Daily Digest - April 11: Do Universities Make the Grade on Local Impact?

Apr 11, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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What's the Deal: How Can We Grade Universities On Their Local Economic Impact? (YouTube)

Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith and NYU student Eugenia Kim explain the Campus Network's Rethinking Communities Initiative and how universities can promote local development.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

What's the Deal: How Can We Grade Universities On Their Local Economic Impact? (YouTube)

Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith and NYU student Eugenia Kim explain the Campus Network's Rethinking Communities Initiative and how universities can promote local development.

Don't Be Fooled: The Fed's New Rule Lets Banks Off Easy (TNR)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says that increased leverage ratio requirements aren't the end-all solution to Too Big To Fail, even though they are a strong regulatory tool.

Does Christianity Really Prefer Charity to Government Welfare? (The Week)

Elizabeth Stoker agrees with Mike Konczal: the social safety net allows private charities to function better. She also argues for the safety net from a Christian perspective.

  • Roosevelt Take: Stoker's piece responds to Mike's recent essay on "the voluntarism fantasy" in Democracy Journal.

Missing Ingredient on Minimum Wage: A Motivated G.O.P. (NYT)

The last three minimum wage increases have involved a president working with a congressional leader from the other party. John Harwood says President Obama seems unlikely to find such a partner.

Yes, Being a Woman Makes You Poorer (TAP)

Monica Potts lays out the complexities of the wage gap, and emphasizes that blaming the gap on women's choices ignores the realities of those choices. Wage gap deniers seem to suggest that gender discrimination doesn't exist.

The Safety Net Catches the Middle Class More Than the Poor (WaPo)

Safety net spending has increased since the 1990s, but not for those in deep poverty, writes Catherine Rampell. Paul Ryan's budget proposal takes the idea of supporting the "deserving" over the most needy even further.

MAP: In 31 States, Daycare Is More Expensive Than College (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger looks at a comparison of the cost of in-state college tuition and infant daycare from Child Care Aware America. The growing cost of childcare may help explain a recent increase in stay-at-home mothers.

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Higher Education Financing Needs a Better Deal Than This

Mar 31, 2014Raul Gardea

Bipartisan budget proposals seek to address the debt-burden on students, yet merely underscore the need for a drastic overhaul of post-secondary education financing.

Bipartisan budget proposals seek to address the debt-burden on students, yet merely underscore the need for a drastic overhaul of post-secondary education financing.

The White House’s latest proposal for easing student-debt is a noble but ultimately bankrupt effort, which misses the forest for the trees. The plan includes an expansion of income-based repayment (IBR), makes the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent past the current 2017 cut off, and places a cap on loan forgiveness for public sector workers. Yet like most college affordability proposals that have come out of Washington, the current plan offers Band-Aid “reforms” that fail to cut to the heart of the structural problems in how we finance higher education. Instead of trying to fix the debt, the conversation should center on solving why students should need to take out such massive debt in the first place, a discussion few in Washington are eager to have.

A common critique of debt forgiveness is that such policies encourage students to take on a heavier financial burden and leads to schools hiking tuition to compensate. On paper, tuition deferral methods like IBR coupled with loan forgiveness are sound. This method shifts the costs from the individual to the taxpayer, as they should if we still value higher education as a public good. Currently, students who demonstrate need can enroll in “Public Sector Loan Forgiveness” (PSLF) which is an IBR plan that forgives debt after ten years of public sector or non-profit employment. The new proposal lifts the needs-based eligibility requirement to allow larger numbers of individuals to sign up, but places a $57,500 cap on forgiveness for public sector workers and requires payments for twenty-five years instead of ten for any amount over that.

Yet despite the White House’s claim that the proposal provides a “safeguard against raising tuition at high-cost institutions,” there is little reason to believe that will be the case. If the school has already been paid, and taxpayers will foot the bill in twenty-five years as the proposal stipulates, what incentive would there be for colleges to keep tuition low? Since schools have nothing at stake, it is likely that they will continue to increase tuition without regard for what happens to graduates. Students who may have considered serving their communities by pursuing careers as, say, public interest lawyers, relying on the promise of loan forgiveness after ten years are now having the rug pulled out from under them.  A quarter-century of indebtedness is simply absurd to imagine.

Republicans have also weighed in on higher education spending through their tax code reform proposals. They include repealing or consolidating various credits into a permanent American Opportunity Tax Credit, taxing PSLF, and repealing several tax breaks for students, among several other proposals. While this legislation will likely go nowhere as it is, several of these items could linger for a while and undoubtedly worm their way into more digestible, passable bills.

