Next City, Inc.

Inspiring Equitable Cities

aka Next City   |   Philadelphia, PA   |  www.nextcity.org

Mission

Next City is a nonprofit news organization that believes journalists have the power to amplify solutions and help spread them from one city to the next city. Our mission is to inspire greater economic, environmental, and social justice in cities. Next City’s civic-minded reporting makes urban places more effective, equitable and sustainable. We supply changemakers with information that fuels their fight for low-income neighborhoods. Because we focus the world’s attention on good ideas that we hope will grow, some label us as “solutions journalism.” Research has found that when news stories discuss potential answers to problems, readers leave feeling more knowledgeable and empowered to solve them. Where solutions journalism is healthy, America has more informed and engaged communities.

Ruling year info

2004

Executive Director

Lucas Grindley

Main address

P.O. Box 22449

Philadelphia, PA 19110 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Next American City

EIN

22-3886361

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (S05)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Next City’s journalism centers marginalized voices while amplifying solutions to the problems that oppress people in cities. At a time when cities face rampant inequality and urgent challenges, Next City’s work as a nonprofit is critical: by spreading real stories and workable ideas from one city to the next, we connect people, places and solutions that move our society toward justice and equity. Next City’s readers are the city-builders who share our vision for the transformation of cities. Next City's service to a movement for racial equity and justice is evident in every facet of our work. Any news outlet, though, is only as impactful as its readers. The 2020 reader survey found that 75% rely on Next City for their jobs. When asked whether their job brings about greater racial equity, almost 90% say yes. Even so, as civic leaders of color look around their professions, they might feel like one voice among the many. Next City adds our bullhorn to theirs every day.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Vanguard Conference

Next City's Vanguard Conference is the premier formative experience for rising urban leaders committed to cultivating equity and sustainability in cities for the next generation. Vanguards aren’t just talking the talk. Every day, they work to counteract historical patterns of social, economic and environmental injustice in cities. The conference brings together professionals working across disciplines and sectors. Each Vanguard class includes policymakers and politicians, architects and urban planners, artists and media makers, all selected through a competitive application process. For 500 individuals and counting, and for more than 10 years, this conference has become an invaluable touchstone in their professional development. The Vanguard network includes mayors, heads of planning departments, and founders of leading design and architecture firms devoted to social justice.

Population(s) Served
Activists

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our mission is to unleash the transformative power of solutions-based journalism to equip communities and their leaders with the knowledge and connections to reimagine cities as liberated places of economic, environmental and racial justice. We accomplish this by uplifting diverse perspectives and marginalized narratives.

Next City’s readers are the city-builders who share our vision for the transformation of cities. Our core audience consists of individuals working in city planning, finance, architecture, media, academia, transportation, the arts — or within any sector that must collaborate to make cities run more equitably. These are the thinkers and doers who often wear many hats in their communities. This dynamic group uses Next City as a trusted resource for professional education and exploration. The extended audience consists of the people who are part of the change process in cities: grassroots organizers, activists, advocates, elected officials, local business and nonprofit leaders, and voters. We aim to deepen engagement with core readers and expand our reach to a broader audience who can apply Next City’s information and ideas in their local communities.

Ultimately, our vision is a world in which people in cities build flourishing societies that liberate all of us from systems and cultures of oppression.

Next City publishes hundreds of stories on solutions to urban issues each year, leading ultimately to a narrative shift about what’s possible. We are a continual source of innovation and inspiration, elevating marginalized voices for diverse perspectives, and giving readers the knowledge and support they need to lead and influence change. We are journalists first and foremost, taking a critical eye to solutions, understanding what is working or not working, why and why not. Our main coverage areas include: economics, housing, transportation and infrastructure, arts and culture, environment and energy, and technology. Readers receive Next City’s content via our website, email newsletters, mobile app, curated e-books, webinars, a podcast, and the Solutions of the Year publication. Soon we’ll reach audiences “where they are” by piloting a network of news partners for co-publishing. We will continue to evolve Next City’s platform based on reader feedback or whenever technology presents new pathways for our journalism.

Our readers are engaged by stories structured like case studies and get inspired to replicate the solutions and ideas we write about in their own cities. Research has found that when news stories discuss potential answers to problems, readers leave feeling more knowledgeable and empowered to solve them. Readers are statistically more likely to act, to donate to support an organization, and to evolve their opinion. Where solutions journalism is healthy, America has more informed and engaged communities.

As solutions journalists, we are also connectors. We consider Next City events to be the incarnation of journalism. Events are intended to share knowledge about what’s working, to inspire, and to connect leaders with each other across sectors. Next City is one of the few places where people can meet across occupations about what it will take to truly get something done to make cities more equitable. Next City's webinars invite guests presenters to share lessons learned about a workable solution that they’ve accomplished. We produce dozens of informative webinars each year. The annual Vanguard Conference gets hundreds of applicants for 40 open slots within a selected cohort. The Vanguards are rising urban leaders from across the silos that separate efforts for change—beyond transportation planners, architects, bankers, investors, philanthropists, artists, media, government leaders, and more. The intersectional group experiences a city up close, traveling from one neighborhood to the next to learn from the leaders of solutions happening now. They immerse themselves in a city, learning from their leadership and from each other. The result is a network of like-minded changemakers, and that network is now more than 500 alumni strong.

Next City employs eight full-time staff members and engages more than 20 contract writers. The team has broadened the footing for its $1.2 million annual budget and deeply served the publication’s loyal audience — as evidenced by doubling the number of individual donors from 1,450 in 2017 to 2,928 in 2020.

