Essays on People, Place & Purpose

Investing in What Works for America's Communities

Xavier de Souza Briggs, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Where and how citizens invest their money is arguably as important, and as relevant for democratic engagement, as voting in government elections.

Xavier de Souza Briggs is associate professor of sociology and planning and head of the Housing, Community, and Economic Development Group in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During 2009-11, Xav served as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama White House. A former community planner, his research and teaching are about economic opportunity, effective democracy and governance, and racial and ethnic diversity in cities and metropolitan regions. His books include The Geography of Opportunity (2005), Democracy as Problem-Solving: Civic Capacity in Communities across the Globe (2008), and Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty (2010). A former faculty member in public policy at Harvard, he has designed and led major leadership development, strategy, and other training programs for change agents in the public, private, and nonprofit/nongovernmental sectors. Xav is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Community Change and other advisory groups and serves on the board of The Community Builders. His views have appeared in The New York Times,, National Public Radio, and other major media.

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About The Project

Investing in What Works for America’s Communities is a joint project of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund.

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The views expressed in this book and on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Federal Reserve System, or the Low Income Investment Fund.

Tell Us What Works

The ideas in Investing in What Works for America’s Communities are just a start. We want to hear about what’s working in your community. Tell us about innovative ideas for addressing poverty and share examples of people and places that inspire you. We want to share these ideas and spark conversation about how to create opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. Tell Us What Works

Funding for this project was generously provided to the Low Income Investment Fund by the Citi Foundation.