Philanthropy & The City What Does An Inclusive and Equitable Recovery Look Like?

Philanthropy & The City What Does An Inclusive and Equitable Recovery Look Like?

As The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy embarks on its third decade, we want to shine a spotlight on the opportunities for innovative, creative solutions for the most pressing problems in our neighborhoods and communities and the role that philanthropy can play. To do so, we want to build on various strands in our work to date that accentuate those strategies where philanthropy works at the intersection of the sectors – through public policy and partnerships with government and business, as well as efforts to support greater philanthropic collaboration. It is through this work, that we have come to appreciate the wide array of possibilities for philanthropy to drive change within our cities.


It is at this scale that you can see, feel, and touch the problems. It is at this scale that you are more apt to see how the various systems come together to create a place and impact the quality of life. It is at this scale that lays bare, especially since the pandemic, the disparities and inequities that exist and encourages us to do better. It is also at this scale that you can involve all of philanthropy in its various shapes and sizes and bring the community together – including all sector and folks from all walks of life – to imagine and forge solutions to enduring problems. The opportunities for change expand exponentially.

In this belief, The Center organized a four-part series: Philanthropy & the City, to bring together leaders from across the nation with a wide range of experiences, perspectives, and vantage points to share their insights and ideas for building more vibrant, equitable and resilient cities. The series, originally conceived as a large in-person national forum in Los Angeles in the spring of 2020, represented a cumulative expression of nearly a decade of The Center’s research and programs around urban policy, practice, and problem-solving. Most notably, these prior dialogues included the national inquiry into place-based philanthropy and public policy, Prioritizing Place, an assessment of decades of place-based initiatives, as well as Drawing on Detroit, a distillation of insights from the philanthropy-led recovery of Detroit in the aftermath of its bankruptcy.

The historic events of the last two years – convergence of the global pandemic, ensuing economic downturn, and widespread reckoning around longstanding racial disparities – brings into sharp relief, deep structural issues and creates commensurate leadership opportunities for those concerned with equitable recovery in our cities. As Henry Cisneros so poignantly notes in the keynote session of the series:

“We've known for a long time that cities are places where we live and they're places where we work and they're places where we trade and they're places where we learn, and they're places where we assemble to do great things together, religious, political, or otherwise. But cities have also been the places where we achieve some measure of equity in American society, since immigrants arrived with nothing to the East side of New York and made a life, investment banks, name for Jewish immigrants from New York, Bank of America named by an Italian American in San Francisco. We've known that that's the dynamic, but I think we're entering into an era where conscious attention to the equity agenda with city resources and the other resources they can bring to bear is the next great role of our cities in our society.”

This report provides a summary of the four sessions held in March and April 2021, moderated by Elwood Hopkins, Presidential Fellow, The Kresge Foundation. They focus on new models of local governance, the anchoring role that community foundations can play, the next generation of place-based initiatives, and the greater recognition of how corporations can contribute to the social good. We conclude with a set of key threads across the four conversations that offer lessons that are particularly poignant for our cities to meet this moment, and for philanthropy to play an important role. They offer new ideas and approaches, remind us what matters, and suggest what is needed to enable and empower bold leadership in our communities.

Click here to read the full report.

Source: University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy The Center Philanthropy and Public Policy