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COMMUNITY WEALTH ACTION GROUP

We are a coalition of St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL, community members with a common goal: to build communities where we can all thrive. Whether you have lived here for decades, are a new neighbor, run a small business, or work to build new places and spaces in the community, this is the place for you. We will listen and learn from each other and take action together to write a new chapter for our cities where everyone has what they need to thrive.

 

The racial wealth gap is widening. In fact, we are on track for Black and Latinx households to reach a networth of $0 by 2053! 

 

 

This country and our region can’t “inclusion and diversify” our way out of this vicious trajectory. We can’t simply “buy Black” our way out of generations of systemic exploitation and wealth stripping. 

 

The Community Wealth Action Group, a coalition of St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL community members seeks to reimagine STL’s economy through a radically inclusive design process. Over five months and four community Design Days, we will co-create a Community Wealth Building (CWB) Playbook reflecting a diverse set of solutions from policies to programs and resource allocations to narrative shifts. 

 

The community design process and CWB Playbook aims to build on existing efforts and plans while prioritizing a community wealth building framework. The Playbook will be released in June articulating a shared vision, set of values, a STL-community wealth building theory of change, priority outcomes, solutions, and naming institutions critical in ensuring the implementation of solutions. 

 

 

Upon release of the CWB Playbook, we will then pivot to the Community Wealth Action Group training leaders as organizers, building power to achieve policy change, shifting public narrative, and standing up pilot projects that prove community wealth building as a worthy path forward for our region. 

 

Join Us!

But, it starts with a vision. So, join us! Become a Design Fellow, join a Solutions team, share this page with others ready to build an economy where we are well and wealthy.

STAY TUNED TO OUR EVENTS IN 2024

ABOUT US

We believe in a just and equitable future for St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL where we value each other's lived experience, foster the potential of every person and celebrate our shared prosperity. We know that when we imagine what’s possible, work together, listen deeply and stand in our power, we can transform our society from one that excludes and harms Black and Latinx communities to one that prioritizes and nurtures their wellbeing and economic prosperity.

We are transforming how development decisions are made across St. Louis City, MO and East St. Louis, IL to build communities where we all benefit from new investments. We know that Black and Latinx residents have been denied the opportunity to shape how development happens in their communities. But we are changing that—because the only way development can truly benefit a community is if residents are leaders in the development process. 

 

Community Benefits Agreements are a powerful tool that allow us to do just that. We like to think of them as a pact that residents and developers make to each other: residents promise to support, uplift and contribute to a new development project and developers promises to provide the community with benefits they identify as necessary, like quality jobs with good wages, affordable housing and public green spaces for everyone to enjoy. When we work together, we know that we can create a more just system that benefits us all.

WHAT IS A COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT?

A Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is a legally binding contracts between developers and community based organizations, and are used to secure commitments from private developers around: 

  • Living wage ordinances 
  • Local workforce development
  • Local hiring
  • Community investment such as affordable housing

CWAG wants to achieve a Community Benefits Agreement ordinance in St. Louis City and East St. Louis that requires major development projects to engage in a CBA negotiations process.

 

WHY COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENTS?

As companies and developers plan to invest in St. Louis and East St. Louis real estate, there are currently no substantial, formal existing mechanisms to guarantee that the city tax dollars they create can be invested in workforce development and the revitalization of our communities. Community residents need a more direct route to negotiate community benefits with developers that seek incentives and support from St. Louis and East St. Louis taxpayers. 

 

OTHER POLICIES

We know there is a better way to approach development - a way that works for both the developer and the community. Over the next several months, we are working with as many stakeholders as possible to learn about your ideas, challenges, and experiences to help inform a truly collaborative and responsive set of policy recommendations that complement a Community Benefits Agreement. 

LIVED EXPERIENCE

We believe that the most effective way to enact change is by centering the people who are most directly impacted. That is why our work is collaboratively led by community members and organizations who are deeply committed to St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL. That means we center and value the lived experiences of our communities, honoring their perspective and trusting their instincts.     

 

EQUITY

We believe deeply that there is no economic justice without racial justice. We are honest about the centrality of racism in our society and actively work together to build a future where no one is left behind and everyone benefits from community wealth. 

 

COLLABORATION

We cannot do this work alone. We value each other’s potential and believe in the power that comes from bringing people together to fight for a common goal. We need neighbors, developers, elected officials, business owners and community leaders to contribute their knowledge and expertise. Bottom line: We are stronger together.  

 

RESPECT

We respect each other as partners on the path to a better future. We listen, learn, and create brave space for each other to speak hard truths freely and authentically.

 

COMMUNITY

We believe that relationships built on mutual care and respect are the foundation for a strong community. We know that when we come together, we can harness our collective power and actively work to shape our future.

 

IMAGINATION

We believe transformation requires imagination. The power of imagination gives us the ability to upend existing structures, create new systems and build a world in which we all have what we need to thrive.