What is an Anchor Institution?

An Anchor Institution is an organization (usually a university, college, or hospital) that is ” consciously applying their long-term, place-based economic power, in combination with their human and intellectual resources, to better the long-term welfare of the communities in which they reside.” Anchor Institutions combined “control vast economic, human, intellectual, and institutional resources,” with the potential to benefit the local community from both a social and financial perspective.

“All told, U.S. hospitals and universities combined spend over $1 trillion a year, have endowments in excess of $500 billion, and employ 8 percent of our labor force.”

Anchor Mission at UMass Memorial Health Care

To take a look at how the ideas of an Anchor Institution take shape and are utilized, below is an example of such:

According to UMASS, the pursuit of an Anchor Mission has led the enterprise to focus on ” leveraging and redirecting the full economic and intellectual power” of the institution towards improving the health and welfare of their community, ” particularly in those areas suffering pervasive inequality and social disadvantage.”

The goal of the UMASS Anchor Mission is to make sure “community members have access to resources that will improve their overall social, physical and financial health.” There are Four Pillars UMASS has identified to accomplish this goal.

  1. Investing – We will redirect 1% of our long-term investment portfolio, or $4 million, to invest in local projects to improve the welfare of our community. These may be projects that address affordable housing, homelessness, food insecurity and the like.
  2. Hiring – We will work with other workforce organizations in our community to intentionally hire individuals from some of the most disadvantaged areas of our community. In this way, we will not only help to transform neighborhoods, but we will also ensure our employee profile is truly reflective of our community.
  3. Purchasing – We will support local businesses by buying locally whenever possible, with a focus on areas of social disadvantage or ongoing inequality within our community.
  4. Volunteering – We will offer our employees volunteer opportunities where they can get involved and contribute to the mission of our organization outside of their traditional roles.