Recently added publications

April 2016

The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles

Melany De La Cruz-Viesca et al.

This new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco seeks to better understand the factors that influence and create disparities in wealth accumulation, particularly intergenerational resource transfers, historical context, and local asset markets. Researchers draw on data from the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey, the first of its kind, to assess wealth disparities among different racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles and inform multifaceted policy solutions tailored to distinct community needs.

Community Schools: Transforming Struggling Schools into Thriving Schools

Evie Frankl

With passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind, communities have the opportunity to direct the change they wish to see in their education systems. This new report from the Coalition for Community Schools, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Southern Education Foundation profiles of 10 community schools across the country and outlines how this model can increase school attendance, decrease suspensions and expulsions, improve academic outcomes, and promote community health and well-being. The paper also outlines key strategies and mechanisms for implementation and includes resources to help codify community schools in policy.

Slicing the Budget Pie for Big Business: How Three States Allocate Economic Development Dollars, Large Companies versus Small

Kasia Tarczynska, Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy

The third in Good Jobs First’s recent series exploring whether state economic development programs are fair to small, local businesses continues to find bias in favor of large companies. The report analyzes state economic development spending in Florida, Missouri, and New Mexico and finds that on average 68 percent of spending goes towards large companies, more than triple the amount received by small businesses—despite the fact that small businesses are the primary driver of job growth. The report recommends that states develop more transparent subsidy award reporting and track how economic development dollars benefit small businesses specifically. The authors also recommend that states develop safeguards to ensure that incentives going to large companies result in public benefits commensurate with the subsidy.

U.S. Kitchen Incubators: An Industry Update

Adam Wodka

This most recent state-of-the-industry survey describes common characteristics of kitchen incubators, which stand at the nexus of the artisanal food movement, the sharing economy, and small business development. The authors find that the growth of the industry, which has increased by more than 50 percent over the past three years, is not a fad, but rather is representative of sustained and increasing interest in food as a tool for job creation and economic development. The report highlights common services offered by incubators to ensure business viability, such as such as small-business counseling, workforce development, and connecting businesses to affordable capital.

March 2016

A Roadmap for Anchor Institution Local Food Purchasing in Baltimore

Karin Endy and Karen Karp

Commissioned by the Baltimore Integration Partnership, a collaboration of anchor institutions, nonprofits, and public organizations focused on inclusion in Baltimore, this report from Karp Resources describes how anchors can create opportunities for local food vendors and strengthen the local economy. To help local vendors gain contracts with anchor institutions, which typically work with large food service providers, the report encourages anchors to create local preference requirements within their requests for proposals (RFPs), to support the certification of local- and minority-owned enterprises, and to institute local food price preferences.

March 2016

A Roadmap for Anchor Institution Local Food Purchasing in Baltimore

Karin Endy and Karen Karp

Commissioned by the Baltimore Integration Partnership, a collaboration of anchor institutions, nonprofits, and public organizations focused on inclusion in Baltimore, this report from Karp Resources describes how anchors can create opportunities for local food vendors and strengthen the local economy. To help local vendors gain contracts with anchor institutions, which typically work with large food service providers, the report encourages anchors to create local preference requirements within their requests for proposals (RFPs), to support the certification of local- and minority-owned enterprises, and to institute local food price preferences.

December 2015

Building the Blue Economy

Sam Magavern, Tina Meyers, Jen Kaminsky and Sarah Maurer

This report from PUSH Buffalo and The Partnership for the Public Good identifies sources of funding and advocacy strategies to advance green infrastructure social enterprises. Intended for community-based organizations, policy makers, and funders interested in the intersection of sustainability, neighborhood redevelopment, and job creation, the guide offers ten case studies of green infrastructure social enterprises, including an in depth overview of PUSH Blue’s stormwater management projects.

Can Hospitals Heal America's Communities?

Ted Howard and Tyler Norris

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.  

