Urban Design Forum’s 2020 Forefront Fellowship, Cooperative Works

The economic impacts of the coronavirus have hit low-income communities and communities of color hardest. Workers of color face greater job losses, immigrant workers are excluded from the social safety net, and minority-owned businesses are least likely to access government relief.

Cascading impacts from the pandemic show that many communities face concurrent public health, economic, and climate crises.

While the depths of the current economic crisis are profound, these racial disparities are not new. The median household income of a white New Yorker is twice the median income of Black, Latino, Asian, and other households of color. From 2007 to 2012, Black-owned businesses declined by 31% while business creation jumped 45% in 15 gentrifying neighborhoods.

Coronavirus recovery efforts must prioritize minority-owned businesses and worker ownership. Beyond the immediate recovery, rectifying the racial wealth gap requires collective effort from all New Yorkers to support better jobs, small businesses, and resilient models of cooperative ownership.

Our 2020 Fellowship, Cooperative Works, explores how to support minority-owned businesses and workers of color, expand worker cooperatives, and democratize economic resources to build a more inclusive economy.

In Phase I, Fellows will partner with the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and the Mayor’s Office of M/WBE to explore how to create economic opportunity for MWBEs and employee-owned businesses through climate investment, leveraging the new market for building energy retrofits created by Local Law 97.

In Phase II, Fellows will work in independent teams to investigate broader avenues for the design, planning, and development communities to advance an inclusive economic recovery. How can New York City advance economic justice in its coronavirus recovery? And how can the city leverage investment in climate action, infrastructure, and new industries to generate wealth in low-income neighborhoods?

To learn more about the fellowship, visit the call for applications, or participate in the online information session on Tuesday, June 23 from 6:30 – 7:30pm (RSVP to receive the Zoom link: rsvp@urbandesignforum.org.)

Applications are due July 22, 2020.