New State & Local Policies

San Diego Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Program

Adopted in 2014, San Diego’s Urban Agriculture Zone Program aims to create new green spaces, build community, and increase access to produce in neighborhoods lacking fresh food.  To do so, the program offers owners of blighted properties a lower property tax rate if they submit plans to turn their parcels into community gardens or other agricultural uses.  To foster community involvement, property owners’ plans must include some type of public engagement, which could include the distribution or sale of food, educational activities on the site, or community access to garden space.  The program also promotes sustainability by requiring property owners to meet organic farming standards.  The City estimates that the program could help transform up to 2,000 eligible parcels.

San Diego Green Business Network

San Diego’s Green Business Network incentivizes small and medium-sized businesses to adopt green practices.  Participating businesses receive free energy and water assessments, which include resources they can tap to help finance recommended upgrades, and the opportunity to participate in quarterly educational workshops.  Participants also can access a free marketing toolkit to help them attract customers by highlighting their commitment to sustainability.  The program currently includes about 150 local businesses. Read more about San Diego Green Business Network...

Framing the Economy: How to win the case for a better system

NEON, NEF, FrameWorks Institute and PIRC

“A space has opened up to talk and think differently about the economy. The question is what this space will be filled by,” note the authors of this report from the New Economics Foundation, the New Economy Organisers Network, the Public Interest Research Centre, and the Frameworks Institute. Focusing in particular on Britain’s political context, the report highlights sample stories, framing techniques, and engagement strategies that can begin to shift public discourse around the need for a more democratic and just economy and open up the realm of political possibilities.

Inclusive Recovery in US Cities

Erika Poethig, Solomon Greene, Christina Stacy, Tanaya Srini and Brady Meixell

Raising Wages and Rebuilding Wealth

Carmel Martin, Andy Green and Brendan Duke
Center for American Progress

Leveling the Playing Field in City Contracting

Oscar Perry
Next City

Oscar Perry, writing for Next City, highlights the work of the Democracy Collaborative in "Leveling the Playing Field in City Contracting." In this long form piece, Perry writes about why New York City has doubled their contracts with women-and-minority-owned firm. As well as, the work of Democracy Collaborative's thought leadership, direction, and work with anchor instutitons through the Healthcare Anchor Network: 

Corporations and anchor institutions like hospitals and universities are stepping up MWBE contracting commitments and programs, too. The Democracy Collaborative, a nonprofit that does research and builds leadership around equitable, inclusive and sustainable development, has been working with anchor institutions to support more diverse contracting through the lens of building stronger local economies. In January 2017, it formed the Healthcare Anchor Network, consisting of 30 healthcare systems nationwide.

“Healthcare systems are recognizing the need for intentionality to overcome the history of discrimination,” says David Zuckerman, who manages the network. Yet such programs remain in danger of going away when there’s a leadership change, he notes.

“If you can institutionalize it, and build it into your strategic plan, that’s what’s powerful,” he says. “We’re not there yet, but I think in the next year we’re going to see more health systems build this local impact work into their strategic plans.”

One way to institutionalize it: Make it someone’s job.

“There might be an official statement that ‘we’re going to prioritize the effort to increase our spend to MWBEs,’ but it’s not any one person’s job, it’s something extra,” Zuckerman says.

Read more in Next City

Shared Prosperity/Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity

Established by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in 2013, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) coordinates the city’s anti-poverty strategy, Shared Prosperity Philadelphia, which aims to boost the impact of agencies and organizations working to reduce poverty by connecting and strengthening their efforts.  CEO’s five key strategies include:  1) creating jobs and workforce opportunities; 2) expanding access to public benefits and services; 3) ensuring children have early learning opportunities; 4) improving housing security and affordability; and 5) fostering economic security and asset building.  In 2017, CEO’s achievements included connecting 10,718 people to more than $10.5 million in benefits, launching a matched family savings account program, and helping hundreds of Philadelphians open safe, affordable bank accounts.

Philadelphia’s Financial Empowerment Centers

Launched in 2013 with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Living Cities, Philadelphia’s Financial Empowerment Centers offer free, one-on-one professional financial counseling in multiple languages to all Philadelphia residents.  Services are provided at 12 locations across the city and focus on helping residents control debt, improve credit, create budgets, and access safe and affordable financial products.  As of 2015, the effort was credited with helping nearly 1,100 people decrease their debt and around 500 people grow their savings.

Mural Arts Philadelphia

Established in 1984, Mural Arts Philadelphia is now the nation’s largest public arts program, engaging communities in 50–100 public art projects each year.  Through its Guild program, roughly 60 formerly incarcerated individuals and young adults on probation are offered paid apprenticeships, through which they learn job and life skills while working on creative projects designed to transform their neighborhoods.  The 1-year recidivism rate for program graduates is just 16 percent, less than half of the state’s 35 percent average.

Green City, Clean Waters

Adopted in 2011, Green City, Clean Waters is Philadelphia’s plan to reduce stormwater pollution through green infrastructure.  As of June 2016, the effort had created 430 new jobs in the green stormwater infrastructure industry and greened 837.7 acres of land, reducing pollution from stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows by more than 1.5 billion gallons annually.  The effort is also credited with spurring $51 million in grant investments into local parks, streets, schools, and public housing.

2016 Policy Agenda

National Community Reinvestment Coalition