All this back and forth about restoring the promise of higher education hides the urgent need for a massive overhaul of the way the U.S. finances post-secondary education, something that Washington seems unwilling to do. Thinking back to the hopefulness of 2009 now seems like a lifetime ago. That year appeared to signal a turning point in history: a return to a strong, activist, solutions-oriented federal government. The 111th Congress was the most productive Congress in a generation. Certain sectors of the economy appear to be correcting course, with health care costs dropping and financial markets rising again. Yet the cost of a college education, an issue that President Obama is supposedly obsessed with, has continued to increase during this tenure. As his presidency winds down, it’s easy to feel like the window for passing any kind of comprehensive reform has shut. A large segment of our generation is chronically underemployed.  Students continue getting fleeced as the federal government hands out mortgages and lends to banks at lower interest rates. 41% of student loan holders are behind on their payments. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says government should not profit off the backs of students. As one of the few consistent voices advocating for this issue, she must get lonely.

Just as income inequality has become part of the national dialogue through grassroots efforts, reeling in higher education costs is something that requires broader strokes. Local efforts like the Kalamazoo Promise or San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College must be commended for expanding college access to students who might otherwise be shut out. But these programs assume higher education will remain exorbitantly expensive. Rather than trapping students in a debtor’s prison for twenty-five years, policymakers should be deep-diving into an audit of bloated university president and administrative pay, intercollegiate athletic subsidies, and educational outcomes per tuition dollar, among other things. During election years, the Obama White House tends to revisit its college affordability agenda, and this time is no different. But even without re-election to worry about, we have yet to see this administration truly go big on this issue. As campaign season heats up, access to an affordable higher education should be a bigger part of the conversation and indeed, must be a part of any serious policy agenda.

Raul Gardea is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Senior Fellow for Education.

 

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Prevention Over Punishment: The Push to Reduce Gun Violence in Chicago

Mar 4, 2014Janaè BonsuJohnaè Strong

Chicago should seek new methods of violence prevention that strengthen neighborhoods and focus on healing, because these methods are more effective and more cost-effective.

Chicago should seek new methods of violence prevention that strengthen neighborhoods and focus on healing, because these methods are more effective and more cost-effective.

It’s no secret that gun violence has long been a major problem in Chicago. An astronomical number of lives have been lost, the social fabric of communities has been compromised, and as a result, both morgues and prisons have continued to fill up. That gun violence is a problem is something on which everyone – liberals and conservatives alike – can agree. The grounds get muddy, however, in identifying and implementing an effective solution.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration have been pushing for a more “tough on crime” strategy to reduce gun violence in Chicago, with mandatory minimum sentencing for illegal gun possession. The original proposed Senate Bill 1342 (now House Bill 5672) included a minimum sentence of one to three years for any person caught with an illegal weapon. ‘Gang affiliation’ – which is determined at the discretion of a judge – would lead to an escalated minimum. In addition, there are currently five new bills (HB 3770 - 3774) that have been introduced by Rep. Michael J. Zalewski (D) to the Illinois General Assembly that may very well have been drafted and introduced with good intentions to deter gun violence and other crime, and keep those who engage in it off of the street. However, components of the House package are unduly punitive. For example, HB 3770 raises the Unlawful Use of a Weapon (UUW) charge to an Aggravated UUW for an individual who has committed a forcible felony as a juvenile. Thus, instead of facing a misdemeanor charge with up to one year of jail time, a defendant faces a class 4 felony that carries a sentence of up to three years of prison time, plus a fine of up to $25,000, because of a crime committed in their youth. Taken together, HB 5672 and similar legislation pose a mirrored threat that will disproportionately affect communities of color and further depress local and state budgets by funneling much needed resources into the city jails and state prisons.

A substantial body of research shows that mandatory minimums have little to no effect on crime, which even its proponents seem to accept: they expect these laws to reduce arrest rates for violent crime by only 0.6%. Aside from that, more incarceration could produce more problems than it actually solves. Many Chicago communities of color grapple with high unemployment and neighborhood instability. More incarceration would further exacerbate these issues at a steep price. In Illinois, if mandatory minimum legislation such as HB 5672 does pass, it will likely cost Illinois close to $2 billion over 10 years, and add to an overcrowded prison system. And more money for “corrections” leaves less for interventions that actually work.

