Philanthropy & Finance

Shake The Foundation

Democratically controlled financial commons

Shake the Foundation (STF) is an emerging initiative that is guided by a Steering Committee of several philanthropic foundations and economic justice organizations who are committed to the development of a more just and sustainable economy undergirded by a democratically controlled financial commons.

Originating in conversations among funders and Just Transition partners gathered at the 2016 EDGE Funders Conference, STF seeks  to deepen political and strategic alignment to shift philanthropic resources toward community-led transition initiatives through non-extractive finance vehicles.

STF aims to mobilize grants and investment dollars in alignment with Reinvest in Our Power and to divert foundation resources to place-based community reinvestment in cooperative development. The overall goal is to build a democratically-controlled, networked financial commons that facilitates a shift in ownership of productive assets from wealthy investors to communities.  Specifically, we are mobilizing grant and investment dollars to the Peer Network and Financial Cooperative created by grassroots partners and housed at The Working World.

STF is currently in a Design Phase of a longer-term project to create support systems for foundations and investors to move finance capital and grant funds in support of that goal.

ReGenerative Finance sees gift capital as a temporary but critical transition…

Regenerative Economy Principles

In order to contribute to a just transition, capital must be moved in alignment with the following principles:

1. Drive Social Equity

Investment should actively work against current and historic social inequities based on race, class, gender, immigrant status and other forms of oppression. Choosing to invest in communities, geographies and sectors of the economy where these inequities are most pervasive is a priority.

2. Democratize the Workplace

Investments in the new economy should support and increase worker ownership, democracy, and rights at the places of work and in the economy as a whole.

3. Build Movements and Power

Building a new economy needs to be deeply rooted in struggles for justice, centering those people who have been historically marginalized.  Investment should bridge the gap between economic infrastructure and justice movements to create a new center of gravity in the economy. Many new models for a regenerative economy directly come from or collaborate with grassroots community-based organizing efforts, thereby building both economic and movement power. We are committed to investing in projects that connect economic and political muscle to change the rules of the economy. It is our belief that these investments have a greater impact than those that are not part of a larger, multi-sector movement-building effort.

4. Advance Regenerative Ecological Economics

Investment should be in economic activity that advances ecological resilience, reduces resource consumption, restores traditional ways of life, and undermines the extractive economy that is eroding the ecological basis of our collective well-being.

5. Restore Relationship within Ourselves and with Our Communities

The extractive and exploitative values of capitalism have traumatized us all. Investors have long been forced to give up part of their humanity by putting profits over people, community and the environment.  Investments should provide pathways to heal from this harm by creating opportunities for real, cross-class relationships, decentralizing structures of power, and rebuilding our communities together.

6. Retain Culture and Tradition

Capitalism has forced many communities to sacrifice culture and tradition for economic survival. It has also defaced and destroyed land held as sacred. Investments should center culture and tradition, recognizing it as integral to a healthy and vibrant economy. It should also begin to make reparations for land that has been stolen and/or destroyed by capitalism, colonialism, genocide, and slavery.

7. Strengthen the Public Sector

Investment should support the re-localization of primary production and consumption by building up “short chain” and “known chain” economic initiatives, such as local food systems, local clean energy, and small-scale production. The boundaries of “local” are dynamic and determined by the conditions in place.

8. Shift Economic Control

Investment should be de-coupled from ownership. Currently, the “investor first” principle places financial return over the needs and interests of workers and communities, placing the motivation of economic activity on concentration of wealth and power rather than collective success and well-being. New models of “non-extractive” or “regenerative” finance prioritize the interests of workers, communities, and the success of the enterprise rather than focusing on the interests of investors. Returns only come from revenue generated by the project, never from assets or income of the community. Capital is subordinate to people. These models offer a greater social, ecological, and economic return.

9. Build Community Wealth

Investments have traditionally created a system by which the wealthy accumulate even more wealth.  ReGenerative Finance sees investors as a temporary part of the transition, moving investments with the long term vision of communities generating their own wealth through productive capital.  Resources, particularly financial, should shift from a few large institutions (banks and markets) to many smaller, diverse institutions in which the benefits of investment are distributed among more people and communities.Key Questions→ How does this investment move capital from large institutions and/or the federal government to many smaller institutions and localities? Does it support the creation of pathways where impacted communities can be beneficiaries?

10. Re-localize Primary Production and Consumption

Investment should support the re-localization of primary production and consumption by building up “short chain” and “known chain” economic initiatives, such as local food systems, local clean energy, and small-scale production. The boundaries of “local” are dynamic and determined by the conditions in place.