Mobilizing Innovative Partnerships for Community Investment

How can community anchor institutions, like hospitals, help launch and strengthen community investment initiatives?

In this episode, we learn about how Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the nonprofit housing organization Healthy Homes worked to support affordable housing and home repair in Columbus, Ohio. Through their work building deeper community connections and accountability, they saw real progress and real community outcomes in their Columbus neighborhoods.

Sharing their experiences and what they learned through this partnership are Nora Bloch of Center for Community Investment, and Patrice Allen Brady and Gretchen West of Healthy Homes.

If you’ve been wondering how community anchor institutions can be supportive partners in building stronger communities or how to harness new, untapped forms of community investment capital, we recommend listening in.

A transcript of this conversation is available lower down this page.

Resources and Footnotes:

More on Collective Impact


The Intro music, entitled “Running,” was composed by Rafael Krux, and can be found here and is licensed under CC: By 4.0.

The outro music, entitled “Deliberate Thought,” was composed by Kevin Macleod. Licensed under CC: By.

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Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Collective Impact Forum podcast, here to share resources to support social change makers working on cross-sector collaboration.

The Collective Impact Forum is a nonprofit field-building initiative that is co-hosted in partnership by the nonprofit consulting firm FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.

In this episode, we learn about how community anchor institutions, like hospitals, can help strengthen community investment initiatives and support community priorities. In this discussion, we learn about how Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the nonprofit housing organization Healthy Homes worked to support affordable housing and home repair in Columbus, Ohio. Through their work building deeper community connections and accountability, they saw real progress and community outcomes in their Columbus neighborhoods.

Joining us for this chat is Nora Bloch of Center for Community Investment, and Patrice Allen Brady and Gretchen West of Healthy Homes. Moderating this chat is Collective Impact Forum executive director Jennifer Splansky Juster.

This discussion is really good, especially if you’ve been wondering about how community anchor institutions can be helpful partners in building stronger communities as well as share some new ideas on how to harness untapped forms of community investment capital. Let’s listen in.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining today. So glad to have you listening to the Collective Impact Forum’s podcast. I’m Jennifer Juster, executive director of the Collective Impact Forum.

Today I am joined by three wonderful guests to discuss mobilizing innovative partnerships for community investment and sustainable success. We’ll learn a bit about what has been happening through a national program and then take a deep dive into how this has come together in Columbus, Ohio. For the conversation today, I am joined by Nora Bloch, Patrice Allen Brady, and Gretchen West.

I’d love to just start by meeting the three of you. Tell us a little bit about your role and yourselves and what your work has been with respect to today’s project. Let’s start with you, Nora.

Nora Bloch: Thanks for having me, Jennifer. This is very exciting. I work for the Center for Community Investment. We are a small but mighty national organization that we are a part of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy where we help community partnerships mobilize investment capital to achieve community priorities and ensure that people of color and people with low incomes have a fair chance to lead healthy lives. We worked with foundations to convene and run a cohort that we’ll talk about in a minute. I’m based out of Boston.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Awesome. Thank you, Nora. Patrice.

Patrice Allen Brady: Hi. Thank you for having me today. I’m really excited to be here. My name is Patrice Allen Brady. I am project manager with Healthy Homes. Healthy Homes is a partnership between Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Community Development for All People. Under the Nationwide Children’s umbrella is a part of the Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families initiative, which I’m sure we’ll talk more about later. Thank you again for having me.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Great. Welcome. Gretchen.

Gretchen West: I’m happy to be here. Again, my name is Gretchen West. I’m the executive director of Healthy Homes for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. We are an affordable housing developer and we focus on three programs. We provide home repairs for existing residents. We build and rehab homes for affordable rental opportunities and we also build and rehab homes for home ownership. We’ve been doing that since 2008 in two Columbus communities on the South Side and in Linden.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Wonderful. Great to have the three of you and the range of perspectives that you all bring to today’s conversation.

