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Many routes, singular purpose:

Expanding opportunities in America's cities

  • Elaine D. RosenChair, Board of Trustees
    Letter from the Board ChairWhile the Upcoming Challenges are Great, We are Greater
    • Letter from the Board Chair

      While the Upcoming Challenges are Great, We are Greater

      By Elaine D. Rosen
      Chair, Board of Trustees

      I recently and quite by accident came upon a note I had sent to our foundation staff at the end of 2016. Following a successful fourth-quarter board meeting, I wrote, in part:

      Please do remember that while the upcoming challenges are great, we are greater. Our work is strong and our talent ... well ... that simply blows the mind. In the year ahead, we will navigate several new realities carefully and wisely – led by Sebastian Kresge’s mission and our values as an institution.

      The discovery of the note took my breath away. When I wrote it, the uncertainties of December had not yet given full view to the pace and extent of a new governing and policy-making environment.

      What centers me while considering the impact of changes since then is remembering that philanthropy by its nature is steady – and steadfast.

      Since 1924, The Kresge Foundation has been carrying out our founder Sebastian Spering Kresge’s mandate to promote human progress through grant making. And since 2006, we have developed a strategic philanthropy that engages an array of tools to expand opportunities in America’s cities.

      During these 93 years, our government leaders and prevailing ideologies have come and gone. The political climate has bended and shifted. The economy has experienced peaks and troughs – and after those troubling troughs, always a healthy rebound.

      Through it all, The Kresge Foundation has remained focused and a force for change to promote the greater good.

      That focus is more important than ever when government actions create chaos and new policies seem to threaten the most vulnerable among us. In response, we are taking stock, adjusting our course, playing with the hand we are dealt.

      For those reasons, the Kresge Board of Trustees authorized for 2017 an increase in the foundation’s capacity to engage with issues and movements precipitated by the new political and policy environment by making selected one-time grants as well as long-term investments.

      But we will not be shaken from that for which we stand.

      We will lead with our values, driven by the credo of our founder to leave the world a better place than we found it.

      We will persevere. Certainly, we all realize that philanthropy is incapable of fully replacing government supports – the 2014 U.S. federal budget was nearly four times the assets of all U.S. philanthropies combined. That said, we have the will and wherewithal to respond when ill-advised government cutbacks result in human fallout.

      We will stand for equity and justice. The implications of rolling back social programs and supports are profound, especially toward people in cities who do not seek a handout, but rather, a hand up.

      We will concentrate our work in cities. More than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in and around cities where strong, bold, visionary leadership on the ground is yielding positive outcomes from coast to coast.

      We will defend science: Fifty years of data show that climate change is as real as the urgency to address it.

      We will stand for facts and truth. Period.

      We will continue to believe in the strength and resolve of American talent and the power of citizen-leaders in communities urban, rural and in-between.

      We will remain nimble, prepared to act as circumstances require, our minds focused, our tools at the ready.

      In Appreciation

      On behalf of all our trustees, I note with regret that two people I so dearly admire will depart the Kresge board in 2017 after serving their 16-year terms. It is hard to consider our board without their presence.

      Irene Hirano Inouye, who preceded me as board chair, has been a personal mentor and role model to most of us on the Kresge board. Among Irene’s countless talents and contributions, her knowledge has brought Kresge to the forefront of good governance and her grace and leadership have raised our board discourse to a superior level.

      I got to know Lee Bollinger while successfully co-leading the search for our new president in 2006 (successful in that it resulted in Rip Rapson’s appointment). Lee is an inspirational thought leader who has helped open my eyes to the breadth of the foundation’s philanthropic potential.

      We are indebted to Irene and Lee. They will be missed beyond measure.

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  • Rip RapsonPresident and CEO
    Letter from the PresidentAt the InterCHANGE of Imaginative and Bold
    • Message from the President

      At the InterCHANGE of Imaginative and Bold

      By Rip Rapson
      President and CEO

      In 2016, we marked a decade of continual reorientation at The Kresge Foundation. Over the course of some 80 years since its founding in 1924, Kresge perfected the art and science of challenge grants, a tool to help nonprofit organizations expand their base of individual donors as the final piece of campaigns to construct libraries and college science buildings, art centers and hospitals.

      The Kresge brand became iconic. Indeed, we contributed in the most tangible ways to the completion of thousands of building projects of unquestionable importance – in our hometown of Detroit, across America and around the world. But our toolbox was, ultimately, limited to a single instrument, and the increasingly complex and nuanced world of capital fundraising had begun to relegate Kresge’s contributions to the margins. Our trustees appropriately began to ask if it wasn’t time to reassess our aspirations and adjust our methods.

      Going for a Ride

      That appetite for a refreshed perspective is captured in a story Elaine Rosen, our board chair, tells about her conversation in 2006 with fellow board member Lee Bollinger. The two were co-chairing the search process for a new Kresge president, which had begun to crystallize the possibilities of a different institutional aspiration. “What would it look like if we took Kresge’s endowment out for a ride?” Bollinger asked.

      He was not being cavalier about stewarding the resources of one of the nation’s largest private philanthropies. He was instead suggesting that ingrained in that stewardship was the imperative to put those resources to their highest and best use – to be imaginative and bold.

      In so many ways, Elaine and Lee’s conversation set the stage for the foundation’s next executive. It became an invitation for me, when I joined Kresge later that year, to help the board and staff explore how we might navigate into new waters, all the while respecting an honorable and venerable legacy of grant making.

      Accelerated Gradualism

      We moved deliberately, even slowly, to broaden our construct of capital investment – no longer just focusing on building campaigns, but instead expanding our funding along a spectrum of capital support. Where we had prioritized fundraising prowess, we introduced an emphasis on values – fostering community impact beyond the organization itself, advancing low-income opportunity, promoting environmental sustainability and others. In place of an undifferentiated approach to fields as diverse as health, the arts, education and human services, we sought to understand how philanthropic investment might play different roles in varied topical domains.

      Initiatives like FreshLo, a collaboration between Kresge's Arts & Culture and Health teams, engage residents in the community development process. At the Little Mekong Market in St. Paul, Minnesota, FreshLo partners used an interactive Lite-Brite-style map to learn more about their community.

      We concentrated our grant making into six fields: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, Health, Human Services and Community Development. We assembled staff teams with deep content knowledge around each area. And we began to build out a capacity – which we termed our Social Investment Practice – to supplement our grant making with non-grant investments: loans, guarantees, deposits and equity investments.

      The changes fundamentally reconceptualized and reconfigured the programmatic side of the house. But it also meant that the rest of the organization had to keep apace. Our investment and finance teams grew in size and complexity. We created teams for human resources, grants management, communications and information technology.

      Within five years, we had made a full pivot. To resort to an overused philanthropic shorthand, we had entered the realm of strategic philanthropy – forward-looking, issues-based investments that focus on the root causes of social challenges, proactively employing a full array of tools.

      The InterCHANGE

      But that turn-of-the-wheel led to yet another. Over the next five years, we not only more sharply defined the nucleus of each of our six program areas, but also immersed ourselves in the complexities of a city struggling as few others had with private sector disinvestment, political dysfunction and economic meltdown.

      One of the nation’s oldest commercial districts, New Orleans' Claiborne Corridor was split by the construction of I-10 in the 1960s. Kresge's American Cities Practice is supporting its revival through the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which will create storefronts for small businesses and nonprofits while incorporating open spaces, art installations and demonstrations.

      And we increasingly recognized that how we worked in Detroit influenced profoundly how we viewed our work elsewhere – so profoundly, in fact, that we distilled those experiences into what we term the “four fenceposts” of Kresge’s institutional identity. Stated simply: We seek to advance opportunity for low-income people living in America’s cities by applying a cross-disciplinary approach and calling on a full spectrum of capital tools.

      In our 2015 annual report, we explored the fourth of those fenceposts – the diverse tools that constitute our Social Investment Practice. In 2016, we widen the aperture to explore the interaction of the fenceposts – what we term the InterCHANGE. It is an attempt to illustrate and elevate examples of the various methods we bring to bear to test, support, facilitate, share and uplift effective approaches to improving outcomes for people who have been denied full opportunity – whether individually, institutionally or structurally.

      At the Core

      Despite evolving structures and methods, we have remained committed throughout our history to our founder’s mission: to promote human progress.

      People enjoy the waterfront in Oakland, California, where Kresge supports efforts to improve affordable housing and enforce tenants' rights.

      As Elaine states in her message, that aspiration has rarely been so challenging as we see widening economic, educational and health disparities between the wealthy and the poor. Deepening structural and generational impediments to economic and social mobility. An ever-narrowing window to prevent unmanageable, irreversible effects of a changing climate. A growing chasm between resource-rich neighborhoods and communities struggling to stabilize and revitalize. A continuing erosion in our ability to have open, candid and probing discourse about racial justice.

      What is reflected here is not the full solution to any one of these challenges. But it does offer a window into the possibilities. Please let us know what you think.

      Lasting Legacy

      With powerful, mixed emotions, we are saying goodbye to two longtime trustees who brought passion, insight and integrity to their board service over the past 16 years. Irene Hirano Inouye and Lee Bollinger, who both joined the foundation in 2001, have left an indelible mark at every stage – and in every dimension – of the foundation’s evolution to a new orientation. Each possesses deep intellect and profound decency in equal measure. We would not have traveled this path but for their formative roles. It is impossible to overstate my gratitude – and the gratitude of the entire Kresge family – for their service.

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Financial Report

Our primary investment objective is to preserve and grow our endowment by generating returns greater than our spending on grants, social investments, administrative costs and inflation. We believe measuring our performance over market cycles of at least five years is appropriate. For the five years ending Dec. 31, 2016, the endowment has returned 9.1 percent annually, well ahead of our spending plus inflation target of 6.9 percent annually.

In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling $141.5 million. In addition, we made 14 social investment commitments totaling $50.8 million to organizations whose efforts support our goals through program-related investments.

  • Robert J. ManillaVice President and Chief Investment Officer
  • Amy B. RobinsonVice President, CFO and Chief Administrative Officer

A Variety of Methods to Advance Our Mission

Flexible capital is helping stabilize housing to improve the lives of people in cities bruised by the departure of industry and manufacturing.
Route 1: Capital Access and DeploymentTransforming Lives and Communities in Greater Boston
  • Route 1: Capital Access and Deployment

    Transforming Lives and Communities in Greater Boston

    For years, a dark, hulking warehouse on Pleasant Street in Brockton, Massachusetts, and its overgrown parking lot served as a magnet for illicit activity. Drugs. Gangs. Violence. Graffiti. 

    Located in one of the state’s original 11 “Gateway Cities,” Brockton has been designated as a struggling urban center facing tough social and economic challenges. The Pleasant Street parcel had long housed a national chain supermarket before becoming a warehouse. After the latter was abandoned, the building fell into disrepair. Brockton police were among the most frequent visitors to the blighted property. 

    Today, that parcel has been completely transformed by local entrepreneurs and community leaders with financing from The Kresge Foundation, Boston Community Capital and several other investors. Locally based Vicente’s Supermarket opened a new location there in the summer of 2015, offering the city’s large Cape Verdean population healthy, traditional foods and more than 100 jobs. Rounding out the $20 million complex is Brockton Neighborhood Health Center’s gleaming new primary care facility, which employs a full-time nutritionist to shop with patients and demonstrate healthy cooking in the center’s test kitchen.

    Supporting Conscientious Lenders

    Nutritionist Mary Lynch conducts a cooking class at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.

    The Pleasant Street complex exemplifies the social investment Kresge is making in cities across New England through its support of community-oriented lenders like Boston Community Capital. Another $3 million program-related investment loan from Kresge in 2016 is paving the way for Boston Community Capital and its partner, MassDevelopment, to continue this work not only in Brockton – where 18 percent of residents live in poverty and the average annual household income is below $50,000 – but also in 10 other small-to-medium-size Massachusetts cities hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs. 

    “For us to have a healthy society, a healthy culture and a healthy economy, we need to invest in all of our communities including those that have been traditionally underserved,” says Boston Community Capital CEO Elyse Cherry. “Low-income communities and populations are vital contributors to the health and wealth of our communities; when we strengthen opportunities in these communities, the entire regional economy benefits.”

    Traditionally, under-resourced communities like Brockton have struggled to attract the kind of capital investment they need to catalyze long-term economic growth. Kresge believes every community contains creativity, human and economic capital and inherent worth – a philosophy that helped pave the way to a 2015 commitment by its Board of Trustees to allocate $350 million toward social investments in traditionally underserved cities and neighborhoods. One of the first outputs of that commitment in 2016 was a $30 million loan initiative for community development finance institutions and qualifying development finance authorities working in sectors that align with the foundation’s programmatic goals. 

    Brockton Neighborhood Health Center interpreter Judith Varela guides residents through Vicente's Supermarket, which is located in the same complex.

    More than 60 organizations applied for Kresge Community Finance loans through the initiative, which provided 10-year financing at below-market interest rates. Additionally, each recipient received a small grant equal to 5 percent of the total loan amount. 

    “Solving complex social problems requires that we change behaviors, markets and policy using grants and investments,” says Kimberlee Cornett, managing director of Kresge’s Social Investment Practice. “We’re trying to use a full suite of capital tools – grants, debt, equity, guarantees and deposits – and identify investments using those tools that are supportive of those goals that we’re trying to achieve.”

    Boston Community Capital received its loan through Kresge Community Finance. Cornett says criteria for being awarded a loan included close alignment with Kresge’s programmatic strategies, strong organizational finances, a track record that shows community impact and the probability of repayment.

    “Boston Community Capital is a highly creative, well-led, well-capitalized organization,” Cornett explains. “Kresge had a prior investment with BCC that was fully repaid, so we are pleased to be in their roster of investors again.”

    Unconventional Financing

    Another Boston-area recipient of a Kresge Community Finance loan was the Cooperative Fund of New England. It will use a $1 million loan to continue financing projects that are owned and directed by stakeholders – workers and community members, for instance – rather than outside investors. 

    According to U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency data, black and Latino residents face large disparities in access to financial capital. Minority-owned businesses are more likely to be denied credit, are less likely to apply for loans for fear of having their applications denied and pay higher interest rates than white counterparts when loans are granted. 

    After the Affordable Care Act was passed, Kresge created its Healthy Futures Fund to fill gaps in care. The $200 million fund was crucial in developing the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.

    Cooperatives like those financed by the Cooperative Fund of New England are also a solution when outside investors refuse to lend in neighborhoods where returns are often smaller, slower or both.

    Kresge has long supported community development finance institutions (CDFIs) like the Cooperative Fund of New England. These private financial institutions are solely dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-wealth and other disadvantaged people and communities become part of the economic mainstream. In lending situations where other banks may see risk, CDFIs see both financial opportunity and social reward. 

    “Co-ops are nontraditional business models that are owned by a lot of different people in a democratic manner. A lot of conventional lenders don’t really know how to finance cooperatives within their regulatory environment,” says Micha Josephy, program manager at the Cooperative Fund of New England.

    Boston's Dorchester neighborhood is home to new cooperative living spaces and the Dorchester Food Co-op, an initiative to build a community- and worker-owned grocery store that will make healthy food accessible.

    In the expensive, quickly gentrifying Boston housing market, the Cooperative Fund partnered with Boston Community Cooperatives in 2007 to form Seedpod, a 12-bedroom, cooperative living space in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. Besides enjoying more affordable, group equity-based housing, Seedpod’s residents – 12 adults, two children and two cats – enjoy a community-focused living environment. Residents share food and meals, have a collective chore system and meet weekly to make consensus decisions about house operations. 

    The Cooperative Fund of New England is currently partnering with Boston Community Cooperatives to close on a second cooperative housing community, The Canopy, also in Dorchester. It will focus on accommodating adults with children.

    “This is a very exciting step for us, and we are excited about the wide range of groups and individuals who are interested in being part of BCC’s next house,” says Jennie Msall, who has lived at Seedpod for seven years. “We believe cooperative housing can play a substantial role in stabilizing neighborhoods, conserving resources and creating social spaces in an increasingly distracted, isolating world.”

    Fostering Collaboration

    Kresge believes it isn’t enough simply to invest money in creating opportunity in cities. For capital to be absorbed and put to its best use, research has shown it takes healthy cooperation across private, public and nonprofit sectors.

    Jethro Charlestin restocks produce at Vicente's Supermarket's Pleasant Street location. It's a favorite among local residents of Cape Verdean descent.

    “Capital is like water,” says Robin Hacke, a former senior fellow at The Kresge Foundation who researched and incubated a capital absorption practice to improve the ability of cities to attract and leverage capital for investment in public projects. “If you want it to soak into the ground instead of just running off, you have to know what’s in the soil – what kinds of collaborations are present and how to foster them.”

    This was the rationale behind the Working Cities Challenge, a landmark initiative of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston that was funded in part by Kresge. After studying and working with the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, from 2008 to 2011, the Boston Fed identified 25 U.S. cities that had struggled economically after the decline of manufacturing and industrial businesses. Among the 10 post-industrial cities that had experienced revitalization, the common thread was not a city’s capital investment, geographic position or industry mix. Rather, it was leaders’ commitment to collaboration across sectors for the long-term success of all. 

