Social Enterprise

Growing a Cleveland Renaissance

Stephen A. Thompson
Rural Cooperatives

In the November/December edition of Rural Cooperatives magazine, the United States Department of Agriculture featured Green City Growers Cooperative, the third worker-owned enterprise established by the Evergreen Cooperatives. The article highlights how Green City Growers created twenty-five jobs while transforming eleven acres of abandoned lots into a productive urban greenhouse. The article also provides insight for how cooperatives can partner with city governments, anchor institutions, and foundations to stabilize local economies. 

Rey España

This month we interview Rey España, Director of Community Development at the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), one of the largest and most successful urban Native American centers in the nation. In the past decade at NAYA, España has helped launch a number of projects, including an individual development account program, an affordable housing portfolio, a private high school serving Portland’s Native American community, and two social enterprises. NAYA is now looking to develop a Community Development Financial Institution to provide loan assistance for NAYA’s microenterprises.

Social Innovation From the Inside Out

Warren Nilsson and Tana Paddock
Stanford Social Innovation Review


Hatch provides a common space for local innovators and entrepreneurs to work together. As a "community action lab," Hatch offers mentorship, consulting, and peer support to entrepreneurs at the often isolated edge of purpose and profit, hosts workshops and forums, facilitates professional services geared toward mission-driven organizations, offers an array of multi-purpose spaces for lease, and hosts events to bring in the non-tenant community. Read more about Hatch...

Reverend Barry Randolph

This month we interview Reverend Barry Randolph, pastor of the Detroit-based Church of the Messiah. Reverend Randolph discusses the church’s involvement in Detroit revitalization work as well as its entrepreneurial social enterprises, including: Basic Black, a t-shirt manufacturer; Lawn King, a landscaping business; Repeat Boutique, a second hand store; and Nikki’s Ginger Tea. These businesses have provided jobs training for single parents, convicted felons, and artists and have encouraged a spirit of self-reliance.

How to Democractize the US Economy

Gar Alperovitz
The Nation

As real income levels have stagnated and traditional politics remains deadlocked, communities are looking for new avenues to educate and employ themselves, from social enterprises and cooperatives to community development corporations and credit unions. Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz reviews the impact of these community wealth building organizations as well as the challenges of supporting these organizations and structuring new local and national institutions that foster efficient, effective, stable, and equitable local economies.

The Rise of Community Wealth Building Institutions

More people are turning to economic alternatives in which new wealth is built collectively and from the bottom up

Crossposted from Policy Network, and later published on the London School of Economics website, this blog is part of a debate event hosted by Policy Network in London, UK, that was reviewed in OurKingdom by grassroots activist James Doran:    

Five years after the financial crisis economic inequality in the United States is spiraling to levels not seen since the Gilded Age. While most Americans are experiencing a recovery-less recovery, the top one per cent of earners last year claimed 19.3 per cent of household income, their largest share since 1928. Moreover, income distribution looks positively egalitarian when compared to wealth ownership.

Failure in Social Enterprises

Samantha Rykaszewski, Marie Ma and Yinzhi Shen

When Good is Not Good Enough

Bill Shore, Darell Hammond and Amy Celep
Stanford Social Innovation Review

Leaders of two of the most successful nonprofit organizations argue that the sector needs to shift its attention from modest goals that provide short-term relief to bold goals that, while harder to achieve, provide long-term solutions by tackling the root of social problems.

A Sweet Success Bakery

A Sweet Success is a bakery run by Sanctuary House, a Greensboro nonprofit that supports the recovery of adults with serious mental illness.  By working in the bakery, which sells a range of desserts to both individuals and wholesalers, Sanctuary House participants gain job skills and a sense of independence.  The bakery not only generates revenues for the nonprofit, but also works to increase public awareness of mental illness.

HandyCapable Network

HandyCapable is a nonprofit that was created to provide developmentally disabled adults with an opportunity to perform meaningful work in a nurturing facility.  To do so, the organization trains its participants to refurbish computers that have been donated by community residents and businesses, and then it donates the refurbished equipment to other nonprofits and low-income families.  Since its incorporation in 2006, HandyCapable has refurbished and donated over 3,800 computers.

Assessing Impact at Anchor Institutions

New anchor dashboard identifies 12 priority areas and indicators
Crossposted from Rooflines: The Shelterforce Blog

This week, The Democracy Collaborative is releasing a new paper to create a framework for measuring the effectiveness of university and hospital efforts to partner with and improve conditions in surrounding communities. Our goal is to help institutions reflect and assess broadly the long-term impact of their anchor-mission activities, and particularly the extent to which they may benefit low-income children, families and communities.

Democracy Collaborative Offers Paid Internship

Work with us on newsletters and

We are pleased to announce a new intern position at The Democracy Collaborative that will focus on the newsletter and adding web content. For further details, please see the position description below. Remember to submit your applications by August 30!

Community Organizing for a New Economy

Democracy Collaborative panel highlights transformative work of community-based organizations

Earlier this month at Left Forum, The Democracy Collaborative helped organize five panels on a variety of different topics related to cooperatives, sustainability and growing a new economy. The last session of the weekend, “Community Organizing for a New Economy,” offered a spirited conversation around some innovative new work that is helping build a new economy.