Anchor institutions play an important role in regional economies. The Anchor Economy Initiative explores how hospitals and higher education institutions sustain jobs, drive economic growth, and support equitable regional development in 524 regions across the U.S.

The Economic Growth & Mobility Project brings together researchers and community partners to find innovative, actionable, and community-driven solutions to local or regional economic challenges. Research is conducted through Research in Action Labs that help advance solutions to specific challenges for achieving economic equity in communities.

Together, the Anchor Economy Initiative and the Economic Growth & Mobility Project are launching a new collaboration: the Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab.

Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab

Who Should Apply?

For this new collaboration, the Philadelphia Fed is seeking proposals from Third District communities who are eager to create solutions for workforce development challenges that anchor institutions can partner on.

The Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab will be guided by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in collaboration with a Third District community. Participants will be asked to:

  • identify two COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS to serve as connectors and “community quarterbacks," including at least one anchor institution.
  • participate in LOCAL RESEARCH that engages community voice to inform the agenda and potential solutions.
  • develop a CROSS–SECTOR PARTNERSHIP that includes the public, private, and nonprofit sectors — and, in this case, anchor institutions — in convening around a shared vision.

What Is the Focus?

As some of their region’s largest employers, and as institutions that train and educate the workforce, anchor institutions play a pivotal role in creating and connecting people to job opportunities.

The Anchor Economy Dashboard is a resource that communities can use to explore how many jobs are supported by anchor institutions within a region.

Communities participating in the Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab will be asked to focus on how anchor institutions can help address workforce challenges. Examples may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Creating pathways to quality jobs for residents who are without four-year degrees and/or who have experienced systemic barriers to employment opportunities
  • Leveraging anchor institutions to create and/or support education and training programs that prepare residents for jobs that are in-demand in the region. A focus may be on those who are without four-year degrees and/or who have experienced systemic barriers to employment
  • Developing opportunities for workers to move from low-wage jobs to higher-skill, higher-wage jobs within institutions and support ongoing training and development

What Is the Timing?

The lab is an 18–24 month engagement that is broken into four phases:

Discover: The formation of regional collaboratives with a workforce focus, including at least one higher education or hospital anchor institution and one community organization

Define: Leveraging research, data, and community input to define a workforce challenge that the collaborative will address

Develop: Learning from experts, community organizations, and residents in order to shape solutions to the workforce challenge identified, and using a design thinking approach to synthesize research and learnings to forge solutions

Deliver: Identifying the structure and resources needed for solution implementation

How Will Communities Benefit?

There are several benefits for participating community groups:

  1. Research: data from the Federal Reserve Bank and the Anchor Economy Dashboard focused on the impact anchors have in your region, as well as guidance on conducting qualitative research — interviews and focus groups — with community members
  2. Expertise: national experts on workforce development, the anchor mission, and research techniques will be brought in by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia for key phases of the Research in Action Lab
  3. Facilitation: guided process — leveraging design thinking — to elicit partner collaboration and input
  4. Promotion: the opportunity to highlight innovations in employment equity developed by your community on the local, state, and federal levels

Additionally, participants will have opportunities to:

  1. Build partnerships: bring more members of the community together to address regional workforce challenges
  2. Increase capacity: through a collaborative process that brings in new partners and resources
  3. Grow trust: among residents, institutions, nonprofits, and government by collaborating on regional workforce challenges and developing solutions together
  4. Implement solutions: use the Research in Action Lab to identify solutions and the partners and resources needed to implement those solutions

How to Apply

Applications for communities to participate in the Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab are being accepted through May 26, 2023.

A webinar will be held on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. to present the opportunity to communities and answer questions about applying. Any community applying for Anchors for Equity must have at least one representative attend the webinar. Register for the webinar.

The application can be found here. Up to two communities in the Third District will be selected to participate.

For questions about the Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab contact Deborah Diamond or Ashley Putnam at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.