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Projects with Promise

Vol. 25 No. 1

The PARC Initiative: A Multi-Anchor Approach to Community Engagement and Development

  • Patrick Kennelly
  • Amber Wichowsky
  • Luke Knapp
  • Erin Wissler Gerdes
  • Jaqueline Schram
  • Jennifer Byrne
  • Rana Altenburg
  • Daniel Bergen
February 9, 2020


There is broad recognition that anchor institutions—universities, hospitals, and other locally embedded organizations—can leverage their economic and human resources to revitalize and empower distressed neighborhoods. In [CITY], five anchor institutions, including [UNIVERSITY], collaborate with residents, city officials, and other stakeholders to transform the seven neighborhoods surrounding their campuses. The Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime (PARC) initiative is an innovative, data-driven, and place-based model of community collaboration to address neighborhood challenges. Over the last three years, the initiative has helped stimulate economic development, enhance housing stock, improve public safety, and strengthen neighborhood connections in the city’s Near West Side. In this article, we detail how the initiative was established, the role of the university in this multi-anchor partnership, and how the initiative integrates data and community input to inform and evaluate its work. The PARC initiative demonstrates promise as an effective model of university engagement in neighborhood revitalization efforts.