As I mentioned let’s just spend a few minutes learning about some of the macro level before we dive into what’s happening in Columbus. Nora, could you tell us a bit about the Accelerating Investments in Healthy Communities initiative? As part of that, we’ve used the term community investment a few times, but could you define for us what we mean today when we say community investment?

Nora Bloch: Absolutely. CCI—that’s Center for Community Investment—works in a couple of different ways. We have cohort-based programs, leadership development, programs for individuals, and we also run shorter programs we call sprints and other kinds of partnerships.

Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities was our second large multiyear cohort program that we ran. It went from 2018 to 2021. It was originally a two-year initiative but with COVID we extended it so that folks had time to do the work that they were working on.

We worked with six different health systems across the country who had already, who were chosen really because they were already pioneers in what we call upstream investment where they already did work around and invested in affordable housing and advancing policies and practices that foster housing solutions. It was an opportunity for these six systems to basically be the lead for coalitions that they built around six different geographies that helped them deepen and accelerate the health systems’ investment in affordable housing and help them really achieve more of their full potential as actors in the community investment system.

When we talk about community investment that’s really like any kind of investment, capital that’s used to achieve community priorities. We consider that that can include investing all kinds of resources. It can be grants. It can be loans. It can be financial equity. It could be land, especially health institutions that are anchored institutions often have land. Resources might be available. There could be—Nationwide in the past has used their balance sheet to provide guarantees for other, helping leverage and get other financial resources to the table.

All of those we consider community investment and the key community investment actors that we see include philanthropy obviously, probably lots of folks who are listening have heard of Community Development Financial Institutions and the Public Sector is another strong actor in that of course. But anchor institutions like health systems have I think the opportunity and the means and the incentives to do a lot more of that investment themselves.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: We’re so lucky to have Gretchen and Patrice who can talk a bit—not a bit, a lot about how that work is playing out in Columbus and the innovative role that the health system has been playing as a core partner as an anchor institution in the community.

Let’s actually dive into the work in Columbus. I’d love to hear a little bit more about the partnership work that’s been happening. Maybe we can start with telling us a little bit about how the work began and what some of the goals of the work were throughout the three years of the project.

Gretchen West: Sure. The work for us really began in 2008. We weren’t really introduced to AIHC until 2018 so we had been at this work for a decade before we were introduced to CCI and Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities. I would like to think that we were seasoned in our approach by this time. At that point we had done about 25 million dollars’ worth of development on the South Side exclusively through those three programs I talked about before, home ownership, home repair, and rental development.

It’s important to talk about our work in a bifurcated way because neighborhoods are so different and our approach to the work in Linden had to be so different from our approach on the South Side. The work with CCI and Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities really helped us think that through and how our approach would need to be different because we didn’t benefit from having a strong local organization in Linden to build relationships from and so we really had to build that capacity from the ground up on our team. That’s where a lot of Patrice’s work comes in.

Patrice Allen Brady: I was hired in to do community relations initially in Linden. My background coming into this space, I have worked under the mayor’s office with the city and had already established relationships in the Linden area. The blessing with that was is that me showing up as a Healthy Homes project manager and reconnecting with a lot of the community members in their spaces. Not re-creating the wheel for them, making sure that we identify spaces and places where community members were already meeting and getting together and engaging with them and occasionally doing like one-on-one conversations to learn more about what the community hopes for at this particular time and moment.

Prior to our arrival the city had invested a lot of money in a community engagement community plan to help identify what the community wanted and that’s called the One Linden Plan. That One Linden Plan was pretty comprehensive so it talks about everything from housing to employment to educating the youth in the community to health and wellness and making sure the community is healthy. When Nationwide Children’s and Healthy Homes came into that space, I was happy to join the team to facilitate that community process.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Did you all bring together a formal partnership in Linden or a collaborative group that set some goals for the Healthy Homes work in Linden?

