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Anchor Institutions

Report Proposes Ways to Measure Colleges’ Impact on Communities

Andy Thomason
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Universities need better ways to measure their impact on surrounding communities, according to a new report.

“The Anchor Dashboard: Aligning Institutional Practice to Meet Low-Income Community Needs,” released on Tuesday by the Democracy Collaborative, a research center at the University of Maryland at College Park, seeks to provide the basis for such a methodology in the form of a broad set of goals for communities and indicators of progress toward those goals.

The report’s “dashboard” consists of 12 desired societal outcomes that “anchor” institutions like universities can work toward­, including affordable housing, educated young people, and a healthy environment. The report also offers specific ways to measure the progress being made toward each goal. For example, the amount of money an anchor institution spends on helping local residents file their income taxes can serve as an indicator for the goal of financially secure households.

New Student Initiative Asks Anchor Institutions to Rethink their Communities

An Interview with Alan Smith of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network


The Democracy Collaborative recently sat down with Alan Smith of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network to talk about their new Rethinking Communities Initiative. Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Roosevelt Institute promotes the work of progressive economist and social policy thinkers and supports the next generation of leaders as they design solutions to current pressing issues. Their Campus Network is the nation’s largest student policy organization with 115 chapters at colleges and universities in 38 states, working to further progressive ideas, civic leadership, and long-term change

Key Community Benefit Terms

Across the country, nonprofit hospitals are beginning to comply with a new federal requirement that they partner with community and public health representatives to identify and develop strategies for addressing community health needs. This requirement, found in the Affordable Care Act, builds on the best practices of leading hospitals and hospital systems that already strategically invest resources and build partnerships with community groups and public health leaders to improve community health. This one-page provides definitions for important terms to know.

Community Benefit and Anchor Institutions: Linkages and Opportunities

This webinar, organized by Community Catalyst and the Democracy Collaborative, explored how community benefit requirements, especially in the wake of new Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations governing Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA), can provide a powerful and effective framework to drive transformative community economic development.  

Read more about Community Benefit and Anchor Institutions: Linkages and Opportunities ...

Why Eds and Meds Matter for Community Economic Development

A response to Richard Florida's recent article in Atlantic Cities

Crossposted from Rooflines: The Shelterforce Blog

A recent article in Atlantic Cities by Richard Florida, titled "Where 'Eds and Meds' Industries Could Become a Liability," has caused a bit of a stir. The article warns that relying on anchor institutions such as local universities and hospitals (also known as “eds and meds”) for economic development is chancy. 

Oberlin College Adopts Impact Investing Platform

Likely largest higher education commitment to social investing in nation to date
A few weeks ago, Oberlin College, with an endowment of nearly $700 million, adopted what is likely the largest impact-investing platform to date by a college or university in the United States. Although Oberlin is just one institution, the decision provides a hopeful sign of an accelerating institutional shift toward greater socially responsible investment practices. A tremendous opportunity exists. Higher education as a sector controls more than $400 billion in endowment assets.

Will Our Universities Rekindle Their Public Purpose?

Anchor institution movement restores sense of public mission

Crossposted from Rooflines: The Shelterforce Blog

America’s colleges and universities are at a crossroads. For all too many students, a college education has become a major economic gamble. Over the past three decades, inflation-adjusted tuition has more than doubled at both public and private universities. Meanwhile, professors are harder to find: tenured and tenure-track professors have gone from roughly 45 percent of all teaching staff to less than a quarter since 1975. In short, students and their parents pay much more for much less faculty time. 

The Rise of Community Wealth Building Institutions

More people are turning to economic alternatives in which new wealth is built collectively and from the bottom up

Crossposted from Policy Network, and later published on the London School of Economics website, this blog is part of a debate event hosted by Policy Network in London, UK, that was reviewed in OurKingdom by grassroots activist James Doran:    

Five years after the financial crisis economic inequality in the United States is spiraling to levels not seen since the Gilded Age. While most Americans are experiencing a recovery-less recovery, the top one per cent of earners last year claimed 19.3 per cent of household income, their largest share since 1928. Moreover, income distribution looks positively egalitarian when compared to wealth ownership.

Boulder Gains Momentum in Fight for Green Public Utility

Local campaign seeks to hold back corporate efforts to undo election results

Green. Local. Not-for-profit. That’s the goal in Boulder, Colorado where grassroots activists and the local nonprofit New Era Colorado Foundation have been campaigning to turn the city’s private power source into a public utility in order to more aggressively pursue renewable energy options and reduce carbon emissions. Read more about Boulder Gains Momentum in Fight for Green Public Utility...

Done Right, Eliminating Food Deserts Result in Community Oases

Building community wealth every step of the way
Pogue’s Run Grocer Mural, an initiative of the Indy Food Co-op. © Indy Food Co-op
Building healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities requires more than “bottom up” solutions. The importance of community ownership to ensure that projects that start at the bottom result in lasting community wealth for the people involved is often missing from the discussion. The local foods movement provides examples that illustrate the importance of this ownership principle in practice.

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