Living Cities Integration Initiative

Client: Living Cities

Project:  The Integration Initiative

Service Area: Cross-Sector Partnerships, Learning Communities, Grantmaking Initiatives

Content Area: Community Development, Economic Mobility

Living Cities, a philanthropic collaborative comprised of 22 major national foundations and financial institutions, was launching an $80 million collective impact grantmaking initiative and needed support for initiative design and implementation. 

The Integration Initiative (TII) sought to revitalize neighborhoods and connect low-income individuals to regional opportunities by engaging cross-sector leaders, targeting systems change, and deploying multiple types of capital, including multi-year grants, program-related investments, and senior debt. 

csb philanthropic solutions was brought in at the start of the initiative to facilitate the selection process. We developed LOI and RFP formats, coordinated and conducted site visits, and developed due diligence tools, including assessment of capacity to manage and utilize PRI and debt capital. We also facilitated the process of assessing and selecting national evaluators, subsequently serving as liaison for the $1.5 million evaluation.  

After selection of the first five sites – Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Newark – Cassandra served as the program liaison to site teams, providing coaching and support in development of their cross-sector teams.  When personnel changes led to the need for more comprehensive staffing, Cassandra was asked to serve as the Interim Initiative Director for more than a year. She served as lead staff for the initiative until a new permanent director was hired and supported his transition. As the initiative entered its second funding round, csb philanthropic solutions continued to coordinate and support the process for selecting new grantee teams from Albuquerque, New Orleans, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Seattle, serve as evaluation liaison, and provide ongoing project management.  

csb philanthropic solutions also designed and led the bi-annual learning community for the five and then nine initiative teams of leaders from the public, philanthropy, nonprofit, and private sectors. For these three-day events, we designed individual sessions and developed the overall event agenda, covering topics ranging from adaptive leadership and capital absorption to mixed-income communities and cross-sector partnerships. We recruited presenters, including expert practitioners, researchers, and consultants, and moderated panels. We also secured appropriate venues and managed event logistics. 

After the learning community events, we analyzed evaluation feedback and disseminated learning through blog posts and briefs. Learning community participants reported that the events were well-coordinated, offered valuable teamwork and networking opportunities, and increased knowledge and skills needed to achieve initiative goals.