Across the country, cross-sector teams are coming together in communities to improve the lives of their residents and increase access to opportunity. Connect Capital is an initiative designed by CCI to assist these teams and communities in attracting and deploying capital at scale to address their needs. With a focus on equity, Connect Capital concentrates not only on executing individual projects but also on laying the necessary groundwork to achieve results at scale. Connect Capital helps participating teams establish shared priorities across stakeholders, create pipelines of investable projects, and strengthen the policies and practices required to achieve their desired results.
Connect Capital provides each team with a suite of supports including customized coaching, facilitated peer learning, and a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fund a local staff position dedicated to advancing the team’s work.
Each participating community designates a “travel team” comprised of the individuals and organizations who are leading the effort, as well as a “home team” made up of a broader group of stakeholders. Over the course of the two years, the travel team attends a series of off-site, multi-day workshops that provides them with the necessary support, encouragement, accountability and peer learning to think strategically about how to most efficiently and effectively achieve the community’s priorities. Between workshops, the full team works with a CCI coach to address challenges and complete assignments designed to move the work forward.
The heart of Connect Capital is the Capital Absorption Framework, the unique lens through which participants pursue their community development objectives. Designed to encourage a more systemic approach to the work and better direct investment capital to areas of need, the Framework consists of three key components:
- Establishing shared priorities across stakeholders. Participants identify the community’s highest priorities, define their targeted results, and agree on a strategy to achieve them.
- Creating a pipeline of deals and projects. By examining deals in progress, analyzing whether they support the priorities, and considering where there may be gaps, participants build a pipeline of deals and develop a strategy for moving them forward together to achieve greater impact and efficiency.
- Strengthening the enabling environment. Armed with a clear sense of shared priorities and a pipeline of deals and projects, participants determine whether the necessary policies, practices and capacities exist to facilitate those deals and strategize ways to address missing components.
Because each community’s challenges and opportunities are unique, outcomes will vary by team. When the capital absorption framework was piloted, outcomes included the adoption by the Bay Area Regional Transit Authority of new transit-oriented development targets on agency-owned land, and a resurgence in lending to finance projects that promote density, diversity, vibrancy and walkability in Detroit’s core neighborhoods.
Six teams have been competitively selected to participate in Connect Capital. Teams consist of local leaders across a range of sectors and disciplines, including foundations, local government, neighborhood organizations and public utilities who together tackle problems that are considered by residents to be critical to the well-being of the community.
Central Appalachia (multi-state): In response to the region’s long history of inequitable economic practices and resource extraction, the Connect Capital team is working to diversify local economies and create good jobs by identifying opportunities and attracting new investment from mission-driven investors.
Coachella Valley, California: The Connect Capital team is leading an ambitious effort to develop and preserve affordable and mixed-income housing in a region where nearly 55 percent of residents spend more than 30 percent of their annual income on housing, including many immigrants employed in the area’s agricultural and service industries.
Miami, Florida: In the face of skyrocketing housing costs, the Connect Capital team is working to develop and preserve housing that is affordable and located in areas of opportunity that are convenient to transit and meets the City’s resiliency goals.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The Connect Capital team is developing a strategy to systematically leverage investments in flood management to benefit disinvested neighborhoods, including the establishment of new green spaces, bike and pedestrian pathways, and revitalization of commercial corridors.
Richmond, Virginia: To help reduce the health and economic disparities that plague Richmond’s low-income residents, the Connect Capital team is accelerating the development of housing designed to be affordable to residents at all income levels and to increase access to opportunity.
Seattle, Washington: As rising sea levels and increased rainfall reshape Seattle’s geography, the Connect Capital team is leveraging investments from a range of stakeholders to prevent and lessen the impact of climate change on neighbors and workers at risk of displacement and create community health and equity based solutions that can be applied in other areas facing similar challenges.