Themes: Accelerate cooperative ownership of business and land (Coops) | Democratize finance and investing (DFI)  | Prioritize indigenous communities (Native) |  | Incentivize independent business and alternative economic development (Indie) | Invest in rural ecosystem building (Rural) | Resource women and entrepreneurs of color (RWEC) | Regenerate soil and nature (Soil). Learn more about themes here.

SOLx Round One: Thurs, Nov 15 | 11:15a – 12:15p 

Merrill Hall Meeting Room

Surf and Sand Meeting Room

Nautilus Meeting Room

Triton Meeting Room

SOLx Round Two: Thurs, Nov 15 | 1:45p – 2:45p 

Merrill Hall Meeting Room

Surf and Sand Meeting Room

Nautilus Meeting Room

Triton Meeting Room

 

Runway Project Oakland

Presenters: Nina Robinson, Project Runway Oakland; Rani Langer-Croager, Uptima Business Bootcamp

The Runway Project Oakland addresses the widening racial wealth gap for African Americans through the “Friends & Family Loan Program.” This program is a collaboration with Uptima and Self-Help Federal Credit Union to provide business education, friendly loans, and wrap-around business advising services to support African-American entrepreneurs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. An initial loan fund of $300K was created at Self-Help Federal Credit Union through the sale of traditional NCUA-insured certificates of deposit (CDs) that provide safe, no risk, above market-rate returns for depositors, while pooling this money into a targeted fund for loans to African-American entrepreneurs. In order to fully secure the loans without creating a barrier for entrepreneurs through personal guarantees and collateral requirements, Runway Oakland established a collateral account funded by philanthropic money and low-interest loans to serve as collateral against the loans, matching the deposits on a 1:1 basis.

We have successfully raised $400K in loan capital and have deployed capital to 8 businesses since the Fall of 2017. We are currently raising capital for the collateral account, and in order to keep the cost of capital low for the entrepreneurs, we have relied on philanthropic funds to cover our operational expenses, which is not a sustainable source of funding.

With the SOLx working group, we want to identify different revenue models to fund the long-term sustainability of this project and debt alternatives that also serve the friends & family capital gap for African American entrepreneurs.

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Food Commons Fresno Prototype

Presenters: Jamie Harvie, The Food Commons; Warren King, Food Commons Fresno Community Corporation (FCFCC)

Food Commons Fresno is a for-profit benefit corporation and a non-profit land trust centered in Fresno, CA, with benefits throughout the San Joaquin Valley. As a Food Commons prototype, we are growing a vibrant community-owned local food system to promote health, equity, stewardship and economic development, while making fresh, local produce both accessible and affordable. Our holistic community-owned economic model includes a 75-acre organic farm, a food hub located in a disinvested neighborhood that aggregates local produce from more than 60 small-scale organic and sustainable farms and ranches for local buyers (restaurants, schools, universities, and hospitals), a commissary kitchen for local food trucks and carts, and Ooooby, a business that delivers local and organic produce boxes weekly to more than 700 customers.

Our current activities include expansion of the farm, Ooooby and wholesale distribution businesses, launching of a Direct Public Offering to facilitate community and employee ownership and governance of the business, and development of a multifunctional Community Food Hub and grocery store in southwest Fresno that will have a $40+ million impact and create 40+ jobs.

With the SOLx working group, we are looking to explore employee ownership structures, opportunities for community ownership for people with limited resources, and capital formation strategies to purchase existing businesses that will transition to employee or community ownership.

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Boston Impact Initiative

Presenters: Mark Watson and Deborah Frieze, Boston Impact Initiative

The Boston Impact Initiative Fund is a $10M charitable loan fund that deploys integrated capital (equity, debt and grants) to close the racial wealth divide in Eastern Massachusetts. To do that requires building a strong, interdependent ecosystem of support that includes entrepreneurs, investors, organizers, foundations, technical assistance providers, anchor institutions and more. That’s why we take a place-based approach: We can include all parts of the ecosystem when we create strong ties in our place.

