Panel Paper: Making Collaboration Work: Local Strategies for Addressing Poverty and Inequality

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Coolidge - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Michael Rich, Emory University and Robert Stoker, George Washington University

Over the past three decades many cities have launched a variety of collaborative, cross-sector initiatives to address a range of persistent urban problems such as concentrated poverty and related issues that include the lack of affordable housing, improving academic achievement in the public schools, and enhancing access to economic opportunities through workforce and economic development strategies, among others.

In this paper, we examine the breadth and dept of city participation in collaborative initiatives to address poverty and inequality based on an inventory of initiatives over the past decade. The paper explores three key questions: 1) what is the extent of city participation in comprehensive, collaborative, community-based initiatives among the nation’s largest cities; 2) to what extent have cities woven together existing and emergent collaborations to more effectively foster a comprehensive approach for coordinating public policy initiatives that aim to provide increased opportunities for low-income residents; and 3) what appear to be key the characteristics that distinguish cities that have a greater breadth and depth of collaborative initiatives to address poverty and its consequences from those cities that have undertaken few, if any, collaborative initiatives and/or have made little progress in sustaining these efforts or aligning them in a more comprehensive anti-poverty strategy? For example, do cities with relationships with national intermediaries (e.g., LISC, Enterprise, Living Cities) and/or cities that participated in one or more place-based initiatives under the Obama administration’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative have greater breadth and depth of collaborative initiatives than cities without these relationships and experiences?

To address these questions, we compiled data on city collaborative initiatives from the nation’s 70 largest cities (populations of 250,000 or more) from two sources. The first involved an online survey sent to city and related local government agencies (schools, housing authorities, workforce and economic development agencies) as well as program officers affiliated with the philanthropic organizations in their cities to obtain information on city participation in collaborative community initiatives. The second involved a systematic web-based scan of city comprehensive collaborative initiatives as we well as collaborative initiatives in the areas of education, housing and neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and workforce development. Our analysis focuses on two key tasks: 1) creating a typology of cities based on the breadth and depth of their collaborative initiatives; and 2) identifying the key characteristics (e.g., local context, resources, demographics, local capacity, prior experience, etc.) most strongly associated with variation in the breadth and depth of city collaborative initiatives.