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Urban "anchor institutions" can anchor neighborhood revival

Universities, hospitals and colleges in American cities energize employment, business development, policing and civic life in their surrounding neighborhoods. And they can be even more effective catalysts for change, said Philadelphia LISC's Andrew Frishkoff and other experts on a panel convened by online journal Next City, when they partner with community groups who are wise to the needs of local residents.

The excerpt below is from:
University-Community Engagement Is a Two-Way Street
by Sandy Smith, Next City

How can urban “anchor institutions” — colleges, universities, hospitals and other major institutions that are rooted in a specific place — strengthen their communities?

One parking lot at a time.

Midtown Detroit President Susan Mosey spent much of 2014 persuading her neighborhood’s major employers, Wayne State University, Henry Ford Health System and Detroit Medical Center, to give up one surface parking lot each for redevelopment in a neighborhood where eliminating surface parking is a major catalyst for community revitalization. The panelists at Next City’s City Sessions panel on “The University as Community” on Nov. 19th at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia had many other examples of little things that “eds and meds” and other large place-based non-profit institutions can do to hasten big change in their neighborhoods and cities.

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West Philadelphia residents take part in an Early Childhood Education (ECE) initiative event
West Philadelphia residents take part in an Early Childhood Education (ECE) initiative event

Andrew Frishkoff, of Philadelphia LISC, says his group has as one of its main goals helping communities find their voice and identify their priorities, along with building a bridge from residents in West Philadelphia to Drexel and Penn. Sometimes, he said, that can take surprising turns, as with what has become LISC’s Early Childhood Education Initiative.

“Education is not a core competency of LISC or of many community-based organizations,” he said, but when LISC was working with groups in Mantua and with Drexel President John Fry on neighborhood planning issues, “a bunch of light bulbs went on in our collective heads. We Are Mantua and Make Our Mark’s community plans,” which had improving education as a key goal, “synced with Fry’s thinking on how Drexel can be an active partner on community initiatives. “It’s easier to have authentic engagement when you have actual partners in the community and engage with the parents and families there.” Continued[+]...