Dear AITF Members:

The importance of anchors to the future of communities has never been clearer.  As we have been demonstrating since the onset of the pandemic, hospitals, universities, and cultural and municipal anchors have played a vital role in responding to dire circumstances. This is especially the case regarding community-centric anchor institutions, which meet the needs of underserved populations in their day-to-day operations.

The clarity of these circumstances inspired us to more directly explore how to influence policies that support anchor institutions to be democratically engaged partners in their communities. We have been distributing our inaugural policy brief, Pursuing Just and Equitable Communities, which we first released at the end of last year. All of you should feel free to distribute this brief widely, as it captures the essence of AITF’s thinking about the distinct significance of anchor institutions in the years to come.

This brief, which calls for a national Fund for Anchor Institutions and a National Anchor Institutions-Community Work Initiative, is the centerpiece of our upcoming webinar on April 19 at 1 pm Eastern, Anchor Institutions and Public Policy Toward Just and Equitable Communities. During this discussion, we will hear a national perspective from Kinnard Wright, Senior Grants Specialist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a local viewpoint from Tanisha Jumper, Director of Media and Communications, City of Tacoma. Neither Kinnard nor Tanisha is a stranger to AITF. Both have extensive experience working with anchor institutions. They will enhance our thinking about the necessary alignment between government and anchor institutions at all levels in order to pursue equitable growth in localities as we navigate an uncertain future. Please join us for this important and stimulating webinar. You can register here:


On another note, if you have not already done so, please find some time to read, Higher Education’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here is the full reference:

Bergan, S., Gallagher, T., Harkavy, I., Munck, R. and Land, H.V. eds (2021). Higher education’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic – Building a more sustainable and democratic future. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Higher Education Series No. 25.

AITF is featured prominently at various points throughout this edited collection of articles. It includes chapters by many AITF leaders, including Ira Harkavy, Founding Director, Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and AITF Founding Chair; Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University-Newark, and AITF Advisory Council Co-Chair; Jim Harris, President, University of San Diego, and AITF Advisory Council Member; Paul Pribbenow, President, Augsburg University, and longtime AITF member and active participant in AITF’s Higher Education Presidential Subgroup; Henry Taylor, Professor, University of Buffalo, who is a Founding Member of AITF.


This is one more reminder that the deadline for submissions for the 2022 cohort of the Anchor Fellows Program is May 1. Please spread the word about this important program, as it is our contribution to the next generation of anchor leaders who share AITF’s values. See the announcement here: 

Hopefully, many of you will be able to participate in our webinar and various other events throughout the year. We plan to hold a webinar in the fall, and our Subgroups are in the process of developing other programming as well.

Best Regards,


Here are some relevant resources and updates from our field:


Greater Louisville Inc. Launches Minority Business Accelerator in Partnership with Interise

Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) is continuing its commitment to inclusion and the advancement of minority-owned small businesses and professionals in the region through the launch of a new initiative, the Power to Prosper Minority Business Accelerator, powered by Interise. The program is designed for minority, small business owners who want to take their business to the next level within the region. This cohort style program will begin April 2021, and the application portal is live now. To learn more about GLI’s Power to Prosper Minority Business Accelerator and apply for the program, click here.

Bringing It #58: Announcing the Way Forward Podcast

Bringing Theory to Practice (BT2P) is a national project headquartered at Elon University, supporting that community and advancing its work of change. BT2P has launched a new podcast, The Way Forward: Higher Education in a Time of Crisis. The first season of podcast features some of the most visionary and thoughtful voices in higher education. The first episode of the season is a conversation with President Freeman Hrabowski of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Coming episodes include innovative leaders like Chancellor Nancy Cantor of Rutgers University-Newark, creative institution-builders like Adam Bush of College Unbound, and radical public scholars like Michelle Fine of the Graduate Center, CUNY. The podcast is available on the Apple StoreSpotifyStitcher, and Audible.


$20M Announced to Strengthen Broadband Infrastructure in Some Virginia Areas

March 18, 2021
Governor Ralph Northam has announced $20.1 million in Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grants to improve broadband infrastructure in 17 localities. The funding is designed to support 11 projects, connecting more than 13,400 households, businesses, and anchor institutions to high-speed internet, and leveraging $18.8 million in private and local investments, according to the governor.

