Prioritizing Place

December 4, 2014

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. Read “Place-Based Initiatives in the Context of Public Policy and the Market: Moving to Higher Ground” here.

From Grassroots to Treetops

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.

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Theory Plenary

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

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Measuring Opportunity and Mobility

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

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The Role of the Market

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

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Evaluation in Context

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

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From Neighborhood Initiative to Citywide Policy

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

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

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Rural Communities and Native Reservations

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

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

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Building Civic Capacity

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

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A Role for Corporations

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.

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Moving Forward – Replication and Scale Plenary

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

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Moving Forward – Some Lessons and Takeaways Plenary

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

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The Significance of Place-Based Initiatives

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.

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