Recently added publications

July 2014

Q & A with Gar Alperovitz: The new economy movement is crystallising

Clare Goff
New Start Magazine

Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz discussed the growing support behind democratizing wealth in an interview with New Start Magazine. 

After Piketty, the ownership revolution

Gar Alperovitz
Al Jazeera America

In an Al Jazeera article Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz presents a critical perspective of Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century— emphasizing how democratizing ownership of capital can address the vast wealth inequalities that Piketty so powerfully documents.

The Latest Trends in Sustainable Communities

Gar Alperovitz and Michael Shuman

Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz joined BALLE co-founder Michael Shuman in a conversation on how to build sustainable communities through inclusive local economic development.

Cooperators Confront the “System Problem”: Editors' Introduction

Thomas Hanna and Andrew McLeod
Grassroots Economic Organizing

Senior Research Associate Thomas Hanna and Andrew McLeod of Collective Seeds Consulting Cooperative guest edit Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO)’s blog series, Scaling-Up the Cooperative Movement.

The New Barnraising

Gareth Potts
German Marshall Fund of the United States

This new toolkit from the German Marshall Fund offers policies and practices to empower communities to preserve civic assets such as public parks, libraries, and recreation centers in the face of public and private resource constraints. Based on research conducted in Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Baltimore, the guide offers a range of strategies to raise money, awareness, and community involvement for the preservation of community assets.

Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale

Kathleen P. Enright, Jeffrey Bradach, Abe Grindle, Katie Merrow, Patrick T. McCarthy, Michael Smith, Carla Javits, Daniel Cardinali, Dr. Robert K. Ross, Nancy Roob, Jane Wei-Skillern and Lori Bartczak
Grantmakers for Effective Philanthropy

A wide range of non-profit leaders, including Carla Javits of REDF, Michael Smith of the Social Innovation Fund, Patrick McCarthy of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Dr. Robert Ross of the California Endowment discuss ways to scale impact in this Grantmakers for Effective Philanthropy report. Among the key findings for funders: provide flexible, long-term support; invest in capacity building; fund data collection and analysis; and support movements (and not just organizations)

Banking in Color: New Findings on Financial Access for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities

Jane Duong, Alvina Condon, Katie Taylor, Marisabel Torres, Lindsay Daniels and Valerie R. Wilson
Alliance for Stabilizing Our Communities (ASOC)

The Alliance for Stabilizing our Communities — a collaboration between National CAPACD (Coalition of Asian and Pacific Americans for Community Development), the National Council of La Raza, and the National Urban League — has released the findings of a national survey of bank account ownership and use in communities of color. To reduce continued disparities and close the financial services access gap, the coalition recommends a multi-faceted approach that combines technological innovation, bricks-and-mortar bank branches in communities of color, financial education, and asset building programs.

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.

Underwater America

Peter Dreier, Saqib Bhatti, Rob Call, Alex Shwartz and Gregory Squires
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley

Measuring how communities have recovered from the national foreclosure crisis, the Haas Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, has analyzed the concentration of underwater homes by race and income. The findings reveal geographic “hotspots” of underwater homes and how the legacy of predatory lending has concentrated these homes in African American and Latino communities. The report recommends a range of loan restructuring strategies to assist severely impacted communities.

June 2014

Theory Test

Tina Griego
Style Weekly

Thad Williamson discusses goals for Richmond's Office of Community Wealth Building in an interview with Richmond-based Style Weekly.

Don’t Call It Anti-Poverty: New Richmond Office Looks to Build “Community Wealth”

Bill Bradley
Next City

Former Democracy Collaborative researcher, Thad Williamson, will soon begin his new job as Director of Richmond, Virginia’s Office of Community Wealth Building, the first municipal office of its type in the nation. Born out of recommendations from Mayor Clinton Jones’ anti-poverty initiative, the Office aims to address the structural causes of poverty that have left 27% of residents in poverty. 

The Cooperative Economy

Gar Alperovitz

Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz expands on his vision of a cooperative and community-sustaining economy with Editor Scott Gast of Orion magazine.

Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future

Robert Costanza and Ida Kubiszewski
World Scientific

Gar Alperovitz and Democracy Collaborative Senior Fellow James Gustave Speth have chapters in a new anthology, edited by leading environmental studies scholars Robert Costanza and Ida Kubiszewski. With contributions from over 40 thought leaders in the field of sustainable development, the anthology advances a shared vision of sustainability and establishes priorities for the transition to an ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable future.

The Power of Impact Investing

Margot Brandenburg and Judith Rodin
Wharton Digital Press

In this new book, Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin and Nathans Cummings Fellow Margot Brandenburg make the case for impact investing as an alternative to traditional investing and philanthropy. Intended as a primer for retail investors, high-net-worth individuals, foundations, and others wishing to broaden the social and environmental impact of their investments, the book highlights opportunities to invest for social good around the world.  

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: A Framework for Meeting CRA Obligations

Elizabeth Sobel Blum

“There is a symbiotic relationship between the health and resilience of a country’s economy, and the health and resilience of a country’s people,” notes Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, in his introductory remarks. In this paper, Dallas Fed economist Elizabeth Sobel-Blum aims to provide guidance to financial institutions seeking to comply with Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) obligations—as well as their customers, partners and target communities—regarding ways to leverage neighborhood assets to build community wealth and reduce health disparities. 

Enterprise Financing for WealthWorks Value Chains

Marjorie Kelly

This new report, authored by Democracy Collaborative Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly, offers a comprehensive framework of community investing, ownership, and wealth control models to enhance the social, ecological, and economic well-being of rural areas.

May 2014

Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens' Economy

Joe Guinan, Marjorie Kelly and Thomas Hanna

Democracy Collaborative senior fellows Marjorie Kelly and Joe Guinan and senior researcher Thomas Hanna each contribute chapters to a new free e-book, Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens' Economy. The authors discuss economic institutions, alternative economic system designs, and forms of democratic ownership. This open Democracy and Politics in Spires series, hosted by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, advances the conversation on visioning an economic system that serves the common good.

Limits to Investment: Finance in the Anthropocene

Fullerton, John

In the latest publication in Great Transition Initiative’s sustainable development series, John Fullerton challenges the preeminence of modern finance. Limiting finance capital and the environmental deterioration and social instability that it encourages, Fullerton writes, requires transforming our economic system. By broadening public ownership of finance, through such means as sovereign wealth funds, public banking, and public utilities, Fullerton contends that nations can limit environmental degradation and manage long-term growth. 

Build Ladders and Raise the Floor

Maureen Conway and Steven Dawson
Aspen Institute and Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute

In a new paper, Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute and Steven Dawson of PHI (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) argue for comprehensive workforce development strategies that not only promote mobility for low-wage workers, but that also improve the conditions for those remaining in low-quality jobs. The brief highlights best practices in workforce development and outlines a multipronged approach to improve conditions through advocacy, policy research, job training, and education on workplace standards. 

The Increasingly Unequal States of America

Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price

Analyzing income inequality by state, Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price document the sharp rise in economic inequality over the last 35 years. Sommeiller and Price find that between 1929 and 1979, a time of rising minimum wages, low levels of unemployment, and union contracts, the share of income held by the top 1 percent declined in all but one state. But since 1979, every state has endured widening inequality. The authors caution that this shift will likely persist, unless states begin to create policies that support a more balanced economy. 

April 2014

World Business Chicago Launches Program to Strengthen Local Businesses and Boost Economy

World Business Chicago

The City of Chicago and six other anchor institutions have joined the University of Chicago on the newly launched Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE) initiative, which will link local businesses to anchor procurement and provide technical assistance to 100 local firms.

Who Needs a Boss?

Shaila Dewan

This New York Times article highlights the successes of worker-owned businesses, including Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives.

