Our Work

The People’s Economy Lab is led by and centers Black, Indigenous, and communities of color in Seattle that experience disproportionate harm in the extractive economy. We convene community leaders, workshop transformative ideas, and build better economic models. Our initiatives advance a Just Transition to a solidarity economy.

We Build Better Models

Community Wealth Building, 2022-present

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, 2021-present

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.

Community Assemblies, 2024

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, 2022-2023

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 Fellowship Program, 2020-2022

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.

We Workshop

New Economy Washington Fund, 2022

We fundraised for the New Economy Washington Fund and facilitated a participatory process with the second cohort of NEW Frontline Community Fellows to determine how the NEW Fund should be allocated. This was the first time People’s Economy Lab led a deliberative and democratic budgeting process, and we look forward to doing it again in the future!

Community Investment Trust, 2022

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, 2019-2022

Together with HomesightRainier 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 Convene

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.

Economics for Emancipation King County, 2024

Using the Economics for Emancipation curriculum as a starting point, we’re developing and leading an introductory course on economic systems, with an emphasis on solidarity economy and Just Transition movement frameworks, for a cohort of BIPOC community members, funders, and government employees. Thank you to Communities of Opportunity and Cascadia Consulting for their support!

RainCity Partnerships, 2022-present

We’re conducting a racial and social justice evaluation of Seattle Public Utilities’ green stormwater infrastructure program.

New Economy Washington Funders Collaborative, 2018-present

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, 2019-present

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:

  1. Increased access to affordable, relevant, innovative capital for communities of color, immigrants and refugees, and women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs
  2. Community control of investment and wealth redistribution

Washington Just Transition Summit, 2021

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. 

We are transforming the local economy.

Help us pave the way for a People’s Economy.