In 2019, dictionary.com recognized the word “existential” as the word of the year based on the heavy volume of internet searches for its meaning. The Oxford word of the year was “climate emergency.” Clearly, people are concerned about major systemic problems, and they’re turning to the internet to understand them. As we look ahead to 2020, I wonder what words and terms will rise to the surface, spark curiosity, and engage people in searches for answers. And I wonder what people will find when they type their questions into the search bar?

My hope is that terms like “community capital,” “inclusive economy,” and “impact investing,” will find more mainstream traction and get people talking and learning more about ways they, as individuals, can help solve global problems by engaging more proactively and deliberately in the economy. Of course, I’m not alone in that hope. Organizations and individuals are working hard and growing the movement to reshape common understandings of what capitalism is – and what responsible participation looks like. And reform is underway.

Though how many more people emerge as leaders, participants, and allies of the community capital movement in the year ahead, and how successful efforts are in fueling meaningful change will depend heavily on how well those of us working to reform the system are able to work together to inspire and support each other so that we may, in turn, inspire and support the millions of curious people around the country who are looking for solutions to the problems they’re seeing in their communities. Personally, I’m optimistic that we’ll succeed in building a much stronger, more cohesive coalition in the year ahead, and I look forward to seeing the impact that our increased collaboration has on our collective ability to fuel the movement.

For our part in the months ahead, we’ll be working to identify and connect with all the champions of community capital across the country who want to be part of the effort to make 2020 the year community capital goes mainstream. And we’ll be supporting them in whatever ways we can. At the same time, we’ll also be offering educational opportunities and resources for curious entrepreneurs, investors, and others, and we’ll be developing a comprehensive online library to support people in communities nationwide.

We hope you’ll join the collaborative effort! Ways you can help make 2020 the year of community capital include…

  • sharing this note (and future blog posts, newsletters, etc.)
  • following us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) and of course sharing our posts
  • reaching out to us directly at [email protected] to let us know 1) how the coalition can help you achieve your community capital goals and 2) how you can support the coalition
  • becoming a member of NC3. Membership support is key to our collective success!
  • informing folks in your communities and in your networks about community capital strategies and directing them to our website, social media channels, events, etc.
  • donating to support the coalition’s capacity to develop resources and build the field

I have no doubt that over the course of the year ahead, we’ll make a big difference in how people participate in the economy and in their communities. But how big of a difference? Could 2020 be community capital’s breakout year? Will we see a massive surge in local startups and growth in local ownership? Will community investment funds become available in communities across the country? Will lots of grassroots community development projects take hold and start to revitalize struggling regional economies far and wide? If we harness our collective power and support each other, the answer to all these questions just might be “yes.” And who knows, maybe by year’s end dictionary.com will recognize 2020 as the year millions of people turned their attention to the growing community capital movement!