An update on the Community Wealth Building Initiative: From Vision to Reality

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From Vision to Reality

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Originally published on the Daily WRAG on February 18, 2015.

It feels good to have a good news story every now and then. Here’s one.

Over the past year, we have provided periodic updates on the planning phase of the Metropolitan Washington Community Wealth Building Initiative (CWBI) led by City First Enterprises (CFE); however, none of those updates compares to this one.

Late last year, the CWBI incorporated its first company, the Community Clean Water Management Group (CCMG). Based in Prince George’s County Maryland, CCMG will provide stormwater management maintenance and monitoring services to both anchor institutions and private clients. Within the next few months, CCMG will announce its founding Chief Executive Officer and will begin identifying, interviewing and hiring employee-owners.

Now that’s a success story.

So how did it happen?

Almost four years ago, grantmakers in our region learned of an initiative in Cleveland focused on getting people out of poverty. The local grantmakers met with leaders of the Cleveland initiative to learn more. Based on those conversations, a feasibility study was commissioned to determine the viability of launching, and the interest in participating in, a community wealth building initiative in our region. And now, that dream has come to life: a CWBI-inspired business created initially to serve an anchor institution, Prince George’s County, is now reality.

While the first business is focused on clean water and is located in Prince George’s County, the CWBI is neither a Maryland initiative, nor is it a clean water initiative. It is a regional initiative focused on creating quality, wealth-building opportunities – through either the creation of businesses or the provision of goods or services to existing businesses — for harder-to-employ people.

If you are an anchor organization – a government, a hospital, a university – interested in learning more about CWBI opportunities, contact Andria Seneviratne at City First Enterprises.

This is the catalytic role that philanthropy often plays. Congratulations to the grantmakers who had a vision and made it a reality.

Read previous editions of Tamara's column A Voice from Philanthropy on the Daily WRAG.