Sharing Revolution

Jessica Conrad

The recent rise of the commons and the sharing economy seems to suggest a growing recognition of the fact that our health, happiness, and security depend greatly on the planet and people around us.Sharing Revolution: The essential economics of the commons  highlights the many ways, new and old, that people connect and collaborate to advance the common good and develop greater economic autonomy.  The Cleveland model is also featured.

Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices

Debra Rowe
Macmillan Reference USA

A two-volume encyclopedia containing more than 130 signed entries, Achieving Sustainability covers economic and environmental ideas, as well as governance, demographic, and socio-cultural aspects of the concept. Democracy Collaborative Research Director Steve Dubb along with Executive Director Ted Howard and Research Associate Sarah McKinley have contributed the chapter “Economic Democracy”, which outlines the history of the economic democracy movement, highlighting community wealth building strategies such as community development finance institutions and cooperatives. 

Cities at Work: Progressive Local Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class

Joel Rogers and Satya Rhodes-Conway

In a new report from the Center for American Progress, Joel Rogers and Satya Rhodes-Conway of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) outline policies that cities can adopt to become more inclusive and sustainable. The authors espouse democratic organization as a critical component to social equity and wealth creation and highlight the critical linking of anchor procurement strategies and employee ownership, as seen in the Cleveland Model, to strengthen local economies and stabilize communities.

Building “Buy Local” Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending

Milchen, Jeff

The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) has developed a new guide to help independent business owners, localist advocates, and local officials promote local business and community wealth building. The guide outlines strategies to build successful “Buy Local” campaigns that encourage consumers to shop at locally owned stores. It includes tips and resources for campaign content development, message framing, targeted marketing, and execution.

Escaping the Old Boy Network: The Banking Industry and Supplier Diversity

Danielle Beavers and Sarah Werblin

In a recent study examining minority entrepreneurship opportunities, the Greenlining Institute invited California’s twelve largest banks to share their supplier diversity practices. The authors found that though people of color represent the majority of California’s population, only 7.72 percent of bank contracts go to minority-owned businesses. The Institute offers a series of recommendations to reduce contracting disparities and to foster wealth and job creation in communities of color. 

Perspectives and Next Steps in Creating a Healthier Healthcare System

Public Health Law Center

In September 2013, the Institute for a Sustainable Future hosted a Duluth, Minnesota conference for nearly 200 leaders active in healthcare delivery, public health, hospital administration, and community service organizations across the state. This paper builds on key lessons learned at the event and proposes next steps for hospitals to leverage the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for community engagement to improve community health and vitality.


A Collaborative, Cross-Sectoral, and Local Approach to Health

Public Health Law Center
Institute for a Sustainable Future

In September 2013, the Institute for a Sustainable Future hosted a Duluth, Minnesota conference for nearly 200 leaders active in healthcare delivery, public health, hospital administration, and community service organizations across the state. This paper builds on key lessons learned at the event and explores how the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for community engagement by hospitals can be directed to improve community health and vitality. It emphasizes how placed-based strategies can improve health outcomes, including linking anchor institutions to local procurement, employment, and housing initiatives. 

Community Investment in the Local Food System

Jonathon Ward, Margaret Christie, Addie Rose Holland, Dan Rosenberg, Jeff Rosen and Sam Stegman

CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) published a new case study on Real Pickles, an organic food business that raised half a million dollars through a community investment campaign to transition to worker ownership.

March 2014

Time to Leave GDP Behind

Costanza, Robert, Kubiszewski, Ida, Giovannini, Enrico, Lovins, Hunter, McGlade, Jacqueline, Pickett, Kate E. , Vala Ragnarsdóttir, Kristín, Roberts, Debra, De Vogli, Roberto and Wilkinson, Richard

Robert Costanza joins other sustainable development advocates to discuss the implications of setting national policy goals based on levels of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in a recent issue of Nature. The authors argue that the use of GDP as a measure of progress fuels social and environmental instability. They outline alternative measures of progress that take into account indices such as net savings, ecological impact, life expectancy, and civic engagement to provide a more comprehensive measure of wellbeing.