Next City’s Board of Directors is a highly engaged governing group with 13 members coming from government, academia, philanthropy and the private sector, including leading thinkers and doers in urbanism. Both Board and staff are united in their conviction for economic, social and environmental justice, and motivated for strategic growth.

Next City models what it means to be a more just media with our selection of subjects, sources, and journalists. While Next City has proven to be a launch pad for talent, we want to go much further and establish a pipeline of editors and reporters while offering multiple journalists of color the opportunity to grow their careers at Next City and cultivate beats that directly lead to racial equity and justice in cities. Our goal is to reverse the lack of representation in civic media.

In 2016, we launched our annual Urban Affairs Internship for a college-level journalist of color. The internship has served six students and today the program is financially backed by a four-year partnership with the Emma Bowen Foundation, as well as aid from Next City supporters who donate during our spring membership drive. Established in 2014, the Equitable Cities Fellowship offers journalists of color a one-year freelance position to report on solutions that level the economic playing field for those who have long been denied equal opportunity because of power structures based on race, gender and sexual orientation. The nine fellows to date have gone onto roles such as managing editor for Greenbiz, public relations leadership at ProPublica, a reporter for the IndyStar, founder of their own news site, senior economics correspondent at Next City, and more. These programs deserve investment to scale.

We also support connections between individuals and between cities in a number of ways. The Vanguard conference selects 40 rising urban leaders from across the world to participate in a unique professional learning summit that is intellectually inspiring and deeply bonding for the cohort. After completion of the experiential think tank, participants, who are often entrepreneurs, community developers, activists, artists, designers, urban planners and sustainability experts, become members of the Vanguard network and continue to support Next City and innovative urban solutions as they grow and advance in their careers. We also host online events to engage our readers in deeper conversations about important urban topics and support connections across sectors as city-builders hone their networks. More than 10,000 people registered for one of our webinars in 2020.

Although Next City is now staffed by professional journalists, it was founded in 2003 by three college students who recognized cities were derided as sources of trouble instead of innovation. They started a magazine in 2003 by emailing their contacts and signing up volunteers. More than 200 people contributed to the first magazines.

As Next City celebrated its 15-year anniversary in 2018, the founders remarked on how true it kept to the mission. The magazine was intended to talk about cities “as a place where good things happened, and not just as a place where problems happened.” It was launched to delve into issues facing cities and create “a community of people to talk about those things.” Next City sought to “support the growth of a new generation of doers and thinkers on urban topics.”

Originally named The Next American City, the organization began publishing a quarterly magazine in 2003. What started as a black-and-white printed publication staffed by volunteers ultimately grew into a popular and influential magazine that reached 1 million people over the course of its 31 issues.

Today, Next City is a trusted voice on urban policy, reaching more than 2 million influential doers and changemakers via Next City's website annually. Another 170,000 follow coverage on social media, and 40,000 subscribe to newsletters. All are in search of ways that cities can be reimagined as truly equitable and inclusive. If you want journalism to spark change, your audience matters. And 74% of readers say they use Next City's reporting in their jobs. What jobs are those? More than 90% say they or their organization work toward greater racial equity.

To achieve the next level of expansion, we will add staff positions dedicated to advertising operations, partnerships and major gifts, and human resources. This expanded staff capacity will enable us to develop more and stronger relationships with advertisers and sponsors, and to launch a mid-level and major gifts program that for the first time cultivates donors above $1,000. Research shows these are areas where Next City can attain significant wins. Advertising income by one counterpart in our market has reached at least $1 million annually, and we capture roughly 10% of that tally by comparison. Major and mid-level gifts were responsible for 69% of individual giving for nonprofit newsrooms, according to the annual INN Index, but constitute less than 12% of giving at Next City. Individual giving is responsible for 36% of total revenue in other nonprofits newsrooms, but 14% at Next City.

Staffing also enables the capacity to pilot the national partnership hub model that extends our reach and impact. Next City can become an engine that powers our unique brand of journalism in news outlets across the country. By identifying and contracting with locally based co-publishing partners that are aligned with our vision, Next City can serve as a conduit for national funders seeking to expand conversation about equity.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Next City’s readers are the city-builders who share our vision for the transformation of cities. Our core audience consists of individuals working in city planning, finance, architecture, media, academia, transportation, the arts — or within any sector that must collaborate to make cities run more equitably. These are the thinkers and doers who often wear many hats in their communities. This dynamic group uses Next City as a trusted resource for professional education and exploration. The extended audience consists of the people who are part of the change process in cities: grassroots organizers, activists, advocates, elected officials, local business and nonprofit leaders, and voters.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Next City launched three topical newsletters. Readers can now sign up for one of our subject-specific email newsletters devoted to equity and justice in Transportation, Arts & Culture and Energy & Environment. Each digest goes out once a month and collects our best solutions reporting. And we launched our first-ever geographic-based email newsletter that covers Philadelphia, where Next City is headquartered. The newsletter just makes sense, with more Next City subscribers living in Philly than any other city. See our menu of newsletters at nextcity.org/newsletter.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Next City, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Next City, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 11/15/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Eric Shaw

San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development

Term: 2018 - 2021

Tamar Shapiro

New Urban Mobility Alliance

Eric Shaw

San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development

Jess Zimbabwe

Environmental Works

Casius Pealer

Tulane University

Efrem Bycer

LinkedIn

Kate Didech

Symbium: The Computational Law Company

Adam Giuliano

Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell

Jason Schupbach

Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University

Andre Perry

Brookings Institution

Lynn Ross

Spirit for Change Consulting

David Porter

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Diana Lind

Arts + Business Council for Greater Philadelphia

Jamie Alderslade

Citi

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/24/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/11/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.