People, Place, and Race: How Philanthropy Can Help Center People and Equity in Community Development
What comes to mind when we hear the phrase “investing in communities?” For many of us, the pictures that emerge are roads, bridges, houses, local businesses: the physical infrastructure of place. Such images reflect the historically predominant view of development as physical investment. In this view, investment in physical infrastructure and small businesses spurs economic growth and job creation, which traditional orthodoxy holds as key to eradicating poverty.
But decades of research and data points to investments in people, or human development (education, healthcare, childcare, et al.), as equal contributors to prosperity and wellbeing. This concept is already widely accepted internationally, as evidenced in the UN Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015. However, the United States lags behind in our thinking, as witnessed most recently in the uproar over the inclusion of social services alongside physical development in President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda.
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