Annual Reports

Program on Human & Community Development

The challenging interplay of place, people, systems, and markets continues to animate MacArthur's grantmaking in the United States. The Foundation supports national programs in community and economic development; the preservation of affordable rental housing and efforts to gather better evidence for smart housing policy; juvenile justice reform; and the re-imagining of learning in the 21st century.

The Foundation also supports special projects on the U.S. fiscal future, economic analyses in national and state policymaking, and the policy implications of an aging society. A look at 2009 reveals significant progress toward goals in these areas.

MacArthur-funded seminal research on how young people are learning "anytime, anywhere" informed the design of YOUmedia, a path-breaking way for libraries to harness and accelerate young people's desire to participate with digital media. Grantees in New York and Chicago began to build learning networks that bring schools, libraries, museums, and other institutions together to create rich physical and online experiences for young people. President Obama announced MacArthur's $2 million Digital Media and Learning Competition as part of his call for greater emphasis on innovation, science, math, and technology.

The New Communities Program, MacArthur's large-scale effort to revitalize urban neighborhoods, continued to set the standard and inspire replication across the country. An ongoing independent evaluation confirmed the power of its design and the rigor of its execution, while challenging grantees to lay the groundwork for greater scale and policy impact.

Models for Change, MacArthur's program to expand juvenile justice reform, continued to make progress in 16 states, with plans underway for a national campaign to improve outcomes for young people, enhance public safety, and lower taxpayer costs by making reform a top priority in the United States. The Supreme Court accepted cases that resulted in a decision to limit juvenile life sentences without parole, based in part on research supported by the Foundation, as it did earlier in abolishing the juvenile death penalty.

Scholars and policymakers alike welcomed the Foundation's How Housing Matters to Families and Communities research competition as a consensus about the need for evidence that would inform a new generation of national housing policy continues to grow. Also, 12 states and local jurisdictions shared $32.5 million to lead the country with comprehensive public/private initiatives to preserve and improve affordable rental housing.

As concern mounted about the country's unsustainable fiscal path, an expert committee convened by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration completed its work on Choosing the Nation's Fiscal Future. This report and related activities positioned the Foundation as a highly visible player in one of the most important policy challenges facing the country. And the MacArthur Research Network on an Aging Society issued new population and life expectancy projections that challenge official scenarios, with significant cost implications for society and the economy, in the areas of healthcare and the entitlements that are at the core of the fiscal challenge.