Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3)
Legal aid organization assists community groups and low-income workers to create green, cooperatively-owned businesses and build resilient local economies
The Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3) is the only law school clinic in the nation focused on advancing a resilient economy and green jobs through cooperative enterprise. GC3 builds wealth in low-income neighborhoods and increases access to living-wage employment by providing free legal, business, and technical assistance to low-wage workers and community groups. GC3 clients seek to create ventures that promote the principles of environmental and racial justice in the emerging green-collar economy, while incorporating aspects of democratic governance and cooperative ownership into their business model.
GC3 attorneys and law student interns help clients take their ideas from the conceptual phase to full operation through legal workshops, brief legal advice, ongoing representation, and a new Cooperative Academy. Examples of our clients thus far include the following:
- A nonprofit that operates a farm and community-supported agriculture project that employs formerly incarcerated people in Alameda County,
- A multi-stakeholder solar energy cooperative in Oakland,
- A youth-entrepreneurship hub supporting youth-led social enterprises in Oakland,
- A cooperatively-managed maker space and education center in North Oakland,
- A green home-cleaning cooperatives, and
- A youth-entrepreneurship hub supporting youth-led social enterprises in Oakland.
In 2014, GC3 launched the Bay Area Worker Coop Academy, in collaboration with Sustainable Economies Law Center, Project Equity, and Laney College. The Academy provides a 12-week curriculum to a cohort of seven ventures, addressing issues such as governance, management, leadership, legal entity formation, financing, people and culture, and conflict resolution strategies. At the conclusion of the course, GC3 and Project Equity will provide ongoing legal representation and business coaching, respectively, to a subset of the cohort, based on our assessment of their readiness to launch their ventures.
GC3 positively impacts low-income communities by helping individuals who face barriers to employment become economically self-sufficient and build assets for themselves and their families, while introducing locally-owned and democratically-operated green businesses into low-income communities. Considering the high unemployment and poverty rates in low-income neighborhoods, as well as the over-concentration of polluting industries in these communities, the work of GC3 has the potential to not only positively impact the lives of individuals but to positively impact the economic and environmental conditions in low-income communities throughout the region.
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