October 2015

Dangerous History: What the Story of Black Economic Cooperation Means for Us Today

Keane Bhatt
Yes! Magazine

Keane Bhatt of the Next System Project conducts an interview with historian and economic activist Jessica Gordon Nembhard, which is republished here by Yes! Magazine.

Is it Time for a New New Deal?

James M. Larkin and Zach Goldhammer
The Nation
Our economy is broken. Could a universal basic income, child allowances, and worker-owned cooperatives fix it? The Democracy Collaborative's Gar Alperovitz, alongside other economists and activists, sheds light on the issue.

September 2015

Communities Building Their Own Economies

Steve Dubb
Stanford Social Innovation Review

Steve Dubb writes for the Stanford Social Innovation Review on the importance of having access to tools that educate and empower low-income communities to shape their economic future.

Empowering communities to take control of economic development is slow, patient work—and people funding or supporting it need to take this into account when assessing success. Long-term, place-based commitments are critical; parachuting in and out does little to build local capacity. And the metrics we use need to take into account the often intangible relationship-building that weaves together a truly empowered community; shortcuts and quick fixes can cause real damage.

Own a Home in Just Four Years? This Co-Op Program Keeps Workers in the Neighborhood

Yessenia Funes
Yes! Magazine

Yessenia Funes writes about the Evergreen Cooperatives' home-buyer program in Yes! Magazine's Fall 2015 Debt Issue. 

Evergreen started this unique home-buyers program three years ago. Today, nearly half of its worker-owners have purchased homes through the program. Home ownership was unlikely for them before; many have bad credit or criminal records. Cedeño simply couldn’t afford the traditional route, which would have meant a down payment—and debt. “I didn’t want to have debts so large,” he explains, “so this opportunity came, and I took advantage of it.”

Read the full article here

August 2015

How Communities Can Build Wealth by Knocking on Doors

Oscar Perry Abello
Next City

In Next City, Oscar Perry Abello looks at how our new report Educate and Empower highlights key strategies for building stronger community wealth building initiatives.

“People know that there are door-knocking campaigns and community organizers do it all the time, but have they thought of this consciously as a tool for economic development,” explains Keane Bhatt, senior associate for policy and strategy at the Democracy Collaborative, based in Takoma Park, Maryland. Bhatt is co-author of Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth, a report released today that features profiles of 11 organizations includingPUSH Buffalo.

“What we’ve done is go around to 11 different community-wealth building institutions to try to seek out from a broad diversity of initiatives some kind of underlying themes that are crosscutting in nature,” Bhatt says...

Read the rest at Next City


Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth

Keane Bhatt and Steve Dubb

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? And how should communities strike an appropriate balance between utilizing local knowledge and accessing outside expertise? This report draws on case studies of 11 different community economic development initiatives from across the United States to highlight a diverse set of powerful answers to these critical questions.

June 2015

A systemic crisis requires systemic solutions; it's time to talk about what's next


A new project aims to create a space to address systemic issues such as wealth inequality, environmental degradation, a broken political system, and rampant racial and sexual discrimination.

We need a new economic system

Gar Alperovitz
AlJazeera America

Politics as usual can’t solve massive inequality or climate catastrophe

May 2015

Can the Real Sharing Economy Please Stand Up?

Nina Feldman
Next City

In the wake of the BP oil spill, co-op businesses are on the rise in New Orleans

A Radical Agenda for Hillary Clinton

William Greider
The Nation

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Anchored in hope: How Toronto is learning from Cleveland’s return to prosperity

Sara Mojtehedzadeh
The Toronto Star

After decades of economic and social despair that once saw it named the poorest big city in America, Cleveland has become a model of revitalization, thanks to a unique “anchor strategy” that harnesses the immense wealth and power of the city’s public institutions. Now, Toronto is taking a hard look at how the Comeback City’s done it.