Think Like a Commoner

Bollier, David

In his new book, Commons Strategies Group co-founder David Bollier describes the logic and ethics of the commons, as well as the growing international movement, especially in Europe and the global South. Bollier maps the field from information commons such as Wikipedia to common spaces such as community gardens. The book also covers threats to the commons, such as enclosures and private property rights.

Community Capital


In this new guide to community investment, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) identifies finance options and other investment tools to reinvigorate regional economies, create high-quality jobs, and restore the environment. BALLE offers this guide as a resource to help re-shape financial capital flows to support local self-sufficiency and ingenuity.

Treading Water in the Deep End

Brooks, Jennifer, Wiedrich, Kasey, Sims, Lebaron Jr. and Medina, Jennifer

The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) employs its annual Assets and Opportunity Scorecard to assess states’ commitment to reducing financial insecurity. This year’s scorecard measures the pervasiveness and effectiveness of polices that help people learn financial skills, build human capital, increase earnings, create affordable financial products, generate wealth, and protect consumers. CFED ranks states’ outcomes in five issue areas—Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.

February 2014

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. 

Survey of the Current and Potential Impact of Local Procurement by Philadelphia Anchor Institutions

Office of the Philadelphia Controller
The City of Philadelphia

City Controller Alan Butkotvitz recently commissioned a citywide survey, which found that Philadelphia’s “eds and meds” spend over $5 billion annually on good and services. This finding has prompted Butkotvitz to explore opportunities for how local anchor institutions can boost local employment by shifting 25 percent of their procurement to local vendors. The Democracy Collaborative was pleased to be asked to contribute to the report.

Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities

Elaine Arkin, Paula Braverman, Susan Egerter and David Williams
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America released a new report that emphasizes the impact that socioeconomic factors, such as poverty, unemployment, housing, and crime, have on overall health outcomes and life expectancy. To address these social determinants, the Commission provides three key recommendations: increase investment in early childhood development, more effectively integrate health into community development, and reorient health professionals and healthcare institutions to invest in community strategies that help people lead healthy lives.  

Cleveland's Greater University Circle Initiative

Justin Glanville
The Cleveland Foundation

A new Cleveland Foundation report highlights the achievements and lessons learned from the Greater University Circle Initiative—a robust partnership among the city’s anchor institutions to foster economic and community revitalization. To date, the Initiative has created three employee-owned companies through the Evergreen Cooperatives Initiative, developed a workforce training center, launched an employer-assisted housing program, catalyzed changes to the city’s public transportation system, spurred over $140 million in new, public-private development, and helped direct an increasing percentage of the institutions’ more than $3 billion in purchasing toward local businesses. 

January 2014

Bringing Wealth Creation Closer to Low-Income Communities

Fred Rose

This article in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Magazine Communities & Banking, highlights the Wellspring Upholstery Cooperative, a new worker-owned business supported by over fifteen anchor institutions and community-based organizations in Springfield, Massachusetts. Established by the Wellspring Collaborative, a network of worker-owned companies modeled after the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland and Mondragón Cooperative Cooperation in Spain, the upholstery cooperative will leverage the purchasing power of anchor institutions to employ ex-offenders and the underemployed.

City Power Play: 8 Practical Local Energy Policies to Boost the Economy

John Farrell
Institute for Local Self Reliance

A recent report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance reviews municipal enterprise models and energy policies from around the country that have helped cities reduce energy use, save money, and create local jobs. Profiling case studies in New York, Tennessee, and California, the report demonstrates that cities have a wide range of tools at their disposal to broaden the base of locally controlled wealth.

Worldwide data collection on worker, social and artisans' cooperatives

The International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Cooperatives

In a new study that provides the first comprehensive understanding of the global worker cooperative landscape, the International Organization of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Cooperatives (CICOPA) finds, based on data from more than 25 countries that worldwide 111,000 enterprises employ over 2.9 million people across a number of industries, from manufacturing and social work to real estate and education. 

