Twin Cities selected for new Living Cities Integration Initiative

Central Corridor collaboration and investment model laid the groundwork.


Living Cities, a collaborative of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial

institutions, announced last week that the Twin Cities region has been chosen as one of

five winners in a new Living Cities Integration Initiative, which supports bold, innovative

approaches to improve access to opportunities for low income people.


The Integration Initiative in the Twin Cities — called “Corridors of Opportunity” —

will build upon substantial public investments in three regional transit lines, including

the Central Corridor. It will advance efforts under way here to create a model of

how cross-sector collaborations can take advantage of investments in high-quality

regional transit to also improve the lives of low-income people and the health of their

neighborhoods “beyond the rail.”


Through the Living Cities Initiative, the Twin Cities region is eligible for up to $16 million

— including $2.75 million in grants, $12 in million loans and $3 million in Program-

Related Investments — to support its efforts.


The Living Cities announcement marks the second time this month that transit oriented

development efforts in the Twin Cities area received good news.


Last week, U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) new $100 million Sustainable

Communities Regional Planning Grant Program awarded a local consortium a $5 million

planning grant to “support planning along the region’s growing network of transit



The winning efforts for both grants were shaped significantly by members of the

Funders Collaborative. The Saint Paul Foundation and the McKnight Foundation

collaborated, along with other partners, on the Living Cities application, and

the McKnight Foundation was critically involved with securing the grant for the

Sustainable Communities program. The Funders Collaborative, as well as many public

and private groups who have been involved with us, participated as partners in one or

both efforts.


John Couchman, vice president of grants and program at The Saint Paul Foundation,

said: “The support of Living Cities demonstrates growing national recognition of the

positive impact that can be achieved through cross-sector and community partnerships

like the one that has developed along the Central Corridor.”


Polly Talen, program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and,


with John Couchman, co-chair of the Funders Collaborative, added, “Our approach is

becoming an accepted way of working to create opportunities for a region as a whole,

while unlocking opportunities for those with the greatest need. Other collaboratives

around the country are taking a similar approach, but the Twin Cities seem to be among

the leaders in demonstrating how well this can work.”


“These two awards validate the vision the Funders Collaborative had when we began

nearly three years ago,” said Lee Sheehy, program director for region and communities

at the McKnight Foundation.


“In particular, they reinforce the value of building an investment framework that can

mobilize public investment, private capital, philanthropy and the efforts of community

advocates toward shared goals. In the short term, it’s very challenging to find a common

agenda and sometimes hard to see our progress. These awards help all the partners see

how far we’ve come.”