In our pilot phase, we deployed $3M across 30 enterprises, including for-profit businesses, cooperatives and nonprofits. Since then, we have made more than a dozen investments through our charitable loan fund, sourcing capital from both accredited and non-accredited investors. With the SOLx working group, we will explore financing tools that provide more equitable access to capital, help entrepreneurs contribute to closing the wealth divide and provide more democratic investment opportunities. We’ll also consider the role of impact covenants and impact measurement in ensuring that investments have a meaningful social impact.

With the SOLx working group, we want to consider financing tools that help entrepreneurs deliver social impact and other approaches to chronic financing gaps that current solutions are not addressing.

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Boston Ujima Project

Presenters: Aaron Tanaka, Center for Economic Democracy and Nia Evans, Boston Ujima Project

Boston Ujima Project is a “next generation” democratic community development organization, with a multi-stakeholder structure that brings to bear the political and financial capital of Boston’s working class neighborhoods to invest in, purchase from, and advocate for local minority owned firms that build community wealth and create good jobs. With our Community Capital Fund and Good Business Alliance, Ujima Project’s stakeholders are building an interlocking ecosystem to organize financial capital, consumer spending and anchor institutions to resource and scale a “People’s Economy” in Boston.

Since 2017, over 300 members have joined Ujima; we have formed a Community Standards Committee to set criteria for an “Ujima Good Business Certification,” and the Ujima Business Alliance with 15 local minority and cooperatively owned companies that will undergo review for the certification; and we are developing partnerships with anchors across sectors to direct buying power to promote POC and worker owned firms, build community wealth and create good jobs. In a host of pilots to develop the culture and practice of participatory budgeting for our Community Capital Fund which will officially launch in fall 2018 , over 150 people reviewed and voted on lending $20,000 between 5 business, over 60 people reviewed and voted on allocating $2,500 in small grants to 5 of 11 artists and culture makers, over 80 people voted on allocating free office space in a business lab to 2 of 6 businesses, and over 40 Ujima members along with over 150 other residents voted to award a retail business a subsidized lease and $50,000 in low interest capital.

With the SOLx working group, we want to explore how to model democratic planning, negotiate top-down/bottom-up processes, and balance immediate needs with long-term vision.

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Land and Finance for Farmers of Color

Presenters: Jonah Fertig-Burd, Cooperative Development Institute; Mai Nguyen, National Young Farmers Coalition

Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) and National Young Farmers Coalition have helped to create worker co-op farms in Maine and California. Our work has focused on farmers of color – particularly refugees and immigrants – in both regions. We work with communities in rural areas and people who have been active as farmers but are landless or have insecure land tenure to help them cooperatively secure land, capital, and resources. While we work primarily in Maine and California, our work is connected with other parts of the Northeast and West Coast.

Two of the farms we’ve supported are New Roots Cooperative Farm and Bahati’s Mama. New Roots Cooperative Farm, the first immigrant-owned cooperative in Maine, is leasing to own 30 acres of land in Lewiston, ME and is building wholesale, CSA and direct retail markets including a new cooperatively owned farmstand. Bahati’s Mama, was a worker co-op farm that worked with the International Rescue Committee and CA Center for Cooperative Development to secure a lease with the Pauma Tribe and grow their farm business. We have also assisted other immigrants and refugees in Maine and San Bernardino county, CA to develop distribution channels, implement food safety practices and become certified organic.

With the SOLx working group we want to explore how we can scale up and take more land out of speculation quickly, using creative solutions for accessing and retaining farmland including cooperative land ownership and community land trusts, while engaging stakeholders in participatory and cooperative process. Within that context, we would also like to consider how to help more existing farmers transition their land to cooperatively and community-owned farms while still supporting those farmers in their retirement.