In Chicago, community members and activist organizations that are no longer willing to watch the silent war against minority communities are contesting these bills through direct action campaigns and policy advocacy. These organizations include, but are not limited to the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), Community Renewal Society, and Project Nia. Mirroring the progressive direction of the Obama Administration and other politicians including Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) by moving away from mandatory minimums, these organizations are advocating for funds allocated to subtractive policies to instead be used for empirically based preventative solutions to violence in Chicago communities. Two major initiatives in the works to prevent violence are 1) the expansion of youth employment in communities especially affected by violence as a preventive measure and 2) the implementation of restorative justice peace hubs as an alternative to incarceration.

BYP100 and Project Nia are working towards proposing a youth jobs bill that may look similar to the National Youth Administration (part of the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal). The bill will focus on scaling up existing employment and training programs that have been proven effective such as One Summer Chicago Plus as well as dropout and violence prevention programs such as Becoming A Man (BAM). The bill will push for the reallocation of resources to help communities most impacted by violence implement various proven and promising employment and mentoring interventions across the entire state of Illinois. These programs reduce gun violence and strengthen communities economically and socially.

In addition to the push for youth employment, Community Renewal Society is currently spearheading the Reclaim Campaign, an initiative that urges the Cook County justice system to fund community based restorative justice hubs and mental health and drug rehabilitation programs through money saved from the release of Cook County nonviolent detainees. The campaign advocates alleviating jail overcrowding and reversing the trend of warehousing individuals who pose little threat to public safety by relying more on release with personal recognizance and electronic monitoring. Less bodies in the jails can free up dollars to fund the peace hubs, which are proposed to act as a coordinating referral center in the community where offenders, victims of crime, family members, and other impacted residents can appropriately handle conflict without further violence. The restorative justice approach offers a promising alternative to retributive justice that we have seen fail us for decades.

These solutions outline a need for economically just measures and attention to community healing and restoration over imprisonment. Most importantly, these solutions begin by looking within the community and empower people to change the policies governing their homes and neighborhoods, which is the best way to achieve real social change.

Janaè Bonsu is a Lead Coordinator for the Chicago City Network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline and a Master’s student at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.

Johnaè Strong is a Master’s student in the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) and Lead Facilitator of the Chicago City Network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline. 

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In Campus Network’s Summer Academy, Students Learn What Good Work Really Looks Like

Feb 20, 2014Jeffrey RainesJoe Swanson

Jeff Raines and Joe Swanson participated in the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network’s Summer Academy program in DC in 2011 and NYC in 2012 respectively. They reflect on why they chose Summer Academy, and how it’s helped to shape their college experiences and career goals.

Jeff Raines and Joe Swanson participated in the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network’s Summer Academy program in DC in 2011 and NYC in 2012 respectively. They reflect on why they chose Summer Academy, and how it’s helped to shape their college experiences and career goals.

Jeff: I wanted to spend my first summer internship doing something meaningful. And going to school in DC, I knew there were a lot of options, but not as many real opportunities. After all the hype I heard from older members of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, I applied to the Summer Academy because I thought the program would give me more than coffee runs and copy machines all summer. And it did.

I worked in the DC office of the Roosevelt Institute in the summer of 2011 and spent my nine weeks doing work that directly contributed to the success of the organization’s efforts. I helped coordinate a 100+ leadership summit for Campus Network members and other progressive student leaders, ensuring that had a place to sleep, food to eat, and so on. Anyone familiar with conference planning knows this isn’t a walk in the park, but that’s the point. Whether interns were placed within the Roosevelt Institute or at another participating organization, there were always projects that required real work from the interns. Progressive organizations know that competency and ability don’t come with age. They give Summer Academy interns real responsibility because they want us to have something more solid to say about our experiences. They want us to be able to say we contributed: that we did something.

Jeff Raines, left, and Joe Swanson, right, at the Hyde Park Leadership Summit in August 2013And while there is nothing wrong with occasionally making a coffee run, I don’t think I was ever asked to do so. And I never did find out where that copy machine was. 

The Summer Academy was an environment for me to learn and shine, and the experience has taught me that I must continue to seek out comparable opportunities the rest of my college career. After Summer Academy, why would I accept anything less?

