Participatory Investment

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Investments in communities from outside investors may create some benefit, but rarely build long term power for communities. We promote investment efforts that share decision making with communities: Participatory Investment.

Investment into communities is one of the most dominant forces in shaping lives, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and working class communities. When we think about issues relevant to place-based investment, we often think about how real estate investment leads to rising rents and displacement, how finance favors large corporations over Main Streets, and the lack of investment for positive projects like affordable housing and small businesses. But even mission-aligned capital can often contribute to those issues. 

A major issue with place-based investments is that they are largely out of the control of those whom it affects. Investment efforts should not happen “to” communities, but “with” them; they should respond to, address, and be accountable to the visions, needs, and aspirations of the community itself.

There are many initiatives around the U.S. that are charting a new way for how to place communities at the center of investments. We call this practice Participatory Investment (previously referred to as Grassroots Community Engaged Investment, or GCEI), or the process of investing with meaningful input, decision-making power, and/or ownership from grassroots stakeholders. Participatory Investment projects are building power for their communities, demonstrating an alternative to business as usual that bakes in ownership and democracy into place-based investment. 

We've studied and worked with these initiatives to gain an understanding of how communities can govern capital and build the things they need. One theme that comes up over and over with community leaders is the need to build ownership though community real estate vehicles, home equity, and housing development. This work is addressed more in depth in our Community Owned Real Estate (CORE) Program.

Learn all about Participatory Investment and specific GCEI projects that are developing innovative ways to involve community members in investment decision making.

The Participatory Investment Learning Hub