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The Importance of Anchor Institutions for Community Health | ZeroDivide

The vibrancy of any community depends largely on the participation of its inhabitants. When individuals combine their efforts within their neighborhood, there is a lasting and positive social benefit for all. In this case, anchor institutions often present a powerful incentive for people to come together.


Harvard Economics Professor Michael Porter coined the term “anchor institution” in 2002. An anchor institution, he wrote, is one that is “…advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates.” Anchor institutions come in many different forms, such as universities, local businesses and community health organizations. Their embedded nature within communities allows them to intimately contribute to the local people’s economy, culture and overall health, and because they provide important services, anchor institutions have the ability to bring people together from different cultural backgrounds.


The emphasis on building out local anchor institutions has been one of ZeroDivide’s objectives since its inception 15 years ago. Recently, ZeroDivide began work with an established hospital called the Wellness Center, located in the historic General Hospital building in Los Angeles, California. The Wellness Center is situated in Los Angeles’ historic Boyle Heights neighborhood, a densely populated area and home to one of the largest Latino/Hispanic populations in the United States. Unfortunately, Boyle Heights has fallen behind in many vital services like education, public safety and health care.


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