Green Economy at Community Scale

Peter Victor and Tim Jackson

In a recent report sponsored by the Metcalf Foundation, ecological economists Peter Victor and Tim Jackson outline conditions for a green economy at a community scale. Questioning the nature of prosperity itself, the authors explore necessary changes in the organization of business to promote economic stability, social justice, full employment, and lasting (environmental sustainable) prosperity. They describe community-based companies and finance alternatives, including the Evergreen Development Cooperative Fund, and how they contribute to local self-reliance, community resilience, and democratic engagement. 

November 2013

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.

Ensuring a Sustainable Future

Jody Heymann and Magda Barrera

Jody Heymann of UCLA and Magda Barrera of McGill University bring experts together from the fields of public health, climate risk, urban and regional planning, sustainable agriculture, and water governance in a new book that examines economically viable solutions to the environmental challenges that disproportionately impact the world’s poorest populations. 

Findings of the 2013 National Food Hub Survey

Micaela Fischer, Michael Hamm, Rich Pirog, John Fisk, Jeff Farbman and Stacia Kiraly

October 2013

What Then Can I Do?: Ten ways to democratize the economy

Gar Alperovitz and Keane Bhatt

A new article by Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz and community development associate Keane Bhatt provides ten concrete action steps that individuals and groups can take to foster democratic economies and build community wealth. Using on-the-ground examples, this article shows how to engage credit unions, build employee-ownership structures, work with hospitals and universities to forge community partnerships, invest money responsibly, support thoughtful economic development, and encourage a green economy. Integrating these action steps into daily life will help change the nature of wealth and asset ownership in a way that is more responsive to community need.

What Barriers?: Insights from Solving Problems through Cross-Sector Partnerships

Alison Gold

A new paper from Living Cities analyzes the structures and behaviors of effective cross-sector partnerships to provide a framework for how to best achieve measurable impact.  Author Alison Gold examines four cross-sector partnerships to show what traits are needed to build a strong foundation for the partnership, what factors influence the partnership’s success, and what behaviors will produce high-impact partnerships. Intended as a tool for cross-sector partnership members and funders, this paper provides a means for reflecting on how best to use partnerships to create sustainable change.

Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders

Neal Gorenflo and Yassi Eskandari-Qajar

This policy primer from Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center catalogues innovative local policies that city governments have used to help residents share resources, co-produce, and create their own jobs. Focusing on food, housing, transportation, and job sharing, this guide is intended to help cities build community wealth and develop more resilient and democratic local economies. More broadly, the sharing economy highlights how governments can structure infrastructure, services, incentives, and regulations to support this new economy.

Doing Well and Doing Good: Pioneer Employers Discover Profits and Deliver Opportunity for Frontline Worker

Jonathan Levine, Mark Popovich and Tom Strong

A new report from the Hitachi Foundation highlights policies and practices that improve wages and employee loyalty while also boosting competitiveness and profits. Titled Doing Well and Doing Good, this report profiles 14 healthcare and manufacturing companies (out of 90 identified) that have implemented innovative workforce strategies that help workers gain skills, retain and/or advance their jobs, and generate greater value. Calling these companies “pioneer employers,” this report identifies that they all share a common vision and ability to reorganize and engage workers toward key business goals, including: innovating new products and processes, raising product or service quality, reaching new markets, and increasing productivity.

Healing Communities and the Environment: Opportunities for Community Benefit Programs

Paul Lipke, Patsy Matheny and Julie Trocchio

The Catholic Health Association and Health Care Without Harm have released a booklet that encourages healthcare leaders to engage and partner with individuals, organizations, and communities to improve community health by addressing environmental factors outside the hospitals walls instead of just within. Acknowledging that poor environmental quality adversely impacts vulnerable populations already at high risk for bad health, this publication argues that strategic environmental health programs can help reduce inequities in health, particularly in underserved communities. The booklet offers detailed steps and strategies for integrating programs that address environmental health with broader community benefits compliance efforts.

