Local Investment Commission (LINC)

It was 1992 in Kansas City. Income inequality was rampant, with the highest poverty rates among children and youth. From state and county government to local businesses, individual organizations were devoted to improving the Kansas City community. But they had yet to come to a common agreement, with everyone pulling in their own direction. Enter Bert Berkley, a Kansas City business leader, with a simple but powerful idea: a collaborative citizen commission dedicated to community improvement and engagement.

And so, the Local Investment Commission (LINC) was founded. The desire to collaborate across organizational boundaries, and between private and public entities, was uncharted territory for many. Nonprofit organizations, businesses, and bureaucracies were all providing services to members of the community without systematic information on what the others were doing. LINC provided the unique opportunity for members from all parts of the community to create a shared understanding of the community needs, and work together to provide the services required to meet those needs.

As with any change, people had doubts about LINC’s purpose and place in the community. There was a fear of being defined by statutes, processes, and bureaucracies. There were questions around funding and organizational resources. But perhaps, the largest question waiting to be answered remained, “How will we do it…?”

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