Growing smarts – Focus on social equity

Philanthropic groups should deepen the partnerships they have formed to combat unchecked urban growth in ways that involve and protect the neediest citizens, a new report says.

Foundations have worked together in recent years to promote “smart growth” that saves open space, promotes clean air, boosts mass transit and spurs economic investment, says the report by PolicyLink and the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.

Foundations also have pushed to include advocates for the poor in regional planning efforts, which have tackled such issues as affordable housing, good schools, safe environments and access to jobs and transportation.

Now, the report says, foundations should build on the smart-growth work they’ve done by creating tools to measure the impact on communities of investment; working more closely with community groups; boosting alliances that address numerous issues at the same time; and do more research and policy work.

“When smart growth is coupled with equitable development, the benefits are dramatic and sustainable,” says Angela Glover Blackwell, president of PolicyLink.

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