    So, the Boston Fed did something no reserve bank had ever done. With financial support from Kresge, it put out a call in 2013 for collaborative and ambitious economic development strategies to improve the lives of low-income people in small and midsize Massachusetts cities bruised by the departure of industry and manufacturing. 

    The Canopy cooperative housing community is accommodating adults with children in Dorchester.

    These “working cities” are collectively home to 1.5 million Bay Staters – more than twice the population of Boston. Winning proposals were selected for their pledge to lead collaboratively across public, private and nonprofit sectors; desire to engage community members; use of evidence to track progress toward a shared goal; and commitment to work to improve the lives of low-income residents by changing systems.

    “We’re hoping that this effort is an inspiration and a model for other reserve banks to partner in this way with philanthropic and state and community efforts,” says Prabal Chakrabarti, senior vice president and community affairs officer at Working Cities Challenge.

    Behind a $1.5 million grant from Kresge in 2016, the Working Cities Challenge is now receiving a second round of submissions in Massachusetts and has launched inaugural competitions in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Connecticut has one of the largest wealth disparities in the country, with many formerly thriving manufacturing cities now suffering economically. Meanwhile, Chakrabarti sees the state’s small size as being Rhode Island’s greatest opportunity.

    Flexible capital is helping stabilize housing to improve the lives of people in cities bruised by the departure of industry and manufacturing.

    “(In a small state like Rhode Island), you can get state policy more closely aligned with what’s happening in the cities. There are only two workforce boards in Rhode Island, and only one community college,” he says. “They happen to have an energetic governor who’s been doing a lot to bring in some companies and businesses to the state. 

    "Linking into that energy is important.”

    Opening the Gates

    From Providence to Brockton to Boston and throughout New England, Kresge’s Social Investment Practice is opening the flow of capital to parts of the region hit hard by economic distress. 

    Entrepreneurs, previously denied access to financing for their small businesses, are seeing their dreams realized. Families on the verge of foreclosure are being stabilized. Long-blighted properties are seeing new life and promise. Leaders from multiple sectors are meeting face-to-face, in some cases for the first time, to collaborate creatively for the betterment of their cities. 

    “Anyone who thinks this is simple has never tried,” says Boston Community Capital’s Cherry. “It requires flexible capital, understanding the community and bringing various stakeholders together – exactly the kind of systems change that Kresge believes in.”

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Development Centers Inc. is filling a crucial gap for Detroit children.
Route 1: Capital Access and DeploymentLeveraging Dollars to Get Results
  • Capital Access and Deployment

    Leveraging Dollars to Get Results

    Grants and social investments yield more — and better — early childhood facilities

    The buildings on the campus of the defunct McKenny Elementary School in Detroit stood forlorn.

    Development Centers Inc. is filling a crucial gap for Detroit children.

    That was until four years ago, when Detroit-based Development Centers Inc. began renovating them to house a Head 

    Start early childhood development program and other services for area children and families. The company had enough cash flow to open three of its four planned classrooms for its youngest Head Start children, ages 0 to 3. 

    In 2016, thanks to a $15,000 grant from Kresge partner and grantee IFF, Development Centers furnished the remaining classroom and can now offer day care for eight additional children. 

    The need for more early child care slots is acute in Detroit. Only 22 percent of children from birth to age 5 have access to high-quality care centers. Many centers, like Development Centers, are accommodating as many families as they can, says Director of Development Sally Bond.

    Only 22 percent of children under 5 have access to quality day care in Detroit.

    To expand that access, Kresge seeded IFF’s Learning Spaces program, which provides microgrants of $5,000 to $15,000 to metro Detroit-based providers who have positive quality evaluations from the State of Michigan. 

    Monica Duncan, IFF’s director of early childhood services, says IFF divvied up the initial $150,000 grant among 10 child care providers. One center used the funds to upgrade windows; another replaced a leaky roof. 

    This program is one result of a $20 million, 5-year initiative called Kresge Early Years for Success (KEYS): Detroit. It was launched in 2016 to improve the quality of Detroit’s early childhood system. 

    KEYS: Detroit uses grants and social investments to support facility improvements, early childhood practitioners and a civic leadership and planning process called Hope Starts Here, among other priorities. 

    Kresge's KEYS: Detroit Program supports child care facilities through grants.

    After a successful pilot, Kresge’s Detroit Program contributed an additional $1 million to Learning Spaces to spread it to other centers, Duncan says. And a program-related investment of $3 million allows IFF to provide sizeable low-interest loans to qualified child care centers for expansion and more substantial renovations.

    “Using grant and social investment dollars together allows us to push at one specific change that we want to see – improved early childhood facilities – from multiple fronts,” says Kresge Detroit Program Officer Neesha Modi. 

    At Development Centers, classrooms that needed updating are now bright and child-centric. 

    “Environment is incredibly important,” Bond says. “It allows children to come into a place that is safe, warm and welcoming."

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Startups LivWell Health and Certintell received funding for their technology solutions.
Route 1: Capital Access and DeploymentInvestment Meets Innovation
  • Capital Access and Deployment

    Investment Meets Innovation

    Putting capital to work in unlikely places

    Village Capital uses a unique formula to connect investment money with innovative health care enterprises that benefit people with low incomes.

    Many innovations in medical care focus on improving clinical processes, rather than addressing the social determinants of health, such as education, income or access to quality providers. Village Capital invests in firms that bridge this gap. 

    “It is notoriously difficult to determine if a company addressing health issues for complicated and high-risk patients is going to be successful,” says David Fukuzawa, managing director of Kresge’s Health Program. “We partner with Village Capital because it has an intriguing model that is effective.”

    With a grant from Kresge, Village Capital operated venture development workshops for early-stage entrepreneurs with ideas and business models that address the social determinants of health. Entrepreneurs participated in three in-person workshops over the course of several months to develop their business plans.

    Allyson Plosko, Village Capital’s sector manager for health, says entrepreneurs undergo rigorous group training to be considered for funding. Upon conclusion, program participants vote for two fellow entrepreneurs to receive $75,000 each in seed money. 

    “We put the investment decision in the hands of a group of fellow entrepreneurs," Plosko says. 

    Plosko calls the process collaborative, not competitive. Some 40 percent of Village Capital’s funding goes to women-led companies; 21 percent is awarded to firms founded by people of color. 

    “We’re stripping the power dynamic away in who and how we fund,” Plosko says. “It’s not what school you went to or where your headquarters are. Part of our goal is to democratize the process.”

    In 2016, startups LivWell Health and Certintell each received $75,000 in investment funding through a Kresge-sponsored program to fund companies with technology solutions that addressed social determinants of health. Both companies offer a technology solution that helps address common health-related issues faced by low-income patients, namely challenges with connecting to health care providers and community- and home-based resources.

    LivWell Health in San Francisco offers web-based systems to providers who care for older people and those in senior living centers. 

    Startups LivWell Health and Certintell received funding for their technology solutions.

    Iowa-based Certintell enables patients with chronic illnesses to use their smartphones to connect with community-based health care providers, decreasing ER visits among app users. Although telemedicine is a rapidly growing field, Certintell founder Benjamin Lefever says companies like his are overlooked by investors who mistakenly think there will be no returns from projects that focus on poor patients.

    For Lefever and Alex Go, founder and CEO of LivWell, additional benefits of the Village Capital support include networking with business leaders, potential investors and peers in the program. Go’s company plans to partner on a project with another entrepreneur in its training group.

    Village Capital’s strategy may be unusual, but its aims are not.

    “We’re looking for scalable solutions,” Plosko says. “And we want to get positive returns for both social impact entrepreneurs and communities across the country.”

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Kimberlee R. Cornett
Route 1: Capital Access and DeploymentAttracting Resources to Accelerate Social Change
  • Social Investment Practice

    Attracting Resources to Accelerate Social Change

    By Kimberlee R. Cornett
    Managing Director

    The Kresge Board of Trustees gave our Social Investment Practice clear marching orders to begin moving capital at new, heightened levels with its 2015 decision to commit $350 million to impact investing. So, in 2016 we set to work to complement the foundation’s grant making with loans, guarantees and equity investments in innovative – and sometimes uncharted – ways. Our team added new staff, allowing for further engagement with Kresge’s program teams, and we sought new partners to invest alongside to further our mission. 

    In early 2016, we brought on Aaron Seybert as a social investment officer to work with the foundation’s Detroit Program. Aaron also leads a new investment initiative focused on funding mixed-income, mixed-use projects that improve “HEART” outcomes – health, equity, adaptation and resiliency to climate change, and transit access. Read more about one of those transactions, a $5 million program-related investment to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, in this report.

    We also launched Kresge Community Finance, which offered long-term capital to qualifying community development finance institutions and development finance agencies working to improve opportunities for low-income people in America’s cities. Through a request-for-proposal process, these entities applied and identified more than $200 million in projects needing capital. A cross-program team of Kresge staff helped our social investing team vet applicants and land on $30 million of projects to finance, the first $14 million of which we approved in 2016. Two KCF transactions, Memphis Medical District and Boston Community Capital, are also highlighted in these pages.

    They are just a few of our proudest accomplishments. In 2016, our team also:

    • Closed a $100 million expansion of the Healthy Futures Fund
    • Saw more than $3 million returned to our corpus through principal and interest repayments
    • Headlined the Mission Investors Exchange conference with welcome remarks from our President and CEO Rip Rapson
    • Launched capital scans to evaluate solar power, solar storage and sustainable water resources as well as postsecondary access and success pathways with our Environment and Education programs, respectively.

    Increasingly, Kresge is recognized as a leader in the rapidly emerging field of impact investing, giving us a greater opportunity and responsibility to contribute to an effective and efficient marketplace of impact investors. In 2017, we continue to drive toward our core objectives of furthering the foundation’s programmatic priorities, using our resources to attract capital from other investors and demonstrating how philanthropy can harmonize grant making and social investing to accelerate social change.

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Irrigate's Creative Placemaking brought people in the community together for a variety of activities, such as neighborhood bike rides.
Route 2: Field BuildingCreative Placemaking Boosts Quality of Life in Minnesota's Twin Cities
  • Route 2: Field Building

    Creative Placemaking Boosts Quality of Life in Minnesota’s Twin Cities

    Minnesota’s Twin Cities faced a dilemma in 2011: How to support residents and businesses during construction of the highly anticipated – and disruptive – Green Line light-rail service that would eventually connect the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    Supported by ArtPlace, Springboard for the Arts' ReadyGo project features a roster of mobile art tools and activities.

    “If you lived along the construction corridor, it was messy, noisy and inconvenient,” ArtPlace America Executive Director Jamie Bennett wrote about the development in a 2015 blog post. “Worse, if you owned a business there, it was all of those things, and you were losing customers on top of that as parking disappeared and traffic snarled.”

    Enter an ArtPlace-funded, artist-led Creative Placemaking initiative that enlisted hundreds of local artists to stage events and activities like parking lot band concerts, enormous puppets that roamed the business district and a “Light Rail Shuffle” dance number. The initiative helped boost businesses affected by the Green Line construction, changed the “bad news” narrative of the disruptive work and created lasting relationships among community members who may have otherwise never met.

    It stands as a successful example of how ArtPlace – through its local partners – boosts communities and strengthens the field of people and organizations working to position arts and culture as a core sector of community planning and development. The Kresge Foundation is a primary funder of ArtPlace, a 10-year collaboration among foundations, federal agency partners and banks that works to advance Creative Placemaking, a strategy in which arts, culture and community- roles in planning processes.

    Top, culture, art and community come together in the Twin Cities' Irrigate program. Above, a table tennis trailer presented by ReadyGo in Minneapolis. People of all ages can print postcards with Streetcorner Letterpress.

    ArtPlace uses three primary field-building strategies:

    • Relationship brokering: Formally and informally connecting practitioners in the fields of art, culture, design, community development and planning.
    • Field broadening: Working with community development practitioners to incorporate arts, culture and design into their work and providing them with case studies, toolkits and support to realize Creative Placemaking success.
    • Changing expectations: Creating environments where citizens and decision-makers include arts and culture as a core sector in their conception of community. This fosters places where artists see themselves as full citizens with important stakes in their neighborhoods, and communities recognize that artists have a role in all community conversations.

    Regina R. Smith, managing director of Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program, explains that the foundation is committed to grantees like ArtPlace that strengthen the integration of arts, culture and community-engaged design into community development and urban planning. Kresge has invested more than $10 million in the ArtPlace collaboration.

    “Arts and culture are not silver bullets, but are part of a suite of solutions that residents and local officials can use to stabilize neighborhoods and expand opportunity for people,” Smith says. “There is a history of adding arts activities to community development projects. We are increasingly observing urban planners and municipal leaders adopting Creative Placemaking as an approach to equitable development – not just an add on.”

    Watering the Garden

    In the Twin Cities, ArtPlace awarded local partner Springboard for the Arts a grant to inject culture, art and community during the Green Line construction process. They dubbed the initiative the Irrigate Project.

    “There’s creative capacity in every neighborhood,” says Laura Zabel, Springboard’s director. “We just need to water the ideas and creators to flourish.”

    The Irrigate Project took a two-pronged approach to surface community voice and creativity. First, it supported and trained artists in small projects adjacent to the Green Line. Second, it embedded and highlighted working artists in community-building organizations affiliated with the line.

    Laura Zabel, director of Springboard for the Arts in the Twin Cities.

    In the end, more than 600 artists took part in programming and more than 200 small projects were launched. Bands played concerts in parking lots, visual artists painted murals on walls, a local Vietnamese restaurant started a monthly jazz night, the Black Dog coffee shop created a giant dog puppet that made regular appearances in the area and at community events, and a musician created and recorded a song that told the story of the neighborhood.

    “The goals for Irrigate were always about relationship-building,” Zabel explains. “We asked how we could use the disruption of the light rail to engage the artists who were living and working in the affected neighborhoods as creative community catalysts.”

    Zabel says the organization discovered that “lots of little projects that are homegrown and authentic for the area can be a lot more impactful.”

    All told, the project resulted in long-lasting relationships and earned 50 million positive media impressions. The area became a destination for arts, culture, shopping and dining – enjoyed by both existing residents and visitors who attended events during construction and returned to the area via the Green Line when it opened.

    “Rather than teach people to avoid the neighborhood over the two years of construction, Irrigate filled the corridor with activity, creating demand for people to be able to get to and from the neighborhood,” Bennett explains.

    For ArtPlace, successful Creative Placemaking projects are not measured by how many new arts centers, galleries or cultural districts are built. Bennett says success is measured by assessing how artists, formal and informal arts spaces and creative interventions contribute to community outcomes.

    That’s why Zabel considers the Irrigate program a success. Beyond the many artists who participated and became invested in their own neighborhoods and the Green Line’s launch, businesses and other groups involved in Irrigate’s programming say they saw increased visibility, interest and energy because of the activities.

    Irrigate launched programming that included performance art to help ease the stress on Minneapolis-St. Paul neighborhoods affected by rail line construction.

    Irrigate has served as a model to support artists in historic preservation projects, new development and revitalization in urban and rural communities. For example, Zabel was recently contacted by city developers in Mesa, Arizona, who are looking to upgrade their transit system and want to learn from the Green Line’s expansion.

    Irrigate also produced a toolkit that Springboard offers to all types of organizations seeking to incorporate art and artists into community development. By sharing the tool, Springboard hopes to further strengthen the capacity, knowledge, leadership and connectedness of multiple organizations in a given area to maximize the collective impact of their work. 

    ‘A Better Place’

    ArtPlace’s field building efforts are evident in other areas of the Twin Cities, where nearly a dozen ArtPlace grantees have formed a local network to share lessons, promote best practices and hone skills. In all, the organization has supported 11 Creative Placemaking projects in Minnesota, from a city artist-in-residence program in St. Paul, to setting up art shanty ice houses on the frozen waters of White Bear Lake. 

    Among those projects is Mixed Blood Theatre, another Twin Cities organization that first started working on a neighborhood-specific health care initiative. Its artistic director, Jack Reuler, invited Zabel to share tips, best practices and ideas from the Irrigate program and other Springboard successes with his board and staff.

    Irrigate's Creative Placemaking brought people in the community together for a variety of activities, such as neighborhood bike rides.

    “One of the bigger things that we’ve done … is to make our Creative Placemaking and our community organizing an (integral) part of the organization – make it part of the DNA,” Reuler says. “Everybody in every department is involved in engagement work in deep and meaningful ways.”

    Mixed Blood started in 1976 in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis and has been an active participant in the community since. The neighborhood is home to more than 4,000 residents, many from East African, Muslim, and Hmong communities, who collectively speak more than 90 languages. The theater company goes beyond staging performances, serving as a community gathering spot and advocating for its neighbors.

    Mixed Blood recently received ArtPlace funding for its “154 Project (154: Profiles of Health and Belonging).” Its goal is to increase health care understanding and initiatives through a mix of oral histories involving 154 neighborhood members, along with performances and art installations. 

    “We spent 15 years trying to create an audience-performance relationship … but learned over time that doesn’t work,” Reuler says. “We decided that we can use the skills we have as storytellers and theater-makers to create change and art beyond an audience performance.”

    The 154 Project has four goals:

    • to help the people of Cedar Riverside be better advocates for their own health care;
    • to enable health care providers to better serve patients from the neighborhood;
    • to help those who don’t live in Cedar Riverside get a more comprehensive view of the complexity, nuance and excitement in the neighborhood; and
    • to create an effort that the neighborhood can be proud of and that represents what the neighborhood looks like.

