A New Report From TFN’s Anchor Institutions Funders’ Group

Anchor institutions can play a vital role in strengthening and connecting local economies, and can serve as powerful drivers for building inclusive and equitable communities.

new report issued this week by the Funders’ Network as part of our Anchors Institution Funders’ Group examines the potential these deeply rooted local enterprises hold to create lasting and sustainable change—and illustrates how funders are working with anchor institutions to create healthier, more equitable, and economically vibrant places to live and work.

Anchored in Place: How Funders Are Helping Anchor Institutions Strengthen Local Economies offers recommendations for funders looking to deepen and refine their strategies for working with anchors. In each of the profiled communities—Albuquerque, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver and the Twin Cities—the report shares stories of how funders are extending beyond traditional grantmaking roles to embrace their roles as conveners and leaders in their communities.

“Local and national funders can play an important part in supporting anchors work,” said Charles Rutheiser, senior associate at The Annie E. Casey Foundation and chair of TFN’s Anchor Institutions Funders’ Group. “This report explores how foundations are working with anchor institutions to leverage their local influence, build connections to the local community, and drive equitable and inclusive economic development.”

Although many people think of universities and hospitals when they think of anchor institutions, our research showed that many of the existing networks of anchor institutions are moving beyond a narrow definition and are expanding to include entities such as sports stadiums, libraries, museums, school districts, and municipal governments.

While individual anchor institutions hold enormous influence within their communities, networks of anchor institutions hold tremendous potential for making large-scale change. In 2017, TFN’s Anchor Institutions Funders’ Group commissioned a study to assess the extent and intensity of support for anchor work within philanthropy.

Anchored in Place: How Funders Are Helping Anchor Institutions Strengthen Local Economies details findings from that study, as well as offers insight and expertise from key leaders from foundations, anchor institutions, and other players. One key finding: Many foundations are actually already working with large local institutions in varying capacities, although don’t always label that work “anchors” work. The graphic below illustrates what those surveyed identified as their top priorities when funding anchors work:

Read the full report below, or download here.

For more information about TFN’s Anchor Institutions Funders’ Group, please contact Alicia Kitsuse, program director for the Restoring Prosperity in Older Industrial Cities working group.

For a hard copy of Anchored in Place: How Funders Are Helping Anchor Institutions Strengthen Local Economies, please contact Tere Figueras Negrete, TFN’s director of communications.