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Innovations in Farm Financing

Presenters: Brett Melone, California Farmlink; Mariela Cedeño, Mandela MarketPlace 

In 2014 Mandela MarketPlace and California FarmLink co-created the Harvest to Market loan program. The program leverages historical buyer/farmer partnerships and accompanying sales records in order to advance working capital to limited-resource farmers. Loan amounts vary depending upon purchasing agreements made between the buyer and the farmer, and are collateralized against current purchase orders detailing a season’s worth of fixed price produce purchases. The Harvest to Market loan program ensures adequate capital is available to support farmers and crop production, and provides buyers assurance around product availability and pricing. Concurrently, California Farmlink also manages an accounts receivable loan product that shortens payment terms to local farmers and support positive cash flow for distributors.

The program has built a space for trusted partnerships which has led to a pipeline for farmers to access additional services available through CA Farmlink and contributed over $150,000 in financing to farmers. The program also supports produce buyers (currently Mandela MarketPlace, but could expand to other distributors, retailers, institutions, etc.) increasing their purchases from limited-resource farmers, and thus increases their collective (limited-resource farmers and produce buyers) contribution to the supply of regional produce.

With the SOLx working group, we want to examine potential variations to this program and the benefit of the fixed pricing model, and consider how to scale the program to include other farmers and the right produce buyers.

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Accelerating Employee Ownership to Create Quality Jobs

Presenters: Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane, Project Equity; Christina Jennings, Shared Capital Coop 

Project Equity preserves and improves quality jobs and creates asset building and shared entrepreneurship opportunities for working people, with an emphasis on low-wage workers. Our primary strategy, designed for scale, is to transition successful small- and medium-sized enterprises to employee ownership (EO). In the past two years, we have worked with companies at various stages of assessing and executing employee ownership conversions in our home community of the San Francisco Bay Area and in seven other states. We are also partnering with organizations in a number of regions around the country to build awareness and capacity to support EO transitions in their communities.

We have an exciting opportunity to expand our employee ownership conversion programs throughout California and other states through a new initiative and lending partnership with Shared Capital Cooperative that we will announce publicly in the fall. We will also be adding new individual asset building programs to our EO transition services, supporting employee-owners to not only share in business ownership but also to build their capacity for savings, retirement and potential pathways to home ownership.

With the SOLx working group, we want to explore how we can accelerate our mission of reducing the racial wealth gap through employee ownership conversions using new capital mechanisms like a Loan Loss Reserve and through layering individual asset building programs into our services. We will also strategize together about how impact investors and other local actors in various regions where Project Equity and other BALLE fellows are working can help promote employee ownership.

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Building Rural Meat Processing Infrastructure to Promote Equity and Community Control

Presenter: Brennan Washington, Georgia Small Scale Processors

The state of Georgia does not have a federal or state-inspected facility that can process poultry and livestock for independent producers at a commercial scale. The lack of these facilities not only removes a potentially lucrative income stream from small local farmers, it also prevents consumers from purchasing locally and humanely raised meat. Producers of all income levels and backgrounds are affected by the lack of processing facilities. Georgia Small Scale Processors was formed to address this glaring deficiency in local food system infrastructure and organize small scale poultry and livestock producers into a collaborative organization to advocate for their interests.

We have collaborated with the department of agriculture to secure their support for the project,
formed the skeleton of a producer organization, and applied for grant funding to pay for the
development of a business plan for the plant. Two major feasibility studies on the project have also been completed.

With the SOLx working group, we want to get closer to building a local equitable food structure with good jobs while executing a landscape shifting agricultural initiative; and evaluate ways to finance this project to ensure producer and community control.

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Youth Empowerment in a Rural, Remote Canadian Context

Presenters: Vinod Rajasekaran, Inspire Nunavut; Ajmal Sataar, Inspire Nunavut   

Our ambition is to empower youth in remote and rural communities through a youth designed hands-on 8 month accelerator that includes business training, mental wellness practices, micro-capital access, and useful technology structures. The accelerator, Inspire Nunavut, currently addresses Inuit youth unemployment rates in Canada’s Arctic region — which are three times the national average. To realize the potential of Canada’s small communities in a changing economy requires empowering the youth population. Inspire works to invigorate Canada’s rural and remote communities by ensuring that young people strengthen future skills and are empowered to pursue meaningful grassroots economic participation.

