How Funders Can Help Anchor Institutions Strengthen Local Economies

Posted October 12, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog anchoredinplace 2017

Local and nation­al fun­ders can play a pow­er­ful role in help­ing anchor insti­tu­tions build stronger com­mu­ni­ties, accord­ing to a new report fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Anchored in Place reveals how foun­da­tions across North Amer­i­ca are part­ner­ing with anchor insti­tu­tions — large orga­ni­za­tions like hos­pi­tals and uni­ver­si­ties — to dri­ve eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment local­ly. The report also explores case stud­ies in five areas — Albu­querque, Bal­ti­more, Chica­go, Den­ver and the Twin Cities — and shares lessons and rec­om­men­da­tions for funders.

Anchor insti­tu­tions are an impor­tant chap­ter in our nation’s long his­to­ry of com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment approach­es,” says Charles Rutheis­er, a senior asso­ciate at the Casey Foun­da­tion. We’re see­ing that it’s pos­si­ble for these insti­tu­tions to use their intel­lec­tu­al, social and finan­cial assets to bet­ter res­i­dents’ lives with­out sac­ri­fic­ing their bot­tom line.”

Accord­ing to the report, fun­ders can help anchor insti­tu­tions cre­ate health­i­er and more equi­table neigh­bor­hoods by pro­vid­ing sup­port beyond grants. These con­tri­bu­tions include:

  • finan­cial lever­age and strate­gic co-investments;
  • capac­i­ty build­ing and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties; and
  • research and eval­u­a­tion assistance.

It’s about more than just mon­ey,” says Rutheis­er. Some­times the most impor­tant roles that fun­ders can play are pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal assis­tance, con­ven­ing stake­hold­ers and shar­ing lessons and results.”

Rutheis­er co-chairs a work­ing group for Fun­ders’ Net­work, the orga­ni­za­tion that issued Anchored in Place. The group, called the Anchor Insti­tu­tions Fun­ders’ Group, aims to lever­age the pow­er of anchors to cre­ate eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties and stronger com­mu­ni­ties for low-income work­ers and small businesses.

The Casey Foun­da­tion is work­ing with oth­er mem­bers of the Anchor Insti­tu­tions Fun­ders’ Group to trans­late the report’s best prac­tices into con­crete poli­cies and to inspire oth­er large insti­tu­tions — includ­ing for-prof­it com­pa­nies, sports teams, libraries and muse­ums — to adopt anchor insti­tu­tion strategies.

In the months ahead, Casey will also begin devel­op­ing new part­ner­ships with anchors, com­mu­ni­ties and local gov­ern­ments — espe­cial­ly in the South and Southwest.

Read the Anchor Dashboard

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