The Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF) is a growing network of over 700 leaders promoting the engagement of anchor institutions—including colleges, universities, hospitals, community foundations, libraries, arts institutions, and other anchors—in community and economic development. The AITF 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.
Anchor institutions are enduring organizations that are rooted in their localities. It is difficult for them to leave their surroundings even in the midst of substantial capital flight. The challenge to a growing movement is to encourage these stable local assets to harness their resources in order to address critical issues such as education, economic opportunity, and health. It is difficult to imagine fragile local economies and widening social disparities changing without leveraging stable institutions, especially amidst a decline in government resources. These dynamics have given rise to the concept “anchors” as agents of community and economic development.
Since 2009, the AITF has hosted annual conferences, produced several publications, created professional development affinity groups, and established international partnerships.
AITF is an individual membership organization. Individuals can join if they agree with the AITF’s principles and values. The general membership is free of charge.
Core values of the Anchor Institutions Task Force include:
- Collaboration and Partnership
- Equity and Social Justice
- Democracy and Democratic Practice
- Commitment to Place and Community
In winter 2008-2009, a national task force was convened to advise the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on how HUD could increase its impact and strategically leverage anchor institutions, particularly higher education and medical institutions (“eds and meds”), to improve communities and help solve significant urban problems.
The anchor task force’s report, “Anchor Institutions as Partners in Building Successful Communities and Local Economies,” was published, by the Penn Institute for Urban Research, along with nine other reports in a volume titled Retooling HUD for a Catalytic Federal Government: A Report to Secretary Shaun Donovan (2009). Soon after the report’s publication, the ad hoc task force became a formal organization, the Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF).