About Timebanks USA

TimeBanks USA, a registered 501c3 headquartered in Washington D.C., was formed in 1995 by Dr. Edgar S. Cahn to expand the knowledge and field of timebanking and its impact on individuals, youth, families, communities, the environment, and the world.

TimeBanks USA is committed to supporting timebanks and our partners to advance timebanking, offering keynotes and presentations by timebanking founder and TBUSA CEO Edgar Cahn; timebank training; individualized consultation; teleconference calls; and access to numerous resources and research in the field of timebanking.

TimeBanking’s Beginnings

In 1980, Edgar Cahn created TimeBanking (which he first called service credits) as a medium of exchange aimed at encouraging and rewarding the work needed to build strong, resilient communities. As Edgar explains: “Ronald Reagan was withdrawing funding for social programs. They were closing down. I thought that if there was going to be no more of the old money to support communities, we should create a new one.” 

The Grace Hill Settlement House in St. Louis, MO was the first organization to use service credits. The Settlement House had formed the MORE (Member Organization Resource Exchange) program in 1981. By adding service credits to the MORE program in 1984, Grace Hill expanded the breadth and depth of clients’ activities in MORE and in doing so, provided strong evidence to Edgar that his brainchild could really work.

Service credits were later named Time Dollars, and later still they took on other names as well, such as time credits and timebank hours. The term “timebanking” was coined in the UK around 1999, because the term “time dollar” was a poor fit for countries whose currencies, like the British Pound, didn’t use the word “dollar.” Being neutral, it quickly became the preferred term, even in the United States.  

The Mission of TimeBanks USA

The mission of TimeBanks USA is to promote equality and build caring community economies through inclusive exchanges of time and talents.

TimeBanks USA Brief History and Accomplishments

As the home of TimeBanking, TimeBanks USA laid the foundations for an expanding network of independent TimeBanks. Since it was founded in 1995, TBUSA has fostered the spread of TimeBanking by providing presentations, courses, manuals, guide-books and materials, workshops, conferences, strategic planning, and mentoring for communities and organizations at grass-roots, professional, academic and policy levels. We created and now host and provide technical support for Community Weaver software, which is used to manage TimeBank activities such as listing TimeBank participants, showing their availability, logging their TimeBank activities, and providing extensive reports on levels of activity in the TimeBank.

TimeBanks USA has worked closely with organizations applying timebanking on many different fronts. Here’s a quick list:

  • young children in elementary schools, (Chicago School District)
  • teens in juvenile justice systems, (DC Superior Court, Dane County Timebank)
  • families coping with emotional disorder, (Blended Funding, King County, Washington)
  • seniors wanting to stay at home, and needing to feel they matter, (Onion River Exchange)
  • artists and musicians sharing the costs of daily living, (Arroyo Seco Timebank)
  • patients in hospice and their loved ones, (Community Exchange, LeHigh Valley Hospital, PA)
  • prisoners in and returning from jail, (The Homecomers Initiative, Phelps Stokes, DC)
  • refugees and asylum seekers seeking to rebuild community, (Holy Cross Center, London, UK)
  • social workers redefining their role from providers to co-producers, (University of Utah, Graduate School of Social Work)
  • regular, everyday people seeking to make bridges, not walls, between people, (Hundreds of timebanks)

Governance of TimeBanks USA

Edgar Cahn, as the organization’s founder, is chair of the board, and CEO. The governance of this organization is carried out by a six member board of directors, which reviews organization finances and capacities, ensuring that they are directed in effective ways toward TBUSA’s mission. Board members raise funds for TBUSA, deliberate on and advise on the strategic directions of the organization, and have fiduciary responsibility for TBUSA.

Board of Directors

Edgar Cahn, CEO & Chairman of the Board

Dr. Edgar S. Cahn is the creator of Time Dollars and the founder of TimeBanks USA, as well as the co-founder of the National Legal Services Program and the Antioch School of Law (now the David A. Clarke School of Law).

He is the author of No More Throw Away People: The Co-Production Imperative, Time Dollars (co-author Jonathan Rowe, Rodale Press, 1992), Our Brother’s Keeper: The Indian in White America, (1972) and Hunger USA.

More details about Edgar Cahn’s career of service in furtherance of social justice can be found on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_S._Cahn

Debra Frazier

Founder, Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg TimeBank; Liaison, Bread for the City TimeBank; Co-Chair DCPS Head Start Policy Council; Staff Associate, Office of Parent Affirst, DC Public Schools; Community Organizer, Washington Area Council on Alcohol andDrug Abuse; MA International Studies in Human Ecology, Howard University; Masters Program in Demography, Georgetown; Census Bureau International Statistics Program

Christine Gray

Joining TimeBanks USA in 1999 as a volunteer, then as Associate for Special Projects, Christine became CEO of TimeBanks USA  in 2009-2011 and joined the Board in 2012. Dedicated to spreading TimeBanking, she continues to take on multiple roles, including training, writing articles, making presentations, and partnering with community organizers at the grass-roots level.

Christine secured her doctoral degree in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2011. Her doctoral thesis was published as The Tribal Moment in American Politics: The Struggle for Native American Sovereignty in June, 2013 by the Alta Mira Press.  http://www.amazon.com/Christine-K.-Gray/e/B00BU7Z0G6

Kathy Perlow

Membership Coordinator, Community Exchange TimeBank in Allentown, PA with 700 individual members and 20 organizational partners. Volunteer Coordinator for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Eastern Chapter of PA. Co-author “Community-Based Participatory Research Shows How a Community Initiative Creates Networks to Improve Well-Being”, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December 2009 and “Time Banking and Health: The Role of a Community Currency Organization in Enhancing Well-Being”, Health Promotion Practice, August 5, 2010.

Sheryl Walton

Sheryl Walton, MPH, is a community health educator specializing in supporting residents, parents, community groups, and agencies seeking to build on the assets and strengths of low-income, multi-cultural communities to improve health and quality of life.

Sheryl’s areas of experience include planning, training, and technical assistance in the broad field of community-based public health, with an emphasis in resident leadership development and engagement, root causes of racial and ethnic health inequities, community-based participatory research and evaluation, policy and media advocacy, economic development and health, and community organizing. She prides herself on integrating community residents’ perspective with public health prevention methodologies.

Sheryl is co-author of “Building Local Government and Resident Partnerships to Improve Health: Lessons From the Field,” in Community Organizing & Community Building for Health.

Polly Wiessner

Polly Wiessner is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah.  Her work has examined  the evolution of reciprocity cooperation and  social networks, conducting longterm fieldwork among the J u/’ hoansi  Bushmen of Southern Africa and the Enga of Papua New Guinea.

Beginning in 2005, Polly led an effort to raise funds to build the Enga Take Anda, house of traditional knowledge, with the goal of keeping Enga culture and identity alive in these rapidly changing times. The Enga Take Anda opened in 2009 and has become a dynamic hub for Enga cultural  activities and the education of Enga youth.