Building Community Wealth

Building community wealth means valuing and nurturing all the ways that we can collectively live in abundance, now and in the future.

At GWI, we are committed to building local economic power and encouraging projects to democratize wealth. In alignment with that mission, we have been working towards the creation of a community-controlled fund, designed and run by the Kingston community.

The questions that drive this work come from a deep desire for solidarity in our economy. How can we nurture community resources, rooted in local values and stewarded by the people who live and work right here? What are ways we can bring abundance and collective thriving to this community, from within the community? Who can we learn from and what models can we adapt for our own context?

Over the course of nine months, we facilitated a journey with 18 members of the community to learn, collaborate, and collectively design a fund that is dedicated to advancing Just Transition in the city of Kingston.

What gets created is up to the Kingston community. Will it be a loan fund, an investment fund, a grant fund, an emergency fund, some kind of hybrid? We don’t know: we’ll have to see what emerges.

For more on the genesis of this project, check out our post “Making a Community Fund Here in Kingston”.


We have been activating a community-wide discussion on defining and building community wealth in order to cultivate collaborations and help move the concrete project of a community-designed fund into action.
Rooted Resources Festival
The Rooted Resources Festival kicked off our exploration of building community wealth with a four-day festival that honored the wide scope of projects and approaches in our community and further afield. Over 40 presenters and practitioners shared their work with each other and started building connections.
May 2022
Community Forums
We hosted nine Community Forums in Kingston to spark and facilitate a dialogue within the Kingston community, and start to envision what it would be for this community to create a community fund. We met in various spaces in-person and on-line, and collected feedback and ideas from participants to inform the next phase.
Sept 2022 - Feb 2023
Application + Selection
When applications opened for the Community Fund Design Project, we hosted info sessions and got the word out as far as possible into different communities in order to invite a wide range of applicants to consider joining this unique design program. We selected 18 diverse participants.
Feb - Mar 2023
Community Fund Design Program - Phase 1 (Learning + Design)
GWI created and facilitated a six-month learning journey for 18 diverse Kingston residents to collaborate with each other in deciding on the structure and mission of a Just Transition-aligned pilot community fund.
June - Nov 2023
Community Fund Design Program - Phase 2 (Blueprint Design)
14 members of the Phase 1 group signed on for another three months of collaborative work to complete the design, focusing on details of the fund, providing a blueprint for implementation.
Jan - Mar 2024
Community Fund Implementation
GWI will support the implementation of the fund in collaboration with the design group, community members, and aligned partners. This pilot fund will be seeded with $150,000 once it is created.
2024 and beyond

Our Ongoing Role

We believe in order to change the outcomes we also have to change the process. How we work together is just as important as achieving the creation of a fund.

GWI’s role is to facilitate this process of creating a fund and to activate a broad community conversation around it. We’re bringing our Just Transition-aligned work around shared leadership and navigating conflict to the forefront, and will continue to be a resource for this collective effort.

We have no upcoming Community Fund Events right now. Please check out our upcoming workshops.

Community Fund Design Program

GWI facilitated a nine-month journey for 18 diverse Kingston residents to collaborate with each other and to engage the larger community in deciding on the structure and mission of a Just Transition-aligned pilot community fund.

Phase 1: Learn + Design, June – December, 2023

Phase 2: Create Fund Blueprint, January – March, 2024

Participants in this collaborative program learned from each other and from the offerings designed by GWI in support of trust, collaboration, democratic-decision making, shared leadership, and community engagement. We offered training and encouraged shared understanding into different ways to design community funds, with invited guests who have launched funds themselves. We had time to get to know one another and create a supportive, nourishing environment for this work, as we confronted what “money” brings up for each of us. 

All these skills and experiences have been woven together with the goal to create a fund design that is grassroots, creative, feasible, and that will directly benefit the residents of Kingston. What has emerged in the process is a crucible for all sorts of new ideas to sprout, supported by the tight-knit group who came together with a commitment to building Kingston’s vital, just future, together. We can’t wait to see where it goes next.

The implementation of the community fund is coming. This program supported an equitable design process to create a pilot fund, a real life experiment! The fund will launch in 2024, seeded with $150,000. Stay tuned for more information as we move into making this idea a reality.

Rooted Resources posts give us a clearer vision of what “democratizing wealth” means, refracted through the living experience and emerging projects of people making change today. This series grows out of the Rooted Resources Festival (May 12-15, 2022) and the Community Fund design project.

By Hélène Lesterlin
I saw the future at the Cityscapes Summit, or at least, the future I hope to see in my lifetime: where equity is built into our economic systems from the ground up...
By Hélène Lesterlin
An overview of the program, to give a sense of the breadth of topics we encountered and discussed together in this intensive learning and design process.
By Hélène Lesterlin (Steward, Community Fund Circle)
From the beginning we were committed to this process being just, emergent, open to experimentation, and grounded in collaboration and learning.
By Clay Moodey, member of the Community Fund Design Group
At its core, this project is about shifting power. As the first stage of the design process wraps, I’d like to share some reflections about my experience and perspective about power through the design process.

Get involved!

Take part in imagining and building a people-powered fund that benefits the long-term health and vitality of Kingston. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us by filling out this form! We’d love to hear from you.

Partners and Supporters

We are grateful to the Novo Foundation for their early support of this project, and look forward to working with them as initial funders for the Kingston Community Fund once it is created. We’re also actively looking for additional partners to support the development of this community fund and to join us as partners and funders. Contact us to learn more or offer your support.