Cutting Edge is a proud recipient of the City of Chicago Community Wealth Building and Technical Assistance Grant, as awarded by Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the Office of Equity and Racial Justice (OERJ), and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD).
The grant is part of ongoing efforts by the City of Chicago and Community Wealth Building Planning & Pre-Development program to provide critical funding to move community wealth building projects further down the pipeline, many of which face systemic barriers to accessing capital and are stymied by a lack of resources.
Cutting Edge is one of 17 local and national technical assistance organizations selected from 47 applicants to design and implement specialized services. Finalists were selected based on organizational experience & values; program design & implementation strategy; and organizational capacity & budget justification:
Research & Advocacy
Education & Outreach
Financing & Fundraising
Legal & Governance
Assets & Operations
Organizations will receive grants ranging from $150,000 to $380,000 to support the design and implementation of two-year technical assistance programs. Cutting Edge was selected to provide Legal and Governance technical assistance primarily focused on legal guidance on worker-ownership and community investment vehicles such as community investment funds.
“Through these grants and technical assistance programs, the Department of Planning & Development is excited to build the pipeline of community wealth building projects that meet community priorities,” says DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox.
Community Investment Funds (CIFs) can be powerful tools for empowering communities and supporting economic democracy. They do so by investing in new or growing businesses, real estate revitalization projects or other mission driven enterprises within their defined communities. CIFs are community-centered and community-managed (through community leaders, supporting nonprofits or collectively by the larger community). CIFs help build vibrant communities through a cycle of investment, growth, impact, return (to community), and reinvestment.
Community Investment Funds are typically much smaller than mutual funds and are focused narrowly on their impact missions. CIFs are responsive to community challenges and needs and are designed not to extract resources away from the community. CIFs are designed to be exempt from the burdensome and costly regulations to which mutual funds are subject. CIFs can be conceptualized, controlled or housed in nonprofit organizations or they can be set up and managed as for-profit impact funds. Capital can flow into the funds through private or public capital raise strategies. Depending on the exemptions and capital raise strategies employed by the funds, some CIFs can offer investment broadly to the public and allow investors of all means to participate, which in turn can allow for direct community control of the fund.
Cutting Edge has served as legal counsel to many community-centered investment funds, assisting the funds on legal strategy, structure, and capital raise document preparation. We believe that CIFs are an important tool as we move to create a more just and equitable economy. Some of our representative fund clients are listed below along with a short description of their mission and impact.
Black Farmer Fund – The mission of Black Farmer Fund is to nurture Black community wealth and health by investing in Black agricultural systems in the Northeast.
WePower – This for-profit impact fund is structured to invest in Black & Latinx founders and entrepreneurs who participated in an accelerator program offered by the fund’s partner nonprofit.
Community Vision – This charitable loan fund provides capital and technical assistance for communities that have been systematically disadvantaged to ensure fairness in opportunities, resources, and rights for everyone.
Sarah Kaplan has joined the partnership at Cutting Edge Counsel. Sarah first affiliated with the firm in 2015 and joined as an Associate in 2021. Sarah has 10 years of experience serving a wide range of cooperatives, including worker, consumer, agricultural, platform, investment, and multi-stakeholder cooperatives, including limited cooperative associations. Her focus also includes securities law, helping clients raise capital from their private networks, their stakeholders, or the public. Sarah also regularly handles legal structuring issues for businesses, general small business matters, and trademarks.
“We are thrilled that Sarah has accepted Cutting Edge’s partnership invitation. She is a key member of our leadership team and demonstrates the commitment to impact and innovation we so highly value in our attorneys,” said Kim Arnone, managing partner. “Adding her as partner strengthens our firm and reinforces our commitment to providing exceptional legal services to cooperatives and other impact enterprises.”
Sarah has been a Fellow of the Sustainable Economies Law Center since 2013. Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Chicago Kent College of Law. Sarah has her A.B. from Princeton University. She has previously lived in Chicago and the East Bay Area of California, and now lives and gardens in St. Louis, Missouri. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois and California.
Our law firm and consulting practice help mission-driven organizations raise capital in alignment with their values and goals. We use our experience, legal knowledge, and passion to assist businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofits with innovative and successful capital raising campaigns. We believe that community-centered offerings help social enterprises maintain control, stay mission-aligned and build a more just, equitable and sustainable economy. Our services include strategic and capital raise consulting and related legal services.
What We are Looking For
You are a mission focused individual dedicated to a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable economy
You are actively engaged in your community, offering support to initiatives that align with your values
You are a strategic thinker that can look at complex problems and offer straightforward solutions
You are a generalist that is excited to roll up your sleeves and learn about all aspects of our business operations including front line client communications, organizational management and bookkeeping
You are organized, efficient, and self-disciplined
Summary of the Position
You will act as the operational and organizational guru for our law firm and consulting practice. Your primary responsibilities include driving the company’s day-to-day activities, increasing the firm’s organization and efficiency, managing firm software and technology, supporting client experience (including client management and light bookkeeping) and working with the principals on strategic initiatives.
Respond to potential client inquiries and schedule consultations
Manage client pipeline and follow up communications
Onboard clients including finalizing agreements and recordkeeping
Document and streamline company policies and procedures
Manage firm systems and software including GSuite, Salesforce, Zoom conferencing and webinars, Bill.com, and Gusto, among others
Assist with bookkeeping functions in conjunction with the firm’s accountant:
Accounts receivable management in Bill.com and communication with clients regarding payments
Accounts Payable management in Bill.com and communication with vendors
Process payroll on semi-monthly schedule
Assist with human resources, marketing, and operations tasks
Troubleshoot minor IT and software issues; work with vendors to resolve as needed
Provide administrative support to attorneys and consultants
Handle insurance renewals and other compliance matters
Assist with special projects as requested
Relevant associate or bachelor’s degree preferred
Two years of related operations and/or bookkeeping experience
Ability to adapt to a changing environment and handle multiple priorities
Experience with GSuite, Microsoft products, Salesforce, Zoom, Bill.com, Adobe Acrobat, Docusign preferred
Strong writing and communication skills
Ability to prioritize projects effectively
Self-starter and able to work well without constant direction
Well-organized and possessing excellent attention to detail
Compensation, time and location: $26 per hour; 18-22 hours per week (flexible number of hours per week; 4-5 days per week); we are based in Oakland, CA and would prefer a person located in the Bay Area in order to be in the office once per week but we will consider a remote placement.
Please send a resume with a cover letter and references describing why you are interested in the position to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charged with exploring sense of ownership strategies for economically-disadvantaged communities in California, Cutting Edge Capital worked in partnership with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP) to identify strategies and business models that encourage the development of equitable community solar projects in West Oakland, California. WOEIP is a resident led, community-based environmental justice organization dedicated to achieving healthy homes, healthy jobs and healthy neighborhoods for all who live, work, learn and play in West Oakland.
As a result, Cutting Edge presented three strategies:
cosponsorship and development of a project awarded to participate in the Community Solar Green Tariff Program;
cosponsorship and development of a large-scale solar project that provides electricity to a site host or municipal utility (e.g., Port of Oakland); and
development of a solar commons model in which a cooperative owns and develops a solar project on a host site and shares in the utility savings generated.
Watch the full presentation above or download the presentation file below to learn how the framework presented promotes equitable community solar projects that support a “just transition” to a regenerative economy in alignment with WOEIP’s mission.