The Democracy at Work Institute Announces Equitable Economic Recovery Initiative


The Democracy at Work Institute Announces Equitable Economic Recovery Initiative

OAKLAND, CALIF. — Equitable economic recovery requires strategic focus, innovation, and new partnerships, The Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI) says in announcing a new initiative helping communities address accelerating economic crises through worker ownership. Ownership Now for Equitable Recovery matches needs of workers locked out of good jobs and business ownership opportunities with the ambition and urgency demanded by the scale of our economic crisis.

“Right now people are hurting, small businesses and local economies are on life support. A sustained effort to rebuild and recover lies ahead, but simply rebuilding an economy that failed to support workers in the first place puts us on track for ever-escalating economic and political crises,” said Melissa Hoover, executive director at DAWI. “At DAWI we’re putting all our energy into shared ownership solutions that provide immediate opportunities for everyday people and build more resilient economies in the long run.”  

DAWI is prioritizing business ownership and wealth-building opportunities for BIPOC, immigrant, and low-wage workers—communities disproportionately impacted by structural inequality and COVID-19. To achieve economic justice priorities, DAWI presents worker ownership as an essential element of economic recovery strategies. Through investment in worker ownership, communities can preserve long-standing businesses, save jobs, build economic resilience, and provide wealth-building opportunities for workers. Ownership Now for Equitable Recovery builds on years of research, government relations, funder engagement, and partnerships with cooperative developers, illuminating opportunities for accelerated economic progress using worker ownership. 

Ownership Now for Equitable Recovery is informed by three imperatives:

Unlocking ownership transition capital. Saving businesses and the jobs they support is a top priority for local economies. Transferring business ownership to employees is a proven way to retain vulnerable local businesses, but access to capital remains an obstacle for business sellers and employees in pursuit of shared ownership. DAWI’s capital focus aims to unlock the promise of business ownership for workers. This work is highlighted by DAWI’s incubation of Apis & Heritage Capital, building new models for financing ownership transitions, and transferring ownership to BIPOC workers.

Innovation for better livelihoods. BIPOC and women workers have been disproportionately affected by the loss of 20 million U.S. jobs in 2020. DAWI is developing rapid response cooperative models that create quality jobs for workers in need through leading-edge business development tactics and strategic partnerships. This includes innovative employment solutions for contingent workers, developing small business cooperatives, and securing dignified work for the growing thousands of workers locked out of good jobs.

Helping allies do their jobs better. Strong businesses and expanded ownership opportunities at scale can’t be achieved in a silo. Through new approaches to education, policy, partnerships, and research, DAWI is committed to ensuring our work is in service to allies working to achieve an equitable economic recovery. The first program under this focus is Data Together, which applies cooperative principles to research and data analysis. DAWI will announce programs focused on key partnerships integrating ownership into recovery in spring 2020.

Visit to learn more.

# # # 

Media Contact

Julian McKinley

Senior Communications Director

jmckinley [at]

415.379.9201, ext. 10