UChicago Joins the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative

UChicago Joins the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative

Joining 30 other colleges and universities across the United States, the University of Chicago has been selected as an inaugural member of the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative, a national collaboration designed to develop and share new strategies for deploying higher education’s intellectual and place-based resources to enhance the economic and social well-being of the communities they serve.

Higher education institutions like UChicago are anchor institutions: local economic engines and mission-driven organizations inextricably linked to the long-term well-being of their local communities, and uniquely positioned to play a more active role in supporting the local economy. By intentionally implementing an anchor framework, the whole university, including the business and administrative divisions, are able to better serve its public mission. The Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative will provide a national platform to accelerate this important work.

The Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative is a joint project of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), a national organization dedicated to connecting urban universities and their partners, and the Democracy Collaborative (TDC), a national research institute developing strategies for a more democratic economy, and is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. According to Ted Howard, TDC president, “Colleges and universities in the U.S. collectively employ over 4 million people, spend over $43 billion each year, and hold over half a trillion dollars in their endowments, which means their potential impact as community wealth building anchor institutions is enormous.” 

Recognizing this potential, CUMU has worked with TDC to select leading higher education institutions from its membership to join the Initiative as inaugural members. For CUMU Executive Director Bobbie Laur, “The Initiative is invaluable to CUMU members. Whether public or private, CUMU member institutions are anchored by place and recognize an obligation to their communities to address challenges and work with partners to find creative, equitable solutions. This initiative will guide universities across the country to expand current collaborative work and to form more strategic partnerships that benefit the economic and social well-being of their communities.”

"The University of Chicago is deeply committed to supporting and strengthening the communities surrounding our campus," said Alyssa Berman-Cutler, Director of Community Economic Development Initiatives in UChicago's Office of Civic Engagement. "Through the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative, we will be able to engage with other institutions across the nation around best practices for partnering with the community for positive local impact."  

The Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative builds on and expands the work of the Democracy Collaborative’s “Anchor Dashboard Learning Cohort,” in which six urban universities—SUNY Buffalo State, Cleveland State University, Drexel University, Rutgers University-Newark, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Virginia Commonwealth University—collaborated in a multi-year process to pilot effective metrics for tracking anchor mission impact. The Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative will be informed by the best practices identified by this cohort, whose six members will become members of the initiative.

The full list of 31 participating members is:
• Augsburg University
• California State University Los Angeles
• Cleveland State University
• College of Staten Island
• Drexel University
• Florida Atlantic University
• Georgetown University
• Indiana University Northwest
• Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
• Johns Hopkins University
• Marquette University
• Metropolitan State University
• Metropolitan State University of Denver
• Portland State University 
• Purdue University Northwest
• Rutgers University-Camden
• Rutgers University-Newark
• SUNY Buffalo State
• Towson University
• University of Arkansas at Little Rock
• The University of Chicago
• University of Denver
• University of Louisville
• University of Michigan-Dearborn
• University of Missouri-St. Louis
• University of Pittsburgh
• University of San Diego
• Virginia Commonwealth University
• Wagner College
• Weber State University
• York University

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