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How NCN is refocusing on the movement of social purpose real estate

For those of us running a nonprofit center, the myriad daily decisions — troubleshooting HVAC issues, managing tenant improvement projects, determining where to store all that hand sanitizer — can seemingly occupy our whole brains. It’s easy to forget that we’re part of a movement: a movement of social purpose real estate. Social purpose real estate, or SPRE, is broadly defined as spaces that serve the common good such as public parks, affordable housing, libraries, museums, and, of course, community-serving workspaces, i.e., nonprofit centers.

At NCN we’ve recently been refocusing ourselves on this movement. We just finished sprucing up our online map of nonprofit centers, ensuring our members are easy to find and the immense scale of our network is accurately reflected. (Know of a nonprofit multi-tenant center not on our map? Add it here!) Secondly, we clarified our membership categories, shifting our language to “Centers in Operation” and ”Centers in Development”. These new categories better reflect which members currently have nonprofit workspace online (61% of our current 150 members) and which members are part of the pipeline of future nonprofit workspace (20% of our members). We also created a membership category specifically for those who are committed to promoting shared spaces and services for nonprofits but don’t operate centers themselves. These are our “SPRE Partners”, which make up the balance of our membership.

We are also planning regional Zoom meet-ups this spring to promote connection and resource-sharing among members that have geographical commonalities. Given that reopening schedules and safe operating procedures will continue to vary wildly state to state and province to province through the end of the year, who better to understand your center’s pain points and help create solutions than nearby members?

There’s no doubt that we’re in for another challenging year, but we are grateful to be part of the social purpose real estate movement with you.

About Our Blogger:

Lexi has spent the last fifteen years working within the intersection of the built environment and social fabric of communities, beginning on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she supported operations at a small nonprofit multitenant center before spending two years in Chicago earning a MA in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, where she concentrated on community planning, organizing, and development. Since then, she has served as an AmeriCorps member supporting home repairs for low-income and elderly homeowners with Rebuilding Together, employed a community build model to build playgrounds nationwide with KaBOOM!, managed renovations on nonprofit housing facilities with the Housing Industry Foundation, and managed the placemaking and collaborative infrastructure at Tides Converge San Francisco, a campus of eighty mission-aligned nonprofits and social enterprises. Lexi is a fierce believer that the design, use, and access of a community’s physical spaces are deeply linked to equity.

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