We have demonstrated this project in seven communities in Nunavut and have catalyzed and engaged a local support ecosystem with promising results. 86 percent of our youth participants went back to finish high school, found full-time employment, or followed through with their business plans. We are in the process of localizing this model in rural communities across the country.

With the SOLx working group, we want to explore practices that blend traditional/local knowledge and western science, as well as practices that strengthen intrinsic motivations of indigenous people. We want to learn ways to incorporate a community’s own models for progress and growth, and how to create economies to scale in small and remote communities.

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Funding Incentives to Hire Low Opportunity Job Seekers

Presenter: Yscaira Jimenez, LaborX

We connect low opportunity job seekers coming out of vocational, apprenticeship, community college, bootcamp, and other workforce programs to living wage jobs through LaborX, a program that connects limited opportunity workers who have non 4 year degrees to living wage jobs.

LaborX is the LinkedIn for the “LinkedOut.” Youth, immigrants, veterans, re-entry populations, and other working class groups with high barriers to living wage jobs are our focus. We take a localized and city approach of aggregating and connecting graduates of training programs to employers — we expand talent pipelines for employers and employment opportunities for job seekers.

We launched our program in partnership with the city of San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, onboarding over 1,000 job seekers. We have actively promoted job seekers to over 70 companies in the area. So far, we have experienced a wave of 100 interviews and 10 job placements. Currently, we are working with foundations and city governments to help incentive companies. We have interest from 5 other coastal cities to launch the program.

With the SOLx working group, we’d like to develop a plan to incentivize employers, governments, and foundations to hire or help support employment opportunities for low opportunity job seekers without 4 year college degrees; and explore how to start a movement to ban a degree as a job requirement.

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Culturally Appropriate Coop Development Program for Young Cooperators

Presenter: Hnin Hnin, Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED)

The Summer Co-op Academy is an annual week-long cooperative business boot camp where young people of color –primarily those from poor and working-class backgrounds and those who identify as immigrant, LGBTQ, and/or gender non-conforming — can practice cooperative values and learn the cooperative development skills they need to transform their communities and the food system at large.

Launched in 2015, the Summer Co-op Academy addresses a gap in culturally appropriate technical assistance for young cooperators from communities of color, especially those that are low-to-moderate-income, by creating intentionally multiracial, multicultural, and multiclass cooperative leadership development infrastructure beyond what currently exists for natural foods co-ops and the co-op sector at large. Traditional technical assistance providers specialize in co-ops operating at a certain scale or offering specific products. The Academy supports young cooperators of color who are innovating cooperative solutions to address holistic community needs such as food sovereignty, healing, land access, cultural expression, and safety from state, economic, racial, religious, environmental and gender violence.

The Academy has supported two new co-ops to launch: MacSHARE at Macalester College and the UCLA Student Food Co-op; as well as two existing co-ops to expand their operations: FirstHand Co-op at West Virginia University and Real Food Co-op at Cal Poly. Program alumni have come back and recommended the Academy to other members of their co-op. So far, 63 young people from 24 co-op teams across the US and Canada have been trained and supported to start or strengthen a range of cooperative solutions in food, farming, and land — including cooperative cafes, urban garden collectives, and bulk buying clubs.

With the SOLx working group, we want to learn how to further provide both a healing and unlearning experience while conducting a rigorous cooperative development training program; understand how we can best complement other existing co-op development resources at the local, regional, and national scale; and explore the creation of an ecosystem of support for young cooperators of color to aid in the development of their co-ops.