Gretchen West: To some extent we brought a lot of the partners we had worked with on the South Side in terms of funding partners but Linden has also enabled us to form new partnerships with organizations we weren’t working with before. What I can think of particularly comes to mind is CareSource is an accountable peer organization and they have come to the table in Linden to help fund housing development for us.

The Linden community was lifted up by our mayor as a priority neighborhood and because of that designation from his office there were lots of groups locally who were interested in making investments. We’ve been able to benefit from that philanthropy. Nationwide Insurance made a huge commitment to the home repair program last year and this year to help facilitate those repairs.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Within the three bodies of work, you mentioned home ownership, home repair, and rental development. What are some of the accomplishments that you’re most proud of?

Patrice Allen Brady: There are so many to count. One of the accomplishments definitely is under the home repair umbrella. When the community initially did the One Linden Plan there was concern about that having any focus on existing residents and their voices not being heard. The home repair program really helped answer that for them. That is targeted toward existing residents who own their homes in the community. There’s been a couple of great stories that have come out of the experience. Last year we had the privilege of doing 37 home repairs. This year we will probably do somewhere between 40 and 50 home repairs. Really crossing my fingers construction costs stay down.

There was a particular story that I like to share with folks and the impact of it. There was a mom of three who had a child who had just graduated from high school and was going to college. He did not have a scholarship to this particular college he was going to. She got a home repair grant and so she was so excited to get it because in her mind she’s like, “I can help finance some of his college costs because now I don’t need to get a roof, siding, windows, doors on my home.” By saving some of that money on those home repairs she’s able to help facilitate and support her child in college.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: That’s awesome and what a tangible impact, right? I loved it. Thank you for sharing that story.

You mentioned, Patrice, how the home repair thread specifically really responding to what you heard from residents and folks in community. I just want to pull on that a little bit more. Can you say more about how doing this work really on the ground in community in a community-informed way helps the work take shape and maybe in different ways that you might have expected had it been more—I’m using air quotes, top down.

Patrice Allen Brady: Right, so the home repair program really offered the opportunity to engage for residents that typically wouldn’t show up to an area commission meeting, one of the affinity group meetings, that are regularly held in the community. Generally, those meetings are attended by folks who have extra time, extra committed to the community, and are really passionate but that doesn’t negate the fact that the everyday citizen who lives there is just as passionate as they are.

And so with the home repair program we really had the opportunity to engage with families, long-time residents who had been here for generations that don’t typically be able—that are able to come to those public engagement meetings, and with that you are able to have very candid conversations of what they hope to see for their community, some of the challenges they see in their community, and also communicate what’s coming with Healthy Homes soon as well and build that excitement so that they’re able to share with their neighbors and other groups that they’re a part of that there’s going to be a new house built on this street and this is where it’s going. We’re so excited this lot is not vacant anymore, and given all the stuff that was happening on that lot will now stop. I’ll let Gretchen talk more about the new construction side of things and how that all also benefits the community as well.

Gretchen West: When Patrice and I went to some of the first early meetings with Linden residents, the primary thing that they lifted up to us is this work has to benefit them. I think what they were used to seeing is revitalization strategies come in and they’re meant to attract new residents and often the people that have been there and have been dedicated get forgotten.

So we worked very purposefully towards making sure that our programming was aimed at the people who have always lived there. We set rents to where close to average median income was for the neighborhood so that the people who are living there could afford them, the home repair work that Patrice is talking about, and then they really told us they wanted home ownership opportunities. People wanted to be able to get out of rental housing and build equity so we’re working very diligently on bringing that program to market this year through 20 homes with our local community land trust. So everything that we’ve done has been in a response to what they’ve asked that we do.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: That’s great. Thank you for the different examples and the different domains of the work. I want to ask Nora, is there anything that you’d like to add from where you sit about some of the accomplishments that we might want to elevate here?

Nora Bloch: I think the fact that Gretchen and Patrice’s organization and Nationwide have been so involved locally in Columbus and then specifically in Linden really laid the groundwork to get a lot more done than you would expect especially with the pandemic happening and so on.