Beyond Business as Usual: Putting Cooperation to Work in Austin, TX

This report from Cooperation Texas examines the nature and benefits of the cooperative model and identifies barriers and opportunities for worker co-op development. There is a growing economic divide in Austin and worker cooperatives can play a role in addressing these conditions as part of a more equitable approach to community economic development.

Successful Cooperative Ownership Transitions: Case Studies on the Conversion of Privately Held Businesses to Worker Cooperatives

With 70 percent of privately held businesses expected to change hands over the next two decades and 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day (many of whom lack succession plans), the nation has the opportunity to preserve these businesses by converting them to worker cooperatives. This new report from the Democracy at Work Institute and the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives provides case studies of successful cooperative ownership transitions for cafés in Washington and Oregon; an architecture, building, and energy business in Massachusetts; a natural conservation consultancy firm in Wisconsin; and a landscaping business in Massachusetts. The authors examine how owner involvement, financing, governance structure, and other critical factors affect the conversion process and highlight the need for greater technical assistance and peer support from the cooperative community. 

Our Kind of Town: A Financial Plan that Puts Chicago’s Communities First

Saqib Bhatti and Carrie Sloan

Despite the fact that municipalities have a default rate of 0.02 percent on their loans between 1970 and 2012, credit rating agencies frequently threaten cities with credit downgrades, a “political ploy” that often serves to transfer public assets into Wall Street hands. In this report from the ReFund America Project, an initiative of the Roosevelt Institute, Executive Director Saqib Bhatti and Senior Research Analyst Carrie Sloan charge the City of Chicago to resist corporate interests and put residents first. They offer a series of suggestions to stabilize the local economy and provide resources for essential public services, which include ending corporate tax subsidies and tax breaks, partnering with other cities to fight against financing fees levied by big banks, and creating public banks to foster reinvestment.

Healthcare Small Business Gap Analysis

Jessica Bonanno, Steve Dubb, and Ted Howard

Our newest report, Healthcare Small Business Gap Analysis, prepared in partnership with New Orleans based DMM & Associates on behalf of the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), outlines procurement practices and supply chain needs of New Orleans healthcare institutions and the capacity local business to fulfill those needs. The report provides recommendations on how to leverage New Orleans’ hospitals’ $1.5 billion in procurement spending to promote greater local procurement and economic inclusion in a city where only 48 percent of African American adult males are in the formal labor force. This report is based on interviews with nearly  50 representatives from area hospitals, additional anchor buyers, technical assistance organizations, small businesses, and other public stakeholders.

Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement

Jess Lynch et al.

Minneapolis-based Crossroads Resource Center and the Illinois Public Health Institute contribute to the growing body of research on the health and economic impacts of local food procurement by institutional purchasers. The authors examine how communities in southern Arizona, Kentucky, southwest Wisconsin, San Diego County, and Burlington, Vermont foster collaboration and structure local procurement activities and identify the policies, systems, processes, and procedures that maximize health and economic benefits. The study outlines several key principles for expanding and enhancing support of local food procurement and outlines practical strategies for building networks, educating stakeholders, and marketing local food programs. 

April 2015

Case Studies: Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives—Insights and Readiness Factors for Owners and Employees

Alison Lingane and Shannon Rieger

These 12 case studies explore the practical promises and pitfalls of converting existing businesses to worker cooperative ownership—a key strategy for building more democratic workplaces. 

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.

March 2015

A House Divided: How Race Colors the Path to Homeownership

Skylar Olsen et al.

More than 50 years after Dr. King fought for equality, “it is apparent that the American dream of homeownership is not equally shared,” notes real estate firm Zillow’s chief economist Stan Humphries in a study coauthored by Zillow and the National Urban League. To build wealth in communities of color and reduce wealth inequality, the authors call for the removal of institutional barriers toward homeownership, such as policies that advocate arbitrarily high down-payment requirements, as well as an expansion of predatory lending protections.

