Community Leadership

Establishing a Northern Virginia Anchor Collaborative

Ted Howard Democracy Collaborative
In May 2017 the Community Foundation introduced the topic of Community Wealth Building, a systems approach to economic development, at an Innovation Breakfast Series event.  Following this event, the Community Foundation convened a team of community leaders (representing business, nonprofit, community and government) to determine the best way to implement Community Wealth Building in our region.

This long-term community leadership initiative at the Community Foundation is a cross-sector effort to enable structural change that will result in a more equitable and inclusive prosperity for all Northern Virginia residents.

What is Community Wealth Building?

The goal of Community Wealth Building is to create inclusive, sustainable, and equitable models of economic success.

Vehicles used to support this system of economic development include: cooperatives, employee-owned companies, social enterprise, land trusts, family businesses, community development through financial institutions, banks and more.

The Community Foundation's relationships with business, nonprofit and governmental networks place it in an ideal position to facilitate community wealth building thereby giving Northern Virginia’s economically disadvantaged residents opportunities to attain financial success and economic stability.

Narrowing the Focus for Northern Virginia

To begin this work, the Community Foundation established a Working Group and selected South Fairfax County as a focus geography; and low-income youth and young adults, ages 16-24, as a focus population. The team also identified priority challenges and gaps in the system connecting young people entering careers with the supports to help them qualify for jobs and with opportunities that offer wealth-building features.

The Working Group then made recommendations from its research. These included short-term steps to build on existing career pathways supports and longer-term initiatives to create business ownership opportunities by starting up social enterprises and promoting conversion of existing businesses to employee ownership.

The group held stakeholder meetings in South County and hosted and facilitated focus groups with low income youth and young adults, ages 16-24 for direct feedback and to gain a better understanding of their needs.

Establishing a Northern Virginia Anchor Collaborative

CFNOVA CWBIn the spring of 2019, the Community Foundation convened a group of anchor institutions, small businesses, nonprofit and government representatives to gauge interest in and to discuss the establishment of a Northern Virginia Anchor Collaborative.

In 2020, with the support of a grant from Kaiser Permanente, the Community Foundation worked with these anchor institutions to launch the collaborative and begin implementing a community wealth building strategy in our region.

We have worked with and have been guided by the expertise and experience of The Democracy Collaborative, the pioneer of Community Wealth Building, to help us in our effort to transform the current economic system.

To find out about how to participate in this initiative moving forward, please contact Sarah McKinley at The Democracy Collaborative at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..