Key Points

With place-based initiatives foundations generally seek to engage a broad set of local stakeholders in developing high-payoff strategies and to build their capacity. However more fundamental changes may be needed to bring about the ambitious impacts that foundations have in mind. This article explores the idea of changing community culture as a means of achieving large-scale impacts.

In trying to shift a community’s culture, a foundation is inherently seeking to change how residents think and act, as well as how the community defines itself. This raises both practical and ethical questions, particularly when the foundation is based outside the community in question.

Possibilities and challenges with this line of work are illustrated with the Community Progress Initiative, which sought to build an adaptive culture to revitalize the economy in central Wisconsin following massive dislocations in the papermaking and cranberry industries.

Open Access