Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF)

AITF 2015 Annual Conference: October 29-30, 2015 

Presentations from the 2014 conference are  available .

Anchor Institutions Task Force Literature Review


AITF Background

The Anchor Institutions Task Force has been convened as an organization to develop and disseminate knowledge to help create and advance democratic, mutually beneficial anchor institution-community partnerships. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was recently advised by a national Task Force, coordinated by the University of Pennsylvania, on how HUD could increase its impact and strategically leverage anchor institutions, (i.e. institutions of higher education and medical institutions) to improve communities and help solve significant urban problems.  Anchor institutions are enduring organizations that remain in their geographic places, and play an integral role in their communities and economies.

This Task Force functions as an ongoing think tank, developing long-term strategies, and making the case for the crucial role of anchor institutions in economic and community development. Communities cannot be revitalized and redeveloped without greater alignment across policy, institutions, civil society organizations (such as community based nonprofit organizations), and private resources (such as philanthropy). A new administration with a fresh vision presents an opportunity to develop and implement new strategies emphasizing partnerships that cross traditional boundaries.

Leveraging the resources of anchor institutions to address societal needs has recently gained increased attention, particularly with respect to community colleges, colleges, and universities, which bring a wide range of resources (e.g., financial, physical, and human) and maintain deep-rooted commitments to localities. As numerous communities have experienced capital flight, institutions of higher education have remained as critical anchors of stability.

The Task Force is an individual membership organization.  Individuals can join if they agree with the principles outlined in the statement of the Task Force. The general membership is free of charge.  The Task Force is designed to develop and disseminate knowledge and function as an advocacy and movement building organization to create and advance democratic, mutually beneficial anchor institution-community partnerships.

More About the Task Force:

What We Do    Management and Administration    Evolution    Become a Member   Leadership


Relevant Documents:

Task Force Statement    Retooling HUD Executive Summary    Retooling HUD Chapter 8     AITF Member Affiliations    

2013 AITF Annual Conference Highlights     2013 Literature Review

Thoughtful Pieces by Task Force Members:

Mega Sporting Events Can Bring Improvements by David Maurrasse

Journal of Higher Education, Outreach and Engagement, Volume 17(3) by a few AITF members in collaboration with others

Cooperating Across the Atlantic: Helping Realize Higher Education's Democratic Mission, by Sjur Bergan and Ira Harkavy

Anchor Institutions,  by U.S. Department of Housing and Development

Recent Speech by AITF Chair, Ira Harkavy

Democratic Devolution: How America's Colleges and Universities Can Strengthen Their Communities by Rita Axelroth Hodges and Ira Harkavy

The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads, new book by Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb

"What should Universities Do for Their Cities?" Zócalo Public Square, Responses by Nancy Cantor and Ira Harkavy among others

"It's Graduation Time-- So What Do We Want from Universities?" Huffington Post (May 26, 2011) by Nancy Cantor

The Promise and Prospects of Anchor Institutions: some thoughts on an emerging field" HUD  PD&R Edge (June 22, 2011) by Charles Rutheiser

Introductory Remarks at the  Reimagining Democratic Societies  Conference (June 27, 2011) by Ira Harkavy

Relevant Journal:

Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement

Task Force Members on the Air:

Ted Howard's interview with America's Tomorrow


Civic Opportunities Initiative Network

COIN is a network of young people, community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, and philanthropists dedicated to strengthening the education pipeline and promoting civic engagement.