When you read the news, it’s hard not to find stories about the social and economic challenges facing cities and regions across the United States - including the ills of mass incarceration and plague of crumbling infrastructure.
At Living Cities, we work hard to equip practitioners and local leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to tackle these challenges. We see a future in which cross-sector leaders come together to build a #NewUrbanPractice aimed at achieving dramatically better results for low-income people.
This week, we’re sharing some of the more sobering stories we’ve read - followed by information on what we see as the most promising practices for tackling our nation’s most pressing issues.
Poverty and Inequality
Jails Have Become Warehouses for the Poor, Ill and Addicted, Report Says - By Timothy Williams, The New York Times
The New York Times highlighted a recent report from the Vera Institute that found that jails across the country have become ‘vast warehouses made up primarily of people too poor to post bail or too ill with mental health or drug problems to adequately care for themselves.’ At Living Cities, we have spent a lot of time in the last year examining how mass incarceration ravages communities, particularly communities of color and leads to often insurmountable barriers to opportunity. This is one of the reasons that we have invested in two Pay for Success initiatives that are tackling issues of recidivism. I am excited about Living cities member the MacArthur Foundation’s announcement on Wednesday that it would invest $75 million over five years in 20 jurisdictions that are seeking alternatives to sending large numbers of people to jail.
Recommended by Nadia Owusu, Assistant Director, Strategic Communications and Storytelling
Private Capital, Public Good: Getting $150 Billion Annual Infrastructure Spend on America’s To-Do List - By Robert Puentes and Patrick Sabol, Brookings
Robert Puentes and Patrick Sabol explore one tool to bring more resources to America’s infrastructure investment needs—public-private partnerships. In this paper, Puentes and Sabol look at features of P3 collaborations and evaluate factors that lead to success and failure. The report has lessons and useful frameworks for practitioners, local leaders, and policymakers.
Recommended by Brian Nagendra, Senior Investment Associate, Capital Innovation
Evidence Based Decision Making
7 Principles for Effective Data Sharing - StriveTogether and the Data Quality Campaign
The use of data to drive decision-making and provide feedback on strategies and activities is a key component of Collective Impact. Yet as most practitioners can attest to, building the robust data infrastructure needed to achieve this is often easier said than done. To address this need, StriveTogether and the Data Quality Campaign recently released a resource – “Data Drive School-Community Collaboration: 7 Practices for Effective Data Sharing” – to offer best practices for building a data system that lets you scale what works and improve decision-making at all levels.
Recommended by Juan Sebastian Arias, Program Associate, Collective Impact
Who Gets Credit for Collective Impact? - By Bill Barberg, GMNsight
Bill Barberg examines a tough question related to collective impact: Who gets credit? Many collaborative initiatives struggle with how to divide up the credit for joint successes (and failures). Barberg uses two analogies—a large corporation and a sports team—to recommend ways initiatives can manage sharing of credit. He says funders should not reward individual organizations for joint successes, but instead focus on supporting collaborative strategies.
Recommended by Jeff Raderstrong, Program Associate, The Integration Initiative
Next Steps in Impact Investing - By Melanie Audette, Mission Investors Exchange
Because the social and environmental issues we face today are too big for any one sector to tackle alone, it is urgent for impact investors to work together. Melanie Audette, Deputy Director of Mission Investors Exchange shares her takeaways from a recent Ford Foundation discussion about impact investing.
Recommended by Tonya Banks, Senior Administrative Associate, Capital Innovation
Image credit: Homeless Life in Santa Cruz, CA by Flickr user, Franco Folini. CC by 2.0.