In a move embracing the belief that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” various institutions from Lake and Geauga counties have partnered with Lake Erie College (LEC) and Lakeland Community College to launch an Anchor Institutions Task Force meant to better their communities.
Made possible by a $57,000 grant awarded to LEC and Lakeland through the Lake-Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation last December, the Anchor Institutions Task Force seeks to explore how area organizations can pursue collaborative goals that will strengthen and build the communities in which they all reside.
As defined at the Task Force’s kick-off meeting on Jan. 25, anchor institutions are enduring organizations that remain in their geographic places and play an integral role in their local communities and economies. Universities, hospitals and significant employers are strong examples of these types of organizations, which cannot easily leave the communities in which they are engrained.
By pooling their various perspectives and strengths, the organizations involved in the Anchor Institutions Task Force aim to promote equity and access of services in the region as well as cross sector collaboration. The organizations intend to engage in strategic partnerships to advance these goals.
“Our goal for this task force will help Lake and Geauga residents better understand “who does what,” said Dione DeMitro, director for the Nonprofit and Public Service Center at Lakeland. “We want to highlight and increase awareness and understanding of the ins and outs of collaboration and partnering – making connections between the nonprofit community and an array of existing resources.”
The task force’s selection of and pursuit of specific goals will come by way of a data-driven process, as the group will be hiring someone to run data collection to this end. Initiatives will be place-based and rooted in evidence such as gap analyses to ensure maximum impact, quality and transparency. The grant supports the staff and resources for data collection, research and plan implementation.
Although the initiative is a partnership primarily between Lake Erie College and Lakeland Community College, the project coordination office will be on Lakeland’s main campus. Additionally, Kent State University Geauga will provide assistance and input from Geauga County.
“This initiative is a powerful testimonial of how institutions of higher learning can collaborate to better understand the needs of the region, and create implementable strategies and plans for the communities in which we exist,” said Dr. Bryan DePoy, vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Lake Erie College.
Leaders from key organizations convened at kick-off meeting held recently at Lakeland. Major institutions represented included colleges and universities; school districts; regional hospitals; nonprofits; cultural institutions; social service agencies;?selected “anchor” corporations/alliances; chambers of commerce; and organizations that serve various populations.
“This is a community-based initiative – it’s bigger than any one of our institutions, “said Lakeland President Dr. Morris Beverage Jr. “By taking a bird’s-eye view of the overall area and bringing all ideas to the table, this group will identify which priorities will get focused on first.”
Lake Erie College President Dr. Brian Posler echoed these sentiments. “We’re pleased to be a part of this important initiative that will better our region,” he said.
The next steps for the task force are to convene the steering committee, invite representatives from the Cuyahoga County Anchor Institutions Project to discuss lessons learned with the group, and to identify a data analyst/project coordinator to assist the task force moving forward. The first quarterly meeting to present the proposed plan and strategy for implementation is slated for September 2017.
For more information on the Anchor Institutions Task Force, contact Dione DeMitro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Anchor Institutions
Michael Porter, from The Harvard Business School coined the term “anchor institution” to highlight the current power and future potential of colleges and universities, hospitals and other nonprofit institutions with long-term, rooted investments in particular locations to transform neighborhoods, cities and regions.
About Lake Erie College
Lake Erie College (LEC), founded in 1856, provides distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs grounded in the liberal arts. LEC empowers students to deal with the diversity, complexity and change necessary to excel in the 21st century. LEC offers 35 undergraduate majors and master’s programs in business administration, education and physician assistant studies. LEC students compete in 17 NCAA Division II varsity sports and on three intercollegiate equestrian teams.