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Report: More MN Leaders Could Team Up for Change

Augsburg is an anchor institution that has developed robust partnerships with the surrounding community. (Ed Kohler/FlickR)
Augsburg is an anchor institution that has developed robust partnerships with the surrounding community. (Ed Kohler/FlickR)
September 21, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota's hospitals, colleges and other major institutions do a lot to help the cities where they're based. But a new report says they could do more by working together.

They're often called "anchor institutions," and the report from the Funders Network featured examples from Minnesota that are helping to strengthen high-poverty communities.

Charles Rutheiser is a senior associate in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Civic Sites and Community Change, a member of the network. He explained that charitable foundations are looking to fund these types of collaborations.

"Anchor institutions are a new and important chapter in the long history of approaches to community development in the United States,” Rutheiser said. "These institutions can partner, invest and act in new and different ways without sacrificing their bottom line."

The report cited the Green Line in the Twin Cities as a good example of how anchor institutions help strengthen neighborhoods. The anchors not only procure supplies and services from communities along the Green Line, but also train workers who live there.

The report said individual anchor institutions have the potential for great impact, but a network of anchors might accomplish even larger-scale change. And Rutheiser said many different kinds of institutions could participate.

"And this includes for-profit corporations, sports teams, libraries, museums," he said, "all these other kinds of institutions that we take as a fact of our urban landscape, but may or may not be particularly tied into what's happening, literally, across the street.”

Eric Muschler, program officer with the McKnight Foundation, said the idea is to look locally, but also look ahead.

"When we think about the changing demographics in the state, it's going to be really important that the local economies are inclusive local economies,” Muschler said, "because we're looking at our future workforce and the future stability of our communities."

He said the University of Minnesota could function as an anchor institution from its campuses across the state. And so could many other businesses and nonprofits. Besides the Twin Cities, the report includes examples from Albuquerque, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN