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Living Cities names Kresge president as new board chair

General Foundation News

Living Cities has announced that Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson has been named the chair of its board of directors for a three-year term. In this role, he will shape and guide the organization’s strategic direction to improve the lives of low-income people in America’s cities.

Rapson will partner with Living Cities’ staff in several areas of the organization’s portfolios, including: exploring opportunities for impact investing; engaging other philanthropic, public sector and private sector leaders; and working with Living Cities member institutions to share learning and best practices.

“In his 10 years leading Kresge, Rip has transformed it into one of the most important foundations in the world with an urban grantmaking and social investment portfolio that is second to none,” said Living Cities President and CEO Ben Hecht. “As Living Cities enters our 25th year, we are taking stock of how to partner with others to build a new urban practice that delivers dramatically better results for low-income people. I can think of no better partner in leading this than Rip.”

Rapson’s appointment comes at a time of increasing attention to rising inequality and racial opportunity gaps in cities, as well as a growing interest among cross-sector leaders to invest in innovative solutions. With significant population increases projected for urban centers, institutions and individuals alike are acknowledging that investing in cities is necessary to accelerate the pace of equitable, inclusive change.

Since joining Kresge in 2006, Rapson has led the 92-year-old foundation to adopt an array of grantmaking and social investing tools to improve the economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions of urban life through six defined programs: arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Kresge’s hometown of Detroit. In 2015, the foundation made a commitment to invest $350 million through its Social Investment Practice in an effort to enlist for-profit and nonprofit partners alike to help address issues that grants alone cannot.

Nationally, Rapson has strengthened the philanthropic sector’s role through convening, collaborating and supplementing community development activities in cities across the country. In Detroit, Rapson and the foundation provided central support to the “Grand Bargain,” an unprecedented partnership between the philanthropic community, city pensioners, the State of Michigan and the Detroit Institute of Arts, to propel the City of Detroit’s successful emergence from municipal bankruptcy in 2014.

“Anyone familiar with the trenchwork of urban revitalization knows the impact that Living Cities has had. Yet the problems to be addressed loom as large as ever,” said Rapson. “I look forward to helping shape a bold agenda as Living Cities begins its second quarter century with new cross-sector collaborations, with new sources of capital and with a renewed commitment to the people whose lives we seek to improve.”

Living Cities is a collaboration of 20 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions that works to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. A senior executive from each member institution sits on its board of directors.