Penn IUR’s Co-Directors Genie Birch and Susan Wachter, along with Penn IUR Faculty Fellow Ira Harkavy, Director of Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships, are among the co-founders of the National Anchor Institution Task Force. The Task Force is a permanent organization created to develop and disseminate knowledge that assists in the creation and advancement of democratic, mutually beneficial anchor-institution community partnerships by:

  • Bringing together a group of scholars, university presidents and other leaders in higher education, and practitioners;
  • Increasing cooperation and alignment among government, anchor institutions, businesses, schools, community organizations, and philanthropy in order to improve communities;
  • Developing strategies to promote interagency government collaboration;
  • Providing tools for anchor institutions to enhance their societal missions, address local needs, as well as strengthen democratic, mutually beneficial partnerships between institutions of higher education, schools, and community based organizations;
  • Providing tools for anchor institutions to help students develop as democratic citizens who are lifelong contributors to communities and the nation’s well-being; and
  • Complementing philanthropic strategies to support and strengthen vulnerable communities.


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