The People’s Economy Lab is led by and centers communities of color in our region that experience disproportionate harm in this extractive economy. We convene community leaders, workshop transformative ideas, and build better economic models. Our initiatives align with our values and advance new strategies to create a regenerative economy that anchors well-being, wealth and power in Black, Indigneous, and communities of color.
We Build Better Models
Community Wealth Building
We’re working to advance Community Wealth Building strategies in Seattle. So far, this has included convening a roundtable of community leaders and supporting case studies of three Seattle neighborhoods; coaching Community Wealth Building pilot projects led by BIPOC change makers; and researching and presenting recommendations for Community Wealth Building to the Seattle City Council. Our partners in this work are Headwater People, the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, and the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development.
Just Futures is a project co-led by Statewide Poverty Action Network, Front and Centered, and People’s Economy Lab to develop a community vision and metrics for a just and equitable economy, as well as a community accountability process, for Washington State. In 2022 we co-developed the Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance for a Just & Equitable Future, and in 2023 we co-developed a framework for community assemblies in Washington.
In 2024 we’re supporting the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment to pilot community assemblies to gather BIPOC communities’ input on integrating the Green New Deal into Seattle’s comprehensive plan.
Community Owned Resource Development (CORD) Coalition Capacity Building and Loan Fund Development
With funding from the City of Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative, People’s Economy Lab partnered with Community Credit Lab to support the development of the Community Owned Resource Development (CORD) Coalition. We helped CORD, a grassroots coalition of BIPOC-led real estate developers, build a governance model and operating framework for their association.
New Economy Washington (NEW) Frontline Community
In partnership with Front and Centered, and funded by Communities of Opportunity, the New Economy Washington (NEW) Frontline Community Fellowship Program supported leaders from Black, Indigenous and other communities of color who were integrating the principles and practices of a Just Transition into their entrepreneurial projects. NEW Frontline Community Fellows imagined a new economy that supports sustainable, equitable, and healthy communities.
Community Investment Trust
We tested the feasibility of a Community Investment Trust (CIT) model in the City of Seattle and King County.
South Seattle Community Capital (SeaCap) Resiliency Project
Together with Homesight, Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, and Ventures, the People’s Economy Lab piloted a partnership between three BIPOC-led Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide small business capital and technical assistance to low-income immigrants, refugees, women and people of color in South Seattle and unincorporated King County whose businesses are vulnerable to failure and displacement. The project sought to advance the partners’ vision of creating a place-based, community-driven small business lending and technical assistance program. It aimed to fill critical gaps and create synergy between the three partners and advance the larger field of community-controlled economic development in Seattle and South King County.
We regularly convene the Lab Network and our broader community to learn together and create a shared vision and roadmap for a community-centered economy that works for everyone.
We’re conducting a racial and social justice evaluation of Seattle Public Utilities’ green stormwater infrastructure program.
New Economy Washington Funders Collaborative
We facilitate a group of funders who are learning about economic systems change for social justice and sustainability and supporting a vision for a new economy in Washington State. Together, we explore how each funder can drive transformational systems change using the full spectrum of capital available to them, including investment portfolios, philanthropic funding, and economic activities, to engage in local place-based community-identified projects that are ready to build the new.
Community Capital Working Group
We hosted conversations with groups in the community capital ecosystem, including community development financial institutions, credit unions, community banks, funders, and investors. The Community Capital Working Group envisioned:
- Increased access to affordable, relevant, innovative capital for communities of color, immigrants and refugees, and women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs
- Community control of investment and wealth redistribution
Washington Just Transition Summit
We hosted the Washington Just Transition Strategy Summit with Front and Centered in 2021, offering communities across Washington State the opportunity to explore and discuss Just Transitions strategies and actions together.