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Community Led Redevelopment of a Historic Rail Yard Site in a Hispanic Area of Albuquerque

Presenters: Eric Griego, Community Development Consultant and BALLE Fellow; Sarita Nair, the City of Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer and representative of Mayor Tim Keller

In 2008 during a community process to redevelop historic buildings, the city of Albuquerque acquired the abandoned 100 year old Albuquerque Rail Yards in the historically Hispanic working class area of Barelas. Local leaders are seeking to make the Rail Yards the location of an iconic small and locally-owned community space for arts, food and cultural entrepreneurs and nonprofits. The Rail Yards were once a hub of cultural and industrial activity and are currently the ideal historical site for community based local economic redevelopment.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has made the Rail Yards a signature project with local businesses, developers, and community members driving the process.

In 2014, a weekly Sunday market was launched by community members and has welcomed more than 150,000 visitors to the site and proved that it can serve as a catalyst to community-led economic development. The site consists of eighteen surviving buildings erected between 1915 and 1925.

With the SOLx working group, we want to learn how to scale this large redevelopment project with community input, engagement, funding and planning ideas throughout the life of the project.

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From Community Gardens and Urban Farms to Restaurants – A Closed Loop Solution to Food Waste

Presenter: Ismail Samad, Cherishing Food

The Gleanery 2.0 will address and take action in areas vital in the fight against food waste, including consumer education, storage, value-added processing, portion and plate size practices, and manufacturing line optimization. A successor to The Gleanery Restaurant in Putney, Vermont, The Gleanery 2.0 will be an outlet for purchased and recovered produce from area farms.

The Gleanery 2.0 project will identify challenges and opportunities integral to the operation of successful restaurants and localized supply chains. The restaurants will provide a model for other restaurants to be part of the food recovery solution, not contribute to waste. The restaurant will place equal emphasis on using food that is recovered throughout Metropolitan areas via partner agencies like the Boston Area Gleaners and Food For Free; and through technology solutions ie. the Spoiler Alert app. The project will address the issue of food insecurity, nutritional health, and wasted food by using a new approach that aims to convert a working rural model to an urban solution that sources surplus food first to build its menu offering and define its supply chain.

The Gleanery in Putney Vermont has served as the proof of concept model since 2012. Its primary focus is utilizing surplus ingredients available through a strong network of local farmers and producers. Since its inception, The Gleanery has worked to collaborate with its area farmers to achieve the organizational mission to foster value and excitement around food, art, and culture. Consequently, The Gleanery has made an economic impact on the community of Putney, Vermont. We are basing its track record of success as motivation to expand its model to additional cities. By converting rural practices to urban solutions, we will target economic development offices, new urban farmers, community gardens and aspiring and existing restaurant owners to train on how to create a sustainable business using the growing urban farming scene. The strategy of sourcing from community and regional farms will help to create solid primary and secondary markets for produce that is habitually discarded.

With SOLx, we want to explore ideal cities to begin our project in, develop pitch proposals to business owners to convert existing restaurants to test kitchens, and learn how to engage economic development offices to create programs that offer access to capital, training, and resources through The Gleanery 2.0.

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Impact Appalachia: Shifting Central Appalachia’s Investment System

Presenters: Andrew Crosson, Rural Support Partners; Stephanie Randoph, Cassiopeia Foundation

Our goal is to strengthen equitable and sustainable economic growth in Central Appalachia, an under-invested region with widespread poverty. Impact Appalachia is an emerging blended capital platform that aims to shift the region’s investment system by simultaneously addresses long-standing capacity challenges, promising sectors, and investment ready projects and businesses. The Impact Appalachia platform will leverage new investment and expand public private partnership opportunities for the region. The platform will raise and deploy catalytic grant-like dollars and impact investment capital, leveraging existing capacity among the region’s CDFIs, funders, public agencies, economic development organizations, and community leaders.

Over the past 2+ years, we have convened various combinations of a diverse group of regional stakeholders to help advance this collaborative effort. We held two public convenings to engage over 40 individuals, representing the public, nonprofit, philanthropic, academic, and private sectors in participatory vision setting, values definition, and system analysis to ground and guide this project. We contracted a national research firm to analyze the existing supply and unmet demand for impact capital. We engaged with the Center for Community Investment through their Connect Capital program, focusing on capital absorption capacity in low-income regions and communities. With in-depth support from a multi-stakeholder working group, we have built out a business model, financial projections, governance guidelines, pipeline analysis, and initial impact criteria for this new investment platform. Over the next few months, we’ll be formalizing our governance structure, incorporating legally, raising funds, and deploying preliminary investments.

