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Complementary Anchor Strategies

The high impact strategies around Impact Workforce, Impact Purchasing, and Place-based Investing are complemented and reinforced by a secondary set of anchor strategies including policy advocacy, community giving, land and real estate, and skills-based volunteering. These complementary strategies invite institutions to further their commitments to the anchor mission by activating their government relations and policy teams, vacant or underutilized land that they own, their grant dollars and philanthropic activity, and the skillsets of their employees.

Policy advocacy

Anchor institution efforts to improve community conditions can only go so far without the structural support of government funding and policy. Through policy advocacy, anchor collaboratives utilize their collective influence, standing, and government relations resources to positively impact government funding and policy choices—at the federal, state, and local levels—in support of anchor strategy implementation, equitable economic development, and community wealth building. Examples of policy advocacy by anchor collaboratives:

NCMAC has leveraged regional workforce reports to elevate transportation as a critical need for growing the local economy. Anchor institutions led the launch of a public-private partnership between transit providers, employers, and other stakeholders to develop and implement a regional transportation plan that will address issues from service access to workforce development in the sector. For more, visit

OgdenCAN members conducted research on local impacts of the benefits cliff—the sudden and unexpected decrease in public benefits that occur when individuals see a small increase in earnings. This research sheds light on the local impacts of what is generally discussed as a federal policy issue. OgdenCAN has also advocated for housing policies, and for increased broadband infrastructure in Utah’s under-resourced neighborhoods. For more, visit

Community giving

Community giving involves the strategic acquisition and allocation of flexible, discretionary, and philanthropic resources toward strengthening the local economic ecosystem in order to better address the drivers of health and economic outcomes. These grants and philanthropic resources can be aligned with or support the implementation of anchor mission strategies from an operational perspective, or paired with anchor strategies programmatically (e.g., pairing grants with loans for affordable housing). In the early stages, anchor collaboratives are typically funded by grants from anchor institutions, which is discussed further in section 3.5 Sustainable Resourcing. Examples of community giving in action:

WSU partners with community groups on nutrition security and neighborhood revitalization. Technical assistance, program support, and microgrants to local food pantries have directly put over one million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables into West Side households. As part of the community coalition that won the $10 million Chicago Prize in 2023, WSU will serve as project lead for the Sankofa Wellness Village—the most significant community development project in more than 50 years in Chicago’s West Garfield Park, the community with the West Side's second lowest life expectancy rate (67 years). For more, visit

MMDC’s real estate program supports community-driven projects from ideation to completion in a number of ways. MMDC, in partnership with anchor institutions and lending partners, leverages four distinct financing tools to support projects—at any stage at every scale. Anchor institution members of MMDC contribute dollars toward the organization's broader real estate investment strategy, which in turn provides the capital for MMDC’s two real estate related grant programs: 1) Seed grants provide up to $5,000 in predevelopment funding to cover costs of renderings, feasibility studies, pro formas, etc; 2) Improvement grants cover beautification and exterior improvements to developments throughout the District, and provide capital for the tenant build-out of commercial spaces.

In addition, MMDC operates two distinct loan programs: 1) Grow loans up to $250,000, sourced through program-related investments (PRI) from national philanthropy, provide direct investments for acquisition, environmental remediation, and due diligence; 2) Build loans—administered, underwritten, and deployed by CDFI partner, Pathway Lending—loans up to $3 million to provide funding for construction, acquisition, mezzanine, and gap financing for real estate projects. In 2023, MMDC provided over $200,000 in grant funding to more than twenty projects, and $570,000 in loans through its Grow fund. Additionally, Partner Pathway Lending deployed $5.8 million for three Build fund projects. Grants and investments in 2023 supported the production of nearly 200 residential units in the district, with more than 50 percent of funding going to minority- and/or women-led development teams. For more, visit

NCMAC regularly builds resource-sharing arrangements into partnership contracts with community-based organizations. For instance, the anchor institution’s negotiating power allows them to secure services (e.g., Zoom, interpretation services) at better rates than community-based organizations. Efforts are underway to establish sub-accounts for CBOs, enabling them to benefit from improved pricing for necessary services. For more, visit

BCC awards grants to Brooklyn-based organizations through its Strong Communities Fund—a program which aims to build the capacity of local community-based organizations, amplify community-led voices, and support community-driven interventions that address social factors impacting health. A community review group focuses on reaching smaller grantees who may be overlooked for traditional funding opportunities. Since 2020, BCC has disbursed $4 million in grants to fifty community-based organizations working across health, education, and economic opportunity programs. Grantees include $125,000 to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to expand economic mobility programs, and $54,000 to the Sadie Nash Leadership Project for college and career readiness for young women in Brooklyn. For more, visit

As part of Southwest Partnership’s commitment to community development in Southwest Baltimore, MD, the organization provides grants to small businesses for facade improvement, tenant fit-out, and property stabilization. Grantmaking decisions at Southwest Partnership are made by subcommittees composed of community members, SWP staff, and subject matter experts from the community. Over the past eight years, the organization has raised over $10 million for public-space revitalization, affordable housing developments, and commercial development improvements. Recognizing the challenges and risks that come with an overreliance on grant funding for large community projects, SWP builds in adequate time to raise sufficient funds for projects, garners private and public support, carefully aligns with community priorities, and engages several partners committed to the project’s success. For more, visit

Land and real estate

As significant property owners, anchor institutions often manage large construction projects. As such, they have an opportunity to intentionally address community needs in the design, construction, and operations of new or expanded properties—as well as repurposing vacant land they own or that may be blighted in their community. Examples of land and real estate strategies:

SINA’s land and real estate projects involve acquisition, new construction, and housing rehabilitation in Hartford’s southside. Since 2012, SINA has restored 90 blighted or abandoned properties or vacant lots to productive use, adding $600,000 to the City of Hartford tax rolls. SINA has also raised a $30 million fund for downpayment assistance for Hartford residents, and currently manages 80 rental units for low-income tenants. For more, visit

In St. Louis City's West End neighborhood, the former St. Luke’s Hospital was transformed into the Delmar DivINe—an innovative, mixed-use space for nonprofit tenants, coworking, conferences, and community services, including: the St. Louis Community Credit Union (a partner of BJC HealthCare), GreaterHealth Pharmacy, an SSM Express Urgent Care Clinic, and an Edward Jones office. The campus also has 150 apartments, with about 15 percent slated as low-income units. While not an official project of an anchor collaborative, Delmar DivINe demonstrates a joint effort among anchor institutions to collaborate on a thoughtful and intentional redevelopment project in a historically under-resourced neighborhood. For more, visit

Skills-based volunteering

Skills-based volunteering involves anchor institutions deploying the talent and passion of their employees to enhance the capabilities of community-based organizations. Skills based volunteering provide employees an opportunity to apply their skill sets in a new setting while meeting the technical and operational needs of community groups. An example of anchor collaboratives implementing skills-based volunteering:

Community Health Network Areas for Northern Central Mass (CHNA9) and United Way of North Central Mass are developing a matching platform to connect anchor institution employees to volunteer opportunities. The intention behind the platform is for employees to share their skills (e.g., preparing legal documents, accounting, translation, marketing, and communications), be compensated by their institutions, and build relationships with community-based organizations. For more, visit
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