospitals and universities—have sometimes isolated themselves from the poor and struggling neighborhoods that surround them. But this is changing. Since the late 1990s, as population, jobs, and investment have migrated outward, these “rooted in place” institutions are becoming a key to the long, hard work of revitalization. In Cleveland, the Greater University Circle Initiative is a unique, multi-stakeholder initiative with a ten-year track record. What is the “secret sauce” that keeps this effort together?

Rochester’s Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation: A Feasibility Analysis & Implementation Plan

Jessica Bonanno, Violeta Duncan and Ted Howard

The City of Rochester's Office of Innovation, under the leadership of Mayor Lovely Warren, has been coordinating a project to develop worker-owned cooperative businesses as part of a comprehensive wealth building strategy for Rochester, New York.

In 2015 the City engaged The Democracy Collaborative, a group with extensive expertise from similar work in Cleveland Ohio in connection with the Evergreen Cooperatives and the Greater University Circle Initiative. The Democracy Collaborative completed a study in February 2016 that documented incredible potential for the project, a high degree of community support including local Anchor Institution buy-in, as well as several potential business niches for future worker-owned businesses. The report also includes an implementation plan to move the project forward in two additional phases, the first of which was approved to proceed by the Rochester City Council on March 22nd, 2016.

Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan

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.

Can Hospitals Heal America's 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.

Cities Building Community Wealth

Cities Building Community Wealth

In cities across the nation, a few enjoy rising affluence while many struggle to get by. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us. Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone?

Getting to the Next System: Guideposts on the way to a new political economy

Gus Speth

In this Next System Project second official report, project co-chair James Gustave Speth details the steps that must be taken to change the status quo of the political-economic system.

Educate and Empower: Tools For Building Community Wealth

How do low-income communities learn to advance economically and build wealth? Low-income communities and communities of color, in challenging structural economic and social inequality, have historically grappled with tensions inherent to development. Who participates in, directs, and ultimately owns the economic-development process? In creating and sustaining new, inclusive economic institutions, how do community members cultivate and pass on skills, commitment and knowledge—especially among those who have long faced barriers to education and employment?

Healthcare Small Business Gap Analysis

On behalf of the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), The Democracy Collaborative and local partner, DMM & Associates, conducted a three-month assessment of the procurement practices and supply chain needs of New Orleans healthcare institutions and the capacity of small, local businesses to fulfill those needs.

The Democracy Collaborative: 2014 Impact Report

Download, read, and share our 2014 Impact Report, highlighting the work we've done across the country in the past year to advance community wealth building and systemic transformation.

Community Wealth Building in Jackson, Mississippi: Strategic Considerations

The Democracy Collaborative

This report, prepared by The Democracy Collaborative and submitted to Cooperation Jackson, highlights opportunities to build a cooperative economy in Jackson, Mississippi linked to anchor institution procurement.

A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth

It was in 2005 that the highly regarded Monitor Institute report declared that the field of community foundations was “On the Brink of New Promise,” and in the decade since, there have been countless working groups and initiatives to introduce innovative approaches to the field. At the same time, largely beneath the radar, a small but growing group has begun pursuing the innovative path we explore here. Mostly in small steps—but sometimes in larger ways—they are adopting elements of what could emerge as a new anchor mission to deploy all resources to build community wealth.

Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources

The Democracy Collaborative

Fostering resilient communities and building wealth in today’s local economies is necessary to achieve individual, regional, and national economic security. A community wealth building strategy employs a range of forms of community ownership and asset building strategies to build wealth in low-income communities. In so doing, community wealth building bolsters the ability of communities and individuals to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, expand the provision of public services, and ensure local economic stability. 

Scaling Up the Cooperative Movement

Thomas Hanna

How can we scale up the cooperative movement without losing our cooperative values?  That is the question contributors seek to answer in this collection of essays.  Contributors include Hilary Abell, Michael Johnson, Joe Guinan and Caitlin Quigley, along with contributing editors Thomas Hanna, Andrew McLeod and Len Krimerman.

Building Community Wealth: An Action Plan for Northwest Jacksonville

Steve Dubb and David Zuckerman

This report, prepared by the Democracy Collaborative and submitted to the City of Jacksonville, Florida, highlights key strategic opportunities to leverage existing assets to build wealth in a neighborhood facing concentrated poverty and disinvestment.

Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale

Hilary Abell

How Communities Can Make the Most of Their Anchor Institutions

Ted Howard

In his guest column for Governing, Ted Howard makes the case for anchor engagement in low-income communities, targeted at measurable outcomes and results. Read the article

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