Organizational Capacity Building

Candace LaRue and Associates

Promise neighborhoods panel live blog post #CICSUMMIT

Michael McAfee

Measuring Performance for Promise Neighborhoods: Collecting Data and Reporting Results

Promise Neighborhoods is a current opportunity to work on a core set of results over a period of time. It is grounded in 10 results and 15 indicators. The implementation grant competition is built from a results framework. Indicators are focused on education, communities, and supports. The intention is to use the neighborhood as a unit to advance guiding principles: working at scale (serving all of the children in the neighborhood) and creating a culture of accountability. Many of these principles are similar to the Harlem Children’s Zone. There are right now 5 implementation Grantees working over 5 years. All PN Grantees are following a cradle-college-career strategy. He do we weave systems of support to address the complete continuum. We understand what data will tell us if we don’t learn from past experience. So what? PN is not a new idea, nor is it a silv bullet. It should not be divisive in your community. promise Neighborhoods can hold all of that. If we are doing good cradle to career work, we will be building organizations that can deliver. It is easy to ask for results and to move indicators, but it is hard to ask if we are insetting in organizations to be able to deliver.

The framework: define the neighborhood, identify partners, develop contracts for accountability, capitalize on partnerships to really deliver over the long term. It is difficult for organizations to fund administrative capacity such as data system and days system management. It is important to think about what it really takes to do this work. W have to include all the stake holders, including children, parents, teachers, service providers, and policy makers. It is important to think early on about how each partner will contribute. How do non-profits do the work? How should funders be funding it? And how can policy makers remove variables? There is nothing special about PN…it only becomes special when we do something about it. What makes it special is what we do with it in communities.

The PN institute at PolicyLink was established to provide technical support to PN Grantees. This includes getting the federal appropriation every year, and possibly to make it permanent. They are working to build communities of practice by bringing Grantees together at least 3 times per year. We provide technical assistance – one on one coaching, reports, gathering resources together. How do we build national infrastructure so we can mature as a field? We should not be building new databases and governance structures every time there is a new opportunity. We should be building capacity so these things don’t have to be recreated. Some communities were struggling with data systems, especially those who did not have high capacity regarding data. PNI purchased licenses for Grantees from Social Solutions, so they could hold some of that capacity in their organization. The data system has allowed there to be a common conversation. The data needs to be aggregated to track data at the national level. The PN communities are using a common data platform, working on the same results and indicators, and using the same framework for action. How do communities develop the capacity to do this work at this scale? Some of the capacity needs to be held as national infrastructure. A cradle to career strategy suggests a 20 year commitment – but where is the 20 year investment? If we can invest in PN strategies over the long term then we can achieve results and scale up the work that needs to be done to move an indicator, and build the capacity of organizations so they can move beyond failed models. In congress, people have read all about what non-profits want to do, but where are the results? This is an opportunity to build capacity, to learn to have different conversations, and move beyond this. Promise Neighborhoods is a funding stream and strategy, and it should be used with all the other good work being done in a community.

Jennifer Comey: Data Technical Assistance for Promise Neighborhoods

She is part of the National Indicators Project in DC, and has worked with the DC Promise Neighborhood initiative for 2 years (now moving forward to implementation). The Urban Institute was awarded a contract to provide national technical assistance.

Goals of presentation:
– review efforts to assist PN implementation sites with data definition and data collection
– describe required performance measurement for PN
– Lost potential sources of data
– challenges for data collection and evaluation (place-based initiative)

Task 1: data definitions
– common data definition and methods of collection
— project and program indicators
— implementation indicators
— neighborhood indicators
— various levels of observation: individual, school, and neighborhood
– technical working group

The department of education did not provide a data system or a specific set of requirements around data indicators. The Grantees were able to identify what they thought about data collection, and the UI worked to create commonality among Grantees. Grantees were required to set up a longitudinal data system, which became a case management system. Grantees also need to understand how the neighborhood is changing over time.


