Just Economics of Western North Carolina (JE) is a regional, membership organization based in Asheville, NC. Our mission is to educate, advocate, and organize for a just and sustainable economy that works for all in Western North Carolina.
JE was born out of the Asheville-Buncombe Living Wage Campaign, an effort that initially began in 2000, but took root in 2006. This coalition of faith, labor, and community groups succeeded in passing the first living wage ordinance in our region, which guarantees Asheville City employees a living wage.
But we knew that the city ordinance was just a start. To have a substantial impact, we needed to dig in for the long term, develop a stronger organizational base, and take the living wage campaign beyond the city workforce and into the private sector.
In 2007, Just Economics became the organizational home for the Asheville-Buncombe Living Wage Campaign. Since our inception, we have worked on living wages as a foundation piece of building a more just and sustainable local economy. Since then, we have expanded to include better transit, affordable housing, and other worker issues as focus points for our organizing and advocacy.
Just Economics now includes multi-county work (with the Living Wage Coalition of Transylvania County as an official affiliate) on several issues related to economic justice. We now have the largest voluntary Living Wage Certification in the country, play a key role in several statewide coalitions, and are moving the needle on local issues like transit. Our work centers the voice of people impacted by economic injustice through our campaign teams and engages our members in building a more just and sustainable economic community.
Together, our members are working to shape the economic development of Western North Carolina in a way that benefits everyone and promotes a sustainable future. We aim to have a membership that reflects the diversity of our community, with an intentional focus on leadership from low-wage workers and others most affected by the issues we work on.
Our three primary areas of work:
Just Economics is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization. Funding for Just Economics is spent on staff salaries, office operational expenses and program costs. We are funded through private donations (to donate to Just Economics click here), the support of businesses and organizations, a few fee-for-service activities including our poverty simulation, and grants from private foundations. Our largest grantors include:
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation: The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation currently focuses on the areas of Community Economic Development, Environment, Public Education, Social Justice and Equity and Strengthening Democracy. More information can be found at zsr.org.
The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County: When we engage and mobilize people to give, advocate and volunteer, when we invest resources in and connect people to solutions in education, income and health and when we sustain and enhance the intellectual, financial and physical resources to carry out this work, then we improve lives and advance the common good. More information can be found at unitedwayabc.org.