    “Mixed Blood tries to use theater to catalyze a healthy community,” Reuler says. “Healthy communities are only in a small part concerned with health care. It’s also education, transportation and recreation and employment and safety. We’re using our work in the neighborhood in all those areas.” 

    “As partners like Mixed Blood and Springboard continue to share successes, challenges and lessons learned with a growing network of like-minded organizations, the shared knowledge will only make the Creative Placemaking field stronger and more effective,” Smith says. “We are committed to helping our partners build their capacity and improve the lives of residents in disenfranchised neighborhoods in cities across America. It is gratifying to see Creative Placemaking practices mature.”

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Organizing a community garden is a Healthier Montgomery initiative.
Route 2: Field BuildingShaping the Future of Public Health
  • Field Building

    Shaping the Future of Public Health

    Supporting visions to redefine roles

    To foster community health, the health care system needs local public health officers with diverse skill sets. 

    Kresge’s Health Program identified an opportunity to help promising teams of public health directors and emerging professionals within public health departments develop knowledge and leadership skills through the Emerging Leaders in Public Health initiative. 

    “This program allows us to support the visions of health directors as they seek to define new roles for local public health departments in communities,” says Kresge Health Program Senior Fellow Dr. Phyllis Meadows. 

    Healthier Montgomery engages citizens in more physical activity.

    Kresge launched the initiative with a pilot group of 12 pairs. Each developed a concept that would significantly change the role of their local public health agency. Over 18 months, Kresge provided technical assistance and tailored coaching. 

    Participants in Cohort I included representatives from the Montgomery County Health Department. Department Director Joey Smith and Health Educator Jennifer Hamilton collaborated to develop a hub to collect neighborhood-level health data that would help agencies understand where to allocate resources. The hub, Healthier Montgomery, allows citizens to access information to improve their health. It also assesses current health interventions and monitors outcomes.

    “Healthier Montgomery isn’t just clicking a mouse," Smith says. "We’re creating a tool that helps identify where we need to add funding for health programs and turns information into measurable action.” 

    Organizing a community garden is a Healthier Montgomery initiative.

    In addition to thinking of ways to use and collect data, others thought about new services. Laurence Polsky, Calvert County Health Department health officer, and partner Kirsten Forseth, an overdose prevention policy analyst, developed a sustainable model for the health department to become the county’s provider of behavioral health services for adolescents struggling with mental health and substance abuse. 

    “In addition to the grant funding that allowed us to launch the program, the leadership skills I received as part of the program were integral to getting our project off the ground,” Polsky says. “In the end, scores of students received previously inaccessible health services through the health department.” 

     "The participants learned skills that could be applied toward achieving ‘real-time’ change in their departments and communities," Meadows says. "We believe the work of these leaders will shed new light on the vast capabilities of local public health and shape the future and direction of local public health.” 

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Legal Impact Network brings law and policy experts together.
Route 2: Field BuildingCommon Challenges, Shared Solutions
  • Field Building

    Common Challenges, Shared Solutions

    Legal Impact Network brings legal aid organizations from around the nation together

    The Kresge Foundation sees civil legal justice and human services as natural allies. 

    “Our approach is thinking expansively about what human services organizations are,” says Sandra Ambrozy, senior program officer for Kresge’s Human Services Program. "For people with low incomes, the path to social and economic mobility often winds through the civil justice system. Integrating civil legal justice efforts with social supports is logical.”

    And so, the foundation partnered with legal aid and policy organizations in Colorado, Illinois and Mississippi. As that evolved, Ambrozy was stunned to discover that despite facing similar challenges, the groups had no formal mechanism to share information with one another.

    “They were operating in isolation,” she says.

    No more. Kresge’s Human Services Program is using a field-building strategy to strengthen and support what Ambrozy calls a generative network: organizations coming together to learn and share about their strategies and challenges – and in turn make the foundation and the field more effective. 

    Legal Impact Network brings law and policy experts together.

    Since 2014, the foundation has helped fund the Legal Impact Network based out of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago, Illinois. It’s a network of law and policy organizations from 31 states and Washington, D.C., that leverages each other’s expertise to address poverty and advance justice. 

    Director Gavin Kearney says the fruits of the network have been exciting to witness. 

    People are able to reach out within the network when they’re facing challenges in the work they’re doing in their states,” Kearney says. 

    For instance, when the State of California over-issued nutrition benefits by about $20 million, the Western Center on Law & Poverty, a Legal Impact Network member, found itself working on behalf of low-income Californians who were being targeted for repayment. A few years earlier, another network member, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, had successfully litigated a similar case. Drawing on the strategy used in New Mexico, the Western Center on Law & Poverty was successful in negotiating a similar outcome in California.

    Kearney says strategic collaboration and relationship-building would not be happening without Kresge funding, which includes supporting regular member meetings and even evaluating the health of the network.

    “By increasing the effectiveness of law and policy organizations to remove barriers to opportunity and strengthen the safety net, we help make sure that everyone can reach their potential and fully contribute to our communities,” Ambrozy says. 

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Regina R. Smith
Route 2: Field BuildingIntegrating Arts & Culture into Development, Urban Planning
  • Arts & Culture Program

    Integrating Arts & Culture into Development, Urban Planning

    By Regina R. Smith
    Managing Director

    Thriving, safe, healthy communities in low-income areas don’t happen by accident. They are products of a shared vision and sustained practices embraced by multiple players committed to the same goal: sustainable, equitable community development borne of authentic local input that reflects neighborhood values and priorities. 

    But where does arts and culture fit in this conversation? Answering that question is easier said than done. And it’s why Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program is increasingly diversifying its portfolio of grants and investments to leverage and strengthen coordination with and among our partners – external and internal.

    In 2016, we moved forward with clarity and purpose to listen and learn from our grantees, contribute to the national Creative Placemaking conversation, further align our activities with external partners and strengthen our internal efforts. Our goal is to help grantees and partners integrate arts, culture and community-engaged design strategies into development and urban planning as part of a suite of solutions to address barriers to opportunity for low-income people.

    At its core, Creative Placemaking is about behavior change. It calls for artists, community development professionals, policy makers and cultural institutions to break out of their silos and work together. You’ll see outstanding examples of that in these pages.

    We’re increasingly partnering with Kresge's Health, Human Services and Environment teams, among others, to leverage our ability to catalyze positive change in America’s urban neighborhoods. We also work with our Social Investment Practice to unlock other forms of capital for innovative projects that strengthen neighborhoods.

    Our FreshLo – Fresh, Local & Equitable – initiative, launched in 2016 in partnership with our Health Program, is an example of this strategy. More than 500 organizations bid for an opportunity to participate in FreshLo’s pioneering goal to use food as a platform for Creative Placemaking, health promotion, economic development and cultural expression. We can’t wait to see what these visionary organizations create.

    From our grants, we are learning that Creative Placemaking, integrated with other forward-looking methods, can address critical but hard-to-measure elements that contribute to long-term community change, including: increased social connectedness among residents; change in community narratives; and favorable physical transformations. 

    We are seeing indications of this in cities across the nation. And in the summer of 2016, the Kresge Board of Trustees affirmed our Creative Placemaking focus by endorsing minor but important strategy revisions designed to increase transparency and clarify our purpose.

    Regardless of what an uncertain future brings, Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program is committed to a path that builds strength, equity and better lives for residents of disenfranchised neighborhoods in America’s great cities.

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Kiowa County Memorial Hospital in Kansas rebuilt after a massive 2007 tornado with a 100 percent renewable wind energy system. Health Care Without Harm works to reduce the environmental footprint of the health care sector.
Route 3: InterdisciplinaryConnecting the Dots to Promote Health and Well-Being in Miami
  • Route 3: Interdisciplinary

    Connecting the Dots to Promote Health and Well-Being in Miami

    Fredy Garcia leads a youth ministry at St. Joachim Catholic Church in Miami, Florida. The parish is in an underserved area of the city and many of its parishioners work in agricultural fields harvesting fruits and vegetables. Most of the adults – Latin American and Haitian immigrants – speak little English. It gets hot doing field work, increasingly so as climate change makes Florida warmer and wetter. 

    But the connection between climate change and the health of workers was largely opaque for many until a Kresge-funded project by Emerald Cities Collaborative taught the youth ministry members how the hotter and more volatile climate affects their health and well-being.

    “The kids are dealing with high temperatures, and this impacts the families working in the fields,” Garcia says. “They are trying to understand the impact of climate change and the relationship to health, like heat stroke and related illnesses.”

    Youth who participate in the St. Joachim ministry attended workshops and wrote call-to-action letters to their parents, urging them to help protect the environment for future generations. Next up, they are planning a tree-planting project to provide shade to help cool the community and act as a buffer against climate change.

    Catalyst Miami's CLEAR program works to inspire participants of all ages to become advocates and effect policy change.

    “They want to change the impact on the community they live in and society in general,” Garcia says.

    An Interdisciplinary Approach

    The approach – integrating both environmental and health concerns into the same initiative – made perfect sense, given the increasingly clear and troubling connection between the two.

    Many of the same activities that plague the health of communities – like air pollution produced by burning fossil fuels, vehicle emissions and the destruction of forests and green landscapes – also accelerate climate change. Add to the equation more record-high temperature days, extreme weather events and flooding, and the health threats to communities grow exponentially.

    Addressing issues in an integrated manner that breaks down traditional sector silos is increasingly common at The Kresge Foundation. It’s an interdisciplinary approach that advances the Environment Program’s goal of helping cities implement comprehensive climate-resilience approaches grounded in equity, while keeping the big picture in mind, says Lois DeBacker, the program’s managing director.

    Jaiden and Kaitelyn Oliver are among participants of the CLEAR children's program in Miami.

    “A lot of people think climate change is just an environmental issue,” she says. “It is so much more. It has implications for public health, the economy and the energy systems and food sources we depend upon.”

    DeBacker notes that creating integrated solutions is helpful in myriad ways. “When we can help communities address their health concerns, slow the release of pollution and perhaps also provide a greenspace that includes cultural amenities and art in the same initiative, we’ve provided multiple benefits,” DeBacker says. “Each is good. Together they help build a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts.”

    The Anchors for Resilient Communities (ARC) project by Emerald Cities Collaborative works to engage public and nonprofit health institutions to advance climate resilience at the community level. Health institutions and their clients have much to gain from mitigating air pollution, heat strokes, vector-borne diseases, deaths and injuries from extreme weather and other climate-change impacts. 

    At the same time, health institutions bear responsibility for serving vulnerable populations unprepared for climate risks. ARC focuses on leveraging the mission and assets of health institutions to serve as catalysts in building community resilience and driving investments that address climate vulnerabilities in low-income communities.

    The project is administered in three climate-impacted communities that face extreme environmental and socioeconomic challenges: San Francisco East Bay (Oakland and Richmond), California; Bronx, New York; and Miami.

    “About 70 percent of health problems have less to do with genetics than with social and environmental factors,” says Denise Fairchild, Emerald Cities Collaborative president. Increasingly, those environmental factors, particularly in low-income communities of color, are correlated to conditions that also contribute to climate change.”

    In Miami, Emerald Cities Collaborative sponsored an artist to help children write letters encouraging their parents to get involved in environmental causes.

    To overturn this reality, Kresge is incentivizing its partners to consider the full range of community assets that may be brought to bear on a problem or series of problems – anchor institutions, the business community, neighborhood groups, artists and culture organizations, nonprofits and developers, to name a few.

    That is happening in Miami, where ARC is working with the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest local union representing health care workers. Together, they collaborated with the University of Miami Hospital (UMH) on a needs assessment of low-income communities of color to help the hospital determine how it will reinvest in the community.

    “This labor union is made up mostly of people of color … who actually live in the communities that UMH serves,” Fairchild says.

    Working together, ARC and SEIU persuaded hospital management to recognize climate impact and how it makes communities vulnerable. The union also conducted community surveys, community education and outreach to include resident voices in UMH’s community health needs assessment.

    “It was helping the hospital redefine what health is – not about illness, but about wellness,” Fairchild says. “And it was helping the community understand that health care is not just about health services. It is about primary preventive approaches to health care and the role of the environment in this.”

    Hundreds of people – including St. Joachim parishioners – received training on health and climate resilience. An artist worked with another church youth group to create art about environmental preservation. Training sessions were held with high school students and adults in the Latino, African American and Haitian communities. 

    Ultimately, the work is expected to benefit the hospital and the community members it employs and serves by creating better individual health outcomes and enabling neighborhoods to be more resilient to climate change impacts. 

    ECC is implementing localized approaches across the three project sites. In California, ECC has partnered with another Kresge grantee, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) to focus on leveraging the purchasing power of Kaiser Permanente – an integrated managed care consortium – and other anchor institutions to increase health, wealth and climate resilience for the communities of East Oakland and Richmond. The project team is working to build a local sustainable food economy as a way to adapt to extreme drought by localizing food production and improving farming technologies. It also will help ensure healthy food access and affordability for low-income households.

    In the Bronx, ECC and its partners analyzed Montefiore Medical Center emergency room data to identify buildings that generate repeat asthma patients. The data is being used to engage staff to develop a green and healthy buildings program to help tenants reduce risks associated with extreme heat. The program will also encourage property owners to help lower building energy costs through energy efficiency retrofits. 

    Kiowa County Memorial Hospital in Kansas rebuilt after a massive 2007 tornado with a 100 percent renewable wind energy system. Health Care Without Harm works to reduce the environmental footprint of the health care sector.

    Engaging in the Conversation

    After Kresge grantee Catalyst Miami saw the impact of climate on health and well-being, the Florida human services nonprofit sought ways to teach community members about climate resilience and give them a voice to effect change.

    For example, in low-income neighborhoods, some people can’t afford to pay their electrical bills. That means their air conditioners stay off and windows are opened, paving the way for mosquitos to enter homes and spread illnesses like Zika, says Catalyst Miami CEO Gretchen Beesing.

    Combining traditional human services work with climate resilience and policy issues was natural.

    “Our mission under the Kresge grant program is to engage low-income communities in the climate resilience conversation, and to ensure that local policy about climate resilience has incorporated local voices,” she says.

    Catalyst Miami built a climate leadership program called CLEAR, which stands for Climate Leadership on the Environment, Advocacy and Resilience. The 12-week program draws participants from low-income neighborhoods and includes a parallel children's program.

    “We talk about climate policy, the latest science and we provide seed money for participants to complete a community project,” Beesing says. “Our goal is to inspire them to become advocates and effect policy change.” 

    A fellowship program allows CLEAR graduates to earn stipends to complete their community project. Plans are to build a resident advisory council to be a collective voice for the community in policy discussions.

    Catalyst Miami also works with the Miami Climate Alliance to distribute hurricane/disaster preparedness kits. They collaborate with government officials to ensure that underserved communities are heard.

    “What Kresge helps us do is focus on work that is central to our mission,” Beesing says. “They're very responsive to what we need and quick to provide connections and support (from intersecting fields).”

    Empowering at the Grassroots Level

    Community-level engagement combining environmental health and climate resilience is critically important, as residents understand best the assets their communities possess, the risks they face and the solutions that would benefit them most. While grassroots leaders fight for cleaner energy and healthier neighborhoods, their voices can be overshadowed by national environmental groups with different agendas.

    Kresge grantee Building Equity and Alignment for Impact (BEA) is working to change that by better aligning the priorities and strategies of grassroots and national organizations, says Bill Gallegos, who serves on BEA’s steering committee.

    Grassroots environmental advocates active in BEA help low-income and minority communities become empowered, effective voices in the movement for a cleaner environment.

    “Historically, the big green sector and the environmental justice community have had different approaches to climate concerns,” Gallegos says.

    In 2013, leaders from across the U.S. participated in a retreat to identify ways to help three distinct communities – grassroots organizations, national environmental groups and philanthropy – work together more productively. BEA formed as a result.

    “Our mission was to contribute to the development of a much stronger, unified environmental movement,” Gallegos says. “And because there is a disparity in philanthropy between the funding allocated to big greens and the grassroots, we decided to try to get more resources to the grassroots so they can fully fulfill their role.”

    BEA distributes case studies about the effectiveness of grassroots organizations and provides trainings. It held a national meeting in November 2016 to bring all the players together.

    “We can't win unless all of these groups are with us,” Gallegos says. “We absolutely need their participation and expertise."

    BEA also aspires to channel at least $10 million in new philanthropic funding to grassroots efforts. 

    “The Kresge grant is extremely important on several levels,” he says. “In part, it’s helping to resource our research on the grassroots landscape, so we know exactly where the groups are, what they're doing and what their needs are.”

    The Greening of Health Care

    People trust doctors and nurses to take care of their health. Health Care Without Harm wants to harness that power by encouraging health care professionals to advocate for a cleaner environment and, ultimately, better health. Their goal is to effectively merge climate resilience work with greener health care.

    “Our mission is to reduce the environmental footprint of the health care sector worldwide and to position health care providers as anchors for sustainability and as advocates for environmental health and justice,” says Gary Cohen, president of Health Care Without Harm, noting that the health care industry represents 18 percent of the U.S. economy. “We are trying to leverage that sector to lead the transition away from fossil fuels, toxic chemicals and industrial agriculture.” 