1. Enter kindergarten ready
2. proficient in core subjects
3. successful transition from Ms to HS
4. graduate from HS
5. high school graduates obtain post secondary degree, citric action, or credential (without the need for remediation)


6. Students are healthy
7. Students feel safe at school and in their community
8. Students live in stable communities
9. Families and community members support learning in PN schools
10. Students have access to 21st century learning tools

Potential Sources for GPRA Indicators
1. Individual administrative data
2. Aggregated administrative data
3. Neighborhood survey
4. School climate survey

Urban Institute will be publishing a guidance document. At the beginning for UI, the goal was individual level data, but that wouldn’t necessarily allow Grantees to measure the broader neighborhood rather than just people participating in programs.

Case Management Data System
– track participants, services received, and programs on goals
– coordinate and communicate between programs and solutions
– determine effective solutions and make changes

All PN sites are a partnership of multiple organizations, state, local, and non-profit. It is very difficult to create a unified case management data system due to confidentiality, sensitivity, etc.

Task 2: National Promise Neighborhood TA
– TA for sites to collect GPRA indicators and other programmatic performance data
– TA for local data systems

This includes TA on issues of surveys, IRB issues, etc.

Task 3: National PN efforts
– collect grantee data and prepare are restricted – use data files for researchers
– developing code book and documentation of files
– risk disclosure analysis

Task 4: National PN Efforts
– annual performance reports
— develop databae to collect GPRA indicator data
— TA for forms
__ analysis of baseline data and eventual performance in GPRA indicators in aggregate

1. Tension between place-based vs project-based initiative
2. era of school choice
3. people move – do the successful families succeed and move out?
4. penetration rates are expected to increase
5. formative evaluation as opposed to a random experimental design

Alison Churilla and Paul Mattessich: Promise Neighborhood, Strive, and MN compas: Lessons from the Nascent Implementation of Data-Driven Cradle to Career Initiatives

Michael started with a conceptual framework, and Jennifer presented a methodological framework. How do you get this to work in a community? How do you work with multiple languages, or competing political interests, or when people believe the computers can do everything for them? wilder has worked with 2 Promise Neighborhoods projects and a STRIVE project, navigating these challenges.


Data is meant to tell a story, and MN compass is more than just an indicator project – these are people, individuals, and communities. MN compass provides unbiased, credible information curated by the topic area advisement groups. For example, there is an advisement group for Education with a variety of stakeholders to tell them what information they need to do their job and improve life. MN Compass provides a set of key measures that tell an initial story and the “tip of the iceberg” on these measures. The data is “cut” by different demographics, I.e. race and ethnicity, age, gender, and income. MN Compass also provides additional resources/information – I.e.evidence-based programs.

Information is kept as up to date as possible, as a we based tool – MN Compass

There are three types of PN indicators – Community Outcome Indicators, Promise Neighborhood Outcome Indicators, and Process indicators

COI – education level of workforce, crime rates, property rate, etc
PNI – achievement scores, graduation rates, etc
PI – use of navigators, participation in out-of-school time activities, etc (longitudinal database)

Putting together a team that can gather all these types of data require different skill sets.

Creating indicators is science, politics, and art.

Note: these are my notes from the presentation, not my opinion. In the case of Jennifer Comey, the notes follow her power point very closely (as did her presentation).

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Lyle Wray measurement framework and the evolution of our field #CICSUMMIT

A conceptual framework is the basis for many theories. We have implicit ways of organizing data. It is a group of concepts that provides a focus and a rationale – what is important and why is it important. We are drowning in data. On the train ride up here, everyone was looking at a screen. How to you integrate these massive amounts of data? How do you know this is important? We develop our frameworks through word models.

The Thomas Acquinas used a framework to make room for science 800 years ago. They have a variety of domains (economic, environment, etc). An example is sustainability – that has a very broad framework. Frameworks are nested from local to broad. We need to figure out indicators that next from a neighborhood to the world. Instead we have a Tower of Babel where the data doesn’t work well together. It is important to be able to both nest and disaggregate data. We have incompatible layers. Frameworks have different time frames – some things change quickly, some change slowly. For example, dashboards are short term but reports are long term. Frameworks may be based on individual measures, portfolio measures, or composites. Portfolio measures may be collapsed into an index.