One example is through our program we had funding and grant support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where Gretchen’s group used a relatively small amount of grant money from Robert Wood Johnson to do sort of the leg work, the predevelopment work that’s needed to get properties ready before construction can start, and that was really useful because that’s the kind of money that’s hard to borrow and maybe not available in general.

One example of how useful that was, and Gretchen could probably say more about this, and I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me but because all of that leg work had happened, there came a point in early 2021 I think where all of a sudden the city of Columbus who had been very supportive all along said, oh, we have this expiring pot of money, could you use it by May, like three months away where if Healthy Neighborhood Healthy Homes had not already done that leg work, they would not have been able to use that money for construction but because they had, they were sort of there, like ready to take and use that city money very well and move things along much more quickly than I think Gretchen and her team expected to be able to so that was an example of being able to leverage some grant money to make bigger things happen.

The other thing that I would just add, Patrice talked pretty modestly I think about all the work she did on home repairs. They were so successful for homeowners that the city gave its blessing to research providing home repairs for properties that are rented which is pretty unusual, and Patrice actually ended up doing a national survey of what was out there. Linden is one of the first city programs, home repair programs, that’s available for rental properties as well so I just wanted to lift that up as another really exciting example.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Those are great, yeah. Nora, I love how you’re emphasizing the way that this collective group was able to bring some philanthropic resources in to unlock and take advantage of the public dollars but doing it in a way that was really designed and informed by community through the work like Patrice was explaining. That’s a really cool example.

I want to focus even a little bit more on this area of how you all have successfully leveraged investment dollars into this work, not only from—so you mentioned some philanthropy and some public dollars. Of course there’s also the investment from Nationwide hospital system. I’d love to open it to any of you to say a little bit more about the community investment piece of this work beyond what we’ve talked about so far.

Gretchen West: Prior to our work in Linden most of the hospital’s investment was on the staffing capacity side. They had put some money in the southside in terms of bricks and sticks but it had traditionally been through the staff that makes the project possible but then we grew into Linden and we were attempting to start work. We were making commitments to community, and then COVID hit, and just about every grant or resource backed away like, oh, we have to reexamine, we have to figure out where things are going to land when COVID doesn’t exist anymore.

The hospital really came to the table, and so they ended up thankfully putting 1.5 million dollars into a small loan fund to make 20 units of rental housing happen that wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t make that commitment. So it actually acts as cash upfront in the deal, and so no interest for the first 10 years, and then in year 11 should we refinance in the private market, they would get paid back although it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where the hospital is going to ask for that money back. It will likely get reinvested into new housing but it was a critical moment for us to get things off the ground in Linden.

Nora Bloch: I would add because Nationwide made that commitment up front, and we’ve seen this before in other places too, once you have or get this sort of an alignment of there’s something happening, people get very excited and want to sort of line up right behind it.

So for instance, as part of this work to make the 20 units happen, a local—so CareSource who Gretchen mentioned was looking for a place to invest is my understanding in Columbus, and they talked to Nationwide and sure enough, well, they’d be happy to be a part of this loan fund project as well. Then there’s another foundation too, am I right, Gretchen, for the first 20 units? Or maybe I have that one wrong.

Gretchen West: The hospital commitment actually came half from the hospital itself and then half through our accountable care organization, Partners for Kids.

Nora Bloch: Oh, that’s right.

Gretchen West: So the hospital also has an ACO which covers over 300,000 Medicaid children throughout Ohio, and so they get paid on a capitation rate which basically means when kids stay healthy, they save money. In 2020 kids weren’t coming to the hospital because everybody was staying home, and so PFK had a large amount of money at the end of the year and fortunately they found a great place to invest those dollars.

Nora Bloch: And this is the first time that that organization had invested in housing at all so that was really exciting, and I think just also to say now that these first 20 units had the financing it needed to happen, it helped Gretchen and her team build and enhance other relationships and not just getting funding from the city but also building relationships with the local land bank as a way to acquire properties to put housing on, and also as Gretchen mentioned, the community land trust.