    Partners Healthcare's new Assembly Row facility in Boston incorporates energy-efcient technologies, hosts a 1.25 MW solar array on the rooftop of its parking garage and is a LEED Gold Version Four candidate.

    The nonprofit also wants to improve the communities' climate resilience.

    “People around the world experience climate change through the health of their families,” Cohen says. “There will be extreme weather events and climate-related disasters, and health care needs to be prepared.”

    Kresge funds helped produce a climate resilience toolkit published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with checklists and case studies about hospitals that are redesigning operations to prepare for climate change. Part of the Kresge grant covered implementation training.

    The grant was also used to expand the Health Care Climate Council, a leadership body of 17 of the largest health care systems in the country. The council is focused on helping members reduce their carbon footprint, being more resilient in the face of climate change and building advocacy muscle.

    “There are a lot of foundations that fund either climate change or health," Cohen says. "Kresge is one of the only foundations that is funding the intersection, and the power of this intersection is extremely important.”

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Students engage in creative arts as part of Newark's PAS program.
Route 3: InterdisciplinaryTaking Aim at College Completion in Newark
  • Interdisciplinary

    Taking Aim at College Completion in Newark

    Arts and education join to support students

    How can cities encourage more low-income students to pursue and attain postsecondary degrees? 

    Newark, New Jersey, offers one example. That’s where Kresge works with Rutgers University to combine arts and education in a college access program that supports high school students – and benefits the entire community.

    Giana Cook is building college readiness in Newark's PAS program.

    Together, Kresge’s Education and Arts & Culture programs provided a $422,000 four-year grant in 2016 to support the Pathways to Achievement and Success (PAS) program, part of the Newark City of Learning Collaborative. 

    The program provides educational support and mentoring to about 150 sophomores in Newark to help them apply to and eventually complete degrees at two- or four-year colleges. Students also attend workshops at the recently renovated Hahn’s building, a 50,000-square-foot arts space that houses local artists and creative services, including video production and 3-D printing studios.

    Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, says the signature of the PAS program is its emphasis on using creative arts to energize and engage students, who are given the opportunity to participate in activities such as filmmaking or 3-D modeling while also completing SAT prep and academic enrichment.

    Students engage in creative arts as part of Newark's PAS program.

    “It’s a real melding of creative voice and education attainment,” Cantor says.

    This aligns with Kresge’s mission to increase postsecondary access and success for underrepresented students, says William F.L. Moses, managing director of Kresge’s Education Program. It also provides a physical, economic and educational anchor institution for the community and serves as a model for other universities and programs.

    New Jersey is among states with the highest college attainment rates. But in Newark, one of the nation's poorest cities, college attainment is just 17 percent.

    “In this knowledge economy, educational opportunity is the key to economic mobility, so it’s important not just for students, but also for their families and neighborhoods,” Cantor says.

    Giana Cook, a fellow in the program and a sophomore at Paulo Freire Charter School, applied because it offered an opportunity to prepare for college and further her goal of becoming an advocacy lawyer. She says she has enjoyed the photography and 3-D printing workshops, but also values the lessons in college readiness.

    “The instructors stress hard work and consistency,” she says. “I know those are key attributes and tools I’m going to need when I get into law school and when I go to college. They prepare you for the real world.” 

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Mark and Adriana Glenn of Flint with 1-year-old Kalayna and nurse Brandi Yousif.
Route 3: InterdisciplinaryFocusing on Kids and Families in a Water Crisis
  • Interdisciplinary

    Focusing on Kids and Families in a Water Crisis

    Grant helps Flint foundation expand its work

    Adriana Glenn didn’t want a nurse coming into the home she was sharing with her mom and husband, and where she was suffering from terrible morning sickness. 

    At the same time, like so many other families in the crosshairs of Flint, Michigan’s infamous water lead poisoning crisis, they were using bottled water to drink, cook and bathe.

    Mark and Adriana Glenn of Flint with 1-year-old Kalayna and nurse Brandi Yousif.

    Despite Adriana’s reluctance, her mom and husband, Mark, convinced her to sign up with the Nurse Family Partnership. As it turned out, the visits by registered nurse Brandi Yousif became both a comfort and blessing.

    “I did not know what I was doing or how to handle the situation when I found out I was pregnant,” says Glenn, a 25-year-old Flint native. 

    Yousif helped Glenn in myriad ways, from monitoring her health during pregnancy to developing a birthing and feeding plan and making sure the family had the right equipment when the baby arrived. Yousif still visits to share positive parenting skills – and to play with the baby, Kalayna.

    “What seems small is really a huge success for our clients,” Yousif says. “It’s an honor for us to take this journey with them, to empower them to have the life they dream of having.”

    The Nurse Family Partnership, administered by Hurley Medical Center in Flint, is the kind of prevention program Kresge hopes to foster with a $2 million grant to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF). In 2016, CFGF, through its Flint Kids Fund, provided the visiting nurse program with $74,000 to expand services in the community.

    Kresge is committed to grantees that take holistic, interdisciplinary approaches to the challenges they are tackling. In that vein, the CFGF grant will touch many aspects of the lead crisis – from remediating homes with lead paint to identifying and helping children who have special learning needs.

    Nearly half of the support will be committed to the Flint Kids Fund. CFGF also plans to allocate funds to local nonprofits that are working to address social, educational, health and environmental needs in the wake of the water crisis. Funding will also be used for project evaluation to ensure that current programs are effective.

    “Our vision for the Flint Kids Fund is – really from day one ¬– families will have available to them the best resources to support children’s development and well-being,” says CFGF President Kathi Horton. 

    The Kresge interdisciplinary grant is intended to boost access to healthy food and nutrition education, improve access to health care for children and pregnant women, and increase literacy education and social supports for families. The Nurse Family Partnership is one of those initiatives. 

    “Our goal is to strengthen prevention efforts on the ground,” says Phyllis Meadows, a senior fellow at The Kresge Foundation. “We knew there was an emerging fund trying to mitigate the effects of lead on children from multiple angles, so we wanted to help jump-start
    that effort.”

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Lois R. DeBacker
Route 3: InterdisciplinaryCities’ Leadership is More Urgent Than Ever
  • Environment Program

    Cities’ Leadership is More Urgent Than Ever

    By Lois R. DeBacker Managing Director

    In 2016, The Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program continued to elevate the perspectives and leadership of low-income people and communities of color in urban climate-resilience efforts. We helped build momentum for leading-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy approaches in cities, hosted productive convenings and peer-learning opportunities, and developed a new strategy for our grants and social investments in support of climate-resilient and equitable water systems, among many other signals of progress.

    At the same time, we witnessed a significant setback for the work we support in the election of a new president whose platform is indifferent, and in many cases hostile, to the realities of climate science, the imperatives of action on climate change and to environmental protection.

    The new administration signals a fundamental change in the context for our work and that of our grantees and allies who rely on federal partnerships and support.

    The Kresge Board of Trustees and staff carefully considered how the Environment Program’s strategy should respond to this new context. After much deliberation, we determined to largely stay the course in our work to help cities implement comprehensive climate-resilience approaches grounded in equity.

    We reached this decision by considering not only what had changed at the national level, but also what had not changed in the surround for our work. The following are clear to us:

    • The urgency of climate action is undiminished. The next several years are critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    • The equity and justice implications of climate change remain profound.
    • The international consensus on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels that will safeguard life on this planet still holds. 
    • Cities continue to provide strong, bold, and – in many cases – visionary leadership on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
    • Many private sector players acknowledge the reality of climate change and have begun to plan for it in their business strategies.
    • The renewable energy industry is growing rapidly as prices of solar panels and battery storage decline.
    • Community-based organizations, including those in low-income communities and communities of color, increasingly understand the relevance of climate change to the people and places they care about and are advocating for solutions.
    • Philanthropic engagement on climate change issues remains strong.

    In our view, city-level leadership on climate change is more critical now than ever, as is the need to build a more inclusive movement for equitable action on climate change. Our commitment to advance those goals stands strong.

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The Family Independence Initiative in Oakland, California, aims to change the way investment is made in low-income communities and families.
Route 4: Investing in InnovationFamilies Gain Control by Taking Pathways Out of Poverty
  • Route 4: Investing in Innovation

    Families Gain Control by Taking Pathways Out of Poverty

    Humu Itsifu is the mother of a toddler, working as she pursues a college degree. The Chicago resident is on her way toward a bright future, buoyed by her engagement with LIFT, a results-driven nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that confronts poverty as a multigenerational challenge. 

    LIFT is shaking the power structure of the social services arena, letting families decide for themselves what they need for a better life and then connecting them to the people and networks needed to reach their goals.

    “Some of the most revolutionary aspects of the LIFT model are those that are the most simple and straightforward,” says LIFT CEO Kirsten Lodal. “We believe that families are the experts in their own lives and should be the chief architects of their futures. Our job is to respond to that through relationships and through the infrastructure we’ve built.”

    The LIFT model is shaped by research that shows a link between parents’ well-being and their children’s success. The organization works as a “connector” that hitches its partners – from food banks and preschool educational programs to pro bono lawyers and youth leadership initiatives – with families who need them. LIFT staff and volunteers are part of this formula, too.

    Parents in the LIFT program receive assistance with everything from food and transportation to child care and other needs.

    Parents in the program receive support to help with their daily expenses including food, transportation and child care, needs which might otherwise block their progress if left unmet. However, Lodal says social capital is the program’s most valuable currency for keeping families stable.

    Itsifu knows well how one snafu can trigger a cascade of setbacks. Last year, there was a mix-up with her state paperwork and she lost her extended-hour child care assistance. Working two jobs, she faced the prospect of having to leave one and abandon her social work degree program at Chicago State University.

    The young woman persuaded her employer to let her bring her daughter to the tutoring sessions she taught. A professor allowed her to make up the evening classes she missed. But a turning point came when LIFT staff connected Itsifu with a peer-group meeting. One of the other parents in the group had experienced the same problem and knew how to fix it.

    “Yes, I’m driven,” Itsifu says, acknowledging her tenacity, “but the guidance from LIFT helps if I don't have the resources or know where to go or to look.”

    Through LIFT, Itsifu found $3,500 in scholarship funds. She assembled a work wardrobe thanks to LIFT’s connection to Dress For Success. And LIFT helped her stay on track to pay down $5,200 in debt and land a full-time job with benefits. 

    Investing in Ingenuity

    Kresge grants enable LIFT and social service nonprofits, such as Family Independence Initiative and Venture Philanthropy Partners, to serve as accelerators for people trying to move out of poverty. In searching for efforts that are sustainable, scalable and replicable, the foundation is supporting actionable solutions that translate into economic mobility.

    Humu Itsifu of Chicago with her daughter, Sameea.

    “What’s driving the work of these organizations? They have a deeply inherent trust and belief in the ability of people to find success,” says David Fukuzawa, managing director of Kresge’s Health and Human Services programs. “And that has not always been something that people in the social services sector believed.

    “The bigger message is that everyone is born with an innate capacity to be successful and achieve and move forward with their lives, but circumstances can prevent people from doing that. These organizations help people navigate the barriers that stand in their way.”

    Family Independence Initiative (FII) describes itself as a “learning” organization that aims to build a movement to change the way investment is made in low-income communities and families. Headquartered in Oakland, California, the initiative has launched programs in northern California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Cincinnati, Ohio, is next on the list.

    The Family Independence Initiative in Oakland, California, aims to change the way investment is made in low-income communities and families.

    Families involved in the initiative recruit one another, then peer groups are established to share resources, ideas and advice — and to hold each other accountable. 

    “Families set their own direction and take action as they determine,” says Jesús Gerena, FII CEO. “We believe that, collectively, families have the knowledge, initiative and capacity to lead themselves.”

    The organization puts money directly into families’ hands and logs outcomes. Case managers monitor the progress of families, but do not provide direction or advice. 

    “They just listen and sometimes ask questions to gather stories and deepen our understanding,” Gerena says. 

    Family Independence Initiative is currently working with 2,000 households, but expects to expand to 3,500 by the end of 2017.

    At enrollment, a family of four typically earns an annual income of $24,000, which is 3 percent below the federal poverty threshold. After two years, that income level usually rises more than $8,000. Entrepreneurship often drives that upward swing, with many of the families tapping funds in the organization’s Resource Hub. This capital (which averages $1,390 per family with a cap at $5,000) can be channeled to family businesses through microloans or grants, but it can also be devoted to education, health and fitness, home ownership, transportation, debt reduction or other areas deemed important by the enrolled families. 

    Gerena says the initiative is currently working with 2,000 households. That will jump to 3,500 by the end of 2017. Because FII uses an online platform, “we do not need to add staff if we take on more families,” he says. “Instead, we only need to raise more money to support the hub.”

    Investing in ‘Game-Changers’

    Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), another Kresge partner in Washington, D.C., facilitates structured partnerships among nonprofits to improve education and employment opportunities for vulnerable youth. Through its youthCONNECT program, Venture Philanthropy Partners has served more than 21,000 young people since 2011.

    “For us, it was about looking at organizations that had been around for a while. We wanted to make sure the leaders were strong and had aspirations for growth,” says Venture Philanthropy Partners CEO Carol Thompson Cole. 

    A number of Kresge Foundation initiatives, including LIFT (pictured here), are focused on helping families fnd their way out of poverty.

    She says donors want to be involved with capacity-building investment in initiatives that are “game-changers.” VPP applies a business approach to its work, even going so far as to identify potential board members for its partner organizations. 

    In its most ambitious effort, VPP has anchored youthCONNECT directly into Suitland High School, a Maryland public school just outside D.C. The project jointly leverages the resources of five nonprofits to ensure students are graduating from high school – and are ready for the next step in life.

    The nonprofits include a peer-influence initiative that deploys university-bound high school students to help other students get ready for college, a multicultural youth organization, a nonprofit that connects youth in poverty to work and scholarships, a one-year program that prepares students for internships, and Urban Alliance, which identifies mentors and lines up paid internships for students. 

    LIFT's approach is to empower families to decide for themselves what they need for a better life and then connect them to the people and networks needed to reach their goals.

    With economic development planned for the Maryland county where the high school is located, Cole says one goal is to prepare Suitland High students so they “can stay in their community and live and work and make a difference.”

    Tracking Progress

    VPP and Kresge’s other human services innovators collect data on the results of their programs and then use that knowledge to deliver services with more effective results. For example, VPP developed a framework that all of its Suitland High School partners can use to track outcomes. 

    FII repurposed a data management platform used by hedge fund managers into a real-time, cloud-based system through which families log monthly into a journal. They record details on income and savings, health, education and skills, housing, their connections and even how they are feeling about life issues that could impede their economic progress. FII pays the families so it can access this rich treasure trove of information.

    The online journaling system is tied to a social media site where families advise and encourage one another and where crowd-sourced funding, loans, scholarships, mini-grants and other resources are available. 

    “The families are the beneficiaries of this data. They track their progress online and learn from it. They can also see what inspires their peers and provide support to them,” Gerena says. “And we become the beneficiary of the aggregate of that information, which allows us to be able to change that narrative around the working poor.”

    LIFT also collects feedback from its families through short surveys that it analyzes before brainstorming with the families about how to make improvements. The feedback covers progress on family goals, along with less-tangible issues such as whether phone meetings are preferable to face-to-face meetings and whether LIFT should expand current networks or pioneer new interventions. 

    “Many ideas have come from families,” Lodal says. “This allows us to be constantly innovating.”

    Back in Chicago, Itsifu can often be found at the computer at Educare, an early childhood education partner in the LIFT network. There, she emails her academic adviser or prints coupons for disposable diapers. She puts $2 from every paycheck into a savings account and another $2 into a college fund for her daughter. While child care remains a juggling act, she gets help from another LIFT parent, one of the peer connections in her network. 

    And she credits LIFT and its partners for helping her create a better future for herself and her child. 

    “They are empowering me,” she says. “That's why I’m so motivated, because of them.”

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Before and after: The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority will rehab or build new commercial mixed-use buildings to complement its previous investments in housing, as shown here.
Route 4: Investing in InnovationInnovation in Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Investing in Innovation

    Innovation in Neighborhood Revitalization

    Investments in development create better outcomes in Cincinnati

    Urban flight and disinvestment have left neighborhoods across the country blighted and distressed as vacant homes are vandalized or fall into disrepair.

    In Ohio, Kresge has partnered with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority on an innovative initiative to reverse that trajectory that is focused on resident outcomes. Kresge made a $5 million program-related investment to the port authority, a public, mission-driven economic development agency. The investment supplements the organization’s new DREAM (Driving Real Estate to Accelerate Microenterprise) loan fund. Through the fund, the port authority will rehab or construct new mixed-use buildings in key commercial corridors in targeted neighborhoods. These commercial corridor investments complement the port authority's previous housing investments in these neighborhoods.  

    Before and after: The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority will rehab or build new commercial mixed-use buildings to complement its previous investments in housing, as shown here.

    The initiative aligns with Kresge’s mission to expand opportunities in America’s cities and support social investment in mixed-income, mixed-use projects, says Aaron Seybert, a Kresge social investment officer. 

    “It’s about tying investment to resident outcomes such as economic mobility,” he says. 

    The initiative focuses on attracting neighborhood-serving businesses such as grocery stores, small businesses and arts and cultural organizations to disinvested areas. 