Joe: Like Jeff, I knew that I wanted to do good work and fight the good fight in my first summer internship. My imagination carried me to the inner hallways of the Capitol building, where I would be meeting with staffers and challenging senators. This dream quickly disappeared as I heard my friends recount their internship experiences of monotonous administrative tasks such as picking up phones and filing paperwork. I honestly believed that I would need to reel in my expectations – but then I heard about the Campus Network Summer Academy Fellowship. 

I was accepted to Roosevelt's program in New York City and succeeded Jeff's role in the Campus Network office. I had many of the same responsibilities in the office, including full ownership of the logistical coordination behind Roosevelt's national leadership summit. That was a crash-course in the necessary functions of non-profit organizations. However, the biggest impact the Summer Academy had on me was the day-to-day experiences I shared with other fellows and Roosevelt staff. 

Every Summer Academy Fellow was given the task of writing weekly op-eds and a final policy paper. That meant we spent all day talking about policy, and I was in an office environment that made the use of the word "office" seem wildly inaccurate. The place was basically Disneyland to me. I had to be told to "go home," because my brief question about our perception of citizenship would spark an electric conversation that would last until four in the morning. Roosevelt staff made me feel like a colleague rather than a bottom-rung employee and the Summer Academy Fellows felt like my brothers and sisters both in and out of the office. In the end, the Summer Academy changed my life. Not only do I keep in contact with the amazing people I met, but I have come to love the work we did together. The Fellowship set a foundation, which has fueled my desire to seek a permanent place among those who fight to build a more just world just as I did in New York.

The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network is accepting applications for the 2014 Summer Academy Fellowship through Tuesday, February 25. For more information about the program and to apply, click here.

Jeff Raines is the Chair of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Student Board of Advisors and a senior at American University.

Joe Swanson is the Policy Coordinator for the Southern Region of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network and a senior at Wake Forest University.

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Daily Digest - January 29: The State of Our Union Depends on Our Communities

Jan 29, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Student-Run Group to Evaluate Cornell-Community Relations (Ithaca Journal)

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Student-Run Group to Evaluate Cornell-Community Relations (Ithaca Journal)

D. W. Nutt speaks with Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith and Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Cornell chapter president Matthew Clausen about the launch of Rethinking Communities, an initiative examining the ways that Cornell and its peers contribute to local economies.

  • Roosevelt Take: Alan discusses the theory behind the project, which focuses on driving change to economic and social policy at the hyper-local level.

State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade (The Nation)

John Nichols writes that the president's calls for free trade weakened another excellent discussion of income inequality and how to fix it. Back in 2008 on the campaign trail, Obama tied trade deals to growing inequality, and Nichols says that's still true.

Obama: Time for Congress to Get Out of the Way (MSNBC)

Suzy Khimm argues that the State of the Union emphasized the ways that Congress is blocking even the policies that both parties agree on. The president's willingness to work around Congress, as with his executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, could be key.

Kain Colter Starts Union Movement (ESPN)

Tom Farrey reports on the Northwestern University football team's first steps toward collective bargaining. On Tuesday, they filed a petition and unions cards with the National Labor Relations Board, becoming the first college athletes to attempt to unionize.

Newark Passes The Country’s Eighth Paid Sick Leave Law (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert reports on the newest in a wave of paid sick leave laws, which the mayor of Newark, NJ has promised to sign. This is the second municipality in New Jersey to mandate paid sick leave, which she says puts more pressure on statewide lawmakers.

New on Next New Deal

It's Time to Raise Wages: Local Leaders Should Follow the President's Example

Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith urges anchor institutions, like universities or hospitals, to consider ways that they can quickly improve their economic impact, like paying a living wage and requiring contractors to do the same.

Republican Alternative to Obamacare: Pay More, Get Less, Put the Insurance Companies Back in Charge

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch says that the introduction of a GOP plan for replacing Obamacare gives Democrats a moment of opportunity. Comparing this plan to the Affordable Care Act demonstrates the ways the Republican plan will harm the health care system.

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The Best from the Roosevelt Institute's Millennial Networks in 2013

Dec 27, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

The Roosevelt Institute's Daily Digest is taking a break for the holidays. We'll be back on January 2, but in the meantime, we're rounding up highlights from our blog in 2013. Today, we have some recommended reading from our Millennial networks. On Monday, December 30, we'll have highlights from the Fellows in the Four Freedoms Center.

The Roosevelt Institute's Daily Digest is taking a break for the holidays. We'll be back on January 2, but in the meantime, we're rounding up highlights from our blog in 2013. Today, we have some recommended reading from our Millennial networks. On Monday, December 30, we'll have highlights from the Fellows in the Four Freedoms Center.

