Pursuing the Anchor Mission in a Fragmented Suburban Setting
Keywords:anchor institutions, capacity building, collective action, community improvement, asset-based community development
Increasingly, suburban universities find themselves in communities facing challenges that inner cities have had to deal with for decades, including concentrated poverty, housing vacancy, and underperforming school districts. While the problems are similar, the institutional context is different. Compared to central cities, suburban municipal governments generally lack the resources necessary to sustain robust community economic development initiatives. Further, suburbs often lack the rich landscape of nonprofit organizations that were built up over many decades in central cities. This article reflects on the experience of the University of Missouri-St. Louis as a case study of a suburban anchor institution. This experience suggests that anchor institutions in suburban settings need to focus on asset-based community development, support collective action among fragmented institutions, and build the civic capacity of local governments, nonprofits, and businesses.
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