Those are all—I just wanted to again lift up the work that Patrice and Gretchen have done because those opportunities came because of that first investment really that Nationwide made, and something that our founding executive director, Robin Hacke, likes to say is that resources follow coherence so once there was stuff happening in Linden, we’ve seen all these other institutions, organizations sort of line up right behind it so it’s exciting.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Yeah, that’s great. That expression, resources follow coherence, is a great way to describe what you all have been speaking to.

I’m sure there were probably some challenges as well, and I’m wondering if anyone would be willing to share some of the challenges in how you navigated those through this work.

Patrice Allen Brady: One of the challenges was that Linden was the community that had promises made to them in the past and nothing ever delivered, and so when we came in, they were familiar—they meaning some of the leadership in the community with the stuff that happened on the south side of Columbus and so that also garnered some concern, right? They did not want the same thing that happened on the South Side to happen in Linden because Linden is different and so building those relationships, building that trust, it took time and the home repair program was a tool for that.

That was one of the first projects on the ground that was able to illustrate our interest and commitment in the community because as everyone already knows, rehabbing a property and predevelopment and development and the post construction, it can take quite some time to see something come out of the ground so the home repair program really offered a visual example of what we were coming with into Linden and we were serious about this commitment. There were some tough times in public meetings but we have turned a corner where we are being greeted with smiles and applause now when we show up. It took a lot of time to get there but it was well worth it. That was initially a huge challenge, building trust.

Gretchen West: I think also Columbus housing market right now is on fire. There is no real estate without real estate so we are heavily reliant on the city of Columbus land bank to bring us vacant lots or vacant properties for redevelopment because without that we would not acquire on the private market just because of the speculation, the out-of-state investors that are in our community looking to flip homes for a quick profit. It’s been really challenging all over Columbus.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: I trust that that is not only unique to Columbus. Many folks listening will probably relate to that, and both of those points, around building trust as well.

So tell us what’s next for the Columbus work.

Gretchen West: A lot more work. We are committed for the long term just as we have been in the South Side since 2008. We’re continuing work to this day there. It’s never finished. We don’t believe in coming into communities and plopping down developments and then saying we’ll see you in year 16. That’s not—it’s truly about community development and so we will continue to provide housing opportunities through our various programs in addition to the work that our colleagues do on the other side of the Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families initiative around workforce development and improving the schools and health equity and all of those things create a really well-rounded social determinants of health initiative for us, and we’ll continue that over the next at least five years.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: You mentioned the social determinants of health and certainly COVID has—well, COVID has taught us many things but one is how essential those social determinants are to people being able to weather through pandemics and many other challenges in community and so I’m just thinking about other hospital systems or anchor institutions who might not yet be making as much of the investment in prevention in health as opposed to health care.

What might you say to some folks that are sitting within other—we’ll just use hospital systems as an example—who are intrigued and want to do some internal advocacy to people in their organizations who might be able to make some shifts in this direction?

Nora Bloch: I think we’ve learned a lot from our AIHC program and working with these six different, really strong, experienced health systems about what works and what the key success factors are.

The first is, which Gretchen and Patrice demonstrated well, is the health institutions really need to do this work in partnership with local stakeholders rather than on their own, and more specifically to treat the organizations better in their local neighborhoods or communities that support and amplify resident voice as partners in the work rather than vendors or consultants but really taking the lead from the people who live there and listen to what they need even if it’s not exactly what the hospital thought.

We also learned that while lots of health systems in general in their daily work are focused on metrics that measure effects of investment on health outcomes and like things like clinical trials quote-unquote mentality or financial return calculations that show that they are now saving money because of this work, what we’ve actually seen is that the systems that invest the most in social determinants of health are doing it without those kinds of sort of tight careful metrics. They believe and certainly what we’ve seen is that advancing social determinants is directionally correct, again in air quotes. That kind of investment is essential to their mission in promoting health rather than, you know, will this cost this much and save that much or can we see over a 10-year period how people’s health has improved but then it’s just been central to the work that they’re doing in general, and that health systems that wait for perfect information won’t get started because there just isn’t any and this is a learn-as-you-go experience.

