This article was written by the heads of the following organizations: Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Kimberly Freeman Brown of Green For All, David A. Foster of the BlueGreen Alliance, Phillip Henderson of the Surdna Foundation, and Mindy Lubber of Ceres.  It is published as an editorial in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Superstorm Sandy and the subsequent nor'easter laid bare the precarious state of the physical systems that make our cities and towns tick-our infrastructure.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York declared what we have long known: America faces "a new reality when it comes to these weather patterns. We have an old infrastructure and we have old systems, and that is not a good combination."

Those who lived for a week or more without electricity, water, or transportation in the aftermath of Sandy instantly understood the fragility of our physical systems. But now it's up to foundations and nonprofits to make the link for voters, policy makers, businesses, and others about the part we all need to play in rebuilding better. A meaningful recovery requires us to push a vision of next-generation infrastructure that improves the nation's transit systems, makes buildings more energy-efficient, better manages water systems, and improves our food system.

If philanthropy does its job well in pushing for a next-generation system, it could play a big role in creating millions of new, steady jobs, revitalizing the economy, and rebuilding communities so they work better for everyone, not just the affluent.

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