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Community Fund Research and Resources

By Hélène Lesterlin

Starting today, we are hosting community forums to learn about, discuss, and create a vision for this new project that we are launching at GWI: the Kingston Community Fund. This page is a growing resource vault for anyone who might like to explore links, articles, case studies, and summaries that we are unearthing as we go on this learning journey together. It is organized by category and we will continue to add to it as we go. 

Questions? Do you have something you want to add here? Please contact us!

What is Local Investing?

An overview we pulled together of local investing terms and general concepts; check out further resources at

Shared Leadership

GWI published Sharing Power, a blog series on our own transition to a shared leadership structure, called a worker self-directed nonprofit. We now also offer workshops and training for organizations who are looking to incorporate shared leadership practices into their work. Our approach to democratizing the workplace and our ongoing learning in this space are informing our approach in this community fund project.


What is Participatory Decision-Making?

Citizens’ Assemblies: Democracy That Works A citizens’ assembly is a new form of democracy which allows the making of decisions at a city, national or even at the international level. A citizens’ assembly is a randomly selected group of residents according to the demographic criteria such as gender and age. It constitutes a city or a country in miniature. A role of a citizens’ assembly is an in-depth analysis of a given issue, a deliberation over different solutions, hearing of the pros and cons, and then, making informed decisions.


What is Deliberative Polling?

Thanks to Thomas, who attended a forum and shared these resources with us on deliberative polling, starting with the definition from Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy: “Deliberative Polling® is an attempt to use public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the targeted issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place for a weekend in order to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The participants engage in dialogue with competing experts and political leaders based on questions they develop in small group discussions with trained moderators. Parts of the deliberative events are often broadcast on television, either live or in taped and edited form and/or through social media and other mediums. After the deliberations, the sample is again asked the original questions. The resulting changes in opinion represent the conclusions the public would reach, if people had opportunity to become more informed and more engaged by the issues.”

Plus a couple of additional resources:


Regional Orgs and Funds:

A growing list of aligned local initiatives:

The Hudson Valley Prosperity Network (HVPN) is a community of practice focused on developing a shared understanding of what a resilient economy looks like, and how to build it with our local communities. They believe that the current economic system is in need of a radical re-imagining and restructuring as we look to leverage the tools of community finance to create a more just local economy. You can read their overview here or email them directly.

The Radio Kingston Community Fund gives out funds directly to community members facing financial hardship.

Economic development or emergency funds for businesses can address challenges resulting from COVID19. The Ulster County CARES Small Business Assistance Program funds eligible expenses like payroll. Fund II is open for applications October 31-December 11, 2022.

The Hudson Valley Startup Fund brought together a group of 60 angel investors  deployed 2 rounds of investment into 14 startups.

Angela DeFelice (GWI’s partner in shared leadership work) is launching Co-op HV, a fund for cooperatives, which is as a member fund of the Seed Commons network of values-aligned loan funds.

Rondout Savings Bank is offering low and no cost loans for small businesses through its Midtown Kingston Business Capital Program, launching in fall 2022.

Allies and Approaches

Funds and organizations we are looking at and learning from:

In May, Betty Francisco from the Boston Impact Initiative and Olivia Watkins from Black Farmer Fund joined us for Democratizing Access to Community Capital, a panel discussion, along with Hélène from GWI and Ethan Pomerance and Tim McQueen from HVPN as part of the Rooted Resources Festival.

The Democracy Collaborative is a research and change-agent organization building a people-powered vision for a new, democratic economy run on shared prosperity and inclusion, not exploitation. We develop and advance bold policy frameworks, like community wealth building, to aid policy-makers, academics, researchers, and legislators in the United States and across the world working to realize a more just and equitable world for all.

Ujima Fund (Boston Ujima Project): The Ujima Fund is a democratic investment vehicle raising capital to finance small businesses, real estate and infrastructure projects in Boston’s working-class Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

The New Economy Coalition has a great overview of the power in building regional solidarity economies

Center For Economic Democracy and the Solidarity Economic Initiative: The Solidarity Economy Initiative (SEI) is a Massachusetts-based project that creates space for grassroots organizers working in working class communities of color to lead a Just Transition to a Solidarity Economy.

Community Wealth Builders: Fostering more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable neighborhood economies by promoting community wealth building models and strategies across Baltimore City.

Schumacher Center for a New Economics works to envision the elements of a just and regenerative global economy; undertakes to apply these elements in its home region of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts; and then develops the educational programs to share the results more broadly, thus encouraging replication.

PVGrows Investment Fund (PVGIF) provides financing and technical assistance to local farm and food businesses through community investments. 

Creative Wildfire is a coalition and a call to action to resist a “return to normal” and instead to create the future we describe when we talk about Just Transition. Scroll down for links to other resources and ideas on funds and community-led finance.

We have been inspired to learn about “tandas” or “susus” – which are informal savings clubs between trusted friends and family. This article gives an overview of the practice, which is very common around the world.

Do you have suggestions for additions? Please email us!

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.

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