The Center for Community Investment has completed its first year of work. From launching four programs to building our team and culture, it has been a whirlwind year:
- Leadership Programs: We launched two leadership development programs: the Center Fellowship, a full-time program designed to support the careers of promising young professionals dedicated to changing the trajectory of disadvantaged communities in the U.S, and the 15-month Fulcrum Fellowship for rising executives in the fields of population health, climate resilience, community development, urban planning, and community investment. Our inaugural class of 12 Fulcrum Fellows, selected from a highly competitive applicant pool, met in October and December to refine and execute ambitious plans to improve lives in their communities.
- Roles for Health Systems Paper and Convening: In March, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published our paper, Improving Community Health by Strengthening Community Investment: Roles for Hospitals and Health Systems, the product of more than a year of research. Many of the leading health systems whose work we profiled participated in a day-long convening at the Harvard Kennedy School to explore how their institutions had come to invest in improving the upstream determinants of health and what they needed to take their work to the next level.
- Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities (AIHC): Building on our exploration of the role of health systems in community investment, we designed a new initiative that aims to help pioneering health systems that are already investing in community health accelerate and deepen their impact. Nine health systems were chosen to participate in AIHC and designated teams across organizational departments to lead the work. The teams will attend three in-person workshops between January and May 2018, and we will continue to share what we learn from these innovative institutions along the way.
- Connect Capital: As awareness grows about the importance of social and environmental factors in shaping health outcomes, many communities across the country have created cross-sector efforts to improve the social determinants of health. The Center reviewed more than a dozen cross-site philanthropic initiatives and close to a hundred individual cross-sector efforts engaged in this work to understand the state of the field and assess the needs of these partnerships. In creating Connect Capital, we hope to advance the work of up to 16 partnerships that are reshaping local systems and deploying capital to improve access to opportunity.
- Climate Adaptation: The Center aims to support cities and regions that are prioritizing investment in climate adaptation in ways that protect vulnerable low-income communities. To ground our approach in an understanding of the current state of the field, we conducted a literature review, analyzed climate adaptation plans from more than a dozen cities, and interviewed 25 experts and practitioners. In June, we convened sustainability and resilience officers from across the country to discuss how cities and regions are preparing for the effects of climate change in low-income communities, what role finance can play, and what it would take to move from individual pilots and high-level plans to larger scale implementation. Through this work, we identified several cities that are on their way to using green infrastructure as a way to reduce exposure to flooding from extreme storms and will participate in Connect Capital.
- Organizational Learning: With the help of emergent learning pioneer Marilyn Darling, the Center for Community Investment was established with a commitment to rapid cycle, real-time learning and ongoing reflection. In addition to regular use of tools such as “Before Action Reviews” and “After Action Reviews,” we have instituted weekly conversations about what we’re learning from our work and regularly use a “learning log” to keep track of our insights, hypotheses, and results. We believe our learning practices will help speed our ability to articulate and test hypotheses and share useful insights with the field.
- Building Our Team: Our “small but mighty” team now numbers seven, including our two Center Fellows.
We are deeply grateful for the support we have received from our funders and partners this year. Any start-up is an adventure, and we appreciate the confidence and goodwill that have helped move us along our path. Wishing all of you a productive and exciting 2018!