We spark solutions at the intersection of kids and place.

The goal of Raising Places is to inspire community transformation. We empower local change agents to build healthier places where children and families can thrive.


All children deserve the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong. Yet many of the nation’s youngest residents live in communities where they and their families face significant obstacles—unsafe housing, lack of green space, poor air quality, crumbling infrastructure, limited job opportunities and violence. And as we know from recent analysis of the Moving to Opportunity project, exposure to a better environment during childhood is a key driver of long-term success.

When children are the focus, everyone benefits. We’ve seen over and over again that laws and programs designed to support vulnerable groups, such as children, often end up benefiting all of society. Angela Glover Blackwell calls this the Curb Cut Effect, and we reap its rewards every day. For example, seat belt laws, originally adopted to protect young children, have saved an estimated 317,000 lives - children and adults - since 1975.


When it comes to health, your zip code matters more than your genetic code. The public health field has seen more and more evidence of this; one incredible example is the Mapping Life Expectancy project at VCU’s Center on Society and Health. The maps show that opportunities to lead a long and healthy life can vary dramatically by neighborhood. In some cases, life expectancy can differ by as much as 20 years in neighborhoods only about five miles apart.

Place brings everyone to the table. The challenges facing communities are systemic and interconnected; they won’t be addressed sustainably by a single organization or field. We focus on local, geographically-defined communities because of the role of place as a unifier - something through which a wide range of stakeholders can be involved, invested and impacted.

“You can’t move everyone. You can move a small number of families, but your policy can’t be to take everybody who lives in neighborhoods that you’re worried about, and move them somewhere else. So ultimately, to really have an impact on poverty in the US, you have to go in and [support] the neighborhoods that don’t seem to be doing so well."



As a nation, we know a lot about the different problems of kids’ environments. In order to move beyond diagnosis and create a range of tangible solutions, we use a problem-solving process called human-centered design (or HCD). HCD is particularly well-suited to the context of community change because it provides:

Structured Process

A rigorous process for creating innovative solutions to complex problems

Shared Language

A common language for leaders from a wide range of disciplines to work together

Local Ownership

An inclusive, empathic practice that meets residents where they are, builds relationships and inspires local ownership

Tangible Ideas

A set of tools and methods for making ideas tangible, and quickly testing prototypes in real-world situations

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."



Here are some good reads and resources related to the Raising Places purpose and approach.

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