I think another thing that can’t be—that is so important to the work that we’ve seen is that when health institutions do this, they have to be part of a core commitment to racial equity including a commitment to do no harm in the community and to follow up on all commitments they make because certainly we saw in lots of places across the country and I’m sure everybody can think of examples where hospitals don’t necessarily have the best reputation in certain local communities, and it’s just important to be aware of that and to have the mindset of learning, thinking about are there unintended consequences to things that they’re doing or that they have done, and to always follow through on the commitments you make.

Another thing that was I think surprisingly to us or surprising to me anyway, I didn’t have a background in health institutions before working at CCI, is that inside hospitals the departments are so siloed that the finance folks and the real estate folks and the community benefits foundation, operations don’t necessarily talk to each other or think about how they can work together around social determinants of health. Often it’s considered to just be part of the community benefits area, and in fact, when health systems are really effective what we’ve seen is they really leverage all their potential assets so everything from relationships and expertise, knowing who are the key community leaders or nonprofit housing developers or CDFIs who can help the do this work to is there land that they don’t need any more for a parking lot that could be used or just there’s so many assets that hospitals have where if you could connect the dots, they can really have a strong impact.

I think finally just remembering sort of like go find a friend, there is always—almost in every community there are organizations and community leaders that have important information, expertise that will help hospitals do this. They don’t have to go learn all of the acronyms or songs on their own and figure out how to do it and build the plane themselves.

Gretchen West: The only thing I would add to that very excellent list, thank you, Nora, is that we’ve really benefited from being hyper local because there is not a solution that can be spread across even all the neighborhoods in Columbus because they are so different. So I think hospitals developing strategies that are aimed to address housing in an entire city are just—in my opinion they’re never going to succeed because the problems are so different everywhere and they have to be—there has to be nuance in how programs are implemented.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Thank you for that, and I think you—the entry point was talking about health systems and I also think a lot of the learning that, Gretchen, you and Nora and Patrice have lifted up throughout the conversation and in particular in the last question applied to many dimensions of effective place-based collaborative work, and some of the things, Nora, you were mentioning around the challenges inside hospital systems I think are true for many anchor institutions. I hear that also a lot from folks who are in universities for example about the siloing of different departments and as a result often not showing up as the best community partners that they can so super relevant I think even above and beyond the—I don’t want to over extrapolate but I think there are a lot of learnings that are relevant beyond hospital systems as well. Let’s see.

For folks who are doing work in community, so some of the other ones on the question about learning, folks who are doing work in community and are interested in seeking more investment into their work, what kind of advice do you have or what should folks be focused on?

Patrice Allen Brady: I think that folks who are in community, there’s a couple of things. One, I think they should be focused on a partnership, and going in and engaging where institutions that they would like to see and work with in their community.

When approaching them, Linden really benefited from having that neighborhood plan. That was the starting point for the community voice. That was the way that organizations could figure out how to plug in in that community, otherwise most people or organizations couldn’t figure out how to plug into. So if there is a way for them to partner with a leading government institution to help facilitate something like that, I think it would really benefit them in communicating to an organization or an entity that they are interested in seeing in their community.

Again, that process is really robust and it was over the course of three or four months. There was nothing quick about it so a lot of folks had a chance to come out and engage in different ways, and the consultant that was hired to manage it was able to capture it and share it as such.

So that is the main thing I think would be the opportunity space for them. One, developing a plan, hopefully a partnership with a government entity either at the city or county level, and then, two, definitely goal in mind, partnership in mind, not necessarily them doing it on their own. It takes many for it to be successful.