    “What we’re really looking for is a revitalization of the business districts into a thriving and contributing part of the neighborhood ecosystem,” says Susan Thomas, executive vice president of the port authority. “That means they provide places for people to work and increased safety, services and products.”

    Before and after: Real estate prices go up in neighborhoods where investments are made in both homes and businesses.

    The initiative is already yielding positive results in the Evanston neighborhood, where the port authority has rehabbed and sold 19 previously vacant properties. Gail Paul, port authority vice president of communication strategy, says real estate prices in the neighborhood have increased.

    If successful, the initiative could provide a model for redeveloping mixed-use districts nationwide. It could also help determine whether projects that creatively combine residential and commercial strategies generate better outcomes for the people who live in those neighborhoods than projects with just one of the strategies employed, Seybert says. 

    More immediately, the initiative addresses disinvestment in neighborhoods and growing demand for housing options close to urban cores.

    “We can carefully manage this,” says port authority CEO Laura Brunner, “so we’re investing in those communities, creating opportunities for legacy residents to participate in the wealth creation that’s going to come and, at the same time, creating demand for the businesses as well as for the homebuyers.”

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DNA People's Legal Services Attorney Heather Hoechst talks with a client in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Route 4: Investing in InnovationTaking Legal Services to the People
  • Investing in Innovation

    Taking Legal Services to the People

    Program combines law with health care to serve the Navajo Nation

    The Navajo Nation, a Native American territory, covers 27,000 square miles across Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. But the breathtaking landscape of the painted desert belies the fact that more than 40 percent of its 300,000-plus residents live below the poverty line. Few have basic amenities like running water and electricity. 

    “The Navajo Nation is exceptionally poor with a high unemployment rate and extreme disparity,” says Isabelle Williamson, medical-legal partnership project director for DNA People’s Legal Services. “It has a massive impact on its families and the Nation as a whole.” 

    For 50 years, DNA (an acronym for the Navajo phrase, Dinébe’iiná Náhiiłna be Agha’diit’ahii, which translates to: attorneys who work for the economic revitalization of The People) has been providing help to tribal members and residents. While the work was rewarding, it wasn’t enough; few residents knew help was available or had the means to gain access to it. In 2009, DNA attorney Matt VanWormer formed a medical-legal partnership with Northern Navajo Medical Center, a hospital and outpatient facility that serves more than 80,000 Native Americans. 

    “It’s a different, pioneering way to reach clients,” Williamson says. “We meet them at health institutions where they’re going anyway.”

    Trained health professionals, caseworkers and receptionists screen patients for legal needs. Typical cases revolve around domestic violence, eviction and benefits appeals for food assistance, disability and other noncriminal needs.

    “Patients who need legal assistance get referred to an on-site attorney who can help them while they are at the clinic,” Williamson says. “Intervening here provides access to more people in a timely manner.”

    That approach has been highly successful. An initial 2011 grant through Kresge’s Health Program helped test the model’s sustainability. During that time, DNA recovered $1.1 million from scam artists who prey on the elderly and underserved; put 52 families into secure housing; helped 148 families receive public assistance totaling $4.6 million of household resources; and attained special education services for 30 children. 

    A second three-year grant is being used to replicate the model to serve Native Americans in other areas including territories in Alaska, Oklahoma and Nebraska. 

    “This work is helping to set the standard for administering medical-legal partnerships in underserved communities,” says Stacey Barbas, senior program officer of the foundation’s Health Program. “DNA has created a model that can bring medical and legal services to more communities that need them.” 

    DNA’s expansion of services also caught the attention of AmeriCorps.  With an AmeriCorps grant, DNA will recruit 14 attorneys to provide services for 14 communities. 

    “We’re excited about the future,” Williamson says. “We want to continue to grow and continue to look for new legal aid partners. We believe we can expand our services in a massive way.”

    While the organization hasn’t collected medical data, Williamson believes it's making a difference in residents' health and well-being.

    “If you’re not safe at home, how can you make ends meet?” she asks. “It’s hard to apply for public benefits if you’re living in crisis. People will never get better until we address the multifaceted social determinants of health.”

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David Fukuzawa
Route 4: Investing in InnovationUsing Integrated Approaches to Achieve Better Outcomes
  • Human Services Program

    Using Integrated Approaches to Achieve Better Outcomes

    By David Fukuzawa
    Managing Director

    The Human Services Program introduced a revised strategy in 2016 to accelerate innovation in the sector to achieve better outcomes for people with low incomes. Our adjusted program addresses opportunities for the sector at the regulatory and policy level, supports leading innovators in the field and will develop integrated human services ecosystems in cities. We have already begun to see early successes and gather initial lessons from our partners. 

    We are seeing public agencies and nonprofit organizations across the nation begin to accelerate the adoption of more integrated approaches to serve clients with a clear focus on achieving better outcomes. The human service delivery system comprises a complex array of regulations and policies coupled with a funding method that is often conflicting and siloed.

    The sector’s response is increasingly to disentangle the complexity by integrating across programs or coordinating funding around the person or family. In public systems, this is evident in the increased number of state, county and city human services departments that are merging with health or public health departments. 

    Our grant to the American Public Human Services Association will thus offer intensive technical assistance to 13 public agencies to move them up the human services value curve. It’s a model that moves agencies beyond multisystem integration toward “ecosystems” of supports and services centered on achieving the highest outcomes for clients and families.

    We see a similar movement toward health and human services integration by nonprofits. For example, our grant to the Nonprofit Finance Fund supports the design and demonstration of a platform to integrate business and intervention practices among actors within the health and human services sectors. 

    Innovation is focused on person-centered and outcome-based approaches. These innovators take a relational approach to delivering supports with an intense focus not just on helping clients, but on coaching or mentoring them to self-agency. Such organizations go beyond focusing on social services to moving individuals toward a firm pathway of economic self-sufficiency. This report highlights the impressive work of just a few of our innovative partners including LIFT, the Family Independence Initiative and Venture Philanthropy Partners. 

    During times when a sector is evolving, it is also important to consider how we communicate about our work. Our grant to the National Human Services Assembly explored how sector leaders could reframe the conversation about human services to improve public understanding of the field’s work. In turn, this increases public support for the policies and programs necessary to improve the effectiveness of human services. 

    We look forward to further evolving these approaches in 2017. 

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The Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color works to improve opportunities for young men of color. Alex Moon-Walker is studying to become a research professor.
Route 5: Learning NetworksDoing What it Takes to Build Student Success in Austin and Beyond
  • Route 5: Learning Networks

    Doing What it Takes to Build Student Success in Austin and Beyond

    Alex Moon-Walker knows what he will be doing after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017. Having studied biochemistry and microbiology, he has been accepted to Harvard University’s virology Ph.D. program. His goal is to become a research professor. 

    But the path wasn’t always so clear for the young Dallas-area native. During his first year at UT, Moon-Walker found himself struggling to keep up with his studies. 

    “As valedictorian in high school, I thought college would be a breeze,” he says. “I realized I needed to make some changes.”

    Moon-Walker came to UT from Jack E. Singley Academy, a public high school in the Dallas suburb of Irving. It’s a designated Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (T-STEM) school. According to U.S. News & World Report, the academy has a total minority enrollment of 91 percent (75 percent Hispanic) and 69 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

    As a member of UT’s University Leadership Network (ULN), Moon-Walker was able to receive the mentoring help he needed to get back on track academically. As part of the class of 2017, he was among the first cohort of 500 students to participate in the incentive-based scholarship program, which provides members with leadership and academic guidance to help them succeed. Those selected receive an annual $5,000 scholarship that is contingent on continued participation and good academic standing.

    While Moon-Walker had received a few smaller scholarships, he knew those would quickly run out, so being selected to the ULN provided welcome financial support. But he didn’t realize how much he would come to appreciate the ULN’s other benefits, too.

    “The main thing about this program has been the support network,” Moon-Walker says.

    Alex Moon-Walker is studying to become a research professor.

    In addition to demonstrating financial need, students are identified based on historical characteristics that predict it might be a struggle for them to make it to graduation. 

    “The most significant predictor of college completion is parental income,” says David Laude, senior vice provost for strategic initiatives and a key developer of the ULN. “Programs like (this) work with students coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to address the underlying challenges they experience.”

    Entering college, the first student cohort had a 33 percent predicted chance of graduating in four years based on historical data. After participating in the program, 65 percent were on track to graduate four years later. 

    ULN’s success has not gone unnoticed by peer institutions, in part thanks to the institution’s membership in the University Innovation Alliance (UIA).

    A Collective Approach

    That’s where The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program comes in. It helped establish the UIA, a coalition of 11 public four-year universities working to improve low-income students’ educational attainment and economic prospects. The alliance brings together leaders from member institutions to share ideas and solutions, including how to use data analytics to improve student success.

    The UIA also goes to the heart of Kresge’s method of bringing together disparate individuals who share a common interest or goal. Together, they build strong relationships, foster innovative and creative thinking and bring about systems-level change, says William F.L. Moses, managing director of Kresge’s Education Program.

    “We focus on three areas: providing pathways through college; building the capacity of institutions that focus on the students we want to reach; and strengthening and aligning urban education ecosystems,” Moses says. “One of the most effective ways to disseminate innovative ideas is to get like-minded people to share those ideas and those experiences and then move forward together.

    “The UIA is exciting because there really was no other collective or focused approach to improving student success among four-year institutions when they developed this partnership.” 

    UIA Executive Director Bridget Burns says Kresge’s involvement as a founding partner has been critical to the organization’s success. 

    “Their support has encouraged other funders to come in,” she says. “Kresge has also given us the flexibility to shift when our work needed to be adapted.”

    The UIA connects members like UT via liaisons and a fellows’ program to facilitate sustained collaboration and conversations.

    “Campuses share with each other and gain from each other,” Burns says. “UT is a good example of that.” 

    Strengthening Networks

    Texas is one of Kresge’s Education Program focus states. It's ripe for opportunities to improve college attainment and graduation rates – especially among underrepresented and low-income students. 

    “Texas will soon have a majority of people of color, and a lot of the new majority will not be from communities with high college attainment rates,” Moses says. “So it’s critically important that Texas focus on getting more of its population to successfully complete college degrees.”

    College attainment is more imperative than ever due to a job market in which openings increasingly require at least an associate or bachelor’s degree. The Austin Chamber of Commerce January 2017 Job Posting Report, for example, cites about 34,000 job openings. However, more than 60 percent of them require a postsecondary degree or certificate, according to Gilbert Zavala, vice president of education and talent development at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. 

    Zavala oversees the chamber’s FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion program, coordinated in partnership with 40 Austin-area high schools. Filing a FAFSA is the key step toward determining eligibility for college aid, and most students – about 90 percent – who fill out the FAFSA go on to college. Wanting to boost those completion numbers, Kresge, with grantee partner National College Access Network, introduced the FAFSA Cities Completion Challenge and invited more than 100 cities to apply with their plans to improve FAFSA completion by at least 5 percent for the graduating class of 2017. 

    The chamber was one of 22 national recipients that received a grant of up to $55,000 to execute FAFSA completion activities for the 2016-17 school year. The 22 winning cities also have formed their own network to share insights on what’s working and learn together via monthly conference calls. 

    “What we’ve heard over and over from our participating cities is that the regular learning opportunities are really a game-changer,” says Sara Melnick from NCAN. “We know the grant funds of course are making their work possible, but they tell us the chance to hear how other cities are tackling the same problems they’re facing in their backyards deepens the experience and gives them new ideas and insights to try.”

    To achieve higher completion in Austin, Zavala and his team work with high school leadership – high schools typically host the completion events – as well as with other community partners and businesses to support the events and provide rewards to schools with the most students who complete the FAFSA. 

    “To us, it doesn’t matter where you file,” Zavala says. “The important thing is that we’re coordinating a regional effort and connecting parents and students to the resources they need.”

    Pathways and Capacities

    Meanwhile, the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color, under the auspices of UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, is leading the way in improving educational opportunities for boys and young men of color, primarily for Latino students, statewide. The consortium falls under the umbrella of Project MALES, which includes a national research agenda with 25 faculty research affiliates around the country and a mentoring effort in Austin middle and high schools. 

    Kresge is supporting the consortium’s ongoing member efforts to spread ideas across campuses and educational sectors.

    “We realized early on that we needed to have a strategy to bring together partners,” says Victor Sáenz, Ph.D., associate professor and executive director of Project MALES. “There was clearly a demand and a need for us to have the space to bring institutions together that have this as a priority.”

    The consortium’s work is gaining recognition nationally as Sáenz and his team are being asked to conduct site visits at institutions in other states.

    “There’s great appeal to what we’re doing across the country,” Sáenz says. “This is exactly what the impetus was to develop a statewide consortium.”

    Building strong learning relationships with centers around the country is also a key aspect to the work of the Austin-based Texas Success Center (TSC). It was established at the Texas Association of Community Colleges in 2013 and is one of 13 centers across the country working at a state level to instruct community colleges on best practices such as how to incorporate student data to improve student outcomes. Texas is home to 50 community college districts with 700,000 students currently enrolled. 

    Kresge awarded grants in 22 cities nationally to execute programs that encourage FAFSA completion.

    “We’re a significant population,” TSC Executive Director Cynthia Farrell says. “Half of all undergraduate work in Texas is at community colleges.”

    Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunities for underserved populations in the U.S. (and another Kresge grantee), runs TSC's program.

    “JFF brings us together twice a year and helps us orchestrate a conversation about the things we’ve identified as most important,” Farrell says. 

    TSC has focused on guided pathways, which help students identify educational goals early and plan course loads that will set them on a road to achieve them. 

    Central to the center’s work is looking at ways to make degree paths more efficient. With a three-year grant from Kresge, the center is building curricula for and conducting institutes that focus on building capacity for community colleges to design and implement structured academic and career pathways. 

    “It’s a huge commitment for a community college to be a part of this,” Farrell says. “You have to look back at everything you do from the time you first meet a student, or even reaching back to high school, and helping their counselors do a better job informing students about career and available college paths.”

    Thirty-eight community colleges have signed on.

    “The organizations we work with are all doing fantastic work individually, but there is always room to learn from what others are learning, always ways to grow and improve,” Moses says. “We’ve found that our partners are eager for those opportunities to help them do just that.”

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FreshLo recipients are using their awards to create neighborhood projects.
Route 5: Learning NetworksA Fresh Approach to Food Access
  • Learning Networks

    A Fresh Approach to Food Access

    Programs use food as a creative platform for neighborhood revitalization

    When fresh produce is available in low-income communities, the economic and health benefits are significant. But multiple barriers – high costs coupled with low incomes, transportation issues and a lack of store owners willing to sell perishable goods – can keep healthy products out of reach. 

    FreshLo recipients are using their awards to create neighborhood projects.

    To help solve that problem, 26 organizations and coalitions across the country each received $75,000 planning grants to develop food initiatives in underserved neighborhoods. Dubbed “FreshLo” for Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization, the initiative is jointly supported by Kresge's Arts & Culture and Health programs. FreshLo recipients are using their awards to plan neighborhood projects that integrate creative placemaking, community development, equity and access to healthy foods. 

    While it is rare for foundations to fund cross-disciplinary projects, community organizations are already working this way. 

    “As we started to get to know our cohort, we learned that many of our grantees were already approaching this work with a cross-disciplinary approach,” says Stacey Barbas, senior program officer with Kresge’s Health Program. 

    Va-Megn Thoj, executive director of the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA), isn’t surprised. 

    “FreshLo is a great fit for us,” he says. “This planning grant is helping us identify a way to work together collaboratively and leverage our community assets to address food justice.” 

    FreshLo partners also benefit from sharing with and learning from fellow grantees. Representatives of the 26 organizations came together at a convening to kick off their planning year, and have stayed in touch through “virtual” lunches and visiting each other’s projects.

    FreshLo grantee Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) has long worked to bolster healthy food options in Chicago’s neighborhoods. IMAN Senior Organizer Shamar Hemphill participated in a panel at the convening, reminding fellow grantees that community-based organizations must serve as advocates and ambassadors.

    “We have to be the ones at the city level, at the state level, helping to really incentivize the process, educate our legislators, our city council folks, about what is needed and what is happening around the issues,” Hemphill says. “And being ambassadors, we have to be the folks who live it, breathe it, and digest it every day. We’ve got to walk the walk.”

    IMAN used its grant to conduct strategic planning for its farmers' market on Chicago’s Southwest side. Its Corner Store Connection aims to build relationships between store owners and residents. IMAN also surveyed more than 500 people about food, location and infusing art and culture into how residents shop. 

    The lessons learned in Chicago can translate elsewhere.

    “This initiative has provided resources directly to neighborhoods that are often overlooked,” Barbas says. “By funding a diverse group of projects across the country, we’re hoping grantees will have a direct impact on the food system.” 

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A "green roof" is among infrastructure projects in Philadelphia designed to decrease stormwater runoff.
Route 5: Learning NetworksBuilding Climate Resiliency in Cities
  • Learning Networks

    Building Climate Resiliency in Cities

    Collaborating on green stormwater infrastructure initiatives

    At a Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange workshop in November 2016, a handful of municipal managers took a deep dive into the world of green stormwater infrastructure. 

