Highlights from the second Living Cities Integration Initiative Learning Community.

From June 21-23, representatives of the five Integration Initiative sites came together in Chicago with Living Cities members and staff for the second Learning Community. During the first day of the program, participants—including representatives of higher education and health care institutions—explored the roles of anchor institutions in revitalizing their communities. The second and third days of the program provided the teams from Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Newark and the Twin Cities with an opportunity to share their progress and challenges and learn from each other and national experts about topics ranging from financing to communications to leadership.

Anchors Away! An Exploration of Anchor Institutions’ Roles in Regional Economies

The first day of the Learning Committee got off to a rousing start with Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of the State University of New York, sharing her “5-Way Theory of Leadership,” honed from her work driving transformational change at SUNY, University of Cincinnati, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Mary Kay Leonard, President & CEO of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), introduced a framework for anchors that outlined seven potential roles to consider in developing community revitalization strategies. Charles Rutheiser, Senior Fellow at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, further empha

sized the need for anchors to create shared value and engage their communities because they are positioned to be key drivers of the U.S. economy in the 21st century. With these tools in hand, the participants–including representatives of 13 anchors– split up to learn about innovative efforts being championed by their peers in other parts of the country.

They heard presentations about the University of Pennsylvania’s procurement work, Syracuse University’s efforts on place-making and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Partners Healthcare personnel efforts. Participants then reconvened as a full group to learn about leading-edge anchor work happening in Integration Initiative cities including the Live, Hire, and Buy _Local _ strategy in Detroit; University Hospitals’ 80% local procurement on capital projects strategy in Cleveland and Johns Hopkins Health System’s personnel hiring, promotion and retention strategies in Baltimore.

Days 2 and 3: Smart Subsidy, Framing and Leadership

After the Anchor Session drew to a close, anchor representatives headed back to their communities, and our Integration Initiative site teams grew with the addition of their public sector and financial intermediary representatives. Over the next two days, forty site representatives explored themes of smart subsidy, framing complex issues, and leadership through featured addresses, informal conversations, group discussions, panels and workshops.

Smart Subsidy

The strategic use of capital is a key tenet of the Integration Initiative. In keeping with this tenet, Don Hinkle-Brown, Acting CEO of the The Reinvestment Fund, kicked off the session with a presentation on stretching and leveraging market capital through “smart subsidy.” Following the presentation and a small group discussion of examples of subsidy use, there was a wide-ranging discussion with a panel made up of moderator Kimberlee Cornett of the Kresge Foundation, Dudley Benoit of JPMorgan Chase, Allison Clark of the MacArthur Foundation and Hinkle-Brown.


The Learning Community also introduced participants to the power and necessity of effectively communicating about complex social issues like place and race. Tiffany Manuel, Director of Impact and Evaluation at the Frameworks Institute, led the group through an enlightening presentation built on the idea that, “we make inferences and judgments about specific social issues by using general cultural models.”


The themes of adaptive leadership and creating shared value were emphasized throughout the two days of the general session. Paula Ellis, the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation urged the Learning Community participants to take up deep and authentic engagement of community stakeholders to ensure that they not only have a voice, but ownership in the process to make change in their communities. Julia Stasch, Vice President of US Programs at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation echoed Ellis’s call for building a table where diverse stakeholders drive change, noting that after a decade of having such a structure in Chicago, “we see the value of [a] sustainable, multi-sector vehicle to address challenges and to take advantage of efforts we can’t yet foresee.” Kathy Merchant, President and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, shared how the one-table approach has been fundamental to the success of Strive, the multi-sector cradle to career education initiative which she chairs. She noted that in addition to creating a place to agree on a strategy which is moving the needle on children’s education success and has become a national model, it has also kept leaders at the table, even through major leadership changes.

Living Cities staff and members were excited to see the progress the Integration Initiative sites have made since the first Learning Community. Following this session, Living Cities will continue to support the integration of the ideas explored over the three days in Chicago. We’ll be moving the Frameworks Institute work forward through a webinar and engagement with the sites’ work, supporting peer-to-peer site visits, and developing our third Learning Community to be held this October. Stay tuned.