Think Global, Act Hyper-Local: Campus Network Rates Colleges on Economic and Social Impact in Their Communities

Alan Smith, Associate Director of Network Initiatives at the Roosevelt Institute, introduces the Rethinking Communities project, an initiative examining how anchor institutions – like the colleges and universities attended by Campus Network students – affect their local economies. This project kicks off in 2014!

What is the Crash Generation?

Former Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz says that the Millennials who came of age during the Great Recession have the will and the desire to reshape the American economy into something that will provide better opportunity for all.

President Obama: Give Millennials a Seat at the Table on Climate Change

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment Melia Ungson argues that because Millennials have the largest stake in the long-term future of the planet, the White House should bring more young people into the policy-making process on this issue.

Corporate Education Reform Won’t Solve the Problems Caused by Poverty

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Education Raul Gardea points out that testing and test prep can’t solve the non-school factors that limit some students’ achievement, and if policymakers don’t acknowledge that fact, they won’t solve education inequality. 

Local Government is the Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Economic Inequality

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Field Strategist Joelle Gamble argues that new weapons are needed to push back against economic inequality. Cities and towns should provide innovative incentives to businesses that encourage the right kind of economic growth.

Sister Simone Campbell Shows Us Freedom of Worship is a Bipartisan Value

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy Jacqueline Van de Velde looks at the work of Sister Simone Campbell, who was awarded the Freedom of Worship Medal at the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards, and considers the bipartisan nature of religious freedom.

McCutcheon v. FEC Could Give Rich Donors Even Greater Power Over Our Elections

Jeff Raines, Chair of the Student Board of Advisors for the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, explains why this Supreme Court case isn’t about freedom of speech, but instead is about how much influence individuals should have over elections in the United States. The decision on this case is still pending.

Why Trayvon Is Inspiring America to Put Stand Your Ground Laws on Trial

Naomi Ahsan, Director of Programming for the DC network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline, sees the Zimmerman verdict as a potential catalyst for organizing against self-defense laws that enforce racism.

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Daily Digest - December 19: How Michigan Can Put Its Best Minds to Work

Dec 19, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Bill Helps Solve Michigan's Brain Drain (Lansing State Journal)

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Bill Helps Solve Michigan's Brain Drain (Lansing State Journal)

Sonja Karnovsky and Adam Watkins, co-Presidents of the University of Michigan chapter of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, argue that a bill that would create a tax credit to reduce student loan costs for graduates who stay in-state, which is based on a Campus Network proposal, would also improve the state's economy.

Street Protests Can Foil Congress (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren suggests that anyone seeking to reform today's Congress should look at the response to the filibusters of the Civil Rights era. Social movement politics pushed through filibuster reform in 1975, and similar pressures could help end today's dysfunction.

Not So Fast: New Budget Deal Leaves a Lot to Deal With (MoJo)

Patrick Caldwell points out that the Ryan-Murray budget is only a broad framework, and Congress still needs to pass an omnibus appropriations bill to set spending levels on a program-by-program basis. With $46 billion to cut, that's not going to be an easy process.

Looking for a Job? Congress Doesn’t Seem to Care (The Root)

Charles D. Ellison points out that while Congress continues to focus on the Affordable Care Act and the budget deficit, polling data shows that the majority of Americans would rather see their representatives shift their attention to jobs. Sadly, Congress seems to have missed these polls.

The Taper is Here, and the Stock Market Seems to Love It (Quartz)

Matt Phillips reports that the Federal Reserve has begun to taper its bond-buying program, and the S&P 500 shot up in response to the news. But the Fed isn't done pushing for low inflation, so Phillips argues that the central bank will remain a major market presence.

The Fed Tapered Perfectly—Here's What It Needs To Do Next (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien explains how the Fed has managed to keep markets from reacting badly to tapering, as they did when the very suggestion was made back in May. He adds that with inflation still below target and unemployment still too high, expanded monetary policy will still be needed.

Charting a Mismatch in Housing Spending (Off the Charts)

Will Fischer looks at federal housing spending, which disproportionately subsidizes wealthier households and favors homeownership over renting. Since low-income renters are far more likely to need support, he says Congress should put more resources into rental assistance.

