Why Place Matters
We believe one of the best ways to improve social and economic mobility for young people and families in the US is through comprehensive interventions that focus on solving problems specific to their communities.
Too often, geography is destiny: Research shows that the socioeconomic circumstances into which an individual is born and lives largely determine their access to the resources and opportunities necessary to thrive. At the same time, generations of systemic racism have compounded these inequities and prevented many people of color from achieving their full potential.
The Place Matters portfolio takes into account the way community – for better or worse – shapes life chances; we invest in collective action at the community level and in supports that enable success.
Improving economic and social mobility for whole communities has proven elusive to date. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to combating poverty. What works in one community may not translate in another. These layered problems require layered solutions, tailored to the specific needs and inequities of each community and with leaders partnering across sectors. Yet even when social sector leaders are responsive to the needs of local people, their success is often limited when they are forced to replicate strategies from scratch or when they lack access to essential resources, networks, or policies.
Geography is Destiny
An individual’s community and living environment have a powerful impact on their access to opportunity. Data show that children’s chances of climbing the income ladder are profoundly affected by the neighborhoods in which they are raised. For generations, systemic racism has cemented and compounded these inequities in communities of color.
A Lack of Supports
Place-based leaders and social sector organizations, despite making progress, often find their efforts stymied by a lack of comprehensive supports. Without resources like robust data, planning support, adequate staff capacity, or expert counsel, they are not able to consistently and effectively scale what works in their community.
Despite place-based partnerships' potential to address glaring needs in communities across the US, inadequate, fragmented funding has proven to be one of the greatest barriers to their success. And even when it is provided, leaders report funding is overly restricted, leaving them unable to leverage other public or private sector investment or pursue comprehensive strategies with sustainable results.
The Place Matters portfolio is core to Blue Meridian’s overall investing strategy and a reflection of our belief that place-based work is a powerful avenue for improving the life trajectories of young people and families in poverty.
Our comprehensive strategy invests in place-based partnerships and the necessary ecosystem and infrastructure of supports to catalyze their success. This strategy builds on Blue Meridian’s multi-year experience investing in and learning from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Guilford County, NC, alongside our regional partners and studying countless other place-based efforts.
The Place Matters portfolio aims to amplify the array of solutions that local leaders can adapt to achieve lasting, community-wide impact.
Place-based partnerships are a community-driven, outcomes-focused approach. They position place as the nexus of progress, designing and implementing solutions that are tailored to a particular community. Leaders come together across sectors to identify shared goals and hold themselves accountable to achieve impact. These partnerships attend to pressing needs, while building on individual and community assets to create cradle-to-career opportunity pathways.
To catalyze the success of place-based partnerships, we are partnering with others to cultivate a comprehensive ecosystem of key tools and resources. Strengthened infrastructure could fortify support for things like planning, data collection and analysis, policy, and technology among others. This will enable leaders to better track results and hone their efforts over time to achieve transformational and sustained outcomes.
We made planning investments to lay the groundwork for aligning future capital in support of place-based partnerships and catalysts to promising work. Building on these initial investments, we have also recently made deeper investments in three communities alongside local and national funders. Significant investment from private and public sources will still be required in order to continue an equitable recovery and to achieve sustained results that will actually improve people’s life trajectories.
Since launching in 2020, Place Matters has invested in nearly 20 place-based partnerships across the country as well as in several leading national organizations that provide critical infrastructure and enable the right conditions for place-based partnerships to succeed.
committed to date
Why Place Matters
The Place Matters portfolio draws upon the philanthropic capital pooled by all of Blue Meridian’s Partners as well as anchor funding from General Partner Ballmer Group.
With a shared vision to leverage the power of place to increase access to opportunity in the US, Ballmer Group provided insight and collaboration on key aspects of the investing strategy. Ballmer Group supports efforts to improve economic mobility for American children and families who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty.
Learn more about our Catalytic Supports investmentsClick here
Making an Impact Place by Place
Hear from our Place Matters investee leaders in their own words why Place matters in their communities.
A Focus on Outcomes
The Place Matters investing strategy leaves community leaders in control to shape their own destinies. The people in each community know best what is needed both to recover from the pandemic and to grow more long-term pathways to mobility.
Place-based partnerships may be tailored to the unique assets and needs of a community, but they all share a commitment to outcomes. Blue Meridian and local leaders we support subscribe to a results-based framework which acknowledges the need to reach key milestones across life stages and avoid major impediments in order to be on a positive life trajectory. Each community that we invest in has determined their own priority outcomes.
Blue Meridian is excited to partner with local foundations and philanthropists to align capital for place-based partnerships and a supporting national ecosystem.
News About Place Matters
What’s on the Menu at Blue Meridian? More Place-Based, Multisector Partnerships
Jan 8, 2024
Rural Capacity Building: New Funding Gives This Appalachia-Based Ed Nonprofit Room to Grow
Jan 5, 2024
The Potential and Power of Place
Dec 7, 2023
Place Matters: Learning from the Past, Envisioning the Future
Dec 7, 2023
Spartanburg, South Carolina, organization launches 7-year plan to advance students forward
Dec 5, 2023
Blue Meridian commits $150 million for place-based partnerships
Nov 30, 2023
Opportunity 2040 Plan Has Raised $120M To Help Lift Dallas County Children Out of Poverty, and More
Nov 30, 2023
Place-based partnerships in three U.S. cities aggregate $335 million for community-driven plans designed to break cycles of poverty
Nov 29, 2023
$114M investment aimed at increasing youth enrollment in postsecondary, credential programs
Nov 28, 2023
The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta Pilots a Program to Eliminate Student Debt
Oct 14, 2023