Domains – from simple to direct. Some measures are direct measures (like birthweight) and others are complex and based on theoretical judgment. For example, if someone gets shot, it increases the GDP – what is wrong with this picture? We need a broader measure of social well-being, like the Fordham measure. An example of nesting is being able to understand local sustainability in a global context.

Composites or singular indicators? It depends on what we want to measure. Higher level indicators are helpful to communicate. If you don’t have them, you are “down in the weeds” and can’t see the overall effect. But, then the issue is the selection and weight of elements in the index. What is the decision process for developing the measures? An example is the Legatim Prosperity Index created for France by Stiglitz and Sen. The US 12th in this index. You can “drill down” to individual elements and countries and then aggregate up to the world and the composite index.

The triple bottom line is another framework – economic performance, social performance, environment performance.

Another example is the Paul Epstein cause and effect chart on childhood obesity. They identified six major causes of obesity – prenatal practices, genetics, early feeding, environment, lifestyle, and policy. The cause and effect chart provides a way to identify an intervention approach on what might be more “moveable.” This is in contrast to the “intervention du jour.” Unless you have an understanding causes and effects, it is easier to “peddle” interventions that do not have evidence to support them.

Another example – the Balanced scorecard framework (see Kaplan and Norton 1996). This gives multiple perspectives that need to be looked at at the same time – financial, customer, internal business processes, learning and growth. Vision and strategy is at the center. One perspective is not enough. Learning and growth implies that organizations need to get better all the time, not have the same problems all the time. Internal business processes ask how much it costs the business to “get it out the door.” The customer perspective highlights customer relationships. This framework goes beyond the financial perspective, but organizations that have adopted it do better than those that focus on financials only.

What are the benefits of frameworks? Analysis – comparison across communities, analysis and synthesis cycle, scope and scale, point to prospective indicators. Where are we, what are we doing, and what do we know? Communication – common language, points attention to important elements (example of checklists for important repetitive tasks like preparing for surgery), improves communication, organize to understand 5+- 2 (this is how much we can understand at one time). This allows us to communicate with a common language while avoiding starting from scratch. Action – point to intervention targets, avoids intervention du jour, select promising practices based on comparison data (omega squared – powerful variables, not the ones that you have to tease and twist to identify impacts). How do we actually get things to change? We need to use our frameworks to understand what we can do to create change. We need Big Bang variables in order to move achievements of struggling students faster. Frameworks can help point us to the game changing variables.

Frameworks take a while to develop, and there are many evolving frameworks. We need to integrate nested frameworks into the massive among data we have coming down the tubes. Who convenes and how to we make progress on frameworks over time?

Note: these are notes from his talk, not my own opinion.

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Charlotte Khan – data in the context of national and global trends live blog post #CICSUMMIT

Local communities are operating in a global context, and it is important to include that context in our understanding of what is occurring at the local level.

There is an unprecedented rate of change right now, with, for example, population growing more rapidly than ever before. The majority of population growth is in Asia and Africa.

Another important trend is automation in technological change. Today 3 billion people are chasing 1.2 billion jobs, making educational attainment even more important to “outrun robots and computers.”

In 2010, a report came out on global reading scale scores. The USA was 17th, but unpacking by race and ethnicity, White and Asian students were towards the top of the list, but Black and Latino students ranked in the 40s. This achievement gap is not acceptable.

How did we get here? Betwee 1947 and 1979, there was broad based prosperity. People at the bottom of the distribution benefited most. Since then, productivity has increased but wages have been essentially flat. Inequality has widened, and people at the top have benefited from growth but people at the bottom have suffered (note – this is partially because gains in productivity from technology are attributed to the capital, owned by the wealthy)

In the last decade, corporate taxes have gone down, profits have gone up, and job growth/creation has been going down. Moreover, the economy has been incredibly volatile with a rapid boom and bust cycle. The US economy is 70% dependent on consumer spending. In 2007, there was record- low savings and record high spending. By going to school, getting an education, and buying a home, people ended up in debt. When the housing market softened, we fell off an “economic cliff” into the Great Recession. What we need to understand in terms of our communities is that this recession has created a widening of inequality in the nation and in communities. Latinos, Asians, and African Americans have all lost more assets due to the housing bust than Whites.