Excluded from the Financial Mainstream: How the Economic Recovery is Bypassing Millions of Americans

Jennifer Brooks, Kasey Wiedrich, Lebaron Sims, Jr. and Solana Rice
Findings from the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard

One in five households regularly rely on fringe financial services to meet their needs. Nationally, 55.6 percent of consumers have subprime credit scores, meaning they cannot qualify for credit or financing at prime rates. In its 2015 Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) describes these and other difficulties faced by many Americans and breaks down disparities by race and state. The report also outlines how a combination of state policies such as protections against predatory lending and the establishment of housing trust funds can help families achieve economic security.

Stronger Together: The $12 Billion Impact of Community Development Corporations in New Jersey


This new report from the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey quantifies the impact that community development corporations have had in New Jersey. Over the past 25 years, CDCs have added 82,000 jobs, contributed $12 billion to the state economy, and added $320 million to state tax rolls. The Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program, a 100 percent state tax credit that encourages private investment in low- to moderate-income communities, enabled New Jersey CDCs to leverage each dollar more than seven times over.

February 2015

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: Tools for Changing the Economic Game

Steve Dubb

Presentation given by Research Director Steve Dubb for a panel entitled "Deal Makers and Game Changers: Being Responsive to a Market for Equitable Development" at the 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. 

Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment released its tenth biannual report on what it labels the “sustainable, responsible and impact investing sector.” The report identified place-based investing, largely by public funds directing investment into their city or state, “as a new trend, accounting for nearly $90 billion in assets.” Additionally, the use of environmental, social and governance criteria by institutional investors, once a small market niche, now covers over $4 trillion in market assets, representing a four-fold increase from 2012 to 2014 alone.

Improving Community Health through Hospital – Public Health Collaboration: Insights and Lessons Learned from Successful Partnerships

Lawrence Prybil et al.

A new IRS requirement that tax-exempt hospitals conduct community health needs assessments encourages hospitals to work collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders. The authors of a recent report, published by the Commonwealth Center for Governance Studies, Inc., argue that this federal mandate presents an opportunity to improve community health and reduce health care expenditures. The report offers several case studies of effective and sustainable partnerships in California, Minnesota, Maryland, Florida, and elsewhere throughout the country. 

Creating an Anchored Local Economy in Newark: Recommendations for Implementing a Comprehensive Local Procurement Strategy

Kim Zeuli, Lena Ferguson and Austin Nijhuis

This new report from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) identifies an opportunity for Newark anchor institutions to shift over $425 million of procurement toward local purchasing. In addition to targeting local procurement strategies in high expenditure areas, authors Kim Zeuli, Lena Ferguson, and Austin Nijhuis also suggest that anchors target local procurement contract opportunities so as to build the capacity of small firms to scale up for future contracts, as demonstrated by the Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE) initiative

January 2015

A Wave Is Rising

Marjorie Kelly
Stanford Social Innovation Review

What Counts: Harnessing Data for America’s Communities

Naomi Cytron et al., eds.

What Counts, a joint publication from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Urban Institute, offers a series of essays on how practitioners, policymakers, and funders can collect and analyze data to better inform community development strategies. The authors, with backgrounds in public health, education, finance, law, community development, and information systems, highlight the necessity of data sharing across sectors to foster collaboration. 

A Call to Action: Five Proposals to Support the Emerging Maker Economy


This paper from Etsy, an online platform connecting small, independent producers to the market, identifies strategies to support the growth of small-batch manufacturing. The report recommends investments in manufacturing support services as well as asset building initiatives so that small-batch manufacturers can better connect to local production partners and reduce the financial risks involved in starting a business. The paper also highlights the opportunity to incorporate entrepreneurship training into workforce development programs. 

