Community Wealth Blog

More than a decade ago, my colleagues and I at The Democracy Collaborative began using a term for a new kind of economic development – Community Wealth Building. For years, the term was so uncommon that it almost invariably appeared within quotation marks when used.

This position would support The Democracy Collaborative’s Community Wealth Building Initiative—community-wealth.org—with a primary focus on connecting the fields of community economic development, public health and healthcare. This position offers a unique opportunity to advance innovative, multi-sector policy and best practices that can have a transformative impact on local economies and low-income communities.

If you’re planning to host foodies for a holiday dinner this winter, you’ve probably already got your eye on the nearest farmers market, community supported agriculture (CSA), or co-op bakery. You know these are where you’ll find the freshest, most sustainably grown foods. Luckily for you, and for all of us, the opportunities to shop in this way are expanding daily.

The time is now for community foundations to embrace a new vision that accelerates social progress and rebuilds local wealth.

The good news is that a new roadmap for community foundations is contained in a just-published report byThe Democracy Collaborative,  A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community Foundations Deploying All Resources to Build Community Wealth.

The Democracy Collaborative, a national research institute developing new strategies to build community wealth and exploring systemic transformations to a more democratic economy, is pleased to announce a one-year paid Junior Fellowship. The selected candidate will work alongside our communications and research teams.

This year, community foundations turned 100.  But while the hundreds of placed-based philanthropic institutions in cities and towns across the country have much to celebrate, they also have much to worry about. 

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year. The amounts are modest, but the trend is clear—mayors and economic development leaders are beginning to add cooperatives and community wealth building to the economic development toolbox.

Our infographic on the impacts and benefits of community development financial institutions.

Drawn from our new report, A New Anchor Mission for A New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth.

Communities across the country are recognizing the tremendous resources nonprofit anchor institutions—such as hospitals and universities—can provide as engines of inclusive and equitable economic development. Increasingly, cities—often led by Mayors—are launching comprehensive strategies to leverage these institutions to address challenging problems of unemployment, poverty, and disinvestment.

Opportunity Threads is a worker cooperative cut and sew factory in Morganton, North Carolina. Started in late 2008, it’s an inspiring example of how democratic ownership in manufacturing can create jobs, empower workers, and even rebuild the value chains that sustain a community economically. To find out more about their story, we talked with Molly Hemstreet, the organizer, developer, and now worker-owner who got the ball rolling.

At the Democracy Collaborative, we’re interested in finding ways to build community wealth at scale — that is, in finding ways to anchor capital, democratise ownership, and stabilise local economies to really make a difference in the lives of low-income communities that find themselves marginalised by the current paradigm of economic development.