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Review: 'Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State'

July 27, 2022

Book_cover_Nonprofit NeighborhoodsIn 2014, when Massachusetts launched its “pay for success” social impact bond program—in which private investors would front the funding for nonprofit efforts to address a social issue—it was hailed as an innovative, data-driven public-private partnership that would deliver demonstrated results and cost savings. Yet, as Claire Dunning illustrates in Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State, it was just the latest chapter in a long history of public-private initiatives that so far have not fulfilled their promise.

An assistant professor of public policy and history at the University of Maryland, College Park, Dunning defines “nonprofit neighborhoods” as “places where neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations controlled access to the levers of political, economic, and social power and mediated the local manifestations of the state and market.” While that definition might suggest the nonprofits have power, Nonprofit Neighborhoods illuminates how, through government and public-private grantmaking, nonprofits in Boston’s low-income and minority neighborhoods came to provide the services that government should have provided and, even more disturbingly, how that funding mechanism was used to appease, manage, and control grassroots movements for policy reform and inclusion....

Read the full book review by Kyoko Uchida, features editor at Philanthropy News Digest.

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