    Climate change-driven warmer temperatures are leading to more frequent and more intense rains, which trigger floods that strain aging infrastructure. In older cities like Detroit and Philadelphia, where sewer systems capture both storm runoff and sewage on their way to the treatment plant, the burden is even greater. Increased storm runoff ends up in basements, on streets and ultimately, in streams, rivers and lakes. 

    Members of the exchange are on the front lines of mitigating the disasters climate change is bringing to their communities with solutions that are environmentally and economically sound – and often, pretty.

    A $200,000 Kresge grant helped launch the Philadelphia-based exchange in its efforts to support peer-to-peer learning opportunities like the workshop. Representatives from four of the exchange’s 35 member cities – New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Los Angeles – spent a few days sharing ideas with their counterparts from other cities and focusing on the financial challenges of maintaining green infrastructure projects. Such projects might include rain gardens, pervious pavements, stormwater bumpouts and bioswales – all designed to capture or slow down stormwater. 

    A "green roof" is among infrastructure projects in Philadelphia designed to decrease stormwater runoff.

    Kresge funding will help the exchange host additional workshops, support research, offer training and accelerate and measure the progress of the projects, says Exchange Coordinator Paula Conolly.

    “Green stormwater infrastructure brings economic, environmental and social benefits beyond just water quality and remediation,” she says.

    Encouraging environmentally sound, workable projects that benefit low-income communities and create jobs is Kresge’s goal in supporting efforts like the exchange, says Jalonne White-Newsome, senior program officer with Kresge’s Environment Program. 

    “We want communities to become more climate resilient, and ensure that the jobs created and benefits that come to the community are equitably shared among everyone, including traditionally underrepresented populations,” White-Newsome says. “The wonderful thing about the exchange is that it’s the only network of actual practitioners on the ground who are trying to increase the uptake of green infrastructure.

    “The other thing is, when you talk about leading by example, cities are the incubators of solutions that work.” 

    The ideas that grow out of the forums and workshops will help inspire water utilities to move away from pipe and pump projects and embrace natural infrastructure.

    “The overall goal is to make water healthy, affordable and safe for everyone, particularly low-income communities,” White-Newsome says.

    Jennifer Larmeu, New Orleans’ green infrastructure program manager, came away from the workshop with ideas for financing green infrastructure projects in her city. 

    “Every city doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Larmeu says. “If you can reach out to people who’ve been through the same thing, you can move forward more efficiently."

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William F. L. Moses
Route 5: Learning NetworksWorking in Cities to Improve College Enrollment
  • Education Program

    Working in Cities to Improve College Enrollment

    By William F. L. Moses
    Managing Director

    It’s no newsflash that most low-income students don’t travel across the country to go to college. Those who matriculate to the post-secondary world typically enroll close to home – often in a community college or a public-regional university, many in urban areas. 

    And while nearly any community would say it values higher education and wants a better-educated workforce, a look at graduation rates for low-income populations finds very few places achieving those results.

    In 2016, we implemented a new strategy to support cross-sector, citywide work that will strengthen and align what we call the Urban Higher Education Ecosystem. This ecosystem includes K-12 schools, higher education institutions, businesses, government, human services organizations, college access programs, philanthropy and housing and transit agencies, among others. We believe that if we are able to better align the efforts of these various actors, local college attainment rates will increase.

    With that in mind, Kresge's Education Program spent the year identifying partners to support stronger and better aligned ecosystems in cities. One example: We supported the National College Access Network to work with 22 cities to increase the number of students completing the FAFSA, the application for federal student financial aid.

    We focused on FAFSA because, unlike virtually every other educational intervention, communities can dramatically increase their FAFSA completion rates. Detroit, for example, saw its FAFSA completion rate increase from 54 to 70 percent in just one year. 

    We believe an affordable, quality education is the best way to help low-income people move into the middle class. And aligning colleges and city systems to better serve students can help do that. As grantmakers, we know that programs that succeed in one community can often successfully transfer to another, but it is not a given: San Francisco’s challenges are very different from those in Detroit or Atlanta. 

    Still, we have learned plenty. We have seen remarkable interventions, like FAFSA completion efforts, that we know improve both postsecondary enrollment and attainment for low-income students in a variety of settings. 

    In 2017, we are focusing on scaling successful interventions. Remembering where low-income students come from and choose to study, we will use cities as a delivery mode as often as possible. We believe getting more communities, institutions, government agencies and organizations to scale what works is the most effective way to improve opportunities for low-income people. We are proud to work with some of the world’s most innovative educational leaders to ensure this happens.

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Erik Howard of Young Nation with Freddy Diaz, an artist-mentor and board member with The Alley Project, and Nyasia Valdez, Young Nation's programs and partnerships manager.
Route 6: Local Problem-SolvingEmpowering Leaders and Partnerships in the Neighborhoods of Detroit
  • Route 6: Local Problem-Solving

    Empowering Leaders and Partnerships in the Neighborhoods of Detroit

    When Sandra Turner-Handy asked a group of seniors at Detroit's Denby High School to write a paragraph describing their city to an outsider, she was shocked at the depictions.

    “Ninety percent of the writings said, ‘Don't come to the city. I can't wait till I get out. I'm never coming back,’” says Turner-Handy, herself a Detroiter. “These were the stories students were telling to this imaginary person outside of Detroit, and it literally broke my heart.”

    However, those students were just beginning a program designed to empower them to solve problems in their neighborhoods. Turner-Handy is the community outreach director for the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), a nonprofit that partnered with Denby to create a program that engages students in neighborhood revitalization projects.

    Originating as a senior capstone class in 2013, the program has been so successful it will become four-year curriculum for incoming freshmen beginning in 2017 with support from The Kresge Foundation.

    In 2016, MEC was one of 21 grantees of Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit, a three-year, $5 million initiative funding projects by Detroit-based nonprofits in neighborhoods across the city.

    Sandra Turner-Handy of the Michigan Environmental Council works with students at Detroit's Denby High School.

    The backbone of MEC's work at Denby is Detroit Future City, a detailed, long-term strategy for Detroit's revitalization developed by numerous city stakeholders and largely funded by Kresge

    Turner-Handy and Denby staff guide students in identifying and implementing solutions to problems in their neighborhood.

    That work has resulted in major improvements for the neighborhood, most notably the renovation of a 6-acre park adjacent to Denby. Once dilapidated and unmaintained, Skinner Park now features basketball courts, raised garden beds and other amenities. Students designed the park and were engaged in cleanup work to prepare for its transformation. Similar class “legacy projects” in the works involve transforming an abandoned building across from the school into a botanical garden, and working with area universities to renovate vacant structures in the neighborhood.

    The program's greatest legacy, however, may be the way it cultivates Denby students as future community leaders.

    Some graduates of the program even return to mentor younger students. For instance, Hakeem Weatherspoon, who was involved in the first capstone class, returns to Denby at least once a year to speak to students working with MEC.

    Students at Denby High School designed renovations at Skinner Park and helped prepare for its transformation.

    “It's amazing to feel that some kids do look up to you when they're younger than you are," Weatherspoon says. “That makes me feel good.”

    Building Bridges, Rebuilding Neighborhoods

    Young Detroiters are similarly instrumental in the work of Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit grantee Young Nation, a nonprofit dedicated to youth development in Southwest Detroit. A $150,000 grant in 2016 funded renovation of a building that will house Young Nation's offices, provide space for its programs and allow it to rent space to tenants whose values align with the nonprofit.

    Erik Howard co-founded Young Nation in 2002 when he was just 19. As he grew up in what he calls an “intense” area of Southwest Detroit, Howard experienced the tension between what he describes as “porch culture” (the strong community among neighbors) and “corner culture” (equally strong communities organized around less lawful activities). Both cultures offer young people opportunities to build a reputation, build relationships and express themselves.

    “A young person will get what they're looking for, whether it is in a way that builds them up and the people around them, or a way that exploits them and the people around them," Howard says.

    Howard's work with Young Nation is founded on the idea of building bridges between those two cultures and leveraging the constructive assets in each. The clearest representation of this philosophy is in the Alley Project, a “walking gallery” featuring street art spread across an entire city block's worth of garages and other surfaces in a Southwest Detroit residential alley. The initiative allows young people the creative expression of street art without the typical gang associations.

    Situated around the corner from the art-filled alley, Young Nation’s new building project will help expand the Alley Project's footprint. Young Nation is also in the process of redeveloping an adjacent vacant lot as a public cultural plaza, seizing what Howard calls an “opportunity to rebuild the corner, figuratively and literally.”

    “The redevelopment of that corner, in a way that supports development without displacement, is important to us,” he says. “Being a space where unlikely relationships are formed is of the utmost importance to us.”

    Clearing the Air

    Kresge Detroit program officer Bryan Hogle says the overarching goal of Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit is to enable residents of any age to improve their own communities. The initiative’s ability to develop and empower young leaders is an important collateral benefit. “These folks, young and old, have the best perspective on what the biggest challenges and opportunities are for their neighborhoods, and what can make the biggest difference in moving their neighborhood forward,” he says.

    Erik Howard of Young Nation with Freddy Diaz, an artist-mentor and board member with The Alley Project, and Nyasia Valdez, Young Nation's programs and partnerships manager.

    Take, for example, the nonprofit Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, which recently took a neighborhood air-quality study to the next level with Kresge support. Southwest Detroit is particularly subject to high emissions from sprawling industrial complexes and heavy truck traffic on I-75 traveling to or from the Ambassador Bridge, which crosses the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario. Area resident and benefits coalition project director Simone Sagovac recalls asking attendees of a community meeting if their families had problems with asthma, and one mom responded that all five of her children had asthma and hearing problems.

    As bad as the emissions problem may be, it's likely to get worse. The planned Gordie Howe International Bridge, a second Detroit-Windsor crossing, will also be located in Southwest Detroit, roughly 2 miles from the Ambassador Bridge.

    There's no halting the new bridge project, but Sagovac and her organization have taken aggressive action to analyze the community's air quality to establish a baseline for understanding changes to come. Kresge’s grant provided for the purchase of four portable air monitors. They will be rotated through homes to measure black

    carbon, an indicator of diesel emissions.

    Sagovac hopes that having comprehensive air quality data for the community may yet shape planning and policy work on the bridge. But the CBC's main goal is to engage its community in education and action around an issue that many previously accepted as a fact of life.

    “You get used to things, and you don't always know how you can make a difference on issues that affect you and your family,” Sagovac says. “That's what we're trying to do together.”

    More Innovative Partnerships

    Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit was announced in 2014 as an important evolution in Kresge's grantmaking with its support for a large number of nonprofits seeking transformative changes to neighborhoods across Detroit. But Kresge’s Detroit Program has long invested in a wide array of neighborhood-focused efforts and continues to do so today, often working with partners to design new tools to address problems at hand.

    For instance, in 2016, Kresge's Detroit Program and Social Investments team forged an innovative partnership with local banks to create a new mortgage product intended to help kick-start Detroit's moribund single-family mortgage market. The 2008 recession coupled with decades of disinvestment and population loss in the city have left homes undervalued; low appraisals make it difficult for would-be homeowners to get a mortgage that covers a realistic purchase price, not to mention needed renovations.

    Detroit Home Mortgage, managed by the Minneapolis-based Community Reinvestment Fund, is designed to address that situation with first mortgages above appraised values and second mortgages of up to $75,000 to take care of needed repairs.

    In addition to traditional grant funding, Kresge provided CRF with a $6 million guarantee to protect borrowers’ second mortgage in the case of short sales prompted by extenuating circumstances. “We wanted to make sure we were creating a product that was not predatory,” says CRF CEO Frank Altman. CRF wanted to offer some protection for homeowners with mortgages that would be under water until appraised values increase – a key goal of the program.

    Damon and Ashley Dickerson acquired mortgage fnancing through the Detroit Home Mortgage program.

    In another forward-looking collaboration, Kresge joined peer foundations to provide grant funding to three cohorts of Wayne State University's Detroit Revitalization Fellows. That program places mid-career professionals in two-year fellowships with prominent city organizations. A related initiative, Kresge Mayor’s Fellows, launched in 2015, put three seasoned revitalization fellows in two-year mayoral staff assignments.

    Detroit Revitalization Fellows Director Asandi Conner oversees both initiatives. She describes the goal as threefold: preventing “brain drain” by retaining those who might otherwise move out of Detroit; luring back professionals who have left; and attracting fresh, out-of-town talent. Through Kresge Mayor’s Fellows, the foundation continues to invest in a select group of revitalization fellows while strengthening municipal government’s ability to transform itself and benefit residents.

    Jerrell Harris is an example of the talented individuals introduced to Detroit through this fellowship program. After working in urban planning and affordable housing in Florida and Washington, D.C., Harris was intrigued by urban revitalization work in Detroit and New Orleans. The Detroit Revitalization Fellows program sealed the deal on his choice of Detroit.

    He completed a two-year revitalization fellowship with Detroit nonprofit Focus: HOPE, a major provider of social services, job training and workplace development. As a Kresge Mayor’s Fellow, he is director of restructuring and transformation for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

    Despite previous work in the public sector, Harris says his fellowships have ingrained in him a more holistic perspective toward solving a community's problems.

    “The decisions we make affect every Detroiter,” he says. “No matter where you are in the city of Detroit, you should be feeling the benefit and receiving the benefit that is coming from the redevelopment and revitalization of the city.”

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A public art installation in a Memphis community learning garden.
Route 6: Local Problem-SolvingTackling Blight in Memphis Academy develops local leaders
  • Local Problem-Solving

    Tackling Blight in Memphis Academy develops local leaders

    As in many cities, older neighborhoods in Memphis,
    Tennessee, have experienced high levels of blight and vacancy. 

    Memphis is an example of what can be accomplished when people come together to address blight.

    But a promising approach may give blight fighters – here and in other communities across the country – a new tool. Kresge is supporting Memphis Neighborhood Preservation Inc. (NPI) in the establishment of a Strategic Code Enforcement Academy with the University of Memphis School of Law.

    The program provides management training and professional development resources to policymakers, senior managers and municipal attorneys who lead their communities’ housing and building code departments and blight elimination activities. Participants learn to better use local data to make strategic decisions. Kresge funding supported design and development of the curriculum as well as two pilot training sessions for 70 people. 

    “By changing the approach from reactive to strategic, code enforcement can be more responsive, more efficient and more sensitive to neighborhood and community priorities,” says Joe Schilling, senior researcher at the Urban Institute and senior faculty member at the academy.

    The academy is part of a larger revitalization effort in Memphis. NPI recently led the creation of a charter to address blight in the city and Shelby County.

    A public art installation in a Memphis community learning garden.

    “Memphis is evolving as a leading example of what can be done when a coalition of people comes from different points in the community to strategically deal with blighted properties and neighborhoods,” says Kermit Lind, clinical professor emeritus at Cleveland State University and academy senior faculty. 

    The project supports Kresge’s efforts to invest in people and institutions that make change possible, says Chantel Rush, a program officer of Kresge’s American Cities Practice. 

    “We believe in cross-sector collaboration,” she says. “We believe in using data. We believe in engaging communities. And we believe in thinking about what the impact of change in a neighborhood is on residents.” 

    The project could serve as a model for training and engaging local leaders to reclaim abandoned homes and revitalize communities. 

    Says Schilling, “My hope is that this academy will become institutionalized and gain national prominence."

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Seeding Success supports Memphis colleges in collaborating to improve higher education access.
Route 6: Local Problem-SolvingSetting the Table for College Access
  • Local Problem-Solving

    Setting the Table for College Access

    Seeding Success aims to increase postsecondary participation

    Mark Sturgis admits there's a steep hill to climb when it comes to improving higher education access and attainment in Memphis. 

    In America's 24th-largest city, only 36 percent of residents have a college degree, nearly half of all high schoolers do not enroll in any kind of postsecondary education program and graduation rates at community colleges sometimes don’t top 10 percent. As executive director of Seeding Success, Sturgis has plans to change that. 

    Kresge awarded the Memphis nonprofit a $350,000 grant in 2016 for its efforts to promote collaboration and best practices among the city’s higher education institutions. 

    Seeding Success supports Memphis colleges in collaborating to improve higher education access.

    Sturgis acknowledges that it is not a single organization’s responsibility to boost college completion. That's why Seeding Success has convened two community action networks. One brings school districts and community organizations together to focus on expanding access to college. A second unites colleges, universities and community organizations to focus on improving postsecondary education outcomes.

    Seeding Success has only existed since 2013, but it can already count major victories. The organization led a community campaign to increase FAFSA applications among Memphis high school students. FAFSA completion rates rocketed from 65 percent to 86 percent in just the first year of that campaign. 

    Seeding Success is currently working with Memphis colleges and universities to create a
    data-driven, early-warning system so that students at risk of dropping out can be identified and provided support. Sturgis wants to emulate the for-profit sector’s focus on leadership development and using best practices. 

    “We just turn people loose into the social sector and say, ‘Go improve college access. Go improve postsecondary attainment,’ but with no real methodology behind supporting them to do that,” he says.

    Graduate Memphis and the Memphis Area College Presidents Council hosted a Higher Education Forum.

    Caroline Altman Smith, deputy director of Kresge's Education Program, says Seeding Success is truly unique in setting the table for college access and success. 

    “There's not a huge infrastructure of organizations that provides the kind of connective tissue between efforts the way that Seeding Success does,” Smith says.

