1. Invest in Work that is Already Moving. Philanthropy often funds the creation of new programs and organizations. This approach makes it difficult to determine if there is true demand for the program, as well as the political will to keep the work going after the grant money runs out. To ensure our investment has enduring impact, Living Cities has chosen to structure The Integration Initiative to invest in work that is already moving forward. Throughout our selection process, our focus was on identifying and investing in locally-developed efforts that were already working to address complex social issues impacting low-income people in cities. Because in-motion efforts already have leadership in place, a community-validated strategy, and local resources at the table, we contend that investing in them will yield greater and more sustainable impact than an investment in a new effort.
2. Align Activities to Achieve Greater Impact. It’s not uncommon for one community to have multiple funders—state, Federal and philanthropic—supporting different organizations to do similar work. In the Twin Cities, the Corridors of Opportunity (COO) initiative is utilizing the region’s emerging transit system as a development focus for expanding access to jobs, affordable housing and essential services for all residents. The work has attracted a handful of large investments from funders including Living Cities, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Ford Foundation. But the COO has taken on a practical, albeit novel, approach to ensure the efficient use of funds and integrity of their strategy. Rather than governing and evaluating the work separately for each funder, the COO has aligned these funding streams under one governance board which will oversee an evaluation process that includes the necessary metrics for reporting to all of their funders. By coordinating investment, governance and reporting in their work, the Corridors of Opportunity initiative has ensured the most efficient use of funds while maintaining the discipline of the Minneapolis-St. Paul region’s strategic priorities.