DAWI to Support Chicago's Worker Cooperative Ecosystem Development

An overview of Chicago's Community Wealth Ecosystem Building Initiative. (Courtesy of the City of Chicago)


The City of Chicago recently announced a commitment to worker ownership as part of its community wealth-building strategy, awarding grants to 17 organizations through its Department of Planning and Development. Democracy at Work Institute is excited to join grantees selected to design and implement two-year technical assistance programs for business development. 

Chicago’s Community Wealth Building initiative prioritizes worker ownership as part of a multi-pronged effort to drive equitable economic development in the city. Also prioritized are community land trusts, limited-equity housing cooperatives, and community investment vehicles.

In a press release announcing the grants, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “Since I took office, I’ve been committed to seeding new strategies to drive equitable economic development on the South and West sides. Through these historic Community Wealth Building grants, residents will have dedicated resources and support for launch projects that give them more ownership and control of the development happening in their neighborhoods.”

Grants awarded to organizations represent a focus on ecosystem building in the first phase of Chicago’s Community Wealth Building initiative. Phases two and three focus on pipeline development and investment in large-scale pilot projects. Ecosystem-strengthening grants support programs in six categories:

    •    Research and Advocacy
    •    Education and Outreach
    •    Business Development
    •    Financing and Fundraising
    •    Legal and Governance
    •    Assets and Operations

Learn more about Chicago’s Community Wealth Ecosystem Building, including a full list of grantees here. Chicago is one of a growing number of cities supporting worker ownership as part of their broader equitable economic development strategies, including Durham, Minneapolis, New York, Santa Clara, among others. 

Read DAWI's Municipal Playbook for Employee Ownership, published in partnership with the National League of Cities, to learn how cities are investing in worker ownership.