Donations to Project Equity are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Project Equity seeks to create an equitable, sustainable economy by fostering economic resiliency with low-income communities and a sustainable economy that works for all. We do this by demonstrating and replicating strategies that increase worker ownership within socially- and environmentally-responsible businesses. Evidence from both the U.S. and abroad indicates that employee-owned and cooperative businesses increase job quality and stability, invest locally, and have demonstrable positive impact on job creation and environmental sustainability.  Our vision is that cooperatives and employee-owned companies become a meaningful part of the solution to critical problems facing our country such as income inequality, absentee business ownership, the racial wealth gap, climate change, and other forms of environmental destruction and resource depletion. 

The Opportunity
Three societal trends amplify the timeliness of Project Equity's work: (1) the growing interest since the Great Recession in shared ownership models as alternatives to “business-as-usual”; (2) the increasing imperative to reverse and mitigate the effects of climate change, and the resulting demand for green businesses; and (3) the Baby Boomer retirement wave, often called the “Silver Tsunami.”We have an incredible opportunity to tap the Silver Tsunami to transition boomer-owned businesses to worker-owned businesses. By focusing on businesses that provide “green jobs” for low-wage workers, we bring the benefits of employee ownership to the workers with the greatest need through a strategy that is designed for scale. Worker ownership preserves companies that would either go out of business when the owner retires, or be sold to an out-of-area company.  
 
Our Strategy
Based on feasibility studies completed in March 2015, we concluded that converting existing businesses to worker coops has the best potential to move the needle on scale fastest. We are working at three key levels in an integrated strategy to encourage and support conversions of successful sustainable businesses to employee ownership. These strategies, and our 2016 objectives for each one, are as follows: 
  • Business Outreach: Engage businesses, economic developers, small business advocates and other change agents to spread the word about employee ownership and how it supports longterm business sustainability and community resilience.
  • Business Incubation: Directly support companies converting to worker ownership through our recently launched Cooperative Business Incubator, and build a network of like-minded companies.
  • Ecosystem Development: Build ecosystems that support conversion and growth of worker-owned businesses to build community wealth for today's low-wage workers, both locally in the Bay Area, nationally, in other places where partners can adapt our strategies to create high impact approaches for their region.

Our Leadership

Project Equity is led by Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane, who co‐founded the project in late 2013. 

Hilary Abell is nationally recognized as an expert on coop development in low-income communities. She was a worker‐owner at Equal Exchange in the 1990s, Executive Director of WAGES (Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security, now called Prospera) from 2003‐2011, and a consultant with leading coop initiatives around the country prior to Project Equity’s launch in 2014. While at WAGES, she led the organization through a key growth period, resulting in a network of five worker‐owned green cleaning businesses that sustain 100 quality jobs in Bay Area communities.
Hilary graduated from Princeton University and is currently pursuing her MBA part‐time at Presidio Graduate School.

Alison Lingane started her career designing and leading micro‐enterprise programs for urban youth. While getting her MBA at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, she co‐founded the Global Social Venture Competition, the first and largest business plan competition for mission‐driven businesses, now with contestants from 40 countries. Alison’s undergraduate degree is from Harvard. Alison has spent the last 15 years in leadership roles at education‐based social ventures, including InsideTrack, a scaled services company that has delivers 1:1 coaching to 60‐70,000 students each quarter. 

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