Anchor Institutions

Democratic Devolution: How America’s Colleges and Universities Can Strengthen Their Communities

Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges

In a policy memo from the Progressive Policy Institute, Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania call on government to increase its support fo partnerships between communities and institutions of higher education. Given the immense resources available to colleges and universities, these anchor institutions have the potential to ground civic partnerships working to revitalize local communities. To do so, they must change their organizational structures and make civic engagement a core principle across all levels of the institution.  The federal government, by targeting existing resources, directing financial incentives and mobilizing the bully pulpit, can help catalyze this shift.

Researchers Propose Federal Strategy to Engage "Eds"

Five recommendations to encourage universities and colleges to adopt an anchor institution mission
Earlier this month, Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges, of the Netter Center of Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, released a Progressive Policy Institute paper calling for one type of anchor institution - universities and colleges - to contribute more to the public good.

HUD Honors Evergreen Cooperatives and the Cleveland Foundation

Project receives Secretary's Award for Community Foundations

The work of the Cleveland Foundation as a leader of the groundbreaking Evergreen Cooperatives initiative was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The new HUD Secretary's Award for Community Foundations, created in partnership with the Council on Foundations, was created to honor the important work being done across the country as foundations and the public sector find innovative strategies to build a more inclusive and sustainable society.

Leveraging Anchor Institutions for Local Job Creation and Wealth Building

Ted Howard and Steve Dubb

Co-published by two research centers of the University of California, Berkeley, this paper from the Democracy Collaborative explores the impact of anchor institutions on wealth building and job creation in low-income communities.

The Secretary’s Award for Community Foundations 2012, HUD Region 5, Cleveland Foundation

Housing and Urban Development

The Cleveland Foundation received the HUD Secretary's Award for Community Foundations for their work to catalyze the Evergreen Cooperatives. One of the inaugural ten recipients of this new award that recognizes community foundations for their leadership in housing and community development.

Washington Trust Charitable Foundation

The Washington Trust Charitable Foundation provides financial assets to programs and projects focused on affordable housing and revitalization, business and economic development, and hospital, health and human services that directly benefit underprivileged local residents.  In 2011, the fund distributed almost $500,000 in assistance, ranking it the 16th top-giving foundation in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and Women & Infants’ Hospital Partnership

Working together, these three hospitals cumulatively provided one million dollars in core support for the establishment of the South Providence Development Corporation (SPDC), which aims to foster business development and increase employment opportunities that renew the social, economic, and health status within Providence.  Some notable achievements of the partnership include: their job training and placement services resulted in placements for 216 neighborhood residents, they financed and launched CleanScape, a for-profit neighborhood-based recycling company, and assisted in the creation of two other local enterprises; together these three firms employ 26 local residents. The coalition has also purchased and restored vacant and deteriorating real estate to carry out their other major initiatives including the development of a cooperative child care center, a small business incubator, and expansion of the SPDC’s environmental business.

The Rhode Island Foundation

Founded in 1916, the Rhode Island Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country and the only one serving the state of Rhode Island.  In 2010, the foundation awarded 51 discretionary grants exceeding $1.7 million to increase the availability of affordable housing, provide ample rental and homeownership units, and increase job training and readiness that address the workforce needs of the communities.  In 2011, the foundation provided grants to 1,341 organizations including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Housing Action Coalition, and HousingWorks RI that work to foster community and economic development.

Ocean State Charities Trust

The Ocean State Charities Trust was established in 1981 to aid Rhode Island citizens with housing, healthcare, education, and welfare.  The Trust specifies that grant recipients must be a public charity, incorporated in Rhode Island, and awards grants on a semi-annual basis. In 2011, the trust approved over $305,000 worth of funds to organizations such as Jonnycake Center of Westerly and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, making them the 20th top-giving foundation in Rhode Island.

Dexter Donation Fund

Established in 1824 under the will of Ebenezer Knight Dexter, the Donation Fund supplies grants exceeding $2,000 to nonprofits working to ameliorate the conditions of the poor and improve the lives of Providence’s disadvantaged residents, through healthcare, housing, and capital improvement programs .  In 2011, the fund awarded $2,500 to organizations, such as Children’s Friend, that provide family support centers and rental assistance to unemployed parents.  The sale of Mr. Dexter’s 39-acre farm to Brown University for over one million dollars continues to fund the trust 179 years after its original establishment.

Champlin Foundations

Founded in 1932, the Champlin Foundations have distrubted over $460 million in direct grants, almost exclusively for capital needs, consisting of equipment, construction, renovation, the purchase of real estate property, and reduction of mortgage indebtedness, to tax exempt organizations throughout Rhode Island. The group aims to provide “hands on” equipment and facilities for those being served by local tax-exempt organizations. In 2011, the group approved 208 endowments and dispersed almost $19 million dollars to organizations such as Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need, Dorcas Place, and Community Works Rhode Island.

The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads

Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb

Authored by Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb as part of Michigan State University Press' series on Transformations in Higher Education, the book features ten in-depth cases and examines how universities, by pursuing an anchor institution mission to improve surrounding communities in cooperation with community partners, can positively impact the welfare of low-income residents.

Latino Community Foundation

The Latino Community Foundation (LCF) works to inspire a culture of philanthropy for and by Latinos, invest in Latino-based nonprofit organizations, and build and mobilize a California-wide network of donors and advocates to transform Latino communities.  Since 2008, LCF has invested more than $3 million in over 50 Latino-based organizations in 14 Northern California counties that have educated and empowered more than 100,000 children, youth, and their parents. Read more about Latino Community Foundation...

Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Neighborhoods Program

Founded in 1953, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund has awarded more than $475 million in grants. The Fund, now managed by their three children, continues to sponsor organizations and initiatives that advance and protect the fundamental rights and opportunities for all minorities through the development of diverse civic and cultural assets.  In 1994, the Fund launched the San Francisco Beacon Initiative to create safe community centers with programs tailored to the specific needs of neighborhoods. Read more about Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Neighborhoods Program...

Catholic Campaign for Human Development


Founded in 1969, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the domestic anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Catholic bishops. The grants, economic development, and education for justice programs of the Campaign, implemented in collaboration with local dioceses, are supported from an annual collection in U.S. Catholic parishes.

  Read more about Catholic Campaign for Human Development...