These Apartments Offer You Health Care with Your Lease

March 16, 2021
Comunidad Partners is a real estate investment firm that buys apartment communities, renovates them, and manages them. Comunidad worked in tandem with a nonprofit called Veritas Impact Partners to bring a virtual healthcare program to Comunidad’s residents in San Diego, CA. Now 6,000 residents have access to free telehealth through their residence, not their job.

Gov. Pritzker Signs Community-Driven, Equity-Focused Healthcare and Hospital Transformation Bill

March 12, 2021
Chicago – Governor JB Pritzker today signed into law an equity-driven healthcare and hospital transformation plan that will invest in underserved communities, increasing access to community-based health services and creating innovative collaborations that bridge gaps in the delivery of care.

Online Survey Seeks Community Input on New San Diego Library Master Plan

March 10, 2021
San Diego residents can give their opinions on the future of the city’s 36-branch library system by participating in an online survey that will be available through April 17. The input will help city officials create a new library master plan in the post COVID-19 world. The plan will guide how branches operate, which services they provide and what role technology will play.

A Partnership to Help Fight COVID and Develop a STEM Career Pipeline

March 8, 2021
Working with the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI), University City District’s workforce development program, Penn Medicine is creating pathways to science careers for local jobseekers. Fifty newly hired laboratory assistants trained through WPSI will play a pivotal role in collecting and processing large quantities of testing samples within Penn Medicine.

Philly’s Biggest Employers Spend Billions Outside the City. Inside A New Effort to Bring That Money Home

March 4, 2021
Anchor institutions are typically influential and deep-pocketed, able to impact the civic landscape with their spending. But they are also, almost by definition, large enterprises that can get tangled up in internal bureaucracy and institutional inertia. Advocates are pushing the city’s universities, hospitals, and large companies to buy from local Black and brown-owned businesses to boost the economy.

Hip-hop Museum Would Be Far More than Just A Museum

March 1, 2021
It is exciting that the Universal Hip-Hop Museum will finally become a reality for the Bronx. The museum is a culmination of the many characteristics that make up the Bronx borough, and an excellent example of how well-planned initiatives can encourage economic development, and include community engagement and input. The founders have demonstrated a commitment to making the museum an anchor institution, promoting opportunities for creativity, and cultivating the vigorous artistic talent of the Bronx.

Public Libraries and the Pandemic: Digital Shifts and Disparities to Overcome

March 1, 2021
In the fall and winter of 2020, New America embarked on a snapshot study to gather data on how—or if—people were discovering, accessing, and using their public libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on materials that libraries made available online. Our findings, which include data from a national survey of 2,620 people, highlight the need for more inclusivity, more focus on providing internet access, and more awareness-raising initiatives with local organizations and schools.

Academic Journal Articles:

Classroom Teachers in the Community Schools Movement – A Social Justice Perspective

Too often, community schools are solely portrayed as a reform to provide wraparound services for students without adequate attention to the foundational role that educators play in creating and sustaining these schools. This article published by the American Federation of Teachers is about the social justice implications of Community Schools while emphasizing the role of teachers in the movement.
Reference: Quartz, K. H., Daniel, J., & Maier, A. (2020). Classroom Teachers in the Community Schools Movement: A Social Justice Perspective. American Educator, 44(1), 35.

An Engaged Community-Academic Partnership to Promote Positive Youth Development

In this paper, we discuss how we cultivated a sustainable community-academic partnership and describe how our community-based participatory research project, Bembé Drum and Dance, contributed to youth development. Bembé Drum and Dance is an Afro-Latino performing arts program based on the positive youth development theory. Forging and sustaining a community-academic partnership was a challenging and rewarding way to directly exchange knowledge and expertise among youth, adult community members, and academic partners and to contribute to the flourishing of young people.
Reference: Haglund, K., Ortiz, A., De Los Santos, J., Garnier-Villarreal, M., & Belknap, R. A. (2021). An Engaged Community-Academic Partnership to Promote Positive Youth Development. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, 13(2), 2.

Co-creating Local Socioeconomic Pathways for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

To contribute to overall national- and global-scale SDG achievement, local communities need to focus on a locally-relevant subset of goals and understand potential future pathways for key drivers which influence local sustainability. We developed a participatory method to co-create local socioeconomic pathways by downscaling the SDGs and driving forces of the shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) via a local case study in southern Australia through contextual analysis and community engagement.
Reference: Szetey, K., Moallemi, E. A., Ashton, E., Butcher, M., Sprunt, B., & Bryan, B. A. (2021). Co-creating local socioeconomic pathways for achieving the sustainable development goals. Sustainability science, 1-18.