September 2013

Journal of Higher Education Outreach & Engagement

Anchor Institution Task Force
Journal of Higher Education Outreach & Engagement

Moderated by the Anchor Institution Task Force, this special issue of the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement details the successes and challenges of anchor institution–community partnerships and discusses what it takes to create and sustain eective collaborative strategies. Topics covered include: what it means to be an anchor institution, how to build coalitions and collective expertise, engaging the arts, how colleges can support entrepreneurial ecosystems, the role of higher education in Promise Neighborhoods, and the role of service-learning in promoting anchor institution work. Detailed case studies are presented from Syracuse, Widener, Miami Dade College, Tulsa Community College, Lehigh, University of Michigan, and University of Tennessee.

Why Broadband Matters: A Look at its Impact and Application for Cities

Julia Pulidindi

In this National League of Cities paper, author Julia Pulidini argues that broadband access promotes local economic development, improves environmental sustainability, provides eciencies in local government services, strengthens public health and public safety, and increases educational opportunities for millions of Americans. In order to level the playing field, this paper recommends not only making broadband widely accessible to local governments but also giving them the tools to effectively use this technology.

A New Dawn: Age-Friendly Banking

Sehar Siddiqi, Robert Zdenek and Edward Gorman

This National Community Reinvestment Coalition paper advocates for the idea of “age-friendly banking,” highlighting the importance of providing effective and tailored financial products, services, and protections specifically for older adults. In the wake of the Great Recession, older adults are often susceptible to financial fraud and scams. This paper aims to expand the dialogue between community-based organizations, aging networks, and financial institutions on how to develop and implement age-friendly banking strategies and initiatives.

The Anchor Dashboard: Aligning Institutional Practice to Meet Low-Income Community Needs

Steve Dubb, Sarah McKinley and Ted Howard

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.

Download the report and learn more about our work to help anchors measure their impact on community wealth.


Growing the Wealth: How Government Encourages Broad-Based Inclusive Capitalism

David Madland and Karla Walter

This report from the Center for American Progress aims to jump start a policy conversation that advances “inclusive capitalism,” or workplace practices that compensate a broad base of workers through profit sharing, worker cooperatives, and employee stock ownership. Examining studies and examples of inclusive capitalism, authors David Madland and Karla Walter demonstrate how inclusive capitalism can improve both company performance and employee well-being, while also addressing some of the fundamental problems our country is facing including weak economic growth, high unemployment, and dramatic wealth disparities. The report additionally catalogs existing government policies that support inclusive capitalism.

August 2013

The Possibility of a Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community Sustaining Economy

Gar Alperovitz and Steve Dubb
The Good Society

This essay by Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz and Research Director Steve Dubb opens the academic symposium journal issue on “Alternatives to Capitalism” which provides a collection of essays that explore the broader implications of community wealth building for creating a new economy.

Returns to Capital: Austerity and the Crisis of European Social Democracy

Joe Guinan
The Good Society

Time for the European left to return to its roots and rediscover the alternative models that are a nearly-forgotten part of its heritage.

Challenging Corporate Domination: The Public Ownership Approach

Thomas Hanna
The Good Society

In the wake of the most crippling economic downturn since the Great Depression, it is becoming increasingly evident that the United States is facing a myriad of serious problems that can no longer be solved by a stalemated political system.1 These challenges will inevitably require the conceptualization of a vision for comprehensive systemic change, and a major component of this is the question of what to do about the large private corporations that presently, to varying degrees, imperil our economy, threaten our democracy, and impede progress on environmental issues. 

Towards a Localist Policy Agenda

Stacy Mitchell

At the annual BALLE conference this past June, Stacey Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance highlighted the importance of building a national policy agenda that supports local ownership. Mitchell addressed why changing public policy is essential, the need for framing a compelling narrative to assert change, the importance of building the appropriate components of a national policy agenda, and indicated some first steps to take. Using compelling examples from specific sectors, such as local food and local banking, Mitchell shows that while real change is occurring, major structural forces impede progress and that remaking public policy is critical to moving past those barriers.

