Debt Collective, a project of Sustainable Markets Foundation, organizes around intersecting forms of indebtedness – from medical debt to criminal punishment debt, housing debt to student debt – that characterize life for working people, particularly in Black and Brown communities. Debt Collective frames the issue as less about personal responsibility and more about a financial industrial complex that targets, exploits, and extracts disproportionately from cultural communities under threat. It encourages debt holders, including artists, to collectivize their debt and their political voice to force debt relief and changes to the legal system to protect individuals from predatory financial practices. Debt Collective is part of a larger movement attempting to shift certain basic needs—education, food, shelter, and health—from being considered a privilege earned through private market participation to a human right. Its recent significant wins of student debt relief in 2022 have elevated conversations about how debt exacerbates the racial wealth gap.
AmbitioUS is providing a one-year $100K general operating grant to support The Debt Collective’s work to collectivize individual debt-holders to exert bargaining power against financial institutions for better practices, terms, and loan forgiveness.