    The goal is for 55 percent of Memphis residents to earn a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2025. Beyond that, Sturgis hopes the higher education ecosystem in Memphis will sustain itself. 

    “Our goal is that maybe one day we’re not a necessary piece of the puzzle, and institutions have the capacity to manage this work on their own,” he says. “But in lieu of that, we're really providing the connectivity for all these systems.”

    About FAFSA:

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form high school seniors fill out to tap into billions of dollars available in federal support for postsecondary education. Data show many students who could receive funding do not file a FAFSA, leaving billions unclaimed that could support their higher learning goals. One estimate by financial site put that figure at $2.7 billion.

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Wendy Lewis Jackson and Benjamin S. Kennedy (pictured)
Route 6: Local Problem-SolvingThe Next Step: Bringing Recovery to Neighborhoods
  • Detroit Program

    The Next Step: Bringing Recovery to Neighborhoods

    By Wendy Lewis Jackson and Benjamin S. Kennedy
    Managing Directors

    There is perhaps no other topic that evokes more passion about Detroit’s long-term potential for revitalization than the future direction of its neighborhoods. So, years from now when we look back, the Kresge Detroit Program team wants 2016 to be recognized as the year we brought Detroit’s neighborhoods into greater focus by deepening our commitment to their healthy and inclusive recovery. Neighborhoods provide Detroit its character and definition, but more importantly, they are the places where generations of Detroiters have placed their bet on the future and made an investment for the long term. 

    We’re committed to expanding opportunity so Detroit’s neighborhoods benefit from the energy that has transformed the downtown and Midtown areas. We’ve refreshed our strategies to double down on the building blocks of neighborhood revitalization by strengthening systems that galvanize early childhood development, support arts and culture and empower community development in neighborhoods across the city. We are unwavering in our belief that residents across the city, their block clubs and their community organizations, are the key to shaping what comes next. It is imperative that renewal in city neighborhoods be robust, far-reaching, equitable and inclusive of residents’ visions and aspirations.

    In these pages, you’ve read about our deepened commitment to neighborhoods through the advancement of key initiatives such as Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit, our three-year, $5 million pilot to invest in the creative energies of nonprofits engaged in neighborhood-based projects across the geography. In 2016, we brought our tally of planning and project grants to nearly 40, and collected just shy of 70 new applications for the final round of grants in 2017. Since the initiative’s first call for applications in 2014, we’ve gained new insight into the supports that neighborhood-based organizations need to bring about transformative changes.

    Our Kresge Arts in Detroit initiative – through the College for Creative Studies – saw another successful year supporting an arc of artistic careers. We also renewed our three-year commitment to 66 arts and culture-related institutions and organizations.

    This will also be known as the year we began to ensure that children are not left out of the turnaround. Kresge Early Years for Success: Detroit (KEYS: Detroit) reimagines the city’s neighborhoods by putting building blocks in place to support the development of young children and prepare them for educational success. Most important was the listening that shaped these initiatives. Community meetings arranged by partners across the city gave us new insight into their work and ours, influencing the latest iterations of existing initiatives and guiding efforts still coming.

    We’re passionate about supporting Detroiters and the places they live. Our 2016 experiences have informed us and will inspire us through 2017 and beyond. 

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Kresge Artist Fellowships honor 18 artists or arts collaboratives annually.
Route 6: Local Problem-SolvingKresge Arts in Detroit
  • Kresge Arts in Detroit

    The Kresge Foundation sees arts and culture as a key element in the revitalization of cities. Kresge's Detroit Program supports that vision in a number of ways, including direct, unrestricted awards and other supports for artists through Kresge Arts in Detroit (KAID). With this initiative, Kresge has invested more than $4 million in metropolitan Detroit artists since 2008. 

    Kresge Artist Fellowships honor 18 artists or arts collaboratives annually.

    Annually, KAID celebrates a single Kresge Eminent Artist as well as a class of Kresge Artist Fellows. Since 2015, Kresge has also recognized emerging artists with the Gilda Awards, named for esteemed Detroit artist-teacher-mentor Gilda Snowden. The Gilda Awards were made a permanent fixture of KAID's artist awards in 2016.

    “Kresge Artist Fellowships and the Gilda Awards enable individual artists to advance and deepen their artistic practice,” says Richard Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, which administers KAID on behalf of the foundation. “These artists provide great benefit to the larger community by bringing new work to the public and enriching our cultural discourse.”

    Photographer Leni Sinclair was named Kresge's 2016 Eminent Artist.

    The Eminent Artist program annually awards a $50,000 prize to a Detroit-area artist to honor exceptional, lifelong contributions to their art form and to the community. The 2016 Eminent Artist was Leni Sinclair, best known for her striking photographic documentation of Detroit's music and political scene in the 1960s. 

    Kresge Artist Fellowships annually honor 18 artists (or artist collaboratives) displaying creative vision and commitment to excellence in a variety of disciplines with awards of $25,000. Fellows also receive professional development through a program presented by Creative Many Michigan. Members of the 2016 class ranged from rock musician Danny Kroha to poet-performance artist Jessica Care Moore to traditional Mexican dance troupe Corazon del Pueblo.

    The Gilda Awards provide $5,000 unrestricted prizes to two early-career artists who have demonstrated a commitment to breaking from the conventions of their discipline. The 2016 awards went to stop-motion animator Ellen Coons, and dancer and self-described “ethnochoreologist” Marsae Mitchell. 

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Causa Justa::Just Cause in Oakland successfully advocated for an ordinance to strengthen rent control rules and expand protections against eviction.
Route 7: Policy ChangeAdvancing Successful Program Models to Create Lasting Change
  • Route 7: Policy Change

    Advancing Successful Program Models to Create Lasting Change

    When it comes to health in low-income communities, The Kresge Foundation recognizes that the path toward health equity is greatly influenced by policy. 

    “Your ability to lead a healthy life shouldn’t be determined by your income or the neighborhood where you live,” says David Fukuzawa, managing director of the Health and Human Services programs. “One way we can help create healthier communities and foster opportunity for people is by supporting policy change."

    A person's health is strongly influenced by where they live, and low-income neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by pollution, inadequate housing, displacement, lack of access to fresh foods and many other factors. The Health Program supports organizations that advance efforts to spread successful program models and policies that address the social determinants of health, such as Causa Justa::Just Cause, the Fair Food Network and the Moving Forward Network.

    Housing and Health

    Oakland, California-based Causa Justa::Just Cause, which champions the right to decent, affordable housing, takes a holistic approach to creating equitable communities by building grassroots support to address housing issues. Housing can serve as a platform for residents of low-income communities to achieve a healthier quality of life. However, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the housing crisis and sky-high rents hit low-income communities hard.

    Causa Justa::Just Cause in Oakland successfully advocated for an ordinance to strengthen rent control rules and expand protections against eviction.

    In recent years, as rents have increased and the tech boom continues to attract more workers, the ability of these tech workers to pay inflated rents in Oakland tends to motivate landlords to favor them over lower-income tenants. Consequently, these lower-income tenants are often forced to live in unhealthy, substandard housing.

    What appealed to Kresge was how Causa Justa's model addresses the public health impacts of displacement for Oakland residents and the potential for its work to serve as a national model. 

    Kresge initially allotted $200,000 for Causa Justa's Strategic Healthy Homes program, a partnership with the Alameda County Health Department that advances equitable housing policies, strengthens code enforcement, bolsters renter protection and preserves healthy, affordable housing for low-income tenants in East and West Oakland neighborhoods. The program was so successful that Kresge awarded a second, two-year grant of $400,000 for Causa Justa to continue this work.

    Besides working to change policy, Causa Justa helps clients deal with renters' rights issues.

    “In low-income communities, 60 to 70 percent of the residents are renters,” says Stacey Barbas, senior program officer for Kresge's Health Program. “When rents increase and people are displaced, this has an enormous impact on an individual's or family's health, and ultimately, their pathways to opportunity."

    Causa Justa has already scored several policy wins. It helped get a Tenant Protection Ordinance passed in Oakland in 2014, making it easier for tenants to fight against landlord intimidation and defend themselves against unjust evictions. The ordinance explicitly prohibits 16 types of landlord harassment, including failure to make repairs, threats to report tenants' immigration status, removal of property and physical abuse.

    In 2016, Causa Justa was successful again, this time advocating for the passage of Measure JJ in Oakland, which strengthens the city's rent-control rules and expands protection against eviction. Winning 75 percent of the popular vote, the measure requires landlords to petition the city's Rent Board for any cost increases that surpass the inflation rate. It expands the number of housing units that must comply with “just cause” eviction rules. And it strengthens requirements for landlords to report data on rent increases and evictions, while also making that data more accessible to tenants. 

    Together, these policy wins represented a significant development in the fight for tenants’ rights that led to the advancement of healthy housing for low-income communities in Oakland. 

    “Thousands of tenants come into our office who face bed bugs and other infestations, mold that led to their kids developing asthma, lack of running water and other uninhabitable conditions,” says Lorraine DeGuzman, Causa Justa development coordinator. “With the tenant protections, we can stop this.”

    Meanwhile, Causa Justa is working with state and local government on housing issues, including code enforcement. This encompasses educating residents about how to advocate on their own behalf.

    With Kresge's help, Causa Justa's work will continue to ensure that residents are housed in safe, stable environments and that community development includes strategies to maintain affordability and protect cultural and social elements of the community. 

    “Healthy homes mean healthy communities,” DeGuzman says. 

    Local Success, National Impact

    Causa Justa's policy wins have become models for other cities in the Bay Area and nationally. 

    “Causa Justa’s success in local grassroots policy work illustrates that it is an important strategy to ensure healthy housing regionally and nationwide,” says DeGuzman. “CJJC creates local models that inspire regional-, state- and national-scale healthy housing policies that ensure racial and economic equity.”

    Causa Justa led the Regional Tenant Organizing Network, which included labor unions, housing-rights groups and other organizations to pass coordinated tenant protections policies in Bay Area communities. Rent-control measures were passed in 2016 in Santa Rosa to the north and San Jose to the south. An eviction-protection measure succeeded in Mountain View, a Silicon Valley community best known as a high-tech hub that also includes many low-income residents. 

    Nationally, Causa Justa is an anchor group of Right To The City, an alliance of housing-rights groups from across the country that works on issues at the national level and conducts training workshops for housing advocates.

    “Causa Justa’s work impacts renters far beyond their community. We’re able to share the lessons learned and success of their work with other grantees working on these types of policies,” Fukuzawa adds. 

    Making Fresh Foods Accessible

    Another challenge for low-income communities is access to fresh, nutritious food. The Michigan-based Fair Food Network addresses that problem with Double Up Food Bucks, an incentive that matches the value of federal SNAP benefits for the specific purpose of buying fresh fruits and vegetables. 

    The Kresge Foundation believes that creating healthier communities and fostering opportunities for people can be achieved through policy change.

    The program started in Detroit farmers’ markets in 2009 and now reaches low-income families in 20 states. It’s intended to strengthen local economies by giving priority to locally grown foods. 

    In the coming years, Double Up will reach more than one million SNAP recipients, who buy healthy food in more than 500 farmers markets and 200 grocery stores nationwide. In fact, the Fair Food Network and its partners, including Wholesome Wave Foundation, were instrumental in persuading Congress to include $100 million in the 2014 Farm Bill for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, which encourages the consumption of healthy produce and was in part modeled on Double Up.

    “Fair Food Network demonstrates how you can increase access to affordable and healthy food in low-income communities while encouraging growth in the local economy,” says Chris Kabel, deputy director of the Health Program. 

    The Fair Food Network in Michigan sponsors Double Up Food Bucks, an incentive that matches the value of federal SNAP benefts — specifcally to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

    A major selling point of Double Up is that it appeals to almost everyone. 

    “It has a receptive audience among many types of people,” says Kate Krauss, chief operating officer of the Fair Food Network. “We can talk about how it helps local economies and local farmers, and it encourages good health and nutrition among low-income people.”

    Breath of Fresh Air

    The air we breathe is just as important as the food we eat. With Kresge's support, Air Alliance Houston has begun reducing air pollution around the city's port along the Buffalo Bayou where many low-income residents live and where asthma rates are high. AAH’s major win was the passage in 2015 of an ordinance banning diesel trucks from idling for more than five minutes at the port that serves Texas' largest city.

    Ports are problematic because trucks waiting to collect goods often idle their engines  for hours at a time, spewing fumes into the surrounding neighborhoods.

    The Ironbound Community Corporation holds a tree planting as part of its Newark (New Jersey) Resiliency Action Plan to increase green infrastructure while mitigating air pollution. Ironbound is a member of the Moving Forward Network.

    “Diesel emissions are one of the major sources of pollution,” says Bakeyah Nelson, the executive director of Air Alliance Houston. “Reducing idling reduces asthma” as well as other health problems, including cancer.

    The passage of the ordinance (and others like it in nearby cities) is just the beginning; now it must be promoted and enforced. Kresge grant support means Air Alliance Houston can conduct neighborhood meetings, distribute bumper stickers to residents near the port and train and manage “civilian cops” who work with the city to issue warnings and – if necessary – citations to drivers who fail to turn off their engines. 

    Air Alliance Houston is part of the Moving Forward Network, a coalition of 44 organizations backed by Kresge and dedicated to reducing the negative environmental and health effects of the global trade system. 

    "As a community-based, community-led national coalition, the Moving Forward Network believes that changes in national policy must be rooted in building power from the community up, not from the top down," says Martha Matsuoka, executive director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College in Los Angeles. The network's national campaigns, she adds, "are grounded in local organizing and have pushed EPA to recognize the significant issues port communities are facing, particularly deadly air pollution."

    The Moving Forward Network is among the few grassroots networks of local groups working nationally to change policies to reduce pollution. 

    “When ordinances and regulations are passed at the local level, like in Houston, this strengthens the work of the entire Moving Forward Network," says Fukuzawa. “Each positive policy change at the local level creates momentum and strengthens the network’s ability to keep educating decision-makers and community residents.”

    These efforts together help advance successful program models and policies that create communities where good health is accessible to all residents. 

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Opportunity Nation's Opportunity Summit brings stakeholders together.
Route 7: Policy ChangeClosing the Opportunity Gap
  • Policy Change

    Closing the Opportunity Gap

    Index that measures opportunity expands to metropolitan areas

    Some people face an opportunity gap. That’s what happens when race, income, English fluency, family situations and other factors negatively affect educational and employment potential.

    Opportunity Nation's Opportunity Summit brings stakeholders together.

    Opportunity Nation, a multisector coalition of 330 businesses and civic, human services, educational and other community organizations, is working to strengthen the American Dream by closing the opportunity gap. One way that the coalition tracks the nation’s progress toward this goal is through an Opportunity Index that measures 16 indicators of economic, educational and community life at the county and state level, including unemployment rates, poverty levels, preschool enrollments, internet access, availability of health care and access to healthy food.

    With a two-year, $560,000 grant from Kresge’s American Cities Practice and Human Services Program, Opportunity Nation will enhance national and local conversations to drive policies and practices that increase access to opportunity. The funding will support staff, research and communication functions to strengthen their activities. 

    This grant also provides resources to create an Opportunity Index for 13 metropolitan areas across the country, including Detroit, Baltimore, Phoenix, Seattle, Des Moines and Boston. 

    Kresge's support has helped Opportunity Nation expand.

    “Where you are born should not dictate your destiny,” says Sandra Ambrozy, a senior program officer with Kresge’s Human Services Program. “Opportunity Nation’s work offers evidence for public officials, business leaders and community members to understand the kinds of investments and policies that contribute to opportunity.”

    Kresge’s support has helped Opportunity Nation expand its network and “demonstrate that multisector collaboration is key to unlocking effective solutions” for helping everyone achieve economic and social mobility, says Stacy Heit, director of communications and events for Opportunity Nation. The pilot Metro-Level Opportunity Index will be released in 2018.

    “We hope that this new index will provide mayors, city council leaders and human services organizations with a way to build data into community plans to assess which programs, policies and initiatives are working, and identify where improvements can be made,” Heit says. “We also hope communities will use this data to ramp up effective programs and implement smart policies that better help low- and moderate-income Americans achieve well-being and economic mobility.”

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Puget Sound Sage works to ensure low-income people and people of color have a place at the climate resiliency table.
Route 7: Policy ChangeMore Power to the People
  • Policy Change

    More Power to the People

    Bringing low-income people and communities of
    color to the climate resilience discussion

    The Puget Sound region of Seattle, Washington, is a climate resilience leader among urban areas.

    Two nonprofit organizations, Puget Sound Sage and project partner Got Green, are working to ensure low-income populations and people of color have meaningful roles in that process.

    The majority women-led Sage serves the interests of low-income people, communities of color, immigrants and refugees. Together with Got Green – which organizes on behalf of environmental, racial and economic justice – Sage conducted a community-based research project. They interviewed residents and organizations in Seattle and King County to determine how low-income people and people of color experience climate change. The research culminated in a 2016 report, "Our People, Our Planet, Our Power – Community Led Research in South Seattle," which detailed resident concerns about carbon pollution, food access, transit options and the region’s ability to adapt to climate change. The report identified the community’s environmental priorities and overwhelmingly elevated affordable housing as a primary issue of concern. Its conclusion: Climate resilience is undermined if low-income people and people of color continue to be disproportionately displaced from homes and neighborhoods.

