University & Community Partnerships

New Student Initiative Asks Anchor Institutions to Rethink their Communities

An Interview with Alan Smith of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network


The Democracy Collaborative recently sat down with Alan Smith of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network to talk about their new Rethinking Communities Initiative. Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Roosevelt Institute promotes the work of progressive economist and social policy thinkers and supports the next generation of leaders as they design solutions to current pressing issues. Their Campus Network is the nation’s largest student policy organization with 115 chapters at colleges and universities in 38 states, working to further progressive ideas, civic leadership, and long-term change

Virginia Cooperative Extension, City of Richmond

Virginia Cooperative Extension offers financial educational programs for Richmond communities, homes, and businesses through its Master Financial Education Volunteer Program. Volunteer educators partner with Richmond Extension agents to provide individual counseling sessions, run poverty simulations, teach money management workshops to youth, and to lead adult financial management classes. In 2012, the Extension trained over seventy volunteers on how to educate families on money management, homeownership planning, debt reconciliation, and retirement planning. The Cooperative also offers support for locally-owned enterprises that demonstrate commitment to community loyalty, community usefulness, and community well-being. Its Community Viability initiatives provide entrepreneurship training, food-based business assistance, and capacity building resources for nonprofit organizations.

University of Richmond’s Supplier Diversity Program

The University of Richmond’s Supplier Diversity Program, administered by the Office of Strategic Sourcing and Payments (OSSP), proactively looks for ways to integrate diverse suppliers into university sourcing opportunities. The department educates the university community on supplier diversity goals, procurement best practices, and strategies to source goods and services at competitive prices. Guided by representatives from several advocacy organizations, members of the Richmond community, and university staff involved in procurement, the Supplier Diversity Program encourages transparency and accessibility in university supplier relationships. The program sponsors events for minority and women- owned businesses to meet university buyers and to learn the requirements for doing business with the University of Richmond. It also provides consulting services for businesses seeking certification as a minority business enterprise.

Cleveland as a Model for Anchor/Community Partnerships

New report highlights the Greater University Circle Initiative

Just released by the Cleveland Foundation, the new report Cleveland's Greater University Circle Initiative: Building a 21st Century City through the Power of Anchor Institution Collaboration provides a thorough overview of a long-term partnership among some of the city's key anchor institutions to foster inclusive, place-based community economic development. With innovative anchor-supported solutions around housing, transit, workforce training, and local procurement, the Greater University Circle Initiative is an effort that's well worth studying by other cities looking to leverage existing institutional assets to revitalize and rebuild their communities.

The Evergreen Cooperatives, one of the most visible pieces of the Initiative, offers a powerful example of the benefits these kinds of integrated anchor stategies can bring to economically marginalized neighborhoods, something this Evergreen worker's comments in the report makes clear:

The Centrality of Engagement in Higher Education

Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Karen Bruns, Steven T. Sonka, Andrew Furco and Louis Swanson
Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement

Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities

Elaine Arkin, Paula Braverman, Susan Egerter and David Williams
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America released a new report that emphasizes the impact that socioeconomic factors, such as poverty, unemployment, housing, and crime, have on overall health outcomes and life expectancy. To address these social determinants, the Commission provides three key recommendations: increase investment in early childhood development, more effectively integrate health into community development, and reorient health professionals and healthcare institutions to invest in community strategies that help people lead healthy lives.  

Cleveland's Greater University Circle Initiative

Justin Glanville
The Cleveland Foundation

A new Cleveland Foundation report highlights the achievements and lessons learned from the Greater University Circle Initiative—a robust partnership among the city’s anchor institutions to foster economic and community revitalization. To date, the Initiative has created three employee-owned companies through the Evergreen Cooperatives Initiative, developed a workforce training center, launched an employer-assisted housing program, catalyzed changes to the city’s public transportation system, spurred over $140 million in new, public-private development, and helped direct an increasing percentage of the institutions’ more than $3 billion in purchasing toward local businesses. 

Growing a Cleveland Renaissance

Stephen A. Thompson
Rural Cooperatives

In the November/December edition of Rural Cooperatives magazine, the United States Department of Agriculture featured Green City Growers Cooperative, the third worker-owned enterprise established by the Evergreen Cooperatives. The article highlights how Green City Growers created twenty-five jobs while transforming eleven acres of abandoned lots into a productive urban greenhouse. The article also provides insight for how cooperatives can partner with city governments, anchor institutions, and foundations to stabilize local economies.