Advantage Local: Why Local Energy Ownership Matters

John Farrell

John Farrell, senior researcher for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, compares the economic and environmental impact of locally owned utilities against absentee-owned utilities. Finding that local ownership not only encourages a more rapid adoption of renewable sources of energy but also generates local economic activity and jobs, Farrell recommends that states create incentives for locally owned projects. Farrell cites examples of successful community ownership models in Minnesota, Washington, and Colorado and argues for the cessation of current state and federal tax incentives that privilege commercially owned projects.

Building Sustainable Communities: Initial Research Results

Christopher Walker

Written by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Director of Research Chris Walker, this report highlights early-stage results from LISC’s Building Sustainable Communities initiative. The report demonstrates how a comprehensive community development approach that targets investments in affordable housing, economic development, edu­cation, health, and safety can significantly raise incomes and decrease unemployment in low-income neighborhoods. Also included are case studies in Providence, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Chicago. 

December 2014

The Making of Ferguson: Public Policies at the Root of its Troubles

Richard Rothstein

This paper from the Economic Policy Institute encourages a critical examination of the role of structural racism, as embedded in policy, that has fostered extreme inequality in the St. Louis metropolitan area—made apparent after the shooting of Michael Brown. Author Richard Rothstein, Research Associate at the Economic Policy Institute and senior fellow of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, finds that the institutionalization of racially prejudiced real estate, banking, insurance, and land use policies at the federal, state, and local level, fostered and continue to promulgate racially segregated neighborhoods with high poverty, unemployment, and oppressive policing.

Anchor Richmond: Community Opportunities & Anchor Strategies for the Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay

Eli Moore, Nadia Barhoum and Alexis Alvarez Franco

This new report from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society identifies opportunities for community wealth building in Richmond, California. The authors claim that with the development of the Berkeley Global Campus, which is poised to become the largest employer in Richmond and the largest public investment in Richmond since World War II, UC Berkeley and the associated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have a unique opportunity to reduce racial inequality and promote broad prosperity in Richmond. The Haas report provides several recommendations that these anchor institutions can adopt, including the creation of a working group to develop and monitor strategies for community wealth building and the creation of a fund to launch minority-owned businesses.

November 2014

Alternative liberal solutions to economic inequality

Stuart White

University of Oxford political theorist Stuart White notes the role that community wealth building can have as a potential solution to widening inequality.

Angels by the River

Speth, Gus

In his new memoir, Angels by the River, Gus Speth, Democracy Collaborative Senior Fellow and Co-Chair of the Next System Project, describes his personal journey to become one of our nation’s most prominent environmental leaders and activists. Speth, who is also a co-founder of the Natural Resource Defense Council and founder of the World Resources Institute, protests America’s deep social and income inequalities and urges a transition to a new environmentalism, one predicated on an environmentally and socially restorative economy. 

Economic Analysis Of Detroit’s Food System

Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development, LLC

The food economy in Detroit is already the city’s third largest economic sector, and is poised to be the next largest growth sector for the city, note Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development in a report written on behalf of The Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative. In their report, the authors outline several strategies to foster equitable growth, including connecting local, small-scale food producers and manufactures to anchor institution demand. Only by engaging Detroiters and supporting the local, small, and medium sized actors in the system, the report argues, will food sector growth be effective in creating jobs and building community wealth for Detroit residents. 

Eds, Meds, and the Feds How the Federal Government Can Foster the Role of Anchor Institutions in Community Revitalization

Tracey Ross
Recognizing that anchor institutions are the largest employers in 66 of the nation’s 100 largest cities, mayors across the nation are working with universities and nonprofit hospitals to foster economic growth in disinvested communities. In this new report from the Center for American Progress, author Tracey Ross explores how federal officials can further enhance the role of such anchor institutions in promoting community economic development. She recommends the use of a framework based on The Democracy Collaborative’s Anchor Dashboard to hold anchor institutions accountable and to help illustrate to Congress and other stakeholders the extent of their impact in communities.

