The Center for Community Investment, launched in March 2017, helps disadvantaged communities harness investment to achieve their economic, social and environmental priorities. Through a combination of technical assistance, leadership development, dissemination of research and lessons learned and the creation of a robust peer network, the Center builds the capacity of local partnerships to define priorities and guide capital toward those priorities.
Low-income people and people of color face barriers to opportunity: low wage jobs, long commutes to work, high cost burden for housing and transportation, and living environments that exacerbate poor health outcomes. Structural racism and conventional market activity have helped create zones of disinvestment that suffer from inadequate or deteriorating infrastructure and toxic overload. These very conditions impede the flow of capital that could finance transformation and broaden opportunity.
Although existing community investment mechanisms are often highly creative efforts to address these challenges, they tend to be underpowered approaches by narrow sets of specialized actors. They generally focus on individual transactions, not systems; reach some places and not others; and fail to engage the full range of relevant actors.
The Center takes a systems approach, based upon a framework that cities can use to help mobilize investment capital to provide access to affordable housing, jobs, fresh foods and other social determinants of health; and make communities more cohesive, resilient and environmentally sustainable in the face of climate change. The framework calls for communities to work across sectors to articulate priorities, identify or create a pipeline of opportunities for investment that advance those priorities, align scarce public and philanthropic resources and create a policy environment and ecosystem that supports the realization of the community’s goals.