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.