Also by Reinvestment Fund

Remembering Jeremy Nowak

Jeremy Nowak was a visionary who worked tirelessly to create equitable communities. Jeremy headed Reinvestment Fund from 1985 to 2011, and during that time, reimagined what it means to organize people, capital, data, and capacity in service of a more equitable future.

We are pleased to announce new initiatives in memory of Jeremy and his life work.

New Initiatives

Jeremy Nowak Memorial Lecture

Lecture series in partnership with the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR), where Jeremy served as a nonresident scholar and an advisory board member. Together with Penn IUR, Reinvestment Fund is supporting this annual lecture in memory of Jeremy Nowak, reflecting on his enduring work to integrate public, private, and non-profit expertise to achieve collective urban prosperity. The lecture series will give students and professionals the opportunity to hear from experts on topics that manifest the connections between the academic and the applied aspects of urban development, a combination that Jeremy so uniquely exemplified.

Nowak Fellowship

A fellowship for someone who has completed undergraduate studies in the year before he/she embarks on graduate studies. Reinvestment Fund will support a scholar considering a future career aligned with community economic development. The scholar can come from fields of study such as urban design and planning, land use and public policy studies, or from broader fields but wants to use those skills to connect with a social mission and investing. The fulltime fellow will work closely with experts in Reinvestment Fund’s Lending and Investment and Policy Solutions teams, in order to explore the many areas where policymakers and practitioners intersect and inform one another. Nominations for fellows will be taken from select universities and institutes across Reinvestment Funds footprint, including Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Atlanta. The inaugural Nowak Fellow was announced in the summer of 2020.

Creative Placemaking Fund

Among the most important perspectives Jeremy held is the importance of social cohesion in creating places of opportunity. Community revitalization isn’t just about economics—it’s about being part of a social fabric and this is strengthened through creativity and cultural expression. Jeremy studied this phenomenon in partnership with the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at the University of Pennsylvania and developed a groundbreaking framework for investing in creative placemaking. It became the basis for Reinvestment Fund’s investment strategy in the sector, but also fueled others including the National Endowment for the Art’s Our Town program. In Jeremy’s memory, Reinvestment Fund is launching a Creative Placemaking Fund that will deliver the essential seed capital for community-based arts and culture projects. In late 2019, Reinvestment Fund provided financing to the Clay Studio, the first project to receive capital through the Nowak Creative Placemaking Fund.

Know His Work

Opportunity finance

“Working in an inner-city neighborhood, I saw that the issue of capital was critical, and that it was an issue that often was avoided, or often wasn’t thought about. So I saw that while civic organization, and civic power were fundamental to social change, capital was also. This seemed like an opportunity to combine organizing talent with an interest in how to put capital in the hands of organized people.”

— Jeremy Nowak, PBS: Hope, Faith and Capital, 2000

As Reinvestment Fund’s founding director, Jeremy led the organization at a time when the idea of a financial institution dedicated to providing financing in support of wealth creation was new. The idea of investments that provided both financial and social returns was just beginning to take shape. In many ways, Reinvestment Fund was a grand experiment. A prolific writer and thinker, Jeremy created an institution that united schoolteachers and executives with faith-based organizations, philanthropy, banks and government to invest in communities. He championed a mission that aimed to give every family the opportunity to get a quality education for their children, safe homes and strong neighborhoods, good care and nutritious food to be healthy, and economic mobility. And in that pursuit, he helped build the foundation for an entire sector devoted to opportunity finance.

Inclusive cities

“The New Localism is not about local government. It is about a shift in power downward from federal systems to local, as well as outward across public, private, and civic boundaries. It is fundamentally about the new models of co-governance that are emerging in a world that can no longer be explained in twentieth century industrial terms.”

— Jeremy Nowak, Penn Institute for Urban Research interview, 2018

In 2018, Jeremy co-authored The New Localism: How Cities Thrive in the Age of Populism, with Bruce Katz. The book offers a roadmap for change that starts in the communities where most people live and work. It reveals where the real power to create change lies and how it can be used to address our most serious social, economic, and environmental challenges. The Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, was created in his honor, to invent and scale new ways of financing the inclusive city. Jeremy’s friend and co-author, Bruce Katz, is the lab’s founding director.

Creative placemaking

“Imagine what can be accomplished if we support the arts, engage ‘at risk’ youth and help them succeed in school and in their lives. For ‘underserved’ families, indeed for all families, participation in music and the arts can help people reclaim and achieve the American Dream.”

— Linda Ronstadt, Congressional Testimony in Support of Appropriations for the National Endowment for the Arts, 2009 | Also provided testimony: Jeremy Nowak, Josh Groban, Wynton Marsalis and Robert Lynch

One of his most seminal works while at Reinvestment Fund, was to examine the role of community-based arts and cultural activity in neighborhood development. His work in partnership with the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at the University of Pennsylvania examined the ways creative activity, specifically community-based arts and culture, can play a role in neighborhood revitalization. One outcome of this collaboration, the monograph Creativity and Neighborhood Development: Strategies for Community Investment, lays out steps for building an integrative vision of creativity and neighborhood revitalization. It focuses on the ways cultural activity and redevelopment have complementary and, in some ways, intertwined missions, and offers a framework for flexible investment and funding that can spur imaginative and substantive neighborhood renewal.