Across the country, the Federal Reserve Banks and other stakeholders have gathered a cross section of their communities to discuss – Investing in What Works for America’s Communities. We were honored to speak (stay tuned for the podcast, Social Gamechangers) and help convene the latest session in Dallas, Texas, with our co-hosts, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Citi and Social Venture Partners Dallas. The energy in the room was electric – thought-provoking speakers and a diverse audience of city officials, bankers, workforce development experts, nonprofits, foundations, business leaders, students and social entrepreneurs made the event exceptional and dynamic.
The highlight of the event was the public launch of a new (and free) book by the same name: Investing in What Works for America’s Communities. Edited by David Erickson of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco and Nancy Andrews of the Low Income Investment Fund, the book addresses the impact of poverty on America’s communities after the Great Recession. Rather than postulate new ideas and theories, Erickson and Andrews curate experts across all disciplines and compile evidence-based essays that tackle society’s most pressing issues. Each essay is carefully crafted to give historical context of the issue addressed, share promising and best practices, and provoke thought for the future.
Here is a brief list of our favorite essays, which were all case studies:
- Angela Blanchard of Neighborhood Centers, Inc., and her story of the town of Gulfton, Texas, changing “from a problem place to a place of promise.”
- Clara Miller of F. B. Heron Foundation and her belief that foundations must use “a full spectrum of tools” to tackle poverty.
- John Robert Smith and Allison Brooks of Reconnecting America and their passion “to build communities that are well supported by quality transportation systems,” which they also call “opportunity areas.”
Most importantly, the book also does a great job of discussing what works and what does not work, which as you know is a passion of our team.
This book should be required reading for all of us who are students of social policy, whether through our jobs, our education or our passions. It presents a playbook for all of us to join together on the same team and advance policies, programs and collective action around community development. In fact, the book introduces a new role in the community to coordinate all the players – the quarterback. A flexible role based on community need, the quarterback brings together a diverse set of stakeholders around a shared vision and a structure for moving forward. It is a “silo-buster,” focusing both on people and place in community development efforts.
We are excited about this new thinking and encourage you to order or download the book for your entire team. Have a healthy conversation about lessons from different experts and how you can employ the quarterback model in your community. Then share your thoughts on What Works and any topic we have discussed in today’s blog with us.
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P.S. For you health nuts out there, we also love the Federal Reserve of Dallas’ latest thinking on the intersection of wealth and health by Elizabeth Sobel Blum. Check out the podcast or read the full report. It is the kind of game-changing, silo-busting work we need!
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