There’s various ways to invest in a city’s future: education, infrastructure, low-income housing. But what about investing in a different commodity, one that is the cornerstone of a society and directly impacted by all of those areas?
We’re talking about investing in people, and while they’re often overlooked, one foundation is looking to change that.
It’s called People’s Liberty and is supported by the Johnson Foundation and Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile Jr. / U.S. Bank Foundation. The Cincinnati-based project is “a philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati,” reports NextCity. It all starts this coming January 2015 and will last for five years.
So how does it work? Well, every year the group will have just over $1 million to distribute in grants. There are two Haile Fellowships worth $100,000 each and 16 grants up to $10,000 for projects that will last for around six months. Finally, there are three Globe Grants that will produce work for the People’s Liberty storefront gallery.
While any organization can just give money, People’s Liberty is taking grant-giving to another level. All grantees are invited to use the group’s collaborative space to work. The purpose is to build camaraderie among the grantees and facilitate the flow of ideas. Further, the streetfront gallery will be open to the public, so that anyone can interact and work with the grantees.
All of this is done to promote the talent residing right in Cincinnati — instead of looking to outside sources. For Jake Hodesh, operations director of People’s Liberty, it is a chance to improve the city using the people who know the city best.
“We want to invest directly in people, and we want to nurture, invest and retain those people,” Hodesh told Next City.
Although not a common investment, People’s Liberty is taking a gamble on its citizens. And only time will tell how great the return will be.