    Puget Sound Sage works to ensure low-income people and people of color have a place at the climate resiliency table.

    “If we can’t stave off displacement, we’re increasing carbon output,” says Sage Acting Deputy Director Kim Powe, explaining that displacement means more reliance on cars.

    The climate report offers a framework for policy strategies and action steps for elected officials, government agencies, environmentalists and the media. Sage used the findings to develop a multiyear plan to ensure that the environmental, health and quality of life priorities identified by the community inform and influence how Seattle and King County implement carbon reduction strategies, and enact other policies and investments that address climate change. The work was made possible with a $660,000 Kresge grant awarded by the Environment Program's Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity initiative (CRUO).

    As Sage and Got Green work to implement their plan, they are focused on elevating and growing an intersectional approach to climate and resilience. That includes adding community sustainability and affordable housing to discussions surrounding flooding, air quality and “urban heat islands.” Those are locations within cities that are hotter than others due to the concentration of heat-absorbing surfaces such as roads, sidewalks and buildings, along with an absence of cooling vegetation and tree canopy.

    Powe says government planners are slowly realizing they need to engage different sectors of the community to ensure success. Sage and Got Green served on Seattle’s Equity & Environment Initiative’s Community Partners Steering Committee, a groundbreaking initiative created to ensure that those most affected by environmental inequities benefit from Seattle’s environmental progress. 

    Besides climate resilience, Sage wants to foster residents’ influence in public discourse. Its Community Leadership Institute prepares grassroots activists of color to interact with or join boards and commissions.

    “We are leveraging the resources we have,” says Myani Guetta-Gilbert, Sage coalition organizer, “to build up capacity of others to lead (climate change) work, sustain that work and grow that work in their respective communities.”

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David Fukuzawa
Route 7: Policy ChangePartnering to Promote Health for Low-Income People
  • Health Program

    Partnering to Promote Health for Low-Income People

    By David Fukuzawa
    Managing Director

    In 2016, the Health Program continued to work through two signature initiatives, Fresh, Local & Equitable (FreshLo) and Emerging Leaders in Public Health, as well as through strategic investments that develop healthy places and accelerate community-centered approaches to health. 

    Our team is passionate about collaborating with internal and external partners to ensure that we address the conditions that promote health, which include safe and affordable housing, fresh and healthy food, access to economic opportunities and equitable transportation. 

    We are working with our partners to identify multidisciplinary approaches to address the social determinants of health – all of the factors that influence health such as food, air and water quality, housing and more. In 2016, we worked with the founding partners of The BUILD Health Challenge to expand the initiative by attracting more funders and spreading to more communities. 

    Kresge joined other founding partners of BUILD – a national awards program supporting communities that take innovative and collaborative approaches toward health improvement – such as The Advisory Board Company, de Beaumont Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with several new regional funders in a commitment to award 15 community-led grants in 2017. BUILD will continue to encourage meaningful local partnerships among health systems, community-based organizations, public health agencies and other organizations to improve the overall health of residents. 

    Moving Healthcare Upstream, led by partners at Nemours and the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, continues to identify, support, connect and highlight innovative, multisector and multidisciplinary partnerships that achieve better health outcomes in communities. The initiative works with more than two dozen pediatric health systems and health-focused organizations across the country to address health inequities by collaborating with community partners and testing innovative strategies. These institutions also learn from each other’s innovative approaches to addressing complex health issues. 

    Throughout this report, you will learn about some of the Health Program’s signature initiatives including FreshLo, Emerging Leaders in Public Health and the Moving Forward Network. Each is strongly grounded at the local level, while demonstrating how the work can successfully expand to practices and approaches nationally.

    We also share stories about grants that are tackling the social determinants of health with new approaches such as Village Capital. The common theme I hope you take away from these examples is the critical importance of community engagement in addressing the root causes of poor health.

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Innovate Memphis Fourth Bluff Fridays present a pop-up beer garden with free music in Memphis Park, a Reimagining the Civic Commons site.
Route 8: Public-Private PartnershipsRiver of Dreams: Sprucing up the Front Porch of Downtown Memphis
  • Route 8: Public-Private Partnerships

    River of Dreams: Sprucing up the Front Porch of Downtown Memphis

    Memphis is on the move. That message is reverberating throughout the Bluff City, from downtown to Frayser to Orange Mound. The message is heard at City Hall, in the private sector and among community activists. 

    And The Kresge Foundation is supporting this movement, applying lessons learned from its revitalization work in Detroit to this historic Southern city. Through its American Cities Practice, Kresge invests in Memphis by strengthening the city’s systems and neighborhoods so that it can become an accelerator of opportunity for people with low incomes.

    “We look to support places that have need, but also assets,” says Kresge Program Officer Chantel Rush. “Memphis has a lot of assets.”

    Chief among those are its people, who form a tapestry of cultures working to create opportunity in their city. Kresge’s support of a distributive leadership model acknowledges the work already happening across Memphis by city government, nonprofit organizations and private enterprise, all of whom are working to build racial equity, foster business growth and strengthen neighborhoods.

    Reclaiming a Riverfront

    Many Memphians believe a key to progress – and a basis for changing the city’s image and ultimately increasing opportunity – is a long underutilized asset: the riverfront. Memphis is situated atop a bluff over the mighty Mississippi River. On clear evenings, the setting sun creates a stunning backdrop to the swift current of the river that has given the city so much life.

    Innovate Memphis Fourth Bluff Fridays present a pop-up beer garden with free music in Memphis Park, a Reimagining the Civic Commons site.

    Everything about Memphis came from this river,” says Benny Lendermon, president of Riverfront Development Corp. But as happened in so many cities, he adds, industry took precedent over residents on the riverfront. Over time, those industries declined and their facilities fell into disrepair. Memphis became a city with its “back turned to the river.” 

    Lendermon’s Riverfront Development Corp. is a leader in the movement to reorient the city and entice residents to reclaim the riverfront. 

    Walkways, urban art, stairs and “lots of connections” are just part of the story. In August 2016, for instance, Lendermon coordinated a four-day trip for Memphis leaders – from the political, development and philanthropic sectors – to see waterfront revivals in Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. The experiences – suggested by Carol Coletta, senior fellow of Kresge’s American Cities Practice – had the desired catalytic effect. They led to the creation of a cross-sector taskforce to push forward the next stage of Memphis riverfront development. 

    Benny Lendermon is president of Riverfront Development Corp., a leader in the movement to reclaim the Memphis riverfront.

    The four-day trip, says Lendermon, “has totally transformed the priority of the riverfront, and decision-makers are now very much aware of how valuable it is.” 

    Attracting Investment, Benefiting Neighborhoods

    Using funds from a 2016 Kresge grant, the Memphis Riverfront Development Corp. will bring together local leaders, architects and planners to start work on a plan that unleashes the riverfront’s potential to enhance quality of life for all residents. The riverfront of the near future is envisioned as a cohesive civic amenity that residents will use in numbers, taking pride and a sense of ownership. That in turn can attract investment and development, which will benefit distressed core city neighborhoods over time. 

    This was the takeaway from the group’s visits to Chicago, where the waterfront has long been seen as a civic anchor and asset to be developed, and in Detroit and Philadelphia, where riverfront transformations over the past decade are particularly instructive. In Detroit, Kresge was the lead funder to jump-start a riverfront revival that began in 2003 and is ongoing. 

    “Kresge’s investments not only resulted in a valued amenity for Detroiters of all income levels, but also helped to strengthen the city’s downtown core and attract business and private development,” Rush says. “Detroit now has a world-class riverfront.

    “Inspired by our work in Detroit, our goal is to support Memphis as it plans and implements an ambitious future for its riverfront – arguably the city’s richest natural amenity, which can serve as its front porch.”

    Another effort to reinvigorate public spaces in Memphis is happening through Reimagining the Civic Commons. For decades, cities have neglected the public places that once knitted people and neighborhoods together – the libraries, trails and community centers that can bring diverse people together and help communities prosper. A three-year initiative to reinvest in these civic spaces in neighborhoods of Detroit, Philadelphia, Akron, Chicago and Memphis is funded by Kresge in conjunction with the JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation. 

    In Memphis, a three-year grant from Kresge is funding a demonstration on four downtown blocks that are home to the Cossitt Library, the University of Memphis School of Law, the historic promenade and the Memphis and Mississippi River parks. The goal is to show how this “civic commons” can “allow people the opportunity to come together for civic engagement, create new spaces for new economic integration, help people get to know one another while crossing lines of economic segregation and grow together as a city,” says Justin Entzminger, CEO of grantee Innovate Memphis.

    Already, the work in the four-block area is spreading to branch libraries and parks throughout the city. 

    Transformation in Progress

    Another area in which Kresge is investing is the Memphis Medical District – a 2.5-square-mile area that sits between midtown and downtown. 

    It contains several smaller neighborhoods and medical and educational anchor institutions including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Methodist Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the Southern College of Optometry.

    While more than 24,000 students, professors and medical personnel work or attend school in the district, fewer than 10,000 people live there. For decades, the area has been plagued by crime and blight. 

    But several years back, leaders of a number of the district’s anchor institutions formed the Memphis Medical District Collaborative. The collaborative has set out to make the district cleaner, safer, more prosperous and generally more livable.

    Tommy Pacello is president of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, focused on making the district more livable, prosperous and safe.

    A grant from Kresge helped fund market studies showing that the district can support nearly 200,000 square feet of retail space and up to 2,600 new residential units over the next five years, says Tommy Pacello, president of Memphis Medical District Collaborative, adding that many of those would need to be available at affordable rates. 

    “Kresge’s investment helped us make the case to neighborhoods, developers and financing institutions that there is a reason to be excited about the investments that are coming,” he says. “But Kresge did not just sponsor a market study – they are holistically involved in the work.”

    This includes sharing lessons learned from Kresge’s work in Detroit, where, Rush notes, higher education, medical and cultural anchor institutions worked in concert to jump-start the successful revitalization of the city’s Midtown district. 

    “Anchor-led revitalization shows what’s possible when disparate sectors get together and work collaboratively to unleash their complementary resources with engaged residents and institutions,” Rush says.

    Challenges still loom large in Memphis, of course – but Memphians have new tools and a new spirit of collaboration across sectors to confront them.

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Seattle Muses helps residents expand their sewing skills.
Route 8: Public-Private PartnershipsExpanding Opportunity in Seattle
  • Public-Private Partnerships

    Expanding Opportunity in Seattle

    Can art and design contribute to the transformation of a public housing development?

    The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is convinced it can. And so is Kresge. It has provided support toward Yesler Terrace, a mixed-income community that SHA Arts Administrator Jennifer Song says aims to answer the question, “What does the human experience need to have for a full, successful life?”

    The three-year, $678,000 Kresge Arts & Culture Program grant supports an ambitious suite of projects for a historic neighborhood that is currently undergoing its own transformation. The 30-acre complex south of downtown Seattle is being redeveloped under a long-debated mixed-use plan, resulting in the loss of outdoor meeting space and private gardens. 

    Sculptor and experimental designer George Lee at work.

    The grant supports the infusion of arts and artists’ perspectives into the neighborhood transformation plan; the expression of community voices in public spaces through pop-up art installations, presentations and performances; major health, education and job training initiatives; the layering of cultural heritage and character into community projects; and the incorporation of artistic components in the “Green Loop” of streets, walking paths and parks that connect the neighborhood.

    Sculptor and experimental designer George Lee, one of the artists funded with Kresge support, says preserving and enhancing green spaces was especially important because the development plan includes the loss of some public gathering places and gardens. Lee spent nine months talking to residents, conducting art workshops and working with developers on a park plan for Yesler. As a result, he was able to save a grove of maple, pine, Monterey cypress and Western red cedar trees from destruction. Now designated as a gathering space, its centerpiece will be a huge table for block parties. Lee is also making interactive sculptures and describes his involvement in Yesler’s evolution as Creative Placemaking – the intentional integration of arts, culture and community-engaged design into development and planning.

    Seattle Muses helps residents expand their sewing skills.

    Similarly, Sandrine Espie and Esther Hong, through their Seattle Muses sewing program, are tapping the talents of residents, many from east Africa and Southeast Asia. In a studio cluttered with shears, large spools of thread and fabric, Espie and Hong are helping participants expand their skills so they can find jobs in the burgeoning Seattle apparel industry. About half of the students who completed the initial program found jobs.

    Other Kresge-backed programs at Yesler include dance, art and story workshops by Pat Graney Company/Keeping the Faith Artist Team; resident portraits by D.K. Pan; and a commission by sculptor and longtime Yesler resident Charles Parrish.

    Ultimately, the effort is designed to demonstrate how arts and culture can contribute to resident engagement and community identity, heritage and character.

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Middle school students perform in Los Angeles, where Kresge supports efforts to enhance graduation rates and college enrollment.
Route 8: Public-Private PartnershipsCreating a Path to College
  • Public-Private Partnerships

    Creating a Path to College

    Aiming for every student to graduate in L.A.

    Students who are homeless, live in substandard housing, or can’t afford child care, food or transportation struggle to persist in college.

    And these limitations are increasingly common, as growing numbers experience food insecurity or have no stable place to live. The number of students ages 19-24 receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) doubled from 2001 to 2010. A 2016 study published by California State University concluded that nearly 10 percent of its students system-wide – some 46,000 in all – had experienced homelessness. 

    Organizations such as UNITE-LA, with Kresge’s help, are focused on this issue. UNITE-LA creates and develops collaborative approaches to help give young people in Los Angeles, California, more and better access to higher education and job training.

    Middle school students perform in Los Angeles, where Kresge supports efforts to enhance graduation rates and college enrollment.

    In 2016, Kresge bolstered the organization’s efforts with a $500,000 grant. UNITE-LA is using the investment to expand its capacity to work with city and regional organizations to create an “aligned urban higher education ecosystem” — a focus area for Kresge's Education Program — that connects colleges and universities with nonprofits, businesses, local school districts and government agencies. 

    The goal is to align systems so low-income students pursuing postsecondary education who need employment, housing, transportation, food, financial aid and/or child care can find it and continue their studies. It's a way to break outside of traditional systems and support students more holistically. 

    At UNITE-LA, that looks like the Student Success Workshop, which has representatives of 11 campuses participating to pilot new transfer policies and support implementation of the new L.A. College Promise, which provides one year of free enrollment to graduates of the Los Angeles Unified School District and charter high schools. Participants represent a subgroup of signatories to the L.A. Compact, whose mission is to ensure that all students in Los Angeles graduate from high school, have access to and are prepared for college and have meaningful pathways to sustainable careers. The Student Success Workshop also unites multiple actors in the public and private sectors to integrate financial-aid planning across the city. 

    “With Kresge's support, we’ve grown our programmatic, policy and systems-change efforts,” says David Rattray, president of UNITE-LA. “The funding, technical assistance and professional development opportunities for our leadership team have positioned us to reach our goals, improve the lives of local students and build a bigger vision for the future.”

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Benjamin S. Kennedy
Route 8: Public-Private PartnershipsAccelerating Opportunity by Reinvesting in Our Cities
  • American Cities Practice

    Accelerating Opportunity by Reinvesting in Our Cities

    By Benjamin S. Kennedy
    Managing Director

    The American Cities Practice became a formal part of The Kresge Foundation in 2016. Key to our work during this inaugural year was crystalizing our role within the foundation’s commitment to expand opportunity in America’s cities. We’ve staked our role as leveraging the breadth of the foundation’s national grant making programs and the depth of the foundation’s experience – built from our work in Detroit – to hasten a transformation we believe is possible in communities across the country. 

    We believe deeply that America’s urban centers have the potential to be essential accelerators of opportunity for people with low incomes, providing residents with access to jobs, education, housing, human-serving systems, city services and quality public spaces. 

    We pursued this belief in three main ways during the last year.

    First, we have facilitated knowledge exchange. One example: We organized a cross-country series of roundtables, bringing together some of the best urban policy theorists and practitioners addressing the problems and promises of our urban areas. From the role of arts to entrepreneurial ecosystems, from food systems to equitable land-use planning, our conversations were frank and informative. These conversations set the table for a large convening in May with The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California, exploring the exportable lessons of Kresge’s work in Detroit and aptly named, “Drawing on Detroit.” 

    Second, we have worked on multicity projects exemplified by Reimagining Civic Commons, a $40 million multifunder investment in public spaces in Akron, Ohio; Chicago; Detroit; Philadelphia; and (as you can read in these pages) Memphis. The question on the table: Can public spaces be revitalized as meeting grounds where we bridge our divides? Can they reignite engagement? Can they reduce social and political fragmentation and promote community? 

    Third, we have surfaced, seeded and scaled effective approaches, both new and old, to community development work in place – approaches we are putting into practice in New Orleans and Memphis.

    In New Orleans, for instance, we are working as part of the Greater New Orleans Funders Network to address key issues affecting the city, from equitable development to coastal resilience and criminal justice. 

    It’s hard to ignore the national headwinds that push back at our work in a time when cities have been vilified.

    But we know better. We can be clear-eyed about the challenges of cities without giving in to despair or cynicism. We can be optimistic about their promise without being naive. And we can continue to navigate between the challenge and the promise with conviction.

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Thank you for a great year!

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