case study

Investing in Communities, Transforming Lives

The Challenge

One in six Americans now lives in poverty—the highest level in half a century. Poverty has spread beyond cities to suburbs and rural communities and is being transferred from one generation to the next. Despite this, there is cause for optimism: we understand more clearly than ever before what it takes to build vibrant communities and to help people lead healthy, productive lives.

Our Approach

In September 2012, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (FRBSF) published Investing in What Works for America’s Communities, a book that calls on leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to build on what we know is working to move the needle on poverty.

Burness partnered with both, providing communications support for the project and release of the book.

Our team conducted a messaging session with the book’s lead authors; developed promotional material and collateral; organized a launch event; and produced a video on the Booth Childcare Center in Oakland, CA, to demonstrate how targeted community development investments from the Low Income Investment Fund can provide long-standing impact. Since its launch, Burness has managed the book’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, as well as its Ideas Blog and website, which we helped design.

Results and Impact

More than two years after its publication, the book continues to engage and spark conversations on poverty in America. We have distributed 15,000 copies nationwide and received more than 2 million social media hits. Authors have held several regional book rollout events around the country, where thousands of community development practitioners, researchers and policymakers  have engaged in lively discussions about the themes and proposals in What Works.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen mentioned the book during her keynote at the 2014 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference, citing it as one of the most promising community development initiatives in the country. The City of Los Angeles also referenced the book in its consolidated plan, and chapters have made their way into the curricula of graduate programs across the country—educating the next generation of community leaders.

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