A letter from our CEO

Here and Now: Spreading and Scaling the New Urban Practice

“The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

In our 2014 Annual Report, we asked our member institutions and other partners in the social change field to respond to this question: “What will it take to dramatically improve the lives of low-income people, faster?” Throughout 2015, we received answers to this question from literally all over the United States. And at our #NewUrbanPractice Summit in May, we brought together leaders, dreamers, and doers from across sectors and the nation to tackle this same question.

Although we learned a lot from all of these activities in the past year, one lesson stands out. Leaders across America are deeply unsatisfied with the incremental pace of change and are already taking concrete steps to transform the lives of low-income people. We found that many of the solutions needed to tackle the biggest problems that low-income people face—in education, jobs, and elsewhere—are already being developed and tested around the country. A dramatically different future is taking shape in cities, but these changes remain unevenly distributed.

That’s why our 2015 Annual Report is focused on spreading and scaling what works. The time is now to pivot from concept and conversation to action. The Report brings together a host of practical tools and resources—some from Living Cities, some from our partners—that anyone can use to disrupt the status quo and double down on what works, right here and right now. Public will for moving the needle on key issues like racial inequality and raising the minimum wage is at a boiling point. We hope that this suite of tools can help enable local and national leaders to achieve the lasting, meaningful change that our cities desperately need.

Whether you’re an executive at a community foundation, an entrepreneur running a social enterprise, or a change-maker on the front lines of city government, we think you can find something of value in this battle-tested toolchest.

Do you frequently collaborate with partners across sectors, but keep hitting snags when the time comes to get things done? Our cross-sector assessment tool helps you reflect on your partnership and provides immediate, tailored feedback to help you and your partners get better results, faster.

Are you working in a city government that wants to figure out ways to embed racial equity in the way your department operates, but aren’t sure where to start? Consult the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Guidelines for Authentic Conversations About Race to kick-start the process.

Everybody has a role to play, and there are more and more ways to contribute and lead. The time for action is now, so dive in. Tell your stories of success and failure, and bring your peers along on the journey. Together, we can build the New Urban Practice that America needs.

Thank you,
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Ben Hecht

Chief Executive Officer, Living Cities

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