This last recession has popped a bubble we were all living in, and “nothing will ever be the same again.” We need to be creating new jobs that will create sustainable wealth for families.

An example of this “longest bubble” is Health Care, with health care costs going up much faster than wages. And yet, even though we are spending so much on health care, obesity has doubled between 1995 and 2007. Our health outcomes, also, are lagging behind other industrialized countries, including life expectancy. Health care spending is also crowding out other investment – health care costs rose 75% in the MA budget from 2010-2011. We are waistline about 1/3 of health care expenditures on unnecessary or harmful health care expenditure – in MA, eliminating that expense would more than make up for the Budget Gap.

The US has the highest level of income inequality and lowest mobility rate among our peers.

In comparison with our wealthy developed peer nations, Americans are: the most personally indebted, incarcerated, unequal, obese, pay the most for health care, most energy, least inter generational mobility.

The young population is increasingly made up of people of color. If we don’t fix achievement gaps, we are in trouble. Cities in the Us are increasingly vulnerable to climate change, such as flooding an drought.

We need new ways of working. We need shared indicators, regional alignment on charged goals and a civic agenda. We need to use open source data analysis and visualization software, such as Weave, so we can communicate data to our communities and take advantage of the open data movement. We need to help our communities to put data together in such a way that the data can give them a handle on what is happening and traction on what the solutions can be.

Please note: these are my notes from her presentation, not my own opinion (except for where I started the statement with “note:”)

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Policy Information from the Afterschool Alliance

Do you subscribe to the Afterschool Alliance’s “Afterschool Snack”? You will find excellent policy information on it. 

Most recently they reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (LHHS), which funded the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative at $1.15 billion, the same level as last year. However, the bill includes language that would change federal afterschool policy and divert those 21st CCLC dollars from afterschool and summer learning programs. If this bill becomes law, communities will lose their afterschool programs and many more children will be unsupervised during the hours while their parents are at work. 

View the entire article at The Afterschool Snack.

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Heavy Lifting to Improve Schools

I was struck when a representative from Harlem Children’s Zone said, ‘the real work is in public schools,’ and he had an important point! Schools are a perfect example of a coordination failure, where many people doing what they believe is best leads to a negative result no one wants. Because they are such large institutions designed to with stand pressure to change, improving failing schools is definitely “heavy lifting.”

Sharing the Heaving Lifting on Improving Schools

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More Wisdom from Elinor Ostrom

Garret Hardin wrote “The Tragedy of the Commons” in support of private property rights. In the commons, he argued, there was a free for all. Because no one had an incentive to protect the whole commons, everyone would over graze their sheep, and the pasture would be degraded. He used the example of the actual commons in England, with details in his economic parable about putting up fences, etc.

The problem? He obviously knew nothing about the history of the commons he used in his example. (what? An economist who doesn’t know history?). The commons, sheep grazing and all, was typically very well-managed and pastures lasted for generations. Much longer, actually, than pastures in industrial farming.

Hardin did have a point, however – resources with no property management tend to be degraded. But, these resources are open access resources, not the commons. Open access resources are nominally open to everyone, but in reality used by the most rich and powerful (that would be one of Jim Boyce’s lines). Common property, unlike open access resources, are managed by a community. If you over graze your sheep, I will call your mother and she will make you stop (of course there are also more complicated, formal versions of common property management as well).

In Hardin’s mind, and for most economists, the only two alternatives are private property or state property, but common property is another real, already existing form of property rights that has been around for thousands of years and can work very well to protect important resources in some settings.

Understanding how the commons can be managed effectively is important in urban, low-income communities because safe public space is a much needed resource (see the work of RJ Sampson). Even when public space is owned by a private owner, it is also a commons to some degree – like a coffee shop where everyone hangs out. It is owned by someone, but common property norms help protect its public space features.

Seems like common sense, right? Well, it is, but only because people like Elinor Ostrom have explained it so clearly.

