Prioritizing Place

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The Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy and the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation held a national conversation on the current state of place-based initiatives on December 4th and 5th, 2014. The day-and-a-half event was the culmination of a year-long inquiry into philanthropic and public sector initiatives that address geographically-concentrated poverty.

The forum included plenaries with national experts, focused concurrent sessions to make informed decisions, and ample opportunities for networking.


In anticipation of the conference a monograph was published to summarize the year long inquiry into the state of place based initiatives.  You can now read the monograph, Place Based Initiatives in the Context of Public Policy Markets- Moving to Higher Ground.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Welcome and Overview

Full Video

James M. Ferris, Emery Evans Olson Chair in Nonprofit Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, and Director, The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California

Keynote Address: From Grassroots to Treetops

Full Video | Highlights

Bob Ross

Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO, The California Endowment, discusses how geographically concentrated poverty must be addressed through both local place-based initiatives and complementary policies, and how funders can structure their organizations to operate on these two levels.

Theory Plenary

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Increasingly, place-based initiatives are not viewed as isolated projects; they are strategically situated or “nested” within public policy or the market economy. This plenary explores how this enlarged framework has changed the way we carry out place-based work.

  • Prudence Brown, Independent Consultant (Facilitator)
  • Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution
  • Peter Dreier, Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, Chair, Urban and Environmental Policy Department, Occidental College
  • Margery Turner, Senior Vice President for Program Planning and Management, The Urban Institute Concurrent Sessions

Measuring Opportunity and Mobility

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How is data being used to better understand community dynamics? How do communities mix income groups and connect residents to economic opportunities?

  • Claudia Coulton, Lillian F. Harris Professor of Urban Research and Social Change, Case Western Reserve University
  • Mark Joseph, Director, National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities, Case Western Reserve University
  • Russell Krumnow, Managing Director, Opportunity Nation

The Role of the Market

Full Video | Painter Video Excerpt | Pastor Video Excerpt


As place-based initiatives are situated within larger economies, how are market opportunities being leveraged? How are workforce pipelines tapping labor markets?

  • Gary Painter, Director of Graduate Programs in Public Policy, and Director of Research, Lusk Center for Real Estate, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California
  • Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity and Director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, University of Southern California
  • Jim Riccio, Director, Low-Wage Workers and Communities Policy Area, MDRC
  • Kim Zeuli, Senior Vice President, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

Evaluation in Context

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How are place-based initiatives being evaluated in the context of larger forces and long-term change? Can we construct narratives that help us to observe the cumulative effects of efforts over time?

  • Jessica Bearman, Principal, Bearman Consulting
  • Tom Burns, Managing Director, Urban Ventures Group
  • David M. Chavis, Principal Associate and CEO, Community Science
  • Pennie Foster-Fishman, Professor, Department of Psychology and Senior Outreach Fellow, University Outreach and Engagement, Michigan State University

From Neighborhood Initiative to Citywide Policy

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John Barros, Chief of Economic Development, City of Boston, reflects on his role leading the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and how he is translating that experience into citywide policy.

Practice Plenary

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Situating place-based initiatives in larger contexts presents operational challenges to practice. How do the philanthropic and public sectors need to work differently? What are the implications for community leaders and organizations?

  • Raphael Bostic, Professor, Judith and John Bedrosian Chair in Governance and the Public Enterprise, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California (Facilitator)
  • Denise McGregor Armbrister, Executive Director, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation
  • Bart Harvey, Former Chairman, Enterprise Community Partners
  • Antonio Manning, Vice President, Office of Corporate Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Global Philanthropy

Rural Communities and Native Reservations

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As we’ve moved beyond inner city areas, the field has developed differentiated approaches in different types of communities, including rural areas and Native American reservations. How are these approaches shaped by their locations?

  • Doug Easterling, Chair, Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine
  • Peter Pennekamp, Senior Research Fellow, Philanthropy Northwest
  • Lisa Richter, Principal, Avivar Capital
  • Gladys Washington, Program Director, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

Braiding Funding Streams

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Making place-based initiatives work today has meant blending, aligning, and “braiding” philanthropic and public funding streams. What collaborative structures and strategies are enabling this to happen?

  • David Bley, Director, Pacific Northwest Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Sheri Brady, Senior Associate for Strategic Partnerships, Aspen Forum for Community Solutions
  • Salin Geevarghese, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Norman Rice, Trustee, Casey Family Programs


Building Civic Capacity

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Connecting place-based initiatives to public policy and the economy requires new capacities from community-based organizations. What kinds of competencies and partnership configurations are being developed?

  • Angela Hurlock, Executive Director, Claretian Associates
  • Mary Lee, Deputy Director, PolicyLink
  • Dixon Slingerland, Executive Director, Youth Policy Institute
  • Scot Spencer, Associate Director for Advocacy and Influence, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Jennifer Vanica, Partner, VanicaCummings

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Role for Corporations

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Andrew Plepler, Global Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumer Policy Executive at Bank of America, explores the expanding role of the market in place-based initiatives and the new challenges and opportunities it presents.

Moving Forward – Replication and Scale Plenary

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In principle, place-based initiatives can achieve scale through replication or incorporation into public policy. What have we learned about the realities of achieving scale? How should we view this challenge moving forward?

  • Rip Rapson, President and CEO, The Kresge Foundation (Facilitator)
  • Judith Bell, President, PolicyLink
  • Casey Johnson, Executive Director, GreenLight Bay Area, GreenLight Fund
  • Luke Tate, Senior Policy Advisor, Urban Affairs, Justice & Opportunity, White House Domestic Policy Council

Moving Forward – Some Lessons and Takeaways Plenary

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What do decision makers who are undertaking place-based initiatives need to know moving forward? Are the goals of these initiatives evolving? What challenges and opportunities lie ahead?

  • Rip Rapson, President and CEO, The Kresge Foundation (Facilitator)
  • Tonya Allen, President and CEO, The Skillman Foundation
  • Xavier de Souza Briggs, Vice President for Economic Opportunity and Assets, Ford Foundation
  • Michael Rubinger, President and CEO, LISC

The Significance of Place-Based Initiatives

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Jack H. Knott, Dean, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, introduces our final speaker.

Henry Cisneros, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CityView, and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, places this convening in historical context, reflecting on the evolution of the field and the future of place-based initiatives in philanthropy and public policy.