In 2007, with the City of Cincinnati’s population in decline, a looming foreclosure crisis, and families in many places struggling, the local philanthropic community pondered whether a comprehensive community investment strategy focused on neighborhoods hit hardest by these challenges could improve the region’s income, education, and health outcomes. They decided to launch the Place Matters initiative.
Specifically, a core group of funders and partners, including LISC, identified three neighborhoods to pilot this experimental strategy. In each of these neighborhoods, a community-based organization served as a convener and trusted community resource to shepherd the comprehensive efforts, often driven by community resident-led plans. The expectation was that by simultaneously focusing on housing, community engagement, education, workforce, and health, these place-based efforts would produce a more meaningful impact.
Place Matters is rooted in the principle that neighborhood change takes time. Over the years, the footprint expanded to more neighborhoods and engaged more funding partners. Because of their efforts, these neighborhoods attracted new investment from key partners like the City of Cincinnati. Together they were, and are, able to work and leverage resources towards the same community goals.
Place Matters has spent the last decade giving residents the tools they need to transform their communities. This 10-year retrospective reflects on how far Place Matters communities have come, expands on the neighborhood context and highlights the communities’ work. It includes details on the initiative and how is has matured over time as well as lessons learned that could inform those working in other communities to advance place-based strategies.