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Elinor Ostrom leaves behind a powerful legacy

Elinor Ostrom died on Tuesday, at age 78. She is one of my inspirations , and I know she is for many others as well. She is also the only woman to have won the Nobel Prize in Economics so far.

One point of her’s that I remember time and time again is this: Communal property rights are most successful when they have support at other institutional levels. Communal management of a resource like a fishery or a forest works best when, for example, the government helps keep large fishing vessels from violating the boundaries set for the fishery. Communities working to redefine and energize their local economies need the government to have their backs.

There are so many other kernels of wisdom that come out of her work, and I will try to post some more about her in the next week or so. I’m sorry I never got to meet her.

Thank you, Elinor, for your life’s work!

Obituary from Chicago Tribune

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Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Inner Cities

Here is an interesting HBR article about entrepreneurship and innovation in inner cities. But, the assumption is that all this will be imported. Attract the most talented entrepreneurs, then help them attract “talent” to work for them. The unit of analysis is the place of the inner city, not the community. However, I could see these policies applied to building local living economies with the talent that already exists in inner cities, and then it might have some real impact.

Innovation and Inner Cities

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#nei2012 Sharing Common Wealth

Peter Barnes

This workshop is related to the themes of institutions – we need to build new economic institutions if we want a new economy. Second, ownership forms are important – worker, public ownership. This workshop is about common ownership, ownership by all citizens in a community collectively through an intermediary institution like a trust, but not state ownership as in the government owning something. The government has a role in creating trusts, but they are self-governing, not agents of the state.

There are a few fundamental features of trust organizations.

1) trusteeship. The organization must preserve its common asset for future generations. There are plenty of organizations that already do that. Trustees have a legally binding fiduciary responsibility.
2) Charge rent for use of the common asset, and to share that rent with the beneficial owners, which in the case of common wealth is all of us, equally.

“Common Wealth” is similar to a “commons,” which is often thought of as a space or system that many people share like the commons where we had breakfast, a pasture, or the Internet. Common wealth is shared economic wealth as in property rights to assets that have value, but assets that are shared and held by all of us out there. At the moment it is invisible, unorganized, and unprotected. The first step is to identify the assets, organize them, assign property rights, and in most cases limit use and charge rent. Finally, the rent needs to be shared.

Capitalism has a couple of serious systemic flaws, including that it fails to internalize “externalities” and destroys nature. Nature is priced at zero. The second flaw is that it sucks income and wealth to a small elite at the top. Part of coming up with a new economy involves new forms of ownership that are much more widely spread, doing that without increasing the size of government.

Common ownership of common wealth is the key to preserving vital ecosystems and sustaining a large middle class in the United States in the 21st century.

Neither markets nor government can actually manage common resources. No institution is accountable to nature or future generations, in the market or in the state. Private corporations a accountable to shareholders, government may “say” they are accountable to nature, but they are not. At best government is accountable to voters, at worst, to donors. There is a massive agency problem.

There are “valves” to the economy that need to be cranked down to slow growth in the economy. Where are they, and who can turn them down? The answer listed in neither government or the market, but in commonly owned institutions.

Common institutions must share income equally. The question is why share current income equally. Some environmental groups say to spend it on clean energy, not to give results of a carbon tax back to the people because they will just spend it, etc – this is a non-trivial question. If we implement a carbon tax, everything will cost more, so money will come from our pockets. If the income is not shared equally, then how would it be shared? One person-one share is a simple political solution. It also creates a virtual feedback loop, and it aligns current and future generations. If you charge people who are overusing nature, and you distribute the income universally, then future generations get a stable income system but the current generation gets more current income. This also creates a universal ownership society around the environment, creating a virtuous feedback loop. It is in everyones self-interest to charge more for nature and to protect future generations.

If America wants a large middle class in the 21st century, the only way to do it is to supplement labor income with non-labor income.

Jobs alone will not sustain a large middle class because of globalization, automation, and de-unionization.


