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Paul Chander

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Paul Chander

Paul Chander

Name of Host Organization: Center for Community-Based Enterprise
City, State: Detroit, Michigan
Issue area: Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects
Sponsors: Equal Justice Works Text-to-Give

The Project

Collaboratively provide community education, transactional lawyering, and business support to help returning citizens in Detroit achieve economic self-sufficiency by starting worker cooperatives

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Of the nearly 5,000 ex-offenders who return to Detroit each year, two-thirds remain unemployed a year after their release—especially African Americans who are a majority of the city’s population. Worker cooperatives, or businesses that are owned and controlled by their workers, are a participatory pathway to economic self-determination that maximizes worker benefit and community equity. This project therefore proposes to help returning citizens achieve economic self-determination by starting worker cooperatives and creating an inclusive and sustainable new economy.
The Right Person For This Project

Paul is the right person for the project because:
• As a son of working class immigrants, he has a personal connection to the importance of economic and racial justice
• He has 10 years of experience in collective action for social justice, including community organizing, lawyering, and policy advocacy
• He has laid the groundwork for this project by spending the last 2 years in Detroit, where he has built trusting relationships with both community members and partner organizations and developed practice-based models for the community-directed creation of worker-owned, democratic businesses

Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship

In the first six months, Paul will:
• Conduct outreach through community interactions and referrals from partner organizations
• Conduct community education sessions on cooperative culture and the cooperative business model
• Provide technical assistance such as choice of entity counseling and connecting to feasibility studies and seed capital
• Facilitate collaboration between groups to help build a mutually supportive network of locally-rooted, democratic enterprises that serves community needs and elevates the quality of life