With the SOLx group, we want to explore two key areas: 1) what are the best approaches or frameworks for making the case to investors that effectively shifting “investment capital” to under-resourced areas requires proactive use of grant-like “catalytic capital” funds to support capacity-building and investment readiness; 2) what are mechanisms or advice for how to ensure community input and accountability into a) defining impact metrics that matter to people and b) guiding our investment strategies through community advisory groups or similar participatory decision-making models.

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Growing Regenerative Farmers and Equity

Presenters: Sara Dent, Young Agrarians c/o FarmFolk CityFolk Society

Since 2012, Young Agrarians has offered programs that support new and young farmers with limited access to resources as they make the journey into ecological agriculture in Canada. With a start-up focus on British Columbia and Alberta, our programs support access to lands, provide business services, on-farm apprenticeships, community building educational events, and online resources.

To date, in B.C., Young Agrarians has served 70 farmer mentees representing 45 new farms through our business mentorship program. 10 land matches have been made through our pilot land matching program, which has now scaled across Southern B.C. 16 apprentices have gone through the Alberta program including 13 host farms. We have conducted 200+ educational events across Canada, with approximately 9,000 participants representing 4,500 volunteer farmer hours. In addition, we have a growing social media following (27,650 across channels) and a steady monthly blog readership (average views 10,000+/month).

With the SOLx working group, as we journey into becoming our own operating organization called Agrarians Foundation, we’d like to learn how to best strengthen our organizational and operating structures to continue to support new farmers in Canada to grow ecological and viable farm businesses.

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Incorporating a Reparations Lens In a Business at All Levels

Presenters: Tiffany Brown and Kate Poole, Chordata Capital

Chordata Capital is an investment advisory firm that partners with people with inherited wealth to design and implement investment portfolios that embody an explicit commitment to racial and economic justice. We believe that communities of color, women, and all those who have historically been denied access to capital need investment dollars to support their self-determination. People with wealth are uniquely positioned to offer investment capital, helping to restore a greater balance in our economic system. Our clients, our firm, and our financial activist allies are a part of a vibrant ecosystem in the United States working to redistribute wealth and power. We seek to include a reparations lens in all levels of our work including: HR policy, compensation, the projects we align ourselves with and the investments we recommend to clients.

To date, we have developed a resource sharing agreement for our partnership to be able to take the shared risk of launching our firm, written materials for our firm that have an explicit commitment to racial and economic justice, and have developed investment strategies,  including two frameworks for transitioning portfolios, that center wealth redistribution and reparations. We’ve built skill sets and workshop curriculum for navigating race, wealth, and power for people with inherited wealth. And last month we launched our investment advisory firm rooted in the strength of our cross-class, multiracial partnership.

With the SOLx working group, we’d like to explore integrating a reparations framework into an operating agreement, explore accountability practices for commitments to racial justice,  and learn of policies and structures other organizations and businesses use to include a reparations lens in their work.

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Collaborative and Diverse Funding for Women Entrepreneurs

Presenters: Lynne Hoey, RSF Social Finance

The Women’s Capital Collaborative is a philanthropic initiative that provides diverse forms of funding  to women-led social enterprises that are supporting women and girls. Women entrepreneurs are routinely left behind when it comes to funding. On average, women start businesses with half as much capital as men. We are partnering with these women to provide them with crucial growth capital when they needed it most — more than 50% of our funding supports women of color.

We have raised $4M in philanthropic funding to support women-led social enterprises in the form of loans, loan guarantees, investments, and grants. To date, we have deployed approximately $1.5M to women-led social enterprises.

