Capital Absorption Framework

The framework’s three functions—articulating shared priorities, creating and executing an investable pipeline of  projects, and improving the enabling environment—offer leaders tools to realize their communities’ visions.

People want to live in thriving communities

The Center for Community Investment (CCI) recognizes that all people want to live in places where they have the things they need to thrive. High-quality affordable housing. Good jobs, local businesses, and economic opportunities. Access to fresh, healthy food. Green space and parks. Viable transportation.

Healing the impact of structural racism requires a transformational approach

Structural racism has shaped our financial systems to deliver more resources to communities that already have them and further disinvest in communities that don’t, most often communities of color. Together, we can change how investment lands in our communities. 

Outside investors often dictate to communities they are trying to serve

Too often, developers and investors have come into communities with plans that ignored the community’s reality, history, needs—even the community’s plans for itself. These painful and racist experiences have led to failed deals, displacement, or unwanted development, all of which can bring further harm to residents.

The capital absorption framework can make investment work

The capital absorption framework turns this process around, with community partners and stakeholders driving the process and working together to build an effective community investment system that works for that community. Relationship building and collaboration are key to this process.

The framework is built on three interrelated functions

The framework has three functions—articulating shared priorities, creating and executing an investable pipeline of deals and projects, and improving the enabling environment. Each function is critical, and each builds on the other functions, strengthening the community’s ability to achieve the needed systemic change.

Communities can achieve their priorities

When a group of community partners and stakeholders identifies a clear and meaningful shared priority, puts together a pipeline of deals to accomplish that shared priority, and works on strengthening aspects of the enabling environment, that group can move more effectively and efficiently toward its shared priority. The capital absorption framework can be a tool for achieving self-determination—getting the resources to make the community what it wants to be.

The entire community investment system changes for the better

Working collaboratively, the group improves its community investment system so that future deals will be easier. The result is a more equitable and effective investment system that will help the community secure resources to achieve its goals. CCI supports communities that want to use our approach—including the capital absorption framework—to transform their systems and achieve their goals.

How to Do Capital Absorption

The Capital Absorption Framework isn’t one-size-fits-all—so how are you going to navigate the complex challenges that are unique to your community? You’ll certainly hit roadblocks as you go—after all, if it weren’t challenging to do this work, we wouldn’t need assistance to do it. You need a toolbox. Check out our Capital Absorption Dilemmas: Common roadblocks that come up for all three capital absorption functions and tools you can use to get past them. Along with the Ten Things We’ve Learned About Capital Absorption, you’ll be ready to gather your collaborators and begin this transformative journey.

Focus Areas

CCI offers a community investment approach that communities can use to organize capital for what matters most to them. Explore some of the focus areas where community partnerships that center racial equity and the capital absorption framework can make a difference.


Capital Absorption: Getting Communities Ready for Investment

Learn about the origins of CCI’s capital absorption framework.

Cityville: A Capital Absorption Story

Learn how the capital absorption framework changed one hypothetical community.

Using the Capital Absorption Framework

The Capital Absorption Framework is an approach that leaders can use to activate the visions and navigate the challenges of their specific places—not a model they are expected to replicate regardless of where they are. 


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