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

Marjorie Kelly and Violeta Duncan

As the community foundation field reaches the century mark and faces growing pressure on its business model, many communities at the same time are struggling with economic distress. To meet these converging challenges, an innovative group of community foundations are beginning to deepen and shift how they work—adopting an anchor mission that seeks to fully deploy all resources to build community wealth. They are calling on all assets at their disposal—financial, human, intellectual, and political—in service of their communities’ economic well-being. Moving into territory relatively uncharted for community foundations, they are taking up impact investing and economic development—some in advanced ways, others with small steps. This report offers an overview of how 30 representative community foundations, large and small, urban and rural, are working toward adopting this new anchor mission.

October 2014

The Long Road from C.J. Peete to Harmony Oaks

Kerry Reckdahl
National Housing Institute

Destruction brought by Hurricane Katrina presented the opportunity ­— and the challenge — for New Orleans to revive its troubled public housing and integrate residents into the planning processes. This case study from the National Housing Institute describes one community development organization's efforts to build trust between displaced residents and local social service providers, and offers lessons learned for other cities struggling to revitalize their public housing. 

Sustainable Communities: Creating a Durable Economy

Bruce Seifer
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Communities & Banking Journal

In the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Communities & Banking Journal, localist Bruce Seifer presents an excerpt from his new book that describes the shift in Burlington, Vermont's economic development strategy from one that seeks corporate subsidies to one based on building local entrepreneurship. Seifer gives an overview of the city's long-term economic vision and describes the city's efforts to convert business into employee-owned companies and to provide technical assistance to locally owned firms.

Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement

Marissa Mommaerts , Ken White and Ben Roberts
Post Carbon Institute

The Post Carbon Institute and Collective Conversations interviewed 18 leaders, including Democracy Collaborative Communications Coordinator John Duda, for a new report on the possibilities for a new, more equitable and democratized economy. Building off of conversations from the Community Resilience and New Economy Network, the collected interviews help to connect different social movements and present creative solutions and alternatives to our current extractive economy. Full transcripts of each interview are also available online.

Forging a Transformative Vision

Gar Alperovitz

Building economic power through community ownership is the antidote to the systemic failures of our current system.  Gar Alperovitz's lead article in the new issue of Shelterforce explores a vision for system-changing community economic development.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown renews focus on small businesses

David Bauerlein
The Florida Times Union

From the Florida Times-Union

The crowd at Mayor Alvin Brown’s first Business Builder conference in early 2012 still bore the wounds of the Great Recession, casting a sense of guarded optimism among the budding entrepreneurs who turned out for the event.

The Rise of the Corporate Landlord

Desiree Fields, Rachel Laforest, Tony Romano, Tony Roshan Samara and Rob Call
Right To The City Alliance

This new report from The Right to the City Alliance’s Homes for All Campaign examines how large, well capitalized, private equity firms, entering rental markets create the risk of a second housing bubble. The author, urban geographer Desiree Fields, demonstrates that the institutionalization of the single-family rental market benefits the same financial institutions behind the housing market crash of 2008, while disproportionately impacting low-income communities. She lays out a policy agenda that can promote greater diversity and broaden ownership of land and housing. 

Committing to Their Roots: Interview with Ted Howard

Mary Helen Petrus
Forefront: New Ideas on Economic Policy from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Forefront interviews Ted Howard, who describes how large, so-called anchor institutions can make a difference in the high-unemployment, high-poverty neighborhoods in which they operate. But he also says they should be ready for unintended consequences as they do.

September 2014

America Has a Scary Sewage Problem: Let's Clean It Up and Jumpstart the Economy While We're At It

Gar Alperovitz

The problem is simple, surprising, and quite honestly disgusting: Our nation’s older cities depend largely on sewage treatment systems that overflow when it rains, dumping 860 billion gallons of raw sewage a year into “fresh” water across the country—enough to cover the entire state of Pennsylvania an inch deep.