All-In Nation: An America That Works for All

This new book from PolicyLink and the Center for American Progress offers policy recommendations for building a prosperous economy by ensuring that all are able to participate and achieve their full potential – particularly communities of color that are quickly becoming the nation’s majority. As the nation undergoes profound demographic shifts, equity has increasingly become an economic imperative. Comprising essays and policy solutions from leading thinkers and trailblazing activists across multiple policy arenas, this collection explores issues from education and workforce development to democratic participation. The book aims to advance the national conversation beyond focus on what’s wrong to looking for what works.

Guide to Going Local: Building Stronger, Healthier, and More Vibrant Communities

BALLE and The Center for a New American Dream

This new guide offers ideas and advice on how to strengthen the local economy in your town through buying local, highlighting new entrepreneurs, investing locally, and more. With how-to tips, videos, and other useful resources, the Guide to Going Local provides tools in four key areas: building pride in place, fostering local entrepreneurship, buying locally and sustainably, and investing locally.

Regenerating America's Legacy Cities

Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman

This Lincoln Institute of Land Policy study, entitled Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities, examines new strategies for rebuilding and reinventing the economies of older industrial cities that have experienced dramatic job and population decreases over the last few decades. Authors Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman detail how these “legacy cities” can employ land-use planning tools that reflect the changing economy and social fabric to support new forms of economic development.

How to Design Our World for Happiness: The commons guide to placemaking, public space, and enjoying a convivial life

Jay Walljasper

This collection of essays, drawn from excerpts in Commons Magazine, is intended to improve our understanding of the “commons” and “placemaking” movements that aim to restore a sense of place in communities, while promoting public space and engagement. Focusing on community assets, these movements promote an integrated approach to urban planning that seeks to create public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. The collection includes best practice examples — ranging from Bogata, Colombia to the Netherlands to Boston — of strategies for building community and reclaiming public and open space.

July 2013

Anchor Institutions: An Interpretive Review Essay

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. and Gavin Luter

This paper from the Anchor Institution Task Force (AITF) is a review of existing literature on anchor institutions that seeks to provide insight on the role of anchors in the transformation communities and guide future research. The paper finds that while an understanding of anchor institutions is growing, the field needs to extend the base of knowledge and continue to encourage institutions to have a leading role in the building of democratic communities and local economies.

An Annual Look at the Housing Affordability Challenges of America’s Working Households

Janet Viveiros and Maya Brennan

A recent study from the Center for Housing Policy shows that, for the third year in a row, working renters face increased housing costs. Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS) collected in 2009, 2010 and 2011, this paper shows that despite falling mortgage rates and home prices, more than one in four working renter households (26.4 percent) spent more than half of their income on housing in 2011. This paper asserts that some of the underlying causes of these trends result from a loss of work hours among low- and moderate-income households and rising housing costs for renters, while housing costs dropped for owners.

Resilience in a downturn: The power of financial cooperatives

Johnston, Birchall

Released by the International Labor Organization, this report focuses on how financial cooperatives survived the global economic crisis and succeeded while many investor-owned banks struggled. Tracing their history from Germany in the 1850s to the present, the author, Johnston Birchall shows how these financial cooperatives continue to provide banking services to people with low incomes, to stabilize the banking system, to regenerate local economies and to create employment. The report recommends that government promote and partner with financial cooperatives as a means of fostering stability, development and poverty alleviation. 

June 2013

A New Era for Worker Ownership, 5 Years in the Making

Kari Lydersen
In these Times

Last month, New Era Windows Cooperative opened as a worker-owned cooperative in Chicago after a five-year struggle to preserve their livelihoods. This In These Times article by author Kari Lydersen details the workers’ struggle that began in 2008 when Republic Windows and Doors threatened to shutter the factory, inspiring the workers to occupy the facility.  After the new buyer Serious Metals failed to bring the business back, the workers decided to take matters into their own hands, negotiating a buy-out of all the equipment and the facility itself with the help of the United Electrical Workers union. The new worker-owners worked with the microfinance group The Working World to help finance the purchase and with the Center for Workplace Democracy to learn the ins-and-outs of business management.