The origin of the common wealth model dates back to Thomas Paine’s essay “Agrarian Justice.”. There are two kinds of property, private and natural (common). Natural property is a gift to all of us, a birthright, and should be distributed equally. It can be monetized. It doesn’t just mean the physical thing itself, but can be monetized through an institutional framework. Paine proposed a national fund to collect rent (in this case land) and pay universal benefits, one person one share. A national fund is not income redistribution, not charity.. It is Pre-distribution, it is property income from property to which we all have a right.

The Alaska Permanent fund is a new version of this. All governors in Alaska are supportive of the Alaska permanent fund (for obvious reasons…). Profits from oil are paid out in dividends but also invested in an endowment to ensure benefits even after the oil is gone.


we the people own the gas and oil in America…Land and water are he domain of we the people. ~ Bill O’Reilly

Belief in common ownership cuts across democrat and republican divides. There are also tax-based approaches to non-income middle class income, including the earned income tax credit. But these don’t solve the agency problem because it is under congressional control. Taxes are taking from one person to give to another, and is not visible or tangible.


People tend not to notice tax cuts, but a dividend is more visible and tangible.

Institutions endure, but policies come and go. We need a new institution that is a new version of social insurance – like ecological insurance, an institutional way to make the 21st century transition to a sustainable new economy happen. It creates a link between the earth and the middle class. Reducing the disturbance of the earth is linked to distribution of universal non-labor income.

James Boyce

Future of the Commons: The Environment as Common Heritage and Common Property


The principle of common ownership is not just a nice idea, it is a reality being lived around the world. Many societies include a constitutional right to a clean and safe environment, such as the Commonwealth of Massachuestts, Republic of South Africa. This can be juxtaposed to the idea that environmental quality is a commodity or a privilege allocated on the basis of purchasing or political power. The principle of a right to a clean environment is represented in the new environmentalism – protecting nature for people, not from people. It moves beyond sacred groves and sacrifice groves. New environmentalism seeks to defend the zones where people live, work, and play, which were formerly sacrifice zones. This is exemplified in the Environmental Justice movement in the US.

In order to protect the environment means moving from open access to common property. Any attempt to solves problems of open access resources requires the creation of some type of property rights. Examples include regulatory standards, which are asserting a public right to control the environment (polluter pays abatement). Price-based regulation involves extending property rights one step forward (polluter pays abatement, and also pays for the right to pollute). When we move to pricing carbon, a big question is who will get the money. Those who consume more carbon will pay more. A cap-and-dividend policy is a way to enact equal and common ownership of the atmosphere.


The cultivated commons: agricultural biodiversity. Much of the commons on which we depend is really the result of human interaction with the environment in a way that has improved the ability of the environment to sustain life. When we talk about protecting the environment, we are talking about protecting all the good things people have done throughout history with the environment. Biodiversity is maintained by small farmers, mostly in the places of origin of modern crops (such as corn, potatoes, and rice). This biodiversity is a heritage from 400 generations of farmers, and it needs to be protected from enclosure, and to reward the people who maintain that biodiversity for the common good.



With carbon tax, what happens if there is a cap-and-dividend policy within the United State but different prices in China, India, etc? Climate is an international model.

The sky trust is an appealing model throughout the world. Given the difficulties of an international system, there can be systems at smaller levels that can spill over. This policy is not just about global climate change, but also about implementing common ownership.

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#nei2012 Business Innovation and Power in a New Economy

Business Innovation and Power in a New Economy
David Levine, Nathan Gilbert, and Jeffery Hollender

With a small dedicated group, we started with introductions.


