Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt While Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap

Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Meschede, Lars Dietrich and Thomas Shapiro

 This analysis uses the Racial Wealth Audit, a framework developed by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) to assess the impact of public policy on the wealth gap between white and Black households. We use the framework to model the impact of various student debt relief policies to identify the approaches most likely to reduce inequities in wealth by race, as opposed to exacerbating existing inequities. We focus specifically on the Black- white wealth gap both because of the historic roots of inequality described above, and because student debt (in the form of borrowing rates and levels) seems to be contributing to wealth disparities between Black and white young adults, in particular. 

Public Sector Jobs: Opportunities for Advancing Racial Equity

Julie Nelson and Syreeta Tyrell

Years of organizing within the Civil Rights Movement led to the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with Title VII containing prohibitions of discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race and other protected classes. This accomplishment provided tools for the enforcement of illegal discrimination laws and has reduced many explicitly discriminatory behaviors over the past half a century. However, racial inequities continue to persist across all indicators for success in the United Sates. For local and regional government focused on achieving racial equity in our communities, “walking the talk” within one’s own institution and workforce is an important place to focus. 

Equity: The Soul of Collective Impact

Michael McAfee, Angela Glover Blackwell and Judith Bell

The long, rich history of community-building work in low-income communities and communities of color provides a foundation of theory and practice on which today’s collective impact framework must build to achieve results commensurate with society’s biggest challenges. That foundation is equity—just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Equity, both racial and economic, must be infused through all aspects of collective impact processes,from the deep engagement of communities to the collection and analysis of data; the design and scale of solutions; and the capacities, point of view, and roles of backbone organizations. 

Women As Economic Providers: Dual-Earner Families Thrive As Women’s Earnings Rise

Kristin Smith
University of New Hampshire

Analysis of Current Population Survey data for 2000 and 2013 shows that dual-earner couples have higher family incomes than sole-earner married couples or single women with or without children. Of di erent family types, married couples in which the husband is the primary earner (the husband earns 60 percent or more of total family earnings) had the highest median family income in 2013 ($101,000), followed closely by married couples in which both spouses had similar earnings ($98,000). In contrast, single mothers with children had the lowest median family income ($30,000). In addition, family income rose among dual-earner couples primarily due to an increase in these wives’ earnings, but declined among sole-earner married-couple and single-women families from 2000 to 2013, contributing to increased inequality.

The Future Economy: An Annotated Analytical Framework for Case Studies

Kristen Sheeran, Frank Ackerman, Noah Enelow, Eban Goodstein, Robin Hahnel, Thomas Michael Power and Juliet Schor
Economics for Equity and the Environment Network

The purpose of this framework is to provide a coherent structure for analyzing economic innovations. The framework encourages researchers to adopt a mixed-methods approach that involves both careful, qualitative descriptions of the structure, functions and activities of the innovation, as well as quantitative analysis of the innovation’s impacts on both its stakeholders and the larger community in which it is located. 

The Future Economy: Synthesis and Lessons Learned from Six Case Studies

Robin Hahnel, Noah Enelow, Eban Goodstein, Thomas Michael Power and Juliet Schor
Economics for Equity and the Environment Network

Many see “business-as-usual” (BAU) economics (Schor 2010) failing us in ever more ways: Inequality of income and wealth continues to increase, financial crises and recessions are increasingly problematic, and critical ecosystems are being destabilized. But at the same time, we see more and more economic initiatives that deviate from BAU in important ways: They tend to share a commitment to positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes. Related campaigns and positive press have worked to increase popular awareness about these non- traditional efforts while providing needed encouragement and support. Economics for Equity and the Environment (the E3 Network) wanted to bring these developments to the attention of economists who have largely ignored them and begin the process of studying “future economy initiatives” in a more systematic and scientific way. We sought to understand the histories of these initiatives, evaluate their impacts, and assess their potential for scaling and replication, thereby forging the foundations of a future economy. 

