The Roles of Foundations and Universities in Redevelopment Planning

  • Laurie A. Walker University of Montana
  • Jean F. East University of Denver
Keywords: planning; public housing; resident engagement; qualitative


Laurie A. Walker, the 2017 recipient of the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement, is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Montana. Together with her co-author, Dr. Jean F. East, Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver, they have raised, in this piece, an important and insightful critical lens on the implications of higher education institutions’ “engagement” with their local communities. It looks deeply into the implications of the “blind spot” identified by Baldwin (2017), which “comes largely from the assumption that higher education, while hypnotized by corporate power, is still an inherent public good, most clearly marked by its tax-exempt status for providing services that would otherwise come from the government.” They examine how campuses may be deeply involved in the local urban area and also advancing a self-interest that may not be a public interest – through gentrification, and through what Baldwin calls “noneducational investments in real estate, policing, and labor” that “can carry negative consequences for neighborhoods of color.” Walker and East are asking us to more closely examine how campuses can get so involved in the cities of which they are a part as to be a dominant force that does not advance the public good, but the good of the campus. This is a dilemma and a question that many of the CUMU member campuses have already faced or may face in the coming years, and goes to the heart of the public good of higher education in a neoliberal age.


—John Saltmarsh, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Author Biographies

Laurie A. Walker, University of Montana

Laurie A. Walker was: (a) a community organizer in a neighborhood of this study that was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation; (b) a Housing and Urban Development – Office of University Partnerships Early Doctoral Student and Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant recipient from 2008-2012; and (c) a program evaluator of the Resident Advisory Council process evaluated. Laurie is the 2017 recipient of the Ernest A. Lynton Award.

Jean F. East, University of Denver

Jean F. East is a community practice specialist and was an academic collaborator with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections-Denver initiative during the 10 years of the program. She was the co-founder of Project WISE (Women’s Initiative for Service and Empowerment), which was a community based organization partner in the Resident Advisory Council process. Jean was also Laurie’s academic advisor during graduate school.


Allen, R. L. (1970). Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytic History. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books.

Auraria Higher Education Council. (2018). Auraria Board of Directors. Retrieved from

Baldwin, D. L. (2017). When universities swallow cities. The Chronicle Review. Retrieved from

Birch, E., Perry, D. C., Taylor, H. L., Jr. (2013, June). Universities as anchor institutions. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 17(3), 7-13. Retrieved from

BondGraham, D. (2011). Building the new New Orleans: Foundation and NGO power. Review of Black Political Economy, 38(4), 279-309.

Chrisman, R. (2010). On Robert L. Allen’s “Black Awakening in Capitalist America”: The Black middle class forty years after. The Black Scholar, 40(2), 49-53.

Brown, J. (2006). Kids of “displaced Aurarians” find campus life bittersweet. Retrieved from

Edmondson, J., & Hecht, B. (2014, Fall). Defining quality collective impact. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 12(4), 6-7. Retrieved from

Etienne, H. F. (2012). Pushing Back the Gates: Neighborhood Perspectives on University-Driven Revitalization in West Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. [electronic book].

Fields, D. (2014). Contesting the financialization of urban space: Community organizations and the struggle to preserve affordable rental housing in New York City. Journal of Urban Affairs, 37(2), 144-165.

Funders Network. (2017, September 13). Anchored in Place: How Funders Are Helping Anchor Institutions Strengthen Local Economies. Retrieved from

Glickman, N. J. & Servon, L. J. (1998). More than bricks and sticks: Five components of community development corporation capacity. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research.

Glickman, N. J. & Servon, L. J. (2000). By the numbers: Measuring community development corporations’ capacity. Housing Policy Debate, 9(3), 437-539.

Howell, K. (2016). Building empowerment in market-based redevelopment: changing paradigms for affordable housing and community development in Washington, DC. Community Development Journal, 52(4), 1-18.

Lowe, J. S. (1998). Building community development capacity in Cleveland. A report to the Ford Foundation. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research. Retrieved from

Mazany, T. & Perry, D.C. (2014). Here for Good: Community Foundations and the Changes of the 21st Century. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group: New York.

Metropolitan State University of Denver. (2016). Regency Athletic Complex. Retrieved from

Pendergast, A. (2013a). Looking at Auraria’s future while studying lessons of its past. Retrieved from

Pendergast, A. (2013b). Auraria campus expansion: See plans for new athletic fields and more. Retrieved from

Pendergast, A. (2013c). Auraria as it used to be: Photos from a long-gone neighborhood. Retrieved from

Pendergast, A. (2013d). Auraria neighborhood “doomed,” predicted 1975 campus impact study. Retrieved from

Perry, D. C., Wiewel, W., & Menendez, C. (2009, July). The university’s role in urban development: From enclave to anchor institution. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Retrieved from

Rapson, R. (2008). Positioning your university for investment: The university and urban renewal. Retrieved from

Roberts, M. (2016). Sun Valley around Mile High Stadium. Retrieved from

Rutheiser, C. (2013). The anchor dashboard at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Democracy Collaborative. Retrieved from content/anchor-dashboard-department-housing-and-urban-development.

Sites, W. Chaskin, R. J., & Parks, V. (2007). Reframing community practice for the 21st Century: Multiple traditions, multiple challenges. Journal of Urban Affairs, 29(5), 519-541.

Squires, G. D. (1989). Unequal partnerships: The political economy of urban redevelopment in postwar America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

The Democracy Collaborative of the University of Maryland. (2013). The anchor dashboard: Aligning institutional practice to meet low-income community needs. Retrieved from

Turner, M. A., Edelman, P., Poethig, E., Aron, L., Rogers, M., & Lowenstein, C. (2014). Tackling persistent poverty in distressed urban neighborhoods: History, principles, and strategies for philanthropic investment. Retrieved from

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2016). Teaming up to make a visible difference in Sun Valley, Colorado. Retrieved from

Vaccarelli, J. (2016). Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood to receive $30 million HUD grant. Retrieved from

Walker, L. A. & East, J. F. (2014). The benefits of including engaged residents and professionals in low-income neighborhood redevelopment planning processes. Journal of Community Practice, 22(3), 342-364.

Wilson, W. J. (1996). When work disappears: The world of the new urban poor. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Press.

Yates, G. & Saasta, T. (2013). The why and how of engaging residents for change. National Civic Review, 102(3), 35-41.