Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF)

What is the Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF)?

The Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF) is an action-oriented learning community of nearly 1000 individual members in the U.S. and abroad. Founded in 2009, AITF emerged out of a national task force that was convened to advise the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on how it could increase its impact and strategically leverage anchor institutions, particularly higher education and medical institutions (“eds and meds”), to improve the economic, social and civic health needs of communities.

AITF functions as a think tank and movement-building organization working to deepen and extend the democratic engagement of anchor institutions in their neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Over time, AITF has continued to grow and to emphasize the importance of a cross-sector and collaborative anchor approach to meeting the needs of communities. Members of AITF represent anchor institutions from a range of fields including, education, economic development, health, and arts among others. All members share a deep commitment to the following values:

  • Equity and Social Justice
  • Democracy and Democratic Practice
  • Place and Community
  • Collaboration and partnership

Since 2009, the AITF has hosted annual conferences, produced publications, organized webinars, created professional development affinity groups, and established international partnerships. AITF is an individual membership organization and individuals can join if they agree with AITF’s principles and values. The general membership is free of charge.

What is an Anchor Institution

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.

What We Do         Management and Administration          Additional Information

AITF Subgroups

AITF has developed dues-paying professional development subgroups to provide an opportunity for members with common interests to engage in peer learning and exchange. Each Subgroup is facilitated by Marga staff and meets four times a year. AITF’s current Subgroups include:


  • Economic Development Subgroup

    The Economic Development Subgroup is composed of a diverse team of highly specialized and dedicated university representatives who have devoted their careers to working on issues of economic, social, and racial equity. The Subgroup provide a forum to exchange ideas, promising practices, and successes as well as discuss challenges that arise when trying to foster stronger University-Community relationships.

    For more information on the Subgroup, including how to join, please contact Jennifer Bryan at

  • Health Professionals Subgroup

    The purpose of the Health Professionals Subgroup is to provide a forum for professionals in various health fields to share ideas, best practices, and challenges about how anchors can effectively address health disparities and enhance the well-being of their communities. Current Subgroup members are committed to addressing health equity and Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) in order to improve health outcomes.

    For more information on the Subgroup, including how to join, please contact Sharmila Lawrence at

  • Higher Education Presidents Subgroup

    The Higher Education Presidents Subgroup serves as an ongoing forum for peer learning and exchange among members of the AITF who are college or university presidents. The Subgroup helps to strengthen how college and university presidents continue to build a case for deepening the local engagement of their institutions and infuse a commitment to community partnerships throughout their campuses. The Subgroup also includes an Education Subcommittee, which provides a forum for sharing about the ways in which local partnerships can expand social mobility for children and youth from underserved communities by strengthening educational and career opportunities. Members of the Higher Education Presidents Subgroup appoint representatives from their institutions to the Education Subcommittee.

    For more information on the Subgroup or Subcommittee, including how to join, please contact David Maurrasse at

Journal on Anchor Institutions and Communities