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A Cross-Discipline Look at Alternative Currency Systems

By Abou Amara, Jr.
Center for Integrative Leadership Research Assistant, Student Leadership Team Member

Common Grounds, a Center for Integrative Leadership student initiative, has started to bring together its analyses of the various financial structures we were assigned to look at by the Citizens League.

Common Grounds is a student initiative that selects an outside organization to assist on a project. This year, Commons Grounds is working with the Citizens League on a Pathways to Prosperity initiative intended to alleviate poverty by empowering those who traditionally have not had access to financial independence.

I was assigned to look at a case study of the city of Toronto and how it implemented an alternative currency system for the purpose of increasing local spending and supporting the local economy and assisting in poverty alleviation. Alternative currency systems exist in some municipalities that allow those who traditionally have access to work to be able to contribute to their community in various ways, such as volunteering at public institutions, private businesses, and then being able to redeem that time spent for goods and services.

After this case study, we will draw parallels as well as areas of divergence about how a similar system could or should be implemented in the state of Minnesota. This project will bring together law, business, and policy students from the University to look at:


  • the legal and judicial impact of having an alternative currency to the recognized tender of the U.S. government



  • the viability and incentives for businesses to participate in a program where they would be the recipients of alternative currency as a form of payment



  • The social impact of this currency on a constituency or geographic area

Common Grounds will present its findings to the Citizens League later this month.

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