Class of 2013—Labor/Community Partnerships

The Community Innovators Lab’s Mel King Community Fellows Program is dedicated to the legacy of Mel King, a still-active champion of cities and the communities they comprise. Mel King initiated the Community Fellows Program in 1970 when he was an adjunct professor at MIT. The program offered Fellows a year-long sabbatical at MIT, where they could reflect, conduct research, acquire skills, and build new relationships.


The CoLab Mel King Community Fellows program builds upon a 40-year-old tradition of bridging practice-based knowledge and academic research. However, instead of undertaking a year of study at MIT, current Fellows continue working in their respective sites while simultaneously deepening their connections with each other. CoLab staff, students, and faculty affiliates support Fellows as they undertake self-directed mutual learning projects. To date, CoLab has hosted three classes of Mel King Community Fellows.

Mel King Fellows are recognized leaders in communities across the country and have experience in a range of social justice pursuits. The program’s goal is to create a dispersed learning network among the Fellows for co-creating knowledge. Fellows focus on exploring emerging issues in cities at the local level, investigating longstanding debates about deepening democracy and improving their understanding of the connections between economic justice and democracy – economic democracy. MIT faculty may recommend candidates for the Mel King Community Fellows Program.

Selection Process

Program Design


Class of 2013

The 2013 MIT CoLab Mel King Community Fellows (MKCF) program is focused on labor/community partnerships and innovative approaches to organizing worker power. It will have a particular focus on exploring the applicability of the Mondragon worker cooperative model to the US context. The class brings together a strategic grouping of labor and community leaders from around the country who are interested in investigating new frameworks for advancing worker power and economic democracy – and working more effectively together. The Mel King Class of 2013 are seasoned leaders. They are concerned with the current state of US-based social movements and are pursuing new ideas and directions. From May 2013-May 2014, they will spend time reflecting about how social justice, worker and labor movements in the US could benefit from innovative approaches to organizing workers’ economic power and building labor-community collaborations. It is hoped that through this Fellowship, they will build strategic relationships with each other with a view toward helping each other strengthen their movements and make stronger connections to economic democracy. The MKCF at MIT CoLab provides the shared space for deliberation and facilitates a six-month-long collective leadership journey.

Fellowship Experiences Will Include

The Mondragon Experience

Expected Fellowship Outcomes Include