December, 2021

AITF Highlights

Welcome to this December issue of AITF News. As usual, feel free to share your thoughts on how AITF can be a useful resource.

AITF’s Latest Subgroup – Anchor Partnership

The emergence of collaborative initiatives involving multiple anchor institutions in a locality or region is a notable development in the anchor movement. The COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored the need for greater collaboration and coordination across sectors within the ecosystem of enduring organizations in a geographic setting. As the Anchor Institutions Task Force continues to promote the essential role that anchor institutions can play in solving pressing problems along with local partners, AITF is creating an Anchor Partnerships Subgroup.

As we have observed the evolution of this field, it has become increasingly apparent that many locally engaged anchor institutions are concluding that they can have a greater impact. Some government agencies and locally-focused philanthropic institutions have also begun to recognize the potential of multi-institutional, multi-stakeholder, cross-sector community partnerships. Amidst the proliferation of anchor partnerships, there is a need for greater understanding of the potential of these dynamic creations. AITF’s new Subgroup, like its other existing ones, will become a forum for learning exchange and mutual support among peers. But the added complexity of multiple anchor institutions jointly pursuing common ends, sometimes in tandem with government and philanthropy, requires substantial attention. It is crucial to create spaces that enable mutual learning that participants in anchor partnerships can bring back to their home communities and enhance their value.

While some anchor partnerships, such as Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA) in Hartford, Connecticut, which has been in existing for over forty years, most anchor partnerships have been created in the last few years. The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership in Minneapolis, MN was created over a decade ago. The Newark Anchor Collaborative in Newark , New Jersey has been in existence for a few years, and is entering a next phase in its development. The St. Petersburg Anchor Institutions Initiative in St. Petersburg, Florida was created only a few months ago. This range of types of anchor partnerships at different stages of development in varying parts of the U.S. will be represented in the new Subgroup.

The Subgroup is officially launching in early 2022. AITF is taking inventory of the various anchor partnerships in existence, and creating a comprehensive database. In November, AITF will bring numerous anchor partnerships – their coordinating agents and their member institutions – together, likely in person in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. Stay tuned for further details in the coming months. If you want to learn more about the Anchor Partnerships Subgroup, contact

AITF Happenings

Numerous AITF meetings took place in November, as the various subgroups convened. The Advisory Council also held its annual meeting to discuss AITF’s 2022 priorities, such as the continued development of the Subgroup model, the policy influence strategy, the Anchor Fellows, a new Leadership Guide, and others.

AITF’s policy brief continues to be circulated to various legislative staff, public officials, think tanks, and others.  A statewide strategy is in development, which involves identifying a Senator, who will be receptive to the brief’s recommendations for a Fund for Anchor Institutions and a Work Initiative, developing targeted communication to this lawmaker regarding these ideas and their benefit to the state in question, and a support letter to this lawmaker signed by various anchor leaders within the state. This approach will be continually refined throughout 2022. We believe it can bring about impact at national, statewide, and local levels.  If you think this policy influence approach could work in your state, contact for details and insights.

As the 2022 cohort of Anchor Fellows will begin their year of activities, AITF will distribute the call for proposals for the 2023 cohort in January. The deadline for submissions, as in prior years, will be at the end of April.

Later in the year, AITF will publish a Leadership Guide for aspiring, emerging, and existing anchor leaders on how to build and sustain a commitment to community engagement internally and externally. This tool will be applied in various settings. The idea for this effort emerged in AITF’s Higher Education Presidential Subgroup, which recognized the need for new action in order to both build a pipeline of anchor leaders committed to AITF’s values and bring practical guidance, based on the experiences of anchor leaders, toward ensuring a robust commitment to mutually transformative partnerships in localities.

AITF would like to wish you a joyous holiday season and a promising start to 2022. We look forward to continually engaging regarding AITF’s important portfolio of activities as they evolve.

Resources from the Field


Webinar: Establishing a fund for anchor institutions and national work initiative: pursuing just and equitable communities in light of COVID-19 Monday, December 13, 1–2 p.m. ET

The Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF) has been circulating a policy brief calling for a Fund for Anchor Institutions and a Work Initiative, both of which would create greater alignment between government at all levels and anchor institutions toward rebuilding and reimagining communities in the years to come. AITF Director David Maurrasse and leaders of anchor institutions from AITF’s membership—Nancy Cantor, chancellor, Rutgers University-Newark and Paul Pribbenow, president, Augsburg University—will discuss the policy brief, the need to strengthen and expand the democratic engagement of anchor institutions in their communities, and the experiences of anchor institutions in partnerships that are confronting the most pressing issues facing localities.

Register via this link.


Webinar: Exploring the Anchor Economy Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is pleased to invite you to Exploring the Anchor Economy, a virtual event exploring the impacts of higher education and health care on local and regional economies. Members of network organizations, such as the Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF), the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), and the Healthcare Anchor Network; those working in the community development field; public health officials; academic researchers; nonprofit leaders; and others interested in learning more about anchor economies are encouraged to attend this event.

Register via this link.