In the SOLx working group, we’d like to learn how we can further partner with diverse women entrepreneurs who need various forms of funding, specifically from supporters outside our traditional

networks and geographic locations, explore how we can partner with more donors and influencers to raise an additional $6M in philanthropic funding, and learn how we can bring more awareness to unconscious bias and how it impacts women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color.

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Center for Community Ownership

Presenter: Jeff Milchen, American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA)

Community-owned businesses (COBs) include a range of business structures financed and owned collectively by local residents. The planned Center for Community Ownership will concentrate on supporting underserved rural and urban communities in creating COBs to fill needs like fresh groceries and household essentials. Similarly, COBs can be a vehicle to bring community-based media to news deserts and address runaway commercial rents through community-owned real estate trusts.

COBs have been employed independently in approximately 20 communities to date, but to scale up, a hub to gather and disseminate best practices and provide support services is needed. AMIBA has taken the first steps, researching and interviewing extensively to document COB successes, failures and learning what support infrastructure is most needed.

With the SOLx working group, we will explore a recently-opened COB on the Ft. Belknap Reservation in Montana to advance food sovereignty, funding examples and possibilities, infrastructure needed to multiply existing efforts, and how COBs might be employed to fill other needs (AMIBA is pursuing funding to bring the Center to fruition.) Many examples and background are published at amiba.net/community-owned

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Creating Career Paths for New Agrarians

Presenters: Sarah Wentzel-Fisher, Quivira Coalition

In the U.S. there are few formal pathways to pursue a career in agriculture. Furthermore, an aging population of farmers and ranchers hold much of the critical knowledge about land stewardship and agriculture business operations. Quivira Coalition provides education opportunities and professional networks for the next generation of land stewards. We believe that rebuilding soils and producing regenerative food is essential to the health of the natural world and communities.

The Quivira Coalition crafts and supports agricultural apprenticeships, opening up viable career pathways in agriculture. We are engaged in a growing national network of agricultural apprenticeship programs working to better support the entire agrarian lifecycle, as well as championing a culture of learning and knowledge exchange in agriculture.

In 2017, Quivira’s New Agrarian Program offered 11 apprenticeships on ranches across the western US. Additionally, we trained 20 ranchers engaged in regenerative agriculture in agrarian mentorship which lead to potential offers of apprenticeships. Since the program’s inception in 2009, we have trained 45 ranchers and farmers, 90% of whom remain on agricultural career paths. To date, 70% of our program graduates have been women. Additionally, we’ve connected hundreds of new ranchers and farmers with work and training opportunities through job fairs, newsletters, and direct networking. We also are actively engaged in national network building to establish good practices for agricultural apprenticeship in a variety of contexts.

In the SOLx working group, we want to learn how to better foster a culture of learning in agriculture, explore how to articulate pathways to careers in agriculture that offer hands on experience, and explore how to further diminish patterns of colonization in land ownership and stewardship.

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Central Coast Community Investment Fund

Presenter: Maria Cadenas, Santa Cruz Community Ventures

Community Ventures is working to develop a community investment fund for the Central Coast that supports asset building and the development of democratic owned businesses that contribute to the region’s well-being. The effort has two key goals: 1) Create a vehicle for local capital in a predominately rural area of California and 2) Create a local investment vehicle accessible to all, with a special focus on workers with no other access to asset building tools. Community Ventures aims to leverage the high rate of growth among Latina entrepreneurs in the state, the growth of worker-cooperatives, and the silver tsunami impacting small business owners to build a deal flow for the fund.

To date, we have conducted a market study of cooperative development in the Central Coast ecosystem; worked with the County of Santa Cruz to include worker-owner cooperatives as part of an alternative for succession planning and workforce development; partnered with a local community development corporation with a focus on serving Latino and low-income communities to expand technical assistance to worker-cooperatives; facilitated conversations with current baby boomer business owners to build a pipeline; established an advisory group and contracted with Cutting Edge Capital.

With the SOLx working group, we want to explore and get insight into: 1) Ways to provide culturally appropriate technical and business support services, as well as market access, to ensure the loan recipients’ success’, 2) Ways to quantify our social impact beyond the monetary return; and 3) How to integrated organizational values into processes and system, including the capital raise, in such a way that they last beyond the founding team.