Founded Seventh Generation 25 years ago, then left two years ago. The unfinished journey of 7th Generation – the company lived in a paradigm of “less bad products” not “good products.” At the end of the day, the venture investors controlled the fate of the business, not the employees. The company grew too quickly because of personal obsession, with 70% and 50% growths. That type of growth is not sustainable. One of the negatives of fast growth is that you leave people behind. You cannot train people that quickly, so you import talent at higher and higher levels. 7th Generation focused on helping a segment of society already being helped more than most – healthy, wealthy, and well-educated people. Lastly, it was nice to be an exception to the rules, but that was not enough because the rules stay the same. Actually, the rules got worse and worse for the types of businesses we are trying to create. What is the alternative? CommonWise and MIT have been working to create something similar to the Evergreen project in the Bronx with some significant differences, with the mission to maximize the potential for business to create a just, equitable, and regenerative future. The first principle is participatory planning – the local community creating the design for their future. This requires building trust – that he was not just another suit. The next piece is identifying the existing assets in the community. While communities may be poor in the sense that they have low incomes, that does not mean they have no assets. But they may not be able to identify and use those assets productively. It is a mistake to not build on the Pre-existing assets that are there. The education and learning process is critical – how does the local economy actually work? People generally do not understand the notion of the leaky bucket, and how they can live in a way that keeps assets within their community. One of the most exciting parts of what we are doing is raising the consciousness around this concept. A critical part of this is the anchor strategy combined with other aspects. It is not just about creating new businesses – what about converting existing businesses when the owner wants to struggle. Or working with struggling with businesses. The most well-known part of the strategy is using the purchasing power of the anchor institutions to start new, regeneratively, cooperatively owned businesses. We need to work to have a political process that fights against stripping assets away from these communities, this is struggling to be a systemic or holistic approach to building community wealth – not picking a compartment of the problem and trying to tackle that compartment. If we don’t tackle the systemic problem then fixing one aspect of it may just lead to new problems. This project is in its early stage, and we are lucky to be able to learn from projects like in Cleveland.

David – American Sustainable Business Council

ASBC grew out of a policy document on business principles for a sustainable, just economy. The new economy takes many different forms. The way policies get made in this country, policies creating social or environmental benefits are called “bad for business” – but for who’s business? There is a lot of effort to “green” companies, making them more responsible and sustainable, from small to large corporations. The problem is that at the moment none of that had any political power. ASBC is created to drive policy to support sustainability.


ASBC includes individual businesses and business organizations, building an infrastructure across the country about aggregating the power of chambers of commerce, local organizations, etc – within those places is local power. Branding is used to create identity. Where are the points of intersection? Building the new economy is not just about creating the models, but changing the dialogue and addressing power. Showing up with businesses is “different.” ASBC has advocated for policy, including Crowd Funding.


Consumers want healthy, safer products and transparency. Business voices change conversations. There are businesses in every sector working for a New Economy, which is about a connection from many issues – chemical policy reform, financial reform, campaign finance, tax havens, climate and energy policy, new corporate former access to capital, sustainable agriculture, building local economies. Even the most conservative or unknowing politicians are willing to listen when 150,000 businesses are represented. ASBC is represented in lobbying and media representation of sustainable businesses.

Nathan – B Lab

The mission is to harness the power of businesses to solve environmental and social problems. The B Corporation is like a certification for the entire corporation, rather than just one product. The community of B Corps have grown to more than 500 companies, and you can see their scores and impact on the website. This is about building community, more than using the assessment to build performance over time. Working with ASBC, this is about policy advocacy to create a new form called the Benefit Corporation. It is in the business to create general public benefit, and they are accountable to a third party that will evaluate their adherence to this goal. In the current corporate form, the business owners are accountable for maximizing shareholder profits. Businesses themselves want this corporate form. By tapping into associations like ASBC, we are able to tap into legislature to support legislation for this new form. The third initiative is a rating system that will drive more capital to “good businesses.” This is a global rating system working with investment funds and investor. The goal is to create a global community of social entrepreneurs, while also increasing the ability of business’s to attract investors globally and locally. The B Corp has been passed in 8 state, and the goal is all 50, along with other policies supporting B Corps to accelerate the movement (I.e. procurement rules, tax benefits). Many B Corps also follow other ownership forms, like Co-ops.

B Corps still maintain their corporate structure as an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, etc – it just requires that they add statements to their governing documents about stakeholders. The Benefit Corporation is the proposed new legal form. See: and Benefit Corp

Question: have they collected financial indicators to show B Corps are just as or more successful?

Answer: not yet..right now the focus is on impact and practices, but some of those indicators, me job creation, are built in.

We get asked all the time “how many jobs does ‘this’ represent?”

The ASBC is built with a loose network, resilient structure so it can rebuild if it is destroyed.

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