Cooperacion Santa Ana increases community wealth through business ownership, policy change and relationships of solidarity and reciprocity so that Santa Ana has a healthy local economy that provides for the needs of its residents.
Cooperación Santa Ana is a cooperative business development program that offers training, coaching, and incubation to low-income residents and families of Santa Ana interested in growing additional income streams and developing their businesses. Following the principles of cooperativism, Cooperacion Santa Ana advances democratic governance structures both within the businesses it incubates as well as across them. As a high-touch worker cooperative developer, the goal of Cooperación Santa Ana is to shift power and resources and break systems of oppression.
Worker Cooperatives are values-driven businesses that put worker and community benefit at the core of their purpose. They are owned and controlled by their workers, and are found in numerous industries. Cooperatives are often thought of as small, but they can be quite large. Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, New York—the nation’s largest worker-owned cooperative—employs 2,300 (90 percent of them women of color) and brought in 2013 revenues of $64 million.
The model of worker cooperatives has proven to be an effective tool for creating and maintaining sustainable, dignified jobs; generating wealth; improving the quality of life of workers; and promoting community and local economic development, particularly for people who lack access to business ownership or sustainable work options. By becoming a part of the Prospera house cleaning cooperatives, for example, the median income for a worker-owner jumps from $24,000 to $40,989. They increase their income and acquire an asset that redirects the downward spiral of wealth in communities of color. When employees not only have a job but an ownership stake, they enjoy greater control of their economic fate.
Our current economic system generates extreme wealth and social inequality and contributes to our calamitous climate crisis, and an alternative is direly needed. Community wealth building is a systems approach to economic development that creates an inclusive, sustainable economy built on locally rooted and broadly held ownership.
Income and wealth in America divide along distinct color lines. White households in the middle-income quintile of the United States (those earning $37,201-$61,328 annually) own nearly eight times as much wealth ($86,100) as middle-income Black earners ($11,000) and ten times as much wealth as middle-income Latino earners ($8,600). The 2017 “Road to Zero Wealth” study by the Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies describes wealth as “the capital available to families to take advantage of economic opportunities, like buying a home, saving for college or investing in the stock market.” Wealth, more than income “can be the difference between a family maintaining and strengthening their economic status or flailing in economic insecurity.” And the wealth of people of color is quickly spiraling down to nothing. Unless targeted policy solutions and intentional investments in communities of color are implemented, the median Black household wealth will hit zero by 2053, and Median Latino households will do so twenty years later, or by 2073.
Community wealth building is a framework for development that calls for developing place-based assets of many kinds, working collaboratively, tapping large sources of demand, and fostering economic institutions and ecosystems of support for enterprises rooted in community. The aim is to create a new system that enables inclusive enterprises and communities to thrive and helps families increase economic security. Examples of community wealth building strategies include cooperatives, employee-owned companies, social enterprise, land trusts, family businesses, community development financial institutions and banks, and more.