New Initiative Harnesses Higher Ed’s Role in Strengthening Local Communities

Posted May 4, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Colleges and universities across the United States have joined the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative.

Thir­ty-one schools across the Unit­ed States have been select­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the High­er Edu­ca­tion Anchor Mis­sion Ini­tia­tive. This new effort, which is fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, aims to help col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties strate­gi­cal­ly lever­age their capac­i­ty to strength­en local communities.

The ini­tia­tive is a joint project of the Coali­tion of Urban and Met­ro­pol­i­tan Uni­ver­si­ties (CUMU) and the Democ­ra­cy Col­lab­o­ra­tive. Both orga­ni­za­tions have been work­ing with the Foundation’s sup­port to help anchors — large insti­tu­tions like hos­pi­tals and uni­ver­si­ties — use their intel­lec­tu­al, social and finan­cial assets to dri­ve eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty and trans­form dis­in­vest­ed neigh­bor­hoods into thriv­ing communities.

U.S. col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties col­lec­tive­ly employ over 4 mil­lion peo­ple, spend over $43 bil­lion each year and hold over half a tril­lion dol­lars in their endow­ments,” says Ted Howard, pres­i­dent of The Democ­ra­cy Col­lab­o­ra­tive. Imag­ine if those resources were invest­ed in our nation’s most under-served com­mu­ni­ties. The poten­tial is enormous.”

Through in-per­son and online activ­i­ties, the 31 par­tic­i­pat­ing insti­tu­tions will share insights on set­ting strate­gic goals, imple­ment­ing polices, col­lect­ing data and engag­ing key stake­hold­ers to advance their work as anchors. Ulti­mate­ly, the schools will strive to use their hir­ing, pur­chas­ing and invest­ing pow­er to increase oppor­tu­ni­ties for low-income res­i­dents in local neighborhoods.

Whether pub­lic or pri­vate, our mem­bers share a sense of oblig­a­tion to their com­mu­ni­ties,” says Bob­bie Laur, CUMU’s exec­u­tive direc­tor. This ini­tia­tive will guide uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try to expand cur­rent col­lab­o­ra­tive work and to form more strate­gic part­ner­ships that improve eco­nom­ic and social well-being.”

Mem­bers of the High­er Edu­ca­tion Anchor Mis­sion Ini­tia­tive also belong to CUMU’s exist­ing net­work. In addi­tion, six insti­tu­tions par­tic­i­pat­ed in The Democ­ra­cy Collaborative’s Anchor Dash­board Learn­ing Cohort with an end goal of devel­op­ing new ways to track how anchor strate­gies impact com­mu­ni­ties. These six insti­tu­tions are: SUNY Buf­fa­lo State, Cleve­land State Uni­ver­si­ty, Drex­el Uni­ver­si­ty, Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty-Newark, Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri-St. Louis and Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth University.

The col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties par­tic­i­pat­ing in the High­er Edu­ca­tion Anchor Mis­sion Ini­tia­tive are:

  • Augs­burg University
  • Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty Los Angeles
  • Cleve­land State University
  • Col­lege of Stat­en Island
  • Drex­el University
  • Flori­da Atlantic University
  • George­town University
  • Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty Northwest
  • Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty-Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty Indianapolis
  • Johns Hop­kins University
  • Mar­quette University
  • Met­ro­pol­i­tan State Uni­ver­si­ty (Minneapolis/​St. Paul)
  • Met­ro­pol­i­tan State Uni­ver­si­ty of Denver
  • Port­land State University
  • Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty Northwest
  • Rut­gers University-Camden
  • Rut­gers University-Newark
  • SUNY Buf­fa­lo State
  • Tow­son University
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Arkansas at Lit­tle Rock
  • The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chicago
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Denver
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisville
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Michigan-Dearborn
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri-St. Louis
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Pittsburgh
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of San Diego
  • Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth University
  • Wag­n­er College
  • Weber State University
  • York Uni­ver­si­ty

Read more about Casey’s anchor investments

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