Cooperatives (Co-ops)

Will Co-ops Spark a New Civil Rights Movement?

Jackson Rising conference brings together social justice and cooperative activists

While the words “co-op” and “civil rights” do not commonly appear in the same sentence, with more than 300 cooperative and social justice activists gathered in Jackson, Mississippi, last weekend, the question was hard to avoid.

The Union Co-op Model

Our infographic highlights this innovative template for worker-owned businesses

Capital Gains: Broadening company ownership in the UK economy

Mathew Lawrence and Nigel Mason
Institute for Public Policy Research

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the United Kingdom’s leading progressive think tank, is heading-up the Commission on Economic Justice, a two year initiative to examine the current state of the British economy and present a new vision for a more sustainable post-Brexit grounded justice and broadly-shared prosperity. In the fall of 2017, they reached out the Democracy Collaborative requesting evidence from the United States on broad-based ownership strategies and recommendations for how 
wealth can be generated and shared more equally across nations and regions, as well as gender, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. In response we submitted the below testimony on the best practices and innovative models that we’ve studied and supported across the country that present real solutions and viable alternatives to the trenchant challenges of the ever-worsening wealth inequality both here and abroad. They have used this testimony as support in their just released report: Capital Gains: Broadening Company Ownership in the UK Economy. 

The Return of Black Political Power: How 1970s History Can Guide New Black Mayors Toward a Radical City

Nishani Frazier

Nishani Frazier Fellow at the Democracy Collaborative writes for Truth Out about the link between the return of Black Political Power and Cleveland model of community wealth building: 

The ascent of these new mayors is an opportunity to build real solutions for those left behind by decades of disinvestment and dispossession. Yet radical intentions and hard-hitting rhetoric is not enough to produce radical answers to economic problems. Black mayors must actively incorporate history and make it an essential part of this project to study the successes and failures of a previous generation. Historian Leonard Moore noted that Cleveland's Carl Stokes, the first Black mayor of a major urban city, entered politics to wreak havoc on this "corrupt machine," or rather the political structures that hindered black attainment of power in Cleveland and throughout the United States. However, he quickly learned he "didn't know where the buttons were." Not long into his tenure, Stokes not only found the buttons but began pushing them when he launched Cleveland NOW! The project combined private, state, federal, philanthropic and individual funding into a proposed $1.5 billion plan for housing improvement, employment, urban renewal, youth services and economic revitalization.

Read more from Nishani Frazier in Truthout 

Workers to Owners: 2017 Annual Impact Report

Democracy at Work Institute

Published by the Democracy at Work Institute, this new report discusses the accomplishments of the first year of the Workers to Owners Collaborative, launched in 2016 to catalyze business conversions to cooperative ownership. Participating organizations collectively created 215 opportunities for new worker-owners and facilitated the transfer of over $8 million in business assets from retiring owners to employees.

One Detroit Credit Union

Founded in 1935 to serve people employed by the newspaper industry, One Detroit Credit Union now aims to provide credible, fair, and reasonably priced financial products and services to all Detroit residents overlooked by the mainstream banking system.  The credit union currently has about 12,000 members and assets over $37 million.

U.S. Community Credit Union

Founded in 1949 by a small group of Veterans Affairs hospital employees, U.S. Community Credit Union has grown into a full-service financial institution with over 22,700 members, more than $1.7 million in assets, and 10 branches.  Two of its branches are student-run and located in area high schools, where they provide full services to students, faculty, and staff during the lunch period.

The Tennessee Credit Union

Founded in 1950, The Tennessee Credit Union (TTCU) has grown into a full-service financial institution with nearly $3 million in assets and 10 branches across East and Middle Tennessee.  To promote saving among youth, TTCU allows young community members to open accounts with a $5 deposit. It also offers prizes to youth who save each month and operates a branch out of a local high school.

Cornerstone Financial Credit Union

Founded in 1955 by a group of educators aiming to ensure people could access low-cost financial services, Cornerstone Financial Credit Union has grown into a credit union with 33,000 members, nearly $3 million in assets, and 6 branches across Middle Tennessee.  Committed to the community, Cornerstone has awarded $25,000 in college scholarships to area students since 2011.

Boston Cooperative Investment Club

Boston Cooperative Investment Club is aiming to redefine investment by offering its members a way to invest in cooperatives and organizations that support cooperatives.  Members contribute $50 to $200 per month into a pooled fund, and the group collectively makes investment decisions.  Since its formation in 2015, the club has invested in five Boston-area cooperatives.

Boston Center for Community Ownership

Founded in 2012, Boston Center for Community Ownership (BCCO) is a cooperative enterprise that provides training and consulting on a sliding scale basis to cooperatives and other organizations within the solidarity economy.  Most recently, BCCO has been supporting the launch of Américas Autoclinik, a worker-owned auto repair and maintenance business.

Will Impact Investors Embrace Employee-Owned Companies?

Anne Field

Writing for Forbes, Anne Field takes a look at our new report exploring the impact investing landscape for employee ownership:

For social entrepreneurs concerned about growing income inequality in the U.S. and around the world, one way to spread the wealth is through employee ownership. With that in mind, you’d think impact investors would be clamoring to invest in such companies....

Read more about Fifty By Fifty's new report in Forbes...

South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union (SFEFCU)

Chartered in 1935, South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union (SFEFCU) is now one of the largest credit unions in the state with over 76,000 members and more than $1 billion in assets.  As an institution that originally served families of those working for the Miami Dade County Public School system, SFEFCU has a strong commitment to education, providing numerous scholarships to students, including 15 four-year scholarships to graduating high school seniors on an annual basis.  SFEFCU also has 13 branches located in area high schools and runs a financial literacy program to teach youth the importance of budgeting, saving, and investing.

New Report: Opportunities for Impact Investing in Employee Ownership

With income inequality in the United States at record high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential solution to spreading wealth more broadly. Read more about New Report: Opportunities for Impact Investing in Employee Ownership...

Impact investing and employee ownership: Making employee-owned enterprises part of the income inequality solution

Mary Ann Beyster

With income inequality in the United States at record high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential solution to spreading wealth more broadly. Most recently, research from the National Center for Employee Ownership released in May shows that employee owners have a household net worth that is 92 percent higher than non-employee owners. They also make 33 percent higher wages, and are far less likely to be laid off. 

But employee ownership requires new investment in order to get to scale. A new report by Mary Ann Beyster, president and trustee of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), published by the Fifty by Fifty initiative of The Democracy Collaborative, examines the investing landscape for potential opportunities in employee ownership. The report, Impact Investing and Employee Ownership, reports on the results from six months of research showing that the opportunities for impact investors to support employee ownership are limited, but that an investing infrastructure is beginning to emerge across asset classes.