Macroeconomic Impact of S ESOPs on the U.S. Economy

Alex Brill

In this recent report, Alex Brill of Matrix Global Advisors quantifies the macroeconomic impact of S-corporation Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) companies in 2010. Using publicly available data from the Department of Labor, the report finds that S-corporation ESOP companies account for 1.4 million jobs, $77 billion in labor income, $246 billion in output and $27 billion in tax revenue nationwide. The author argues additionally that the structure of these ESOPs leads to greater firm longevity as well as higher wages, greater job stability, and increased retirement plan contributions. Furthermore, the report shows that S-corporation ESOP companies are more resilient in an economic downturn, resulting in positive impacts for workers, customers, neighborhoods, and local economies. 

Rebuilding American Success: Savings and Opportunity for All


In the face of economic insecurity, this policy memo from CFED argues that an asset building approach can help families build their financial assets as students, homeowners, or entrepreneurs, thereby empowering individuals to steward their own resources more effectively and contribute to their own economic success. Highlighting how many Americans lack basic financial security, the memo calls for federal policy reforms that give low-income households better access to the financial tools and knowledge they need to build a secure future. Recommendations include improving tax incentives for low- and middle-income savers, reauthorizing the Assets for Independence Program and reviving US savings bonds. 

Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment

Joe Guinan, Sarah McKinley and Benzamin Yi

This new report from The Democracy Collaborative and the Responsible Endowments Coalition seeks to connect struggling communities to local institutional wealth through engaging student activism. The report profiles three administration-led initiatives and three student-led initiatives, as well as five potential future partnerships, where institutional investments are directed into local communities in a way that empowers low-income residents, develops small businesses, and generates sustainable economic development. 

Moments, Movements, and Momentum: Engaging Voters, Scaling Power, Making Change

Manuel Pastor, Gihan Perera and Madeline Wander

A new report from the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity examines Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) as a means of organizing individuals to affect positive change in their communities. IVE aims to engage voters not just at election time but also in the interim to build a permanent infrastructure for civic engagement to achieve social justice. Looking specifically at state-based IVE (particularly in Florida, but also in Ohio, California and Virginia), the authors argue that this approach has the potential to forge alliances — between unions and community groups, for example — that can scale up and have national impact.

May 2013

An Illinois Community Wealth Building Action Agenda

Ted Howard

On April 24th, The Democracy Collaborative’s Executive Director Ted Howard presented testimony before Illinois’ Governor’s Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise. His presentation and companion brief outlined low-cost, high-return steps that could be implemented in Illinois to help build stronger communities.

Hospital Community Benefits After the ACA: The State Law Landscape

Martha H. Somerville, Gayle D. Nelson and Carl H. Mueller

The Hilltop Institute’s Hospital Community Benefit Program has released a new online resource, the Community Benefit State Law Profiles, and a companion brief, Hospital Community Benefits After the ACA: The State Law Landscape. The Profiles present a comprehensive analysis of each state’s community benefit landscape as defined by its laws, regulations, tax exemptions, and, in some cases, policies and activities of state executive agencies. As state policymakers and community stakeholders assess their state’s community benefit requirements (or the absence of such requirements) in the wake of national health reform, these tools provide a contextual basis for consideration of these policies and those of other states in comparison to federal community benefit benchmarks. 

Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes

Howard Banker and Robin LeBaron

CFED’s national initiative Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) Loan Data Collection Project released its findings from a two-year study of more than $1.7 billion in manufactured home mortgages. Key findings from the study include analysis showing that mortgage performance for manufactured homes is comparable to similar site-built homes and sometimes actually outperforms them, and that mortgages for manufactured homes can be made with low down payments and alternative credit. The I’M HOME project is part of an effort to expand affordable mortgages to owners of manufactured homes and ensure that they have the opportunity to build wealth through homeownership.