UAW Wants to Eliminate Two-Tier Wage System: Official (Reuters)

Ben Klayman reports on the United Auto Workers' new push to eliminate dramatically lower pay for entry-level hires compared to veteran workers. A UAW vice president says that to do away with this system, they'll need to organize non-union plants in the South.

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Think Global, Act Hyper-Local: Campus Network Rates Colleges on Economic and Social Impact in Their Communities

Dec 9, 2013Alan Smith

The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network is launching a new project next month to analyze how anchor institutions such as colleges and universities affect their local economies, and help those institutions make changes for the better.

The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network is launching a new project next month to analyze how anchor institutions such as colleges and universities affect their local economies, and help those institutions make changes for the better.

With the social contract failing many Americans, the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network has undertaken a new project to explore ways to reverse it. The things we, as Millennials, have long been told are core parts of the American bargain – public education, safe working environments, affordable healthcare, the basic ability to provide for one’s family – are becoming harder to achieve in the 21st century.

To address this daunting trend, students in our campus chapters are undertaking an experiment, which we call “Rethinking Communities.” It is based on the assumption that localities – cities, towns, and even neighborhoods – will drive the economies and politics of the future. This approach reflects the innovative thinking that has been a hallmark of the Campus Network for the past decade. The Campus Network has long looked to local action in many places as a means of influencing the direction of the nation. We see an intentional community-building endeavor as a start to counter issues raised by globalization, increased inequality, outsourcing of jobs, and changes in technological capabilities.

We reject a binary vision of the government and economy that holds that either government exists solely to support markets, or that government responds to societal challenges through regulation and policy change. The Millennial generation has had ample evidence that this dichotomy misses something: the Great Recession undercut the idea that markets are reliable adjudicators of the public good, and the recent government shutdown made amply evident that Washington cannot respond effectively to many of the immediate problems we face.

This is why the Campus Network will look to bring a different social pressure to bear: that of community governance, which draws on the strengths of local structures to fill the gaps left by the market and the federal systems. While the concept of trusting local groups to rule on local issues is not a new one, the possibilities of a truly networked system of community governance opens up huge new potential. Just as the Internet has driven down costs and other factors in manufacturing and production, we aim to explore possibilities for a new labor movement, new locally supported economies, and new ways of patching together shared identity and support from many small collaborating groups instead of a single top-down organizing force.

Our objective at the Campus Network is to take advantage of our physical presence in communities nationwide, and find optimal ways to rethink local economies. With the goal of reforming anchor institutions that are the backbone of these communities (anchor institutions are places like hospitals or colleges and universities), here’s what we’ll be doing in the coming year with chapters throughout our 115-chapter network:

Using the set of metrics developed by the Democracy Collaborative, an organization based at the University of Maryland that advocates for economic justice and increased access to democracy, that were expanded and refined by Campus Network’s membership, students at multiple chapters, including University of Tennessee, Goucher College, and the University of Michigan, will assess their own college or university. These metrics, which are akin to a report card (think LEEDS standards), have been built to define how well an institution facilitates local economic development, community building and education, health, safety and environment. By using the same set of metrics across the board, we will both grow our understanding of a how a specific institution can improve in its role as a local anchor, and contribute to a larger understanding of how anchor institutions compare to each other.

Based on these metrics, groups will write proposals that improve a specific weakness. Redirecting a portion of a University’s purchasing to focus on locally owned businesses, facilitating the creation of financially secure households, or working to improve the health of community residents are all projects that play to the social role of colleges and universities. While we work to implement these local fixes, the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network will collectively create a method to grade anchor institutions across the country on how they alleviate or exacerbate economic inequality. Might this comparative process put real pressure on universities – and eventually, hospitals, airports, or even sports teams – to do a better job in responding to the needs and values of the communities where they’re based? That is what we hope to examine.

We can’t be sure if we can scale the Rethinking Communities project to our national problems, in order to rebuild the robust social contract that America has with its citizens. But through the bold and persistent experimentation of the Campus Network, we aim to see how far we can go to create new self-sustaining economies that resist the economic pressures of the larger world. And in that innovative spirit, we hearken back to the values of Franklin Roosevelt that undergird all of our work: a system that is more balanced, more sustainable, and more able to support the common good.

Alan Smith is the Associate Director of Networked Initiatives at the Roosevelt Institute.

Photo via Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network

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Daily Digest - December 5: Pensions and Wages and Unions, Oh My!