But the stormwater crisis is also a tremendous opportunity to move in the direction of a new, community sustaining local economy.


Is Worker Ownership a Way Forward for Market Basket?

Gar Alperovitz

The Market Basket situation is indeed, as many commentators have remarked, nearly unprecedented in the annals of American labor relations: When have we ever seen so many workers protest so vigorously for, rather than against, their boss! (For those new to the story, the New England supermarket chain has been wracked by massive employee protests, organized without any union involvement, after a faction of the family that owns the chain took control and ousted extremely popular CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. The mobilization in support of the former chief executive has resulted in nearly empty shelves and the mobilization of angry communities of formerly happy customers.)

But beneath the surface of the singular job action, in which workers and community have banded together to demand the reinstatement of the former CEO, the conflict in New England points toward something much more fundamental: the need to build institutions that can sustain the kind of community- and worker-friendly business leadership that earned "good brother" Arthur T. such incredible loyalty.

Happily, such institutions already exist, here in the United States. While undoubtedly not perfect as a form of workplace democracy, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) offers a proven template for making the interest workers have in a thriving business part of the discussions about a company's future.

Effective Governance of a University as an Anchor Institution

Ira Harkavy, Matthew Hartley, Rita A. Hodges, Anthony Sorrentino and Joann Weeks
Raabe Academic Publishers

This case study, authored by Ira Harkavy and his colleagues at Penn, describes how the role of the University of Pennsylvania as an anchor institution has evolved from 1981 to present. The paper describes community engagement efforts like the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, which works to leverage research, teaching, and learning to support West Philadelphia; and the University City District, an economic partnership between small businesses, anchor institutions. While Penn’s cultural reshaping remains, in the words of its authors, a “work in progress,” the authors are optimistic that “Penn will further evolve as an anchor institution and increasingly realize [Ben] Franklin’s democratic civic vision.”

Poverty Is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do Now to Turn Things Around

Dean Paton
Yes! Magazine

In the "End of Poverty" issue of Yes! Magazine, Dean Paton explores the policy choices that have led to record inequality and growing poverty, and examines proposals by Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz, who "not only lays out an array of alternatives already keeping people from poverty, but solutions we also can build upon to create strategies that, over time, might replace corporate capitalism."

When Workers Own Their Companies, Everyone Wins

Sean McElwee

This New Republic article explores how cooperatives can support a green and democratic economy.

Greening Healthcare: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet

Kathy Gerwig
Oxford University Press

Authored by Kaiser Permanente’s Environmental Stewardship Officer Kathy Gerwig, this new book provides a roadmap for healthcare institutions aiming to help build healthy and sustainable communities. Gerwig’s case studies of current hospital best practices identify environmentally preferable purchasing policies, investments in local food systems, and other green strategies that provide powerful examples of how healthcare institutions can meet existing community benefit requirements and reduce health disparities, thereby improving health outcomes while building wealth in low- to moderate- income communities. 

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. 

Building the Case for Racial Equity in the Food System

Anthony Giancatarino and Simran Noor
The Center for Social Inclusion

This report from The Center for Social Inclusion examines the effects of housing, school, land, and wage policies on access to healthy food in communities of color. It offers recommendations to surmount these challenges, such as investing in cooperatively owned food enterprises and leveraging dollars from the Affordable Care Act’s community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals. The report also includes several reference guides to help community groups identify and confront the particular institutions, policies, and practices that promote structural racial inequity in their food systems. 

Underwriting Good Jobs

Robert Hiltonsmith and Lew Daly

The third report in a Dēmos research series examining how the federal contracting system has contributed to income inequality illustrates the potential for federal purchasing to instead promote upward mobility. The authors show that by setting higher workforce standards, which require federal contractors to provide living wages, paid sick leave, and the right to collective bargaining, the United States can grow its middle class, increase community wealth, and generate employment. Indeed, the authors estimate that such measures could foster the creation of an additional 260,000 jobs.