Earlier this year, JP Morgan Chase announced the winners (see here) in their most recent round of Advancing Cities funding, which included five recipient communities receiving a total of $15 million. It’s an impressive display of a corporation putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to encouraging innovative and collaborative approaches to problem solving in major urban centers around the country.
What does this latest round of funding (stay positive, there will be more!) say about the state of economic and community development? At least three things as I see it:
1. We cannot do it alone; solutions begin with strategic partners. One consistent thread among all five recipients is that none are singular. While there may be a lead organization, in every case it is a consortium of partners assembled to tackle whatever the major challenge may be.
2. The “old way” is no longer the default starting point. It is clear JP Morgan Chase is choosing to reward creativity and innovation – new thinking, inspired strategies and non-traditional partners choosing to work together. Many of the challenges to be addressed are endemic to their respective communities and perhaps this is a nod to the idea that maybe it is time to try something new since the old ways have not worked.
3. Money helps, but you need a strategy! The Advancing Cities initiative (much like Global Cities before it) is impressive, not just for its forward-thinking creativity, but, perhaps more importantly, for the sheer size and scale of the effort. Each of these city collaboratives is receiving $3 million; not enough to resolve these issues outright, but definitely enough to make a dent. When you peel back the layers of each proposal a strong, well thought out strategy can be found. It is an old adage but still true today: money follows strategy.
Hat’s off to JP Morgan Chase for their leadership and strategic foresight! Their choices are helping to define a new roadmap for tackling urban challenges across the country.