This year marks the fifth anniversary of Investing in What Works for America’s Communities: Essays on People, Place & Purpose, a book jointly published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) in 2012. What Works brought together over forty authors from across sectors and disciplines to explore the past, present, and future of community development. Despite their varied expertise and backgrounds, many of the authors made similar calls to action for cross-sector approaches that focus on the integration of both people- and place-based interventions. What Works gave rise to three subsequent books and, collectively, the series has sparked new dialogue and partnerships across the country, challenging readers to be bold and ambitious in upending the status quo and reimagining how our nation can foster opportunity for all.
This issue of the Community Development Investment Review celebrates and builds on the themes of What Works and explores innovations and lessons learned from cross-sector practice across a range of issues. The first section begins with reflections from some of the original authors and early adopters of What Works. It then examines two place-based, multi-site initiatives designed to strengthen collaborative leadership and effect systems change and also highlights innovative approaches from across the country, such as addressing displacement in LA’s Little Tokyo, supporting people in reentry from prison, seeding innovation in rural Maine, and the new frontier of healthy communities efforts.
The second section of this issue presents case study profiles of “community quarterbacks” from the Partners in Progress (PIP) initiative, a joint effort between the Citi Foundation and LIIF to provide flexible support and technical assistance to 14 community-based organizations. PIP was a direct outgrowth of the community quarterback concept introduced in What Works, and the Citi Foundation played a pivotal role in both supporting LIIF’s involvement in the book and the subsequent implementation of the initiative. The case study profiles provide concrete examples of how community quarterbacks are working to marshal resources, build trust with residents, and break down silos—offering hard-won lessons learned for others in the field.
In the long arc of social change, five years may feel like a trifling milestone, yet the community development field has made important strides in that time and has invited many new partners to the table. Collaboration is messy, difficult, and not for the faint of heart, but challenging the status quo requires nothing less. Carol Naughton, President of Purpose Built Communities, sums it up in her essay in this issue by saying, “It is easy to do more of the same, and it can be uncomfortable to question the systems that have created the oppression that leads to chronic poverty… Leaders must be willing to endure, listen, and work through or around resistance.”
I hope this issue of the Review inspires you to endure in the face of challenging times and serves as a reminder that much can be accomplished when we work together, even in the span of just five years.
From the Preface by Laura Choi, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Read the full issue (pdf, 1.07 mb)