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Proud Pennsylvania

Presenters: Judy Wicks and Katherine Rapin, Proud Pennsylvania

Proud Pennsylvania is a statewide, intergenerational campaign to unite rural and urban populations around a vision for a just, sustainable and locally-based economy that will move wealth, power and jobs from distant corporations to our communities. We endorse candidates and legislation that support this vision. Specific issues we support include local production of products that meet basic needs, new economy job and ownership opportunities for those who have historically been excluded from the economy, a ban on industrial agricultural operations, and a move towards 100% renewable energy. We hope that the work of Proud Pennsylvania would ultimately impact the entire state of Pennsylvania by passing legislation that would build community wealth in rural and urban communities.

Since May we have endorsed 15 candidates from across our state, held events to educate voters and advocate for the candidates, and partnered with the Food & Water Action Fund to raise almost $25,000 for candidates. We are currently building relationships with local leaders who will act as advisors.

With the SOLx working group, we’re seeking input on strategies for convening and engaging citizens from diverse communities, and how to position this as a model for local economy campaigns in every state. We’d love to hear from people with experience in state politics, grassroots organizing, messaging/communications, and uniting diverse populations on common ground.

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Regenerative Communities Network

Presenter: Stuart Cowan, Capital Institute

Regenerative communities are emerging in both urban and rural areas across every continent. The Regenerative Communities Network honors and connects these efforts with a digital learning platform and a long-term cycle of on-the-ground support. Inspired by the science of living systems and indigenous wisdom, regenerative communities provide diverse, place-sourced, and practical tests of alternative economic pathways.

To date, six bioregions and one national initiative in Costa Rica have committed to using the regenerative framework and advancing regenerative development in their region through the Regenerative Communities Network. We have also developed a growing digital platform and learning community of 200 practitioners dedicated to the internal and external transformation required to execute this work.

With the SOLx working group, we are most interested in advancing questions around storytelling to help change the narrative of prosperity and development to one that is more focused on regeneration. How might we think about scale so that more communities can adopt this framework in order to overcome the biggest challenges in place based systems change they are facing.

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Democratizing Capital East Bay

Presenters: Liam Chinn, Restore Oakland; Vivian Huang, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)

Democratizing Capital East Bay was established for local movement groups to create a community-based patient capital fund in the East Bay (Alameda and Contra Costa counties) of the San Francisco Bay Area. Community-governed, yet professionally managed, the fund will aggregate capital to support alternative models of business and finance, centered in localism and historically disadvantaged communities, promote just workplace and environmental practices, and facilitate local political economic empowerment.

To date, the groups have developed an oversight and governance process for the community capital fund and released a RFP for a Financial Intermediary. They are currently hiring a network coordinator to connect investment and movement building work across the ecosystem. Preliminary engagement has also begun on developing a community power building strategy to leverage the capital fund through policy and systems transformation.

With the SOLx working group, we want to explore opportunities to build community power through impact investing and consider how to coordinate public and private revenue to support individual / family asset building and community wealth building strategies.

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WeFunder: Crowdfunded Investment

Presenter: Suzanna Rush, WeFunder

Wefunder enables anyone to invest in startups and small businesses they love. Rather than raising money from faceless institutions, Wefunder enables founders to raise up to $1M in debt or equity from their community and customers. Wefunder was founded in 2012, and helped to pass the JOBS Act through Congress, which unlocked unaccredited investor crowdfunding. In May 2016, the SEC rolled out the regulations and Regulation Crowdfunding was born.

To date, we have funded over 200 companies with $60M, crowdfunded by 100k individual investors — ordinary people that care about their communities, and the companies in them. Our challenge is to grow this movement as we seek to reimagine a more democratic and equitable financial system.

With the SOLx working group, we’d like to discover ways to unlock growth in the number of entrepreneurs we serve and the number of investors participating in the movement.