Nora Bloch: I would just add again from what we’ve seen, we actually have something we call the capital absorption framework where it’s a structure that we think helps community coalitions and community leaders think about how to get beyond individual, whether it’s individual buildings or housing projects, to thinking about are there ways to unlock more systemic changes in local communities.

We think that there are sort of three important ingredients. One is having shared priorities that are really—that come from the community, the folks who live there, the people who are impacted hopefully that involve more than one voice because of course communities aren’t monolithic but that everybody can sort of say our priorities are X, and so the Linden plan helped flesh that out in Columbus. I’m sure there’s lots of examples across the country of things like that.

And then putting together what we call a set of deals and projects that we call pipeline which Gretchen also described so not just we’ve got these 10 lots, we’ll build them but what is over the long term, what’s the larger group of deals and projects that can help achieve those shared priorities.

And then through that—these are kind of all intertwined—it’s not consecutive at all, but the opportunity to strengthen the policies, practices, and relationships that make those projects happen and in a way that can advance community interest and protect community assets.

We call that the enabling environment so that’s everything from the public sector to sort of all the connecting threads that go from having these community goals and ambitions to sort of how they get tangibly represented, whether it’s in real estate or small businesses or whatever it may be for a particular community.

We think what we’ve seen is when coalitions are able to lead with that, again you have the resources following coherence, it gives hospitals as an example and other anchor institutions who are trying to figure out what to do, if you can articulate that vision and say, when you do this, we will be able to do that, that just makes it a lot easier for them, especially for institutions that haven’t been already doing this for 15-20 years, giving them an entryway and being very clear about it.

Finally what we’ve also seen is that for your hospitals and probably also other anchor institutions, the power of examples because I think again if they haven’t done it before, they know about making grants or like buying a table at their local fundraiser at least back in the day before COVID, but not necessarily how to go from that to building housing. There’s like a wide range there, and there’s lots of ways that health organizations can show up, and finding those examples can really help community organization I think make their case with a hospital or other institution.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Wonderful. I have thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, Gretchen, Nora, and Patrice, and you all brought so much wisdom and I think there’s so much that’s applicable to folks about the work you’re doing in community and the community investment piece whether folks are working on things like housing but also very relevant for people working in all sorts of different topics as well. Certainly housing is a very capital investment, capital-intensive space but investments are needed in so many different pieces of work and I think a lot of what you’ve shared just really can be applied elsewhere as well.

Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you’d like to share with folks before we sign off?

Nora Bloch: I think I may have said this before but not as specifically as I should now that I think about it which is hospitals should also, and other anchor institutions, there are ways that they can leverage—like you said, since housing is so capital intensive, I think the idea that hospitals could pay for all of it themselves is unlikely and not necessarily realistic but there are ways, and for hospitals and other institutions, I think it’s important to think about are there critical investments they can make kind of like in the example that Gretchen gave where Nationwide sort of came out first that will then unlock other investments whether it’s from other foundations, other institutions, cities or states.

Sometimes it even can unlock bank money that wouldn’t be available at the beginning, and I think that’s an important way to think about how they can make an impact on the particular thing they’re investing in and make the system for more of the same easier.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: That’s great. Well, I hope this has given folks some very inspirational and tangible takeaways. I know that I’ve learned a lot and really have appreciated this conversation so Patrice, Gretchen, and Nora, thank you so much for joining us today.

(Outro) And this closes out this episode of the Collective Impact Forum podcast. If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed, you can find links to resources in the footnotes of this podcast.

We would like to acknowledge that this episode was produced and edited on the unceded, traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, including the Duwamish, Suquamish, Stillaguamish, and Muckleshoot tribes. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the pasts, present, and futures of these tribes.

The Intro music for this episode was composed by Rafael Krux and our outro music is composed by Kevin Macleod.

This is Tracy Timmons-Gray, Associate Director here at the Collective Impact Forum, and your podcast host. I want to say thank you so much for listening, and we look forward to connecting with you more in our next episode. Until next time, we hope you are safe and well.


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