Dec 5, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

An Agenda to Save the Euro (Project Syndicate)

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An Agenda to Save the Euro (Project Syndicate)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz lays out a plan to reform the political structure of the eurozone. Eliminating austerity policies, among other changes, could save the Euro and the European project of unity.

Life in a Mobile Nation (NYT)

The New York Times draws on former Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz's recent series on where Millennials are building their lives for a Room for Debate discussion. The responses consider whether a city can be ideal for all stages of a life.

A Government Ban on 23andMe's Genetic Testing Ignores Reality (The Guardian)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network alumnus Rahul Rekhi says the FDA is trying to regulate 21st century technology with 20th century policy. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing could have plenty of potential, but an outright ban closes that option for research.

Study: States that Reject Medicaid Expansion Lose Money (USA Today)

Kelly Kennedy reports on a new study from the Commonwealth Fund laying out the state-by-state financial losses from refusing Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. That money would have gone to local health care providers, growing the states' economies.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn's white paper, "The Title X Factor," says that states refusing Medicaid expansion is one of the reasons Title X family planning funds remain so important.

Pension Theft: Class War Goes to the Next Stage (Truthout)

Dean Baker decries the new sport of pension theft, a game that has just opened in Detroit and Illinois which he fears will spread further. Pensions are written into contracts, but apparently those contracts don't matter when they affect average workers.

Fast Food Strikes Hit 100 Cities Thursday (The Nation)

Allison Kilkenny speaks to fast food workers who plan to join strikes today as the call for higher wages spreads. The first fast food strikes were just over a year ago in New York City, and they have spread across the country; today's actions are expected to be the largest yet.

It’s Not Just Fast-Food Workers Who are Underpaid (Reuters)

Helaine Olen points out that while so-called "fast casual" dining might look nicer, with higher food quality and prices to match, that doesn't mean workers are paid any more than in fast food. It's important to keep that in mind with today's fast food strikes.

Don't Blame Robots For Declining Wages -- Blame Dissolving Unions (TPM)

Tali Kristal says that technology has only done so much to bring down wages. Her research shows the largest declines in share of income going to workers occurring in sectors where unions are disappearing, which does give us a possible path for wages to go back up.

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Daily Digest - December 4: Youth Unemployment Is Leading to Tragedy

Dec 4, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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"Tragedy as a generation" for U.S. Youth (Marketplace)

David Brancaccio speaks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick about the problems young people are facing in today's economy. He says that without professional lobbyists, other groups' needs are being heard over young people's.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

"Tragedy as a generation" for U.S. Youth (Marketplace)

David Brancaccio speaks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick about the problems young people are facing in today's economy. He says that without professional lobbyists, other groups' needs are being heard over young people's.

CFPB To Supervise Largest Student Loan Servicers (HuffPo)

Shahien Nasiripour reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has finalized a rule giving it oversight over the companies that collect payments on federal student loans. This should hopefully ensure more borrower-friendly practices.

Detroit Is Bankrupt: What Now? (Pacific Standard)

Anna Clark lists the three most important things to be aware of now that the courts have approved Detroit's bankruptcy filing. She notes that this case will have a major impact on other cities, which look to Detroit as an example of the possibilities in their future.

Fighting Corruption Polls Off the Charts (MSNBC)

Zachary Roth reports on a new poll from represent.us which shows that the vast majority of Americans support tougher campaign finance laws. Unfortunately, incumbents seem uninterested in changing the rules that helped to get them elected.

  • Roosevelt Take: Jeff Raines, Chair of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Student Board of Advisors, explains how a current Supreme Court case could further weaken campaign finance law.

Black Friday and the Race to the Bottom (The New Yorker)

George Packer ties low retail sales during the extended Black Friday weekend to the fights for a higher minimum wage. Executives should recognize the practical truth that workers need to be able to afford to shop too.

Tax Breaks for CEOs Pay for Million-Dollar Salaries (The Guardian)

Jana Kasperkevic explains the performance pay loophole that allows corporations to deduct millions in executive compensation from their federal income taxes. She draws a parallel between the results of that policy and the low wages of average fast food workers.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Director of Research Susan Holmberg and Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network alum Lydia Austin wrote a white paper calling on Congress to close the performance pay loophole. Read it here.

Low Bank Wages Costing the Public Millions, Report Says (WaPo)

Danielle Douglas writes that new data from the University of California at Berkeley's Labor Center shows that bank employees are relying heavily on public assistance, to the tune of $900 million a year. The banking industry reported $141.3 billion in profits last year.

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