Unique Public-Private Partnership Commits a Half-Billion Dollars Over Next Decade to Spark Inner-City Revitalization Plans to Build on Progress in Improving Inner Cities During Past 10 Years

NEW YORK, NY (August 5, 2002) -- Living Cities, a partnership of leading foundations, financial institutions and the federal government, today pledged to double its investment over the next 10 years — to $500 million — to continue promoting inner-city revitalization. This announcement builds on the partnership’s decade of experience in improving inner cities, supporting some 300 community organizations and spurring more than $2 billion in added funding for affordable housing and commercial business development.

Living Cities (formerly known as the National Community Development Initiative) has invested $254 million since 1991 to strengthen the management and capabilities of community development corporations (CDCs) in 23 U.S. cities. Living Cities’ funds have led to the construction and rehabilitation of nearly 20,000 homes and rental apartments for low- to moderate-income families. They also helped finance CDC construction of close to 2 million square feet of commercial space and community facilities in low-income communities, including supermarkets, shopping malls and small-business ventures, as well as child-care and job-training centers, public parks and police substations.

“Over the past decade, we’ve seen CDCs play a significant role in fostering development in urban neighborhoods where few others invest,” said Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and a co-chair of Living Cities. “We are now determined to take what we have learned and deepen our contribution in this decade.”
The partnership’s decision is a 10-year commitment. The group will provide $119 million in new funding up to 2004, and intends to invest some $500 million by 2011.

The Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that has evaluated the work of Living Cities/NCDI and CDCs, calls the 1990s “an institutional revolution” for community development, with support for CDCs becoming more predictable, stable and effective. The Institute has also found that in 19 of the 23 cities where Living Cities invests, CDCs have contributed tangibly to the improvement of poor neighborhoods, including cities such as Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

However, cities and inner-city neighborhoods continue to face challenges, with Census figures showing that central cities have twice the poverty rates of their suburban counterparts – roughly 16 percent versus 8 percent in 2000. This challenge and Living Cities’ progress to date led the partners to commit to a second decade.

Living Cities’ priority over the next 10 years will be to continue supporting the work of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and The Enterprise Foundation, the two largest national nonprofit organizations in the community development field. They will pursue policies to promote neighborhood development in a more integrated fashion, incorporating housing, economic development, schools, child care and other areas. LISC and Enterprise will also help CDCs build strategic alliances and better use information technology in their work.

The Living Cities partnership also plans to examine more intensively public policy issues, leveraging its knowledge and expertise to articulate policies and approaches that can foster inner-city improvement. A significant component will include efforts to highlight the assets of inner-city neighborhoods and their market potential. Another will be a pilot effort to better coordinate the community development work of the partners, government agencies and other contributors in four cities where Living Cities invests: Chicago, St. Paul, Miami and Baltimore.

“Living Cities has been a powerful vehicle for pulling together the knowledge and resources of diverse institutions focused on urban revitalization,” said Mark Willis, executive vice president at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and a co-chair of Living Cities. “Helping communities grow and prosper is both good policy and good business.”

Living Cities is a public-private partnership, founded in 1991 as the National Community Development Initiative that works to improve physically and economically distressed inner-city neighborhoods. Living Cities is composed of 17 major national corporations, foundations and the federal government, including the AXA Community Investment Program, Bank of America, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank, Fannie Mae Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, The Prudential Insurance Company of America, The Rockefeller Foundation, Surdna Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Community Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, please visit www.livingcities.org.

Living Cities invests in 23 U.S. cities:

  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Baltimore, Md.
  • Boston, Mass.
  • Chicago, Ill.
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Denver, Colo.
  • Detroit, Mich.
  • Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Kansas City, Mo.
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Newark, N.J.
  • New York, N.Y.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Portland, Ore.
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.
  • Seattle, Wash.
  • St. Paul, Minn.
  • Washington, D.C.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.