Neighborhood Democracy Building Anchor Partnerships Between Colleges and Their Communities

Richard Guarasci

Higher education and America stand at a perilous moment brought about by economic and social inequality, racism, and the fracture of civic cohesion and structures. This book argues that higher education can and must again take leadership in promoting the participatory processes and instilling the democratic values needed to build a vibrant and fair society. How to do that when, as Guarasci argues, a majority of colleges and universities are floundering under a business model that generates insufficient net revenue while making college unaffordable? 

Learn more about the book.


LOI: Reimagining Public Systems: Centering Racial Equity to Serve Youth, Families, and Communities – December 15

The Stoneleigh Foundation is pleased to announce a Request for Letters for Reimagining Public Systems: Centering Racial Equity to Serve Youth, Families, and Communities. We invite individuals to submit new ideas to improve or redefine the policies, practices, norms, and systems that will impact youth, families, and communities for decades to come. Letters of Inquiry are due by December 15, 2021.

Learn more and apply via this link.

News & Articles

A Workforce Program Delivers More Recruits to Philly Shipyard – Posted by Philadelphia Inquirer

November 29 – Established a decade ago by the University City District, the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative matches job seekers with anchor institutions, including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and SEPTA. That model is now being replicated across town at the Navy Yard, with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.

Democracy is Under Attack. Here’s What HE Must Do about It – Posted by University World News

November 26 – In times of crisis we turn to individuals who are willing to take risks and demonstrate leadership rather than those who simply want to do their job. By an unwillingness to engage with the great socio-political crisis of our time, we doom colleges and universities to irrelevance and threaten their very survival. We must act.

Reimaging Community Engagement for a Post-Covid World – Posted by Inside Higher Ed and Quoted from PHENND

November 23 – While the notion of community engagement is not novel, evolving approaches to community engagement are now more necessary than ever as we look toward a post-pandemic higher education. We must reimagine how such college and community partnerships can progress to meet the changing needs of our institutions and the communities in which they are situated.

Colby College, Other Maine Locals Help Revive Hard-Hit Former Mill Town – Posted by Forbes

November 19 – Not long ago, Waterville, Me., was a city of empty storefronts, with its streets in disrepair. Now, some 25 new businesses have set up shop in the downtown over the past four years or so, including everything from a bagel shop to a vintage clothing and furniture store. That’s just part of what’s happening in the once-struggling former mill town, thanks to a coordinated effort to revive the city. Driven in large part by investment from Colby College, located two miles away, along with the Central Maine Growth Council and others, the initiative is transforming the downtown, attracting new businesses and jumpstarting an economic revival. Population is growing, after years of decline, as are property values.

Boston Medical Center Launches New Plan to Address Racial Disparities in Health Care – Posted by the Boston Globe

November 16 – Boston Medical Center, the safety-net hospital where the majority of patients identify as people of color, is launching a broad new effort to pinpoint racial inequities in health care and work to eliminate those disparities for Black and brown people. The initiative announced Tuesday, called the Health Equity Accelerator, will bring together researchers and clinicians and include feedback from patients to address longstanding discrepancies in health care and outcomes. BMC also worked with community groups and set up clinics at churches and other neighborhood sites. The hospital shared vaccine information with patients in Spanish, Haitian Creole, and other languages.

Governor DeWine and Anchor Institutions Provide Progress Update on Cleveland Innovation District – News from JobsOhio

November 8 – The partnership between JobsOhio, the Ohio Department of Development, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, The MetroHealth System, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University will attract fast-growing businesses and in-demand talent, create 20,000 jobs over ten years and establish a pathogen center with global reach to improve the lives of millions.

California University All In with Partnerships South of the Border – Posted by Fox5 San Diego

November 5 – The University of San Diego says it is deepening its history of community engagement in Tijuana, Mexico, by becoming a bigger player in research, industry, business and the arts in the region. USD is introducing a multipurpose workspace at the Business Innovation and Technology Center south of the border created for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners so they can collaborate directly with Tijuana business leaders and policymakers.

Addressing Rural Health Inequalities as An Anchor Institution – Posted by Rural Services Network

October 28 – Dorset County Hospital is the main provider of acute hospital services, and the largest employer, in West Dorset, UK. As well as providing health services to its local community, it employs over two and a half thousand people; spends millions of pounds each year on goods and services and has a major impact on its local environment. As such, it is an anchor institution and has an important role to play in both the social and economic development of its communities following the pandemic. Fundamental to this is the hospital’s Social Value pledge which commits to reduce avoidable inequalities and improve health and wellbeing across our community.

Universities Can Use Their Influence to Fight Inequality – Posted by University World News

October 14 – Universities are the single most influential institutions in societies all over the world. They are centers of ideas, discoveries, technological development and culture and engines of local, national and global economics. As such they also have the potential to perpetuate inequalities and social injustice, according to Dr. Ira Harkavy, associate vice-president and founding director of the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.

Academic Journal Articles & Reports

Journal: Metropolitan Universities Journal, Vol 32, N0. 2. Link
Report: Cunningham, N. M., Conner, D., Kaskey, L., Leighton, H., & Allison, P. (2021). Anchoring Communities Throughout COVID-19: Results from the 2020 Healthy Food in Health Care Survey in New England. Link
Journal Article: Jordaan, M., & Mennega, N. (2021). A Community-University Partnership: Responding to COVID-19 in South Africa via the University of Pretoria’s Community Engagement Initiative. Alliance for African Partnership Perspectives, 1(1), 117-123. Link