Newsletter: Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions

The latest news on community wealth building initiatives!


Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our June e-newsletter.

  • We are pleased to announce the release of a new report, Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment, a joint publication with the Responsible Endowments Coalition. Nationally, institutions of higher education control more than $400 billion in endowment investments. The study explores ways students, faculty, community organizations, and college administrators can work together to help ensure institutional investment policies benefit the communities in which America’s colleges are based. See belowand stay tuned for an upcoming web-based launch event to learn more about this report.
  • This DiversityInc article highlights the release of our recent case study (published jointly with MIT): The Anchor Mission: Leveraging the Power of Anchor Institutions to Build Community Wealth. The study focuses on the path-breakingVision 2010 program implemented in Northeast Ohio by University Hospitals (UH) that targeted more than $1 billion of procurement locally to create a “new normal” for responsible business practices. A May 8 community forum featured a notable panel, including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and UH CEO Tom Zenty, along with members of the MIT faculty and Harvard business school professor Rebecca Henderson. All contributed to an engaging conversationabout how anchor institutions can help build more resilient and inclusive local economies. Archived on MIT TechTV, you can watch the entire event.
  • The Democracy Collaborative continues to publish articles on a number of issues related to community wealth building. Gar Alperovitz uses the example of marriage equality victories at the state level to show how political progress can be made one step at a time in an article in Yes! Magazine. On AlterNet, Gar and senior research assistant Thomas Hanna challenge the Obama administration’s proposal to privatize the publicly-owned Tennessee Valley Water Authority. Research director Steve Dubb and research associate David Zuckerman write for Shelterforce’s blog Rooflines about eliminating food deserts using community wealth building strategies. And, in Truthout, Thomas Hanna and senior fellow Joe Guinan argue for win-win public partnerships with organized labor that would use workers’ vast pension fund assets to rebuild America’s infrastructure while putting people back to work.    

As always, we have added new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol*NEW* to find the most recent additions.

Ted Howard
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative

New from The Democracy Collaborative

Report Explores Students’ Role in University Community Investing

Jointly published by The Democracy Collaborative and the Responsible Endowments Coalition, this new report, Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment, 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. With a focus on investing through community development financial institutions (CDFIs), the report recommends that student campaigns work in close collaboration with alumni groups, community organizations, college administrators, and national higher education networks to move university investing to scale and ensure long-term sustainable investment in the community. Read More»

Recommended Reads

Chicago Factory Reborn as Worker-owned Cooperative


Last month, New Era Windows Cooperative opened as a worker-owned cooperative in Chicago after a five-year struggle to preserve their livelihoods. ThisIn 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. Read More»

Asset Building Approach Builds Household Financial Security and Success


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. Read More»

Integrated Voter Engagement Leads to Heightened Civic Engagement


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 effect 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. Read More»

Employee-owned Companies Outperform Conventional Businesses


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.Read More»

Featured Websites

Community Sourced Capital


Neither crowdfunding nor a financial institution in the traditional sense, Community Sourced Capital (CSC) aims to build community through finance by enabling community members to provide needed capital to local businesses. Through aggregating small sums from community members, CSC pools these resources and provides zero-interest, project-based loans of up to $50,000 to local small businesses in Washington State. CSC vets all qualifying businesses to ensure that loans are beneficial for both the business and the community. Still in its formative stage, CSC has nearly 500 participating “Squareholders” to date.
Find Out More»

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge is a project of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, working in collaboration with 16 partner organizations, that encourages colleges and universities — and more recently hospitals — to invest in green revolving loan funds. The goal is to secure combined commitments of $1 billion from participating institutions to be used for energy efficiency projects that reduce energy consumption and reinvest any money saved in future projects. Increasing energy efficiency on college and university campuses not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also often results in savings for the institutions in the form of reduced operating expenses. Started in 2011, 39 institutions have committed $72 million to date. Find Out More»