The Church of Economism and Its Discontents

Richard Norgaard

Two centuries of explosive economic growth have radically altered our material and ideological worlds. With human activity now the major driver of geological change, the industrial era has come to be called the Anthropocene. This inquiry instead adopts the term Econocene, underscoring its ideological foundation: economism. The concept of economism, the reduction of all social relations to market logic, often appears in critiques of political movements and neoliberal economics. Our concern here is with economism as a widely held system of faith. This modern “religion” is essential for the maintenance of the global market economy, for justifying personal decisions, and for explaining and rationalizing the cosmos we have created. This uncritical economic creed has colonized other disciplines, including ecology, as ecologists increasingly rely on economistic logic to rationalize the protection of ecosystems. More broadly, economism often works syncretically with the world’s religions even though it violates so many of their basic tenets. A Great Transition is needed to replace economism with an equally powerful and pervasive belief system that embraces the values of solidarity, sustainability, and well-being for all. 

Wealth Inequalities in Greater Boston: Do Race and Ethnicity Matter?

Tatjana Meschede, Darrick Hamilton, Ana Patricia Muñoz, Regine Jackson and William Darity Jr.
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

The Inclusiveness Index 2016

Stephen Menendian, Elsadig Elsheikh and Samir Gambhir

The majority of comparative metrics assessing the well-being of people in countries omit social cleavages—such as gender and ethnicity—that influence experiences of marginalization and exclusion. To identify policies and interventions that promote inclusivity and equity, the Haas Institute has developed the “Inclusiveness Index.” This new paper explains the development of the Index, which is based on factors such as outgroup violence, political representation, income inequality, and rates of incarceration. Based on these metrics, the US is ranked as having low inclusivity globally. The authors then apply the index to the US internally, noting the geographic concentration of incarceration, persistent income inequality, and discriminatory laws.

What’s the difference between community economic development and traditional economic development?

This infographic, created by Shelterforce Magazine and adapted from our report Cities Building Community Wealth, uses the seven key drivers of community wealth to illustrate how inclusive development practices can create a new, democratic economy.

Read more about What’s the difference between community economic development and traditional economic development?...

Conversations on Community Wealth Building

Steve Dubb

Drawing on a decade's worth of conversations with key leaders in the growing field, from cooperative developers and community activists to impact investors and social enterprise innovators, this book of interviews from the Democracy Collaborative dives into the front lines of the movement to build community wealth.  Exploring both the breakthrough projects that helped define the field and the lessons learned when deep challenges presented themselves, Conversations on Community Wealth Building is a unique look at the people, practices, and policies behind the new equitable development models of the 21st century.

Community Wealth Building Form: What they are and how to use them at the local level

Steve Dubb
Academy of Management Perspectives

In this article for the Academy of Management PerspectivesSteve Dubb, Director of Special Projects at the Democracy Collaborative, writes a comprehensive review on community wealth building strategies, progress, and implementation in local communities:

Genesis Project

Launched in 2000, the Genesis Project is a collaborative effort between Miami Valley Hospital, the University of Dayton, the City of Dayton, and CityWide Development Corporation to revitalize Dayton’s Fairgrounds neighborhood.  A key priority is to increase homeownership through the replacement of substandard housing, the renovation of existing houses, and new construction.  Other project strategies include traffic flow and streetscape improvements, financing for new and expanding businesses, and community-based police officers to enhance neighborhood safety.  Since the project’s launch in 2000, 40 substandard houses were demolished and 34 homes were renovated or built, helping increase homeownership in the area to 75 percent.  Plans are now underway for “Genesis II,” which will emphasize housing construction on remaining vacant lots.

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.

Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center

The Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC) provides training, support and a variety of programs to help grassroots neighborhood organizations and neighbors address issues that affect the quality of life in their neighborhoods.  The organization’s work is based on the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) framework, which seeks to highlight community strengths and provide a structure for transformation based on those assets.  Its programs includes training sessions and individual coaching to help nurture grassroots leaders, “courageous conversation” events to provide a safe place for difficult community dialogues, and roundtables to provide a forum for community groups to connect on a regular basis.