Community Wealth Building Takes a Community

Cooperative Meetup Series for cooperative members to build a network of worker owners.

Every community minded nonprofit works to improve their neighborhood. What sets the work of The Center for Community Wealth Building (CCBW) apart is the goal of eradicating the need for their services all together. The nonprofit was built on the philosophy of highlighting businesses at the grassroots level to build and preserve wealth in communities of color. The lack of access to jobs paying a living wage has continued to be a problem that disproportionately affects communities of color, and Denver is no exception. “Our mission is to address issues at the source and provide systemic solutions so that our organization isn’t necessary anymore” said Yessica Holguin, the first hire turned Executive Director at CCBW. 

The vision of CCBW is being carried out through a three-pronged approach. First is the idea of democratizing ownership and promoting cooperative based business models in order to create an inclusive economy and better jobs. Increasing the number of worker-owned businesses at the grassroots level creates long-term and sustainable wealth. Current cooperative partners of CCBW include Odell Brewing, Union Taxi, and Satya Yoga Coop. In addition to promoting the work of current Metro Denver-based cooperatives, CCBW also provides resources and tools for new coops as well. More one-on-one mentoring programs for coops are coming soon to CCBW’s offerings.

Second is leveraging the power of community pillars such as hospitals, municipalities, and universities to create an ecosystem that operates through local procurement, local hiring, and local investing. “We work with these institutions to create and embed policy into the systems our community leans on,” said Holguin. Third is the goal of amplifying small businesses owned by community members of color to strengthen POC entrepreneurship. The success of local businesses greatly contributes to the overall health of the community. Stimulating businesses at the local level creates a ripple effect of economic benefit and is essential to closing the wealth gap present in the Greater Denver area.

What these three strategies have in common is the focus on creating change at the community level. By creating local coalitions, the changes begin to happen at the systemic level, and this will change the economic makeup to create equality. “The current economic policies are inherently racist,” said Holguin when discussing the current political climate that has created such a wealth gap. She also emphasized the importance of acknowledging the mistakes of the past to create a better future. The work that Holguin’s team is doing is creating a people-owned Metro Denver free from these racist policies and systems through the empowerment of the workers and communities that are capable of providing for themselves.

Just last year, the team launched a campaign focusing on building community prosperity through their “30 Days of Abundance” campaign. This Instagram-focused campaign ran the month leading up to the holidays to promote the idea of putting local first and valuing community assets in order to build and strengthen a new local economy. Shopping at these local storefronts keeps dollars within the community rather than going into the pocket of a wealthy investor. Some of the businesses that were highlighted included Sexy Pizza, Intrinsic Paths, and EarthLinks.Public involvement continues to be pivotal in the success and continuation of the work at CCBW. To directly support this work monetarily visit to donate. Additionally, the biggest and most impactful way to support the cause at the grassroots level is through patronizing the locally owned businesses and coops in the Globeville, Elyria, Swansea neighborhoods and the Greater Denver area. Know a business that could benefit from the services provided by CCBW? Refer a local business to CCBW directly.

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