About LEF

What is the Land Economics Foundation?

LEF is a not-for-profit trust registered in the United States established by Lambda Alpha International (LAI) to provide financial assistance to research projects related to land economics. LEF’s Board of Directors is responsible for establishing research priorities and recommending research projects for consideration by its Board of Trustees, who are LAI members representing each chapter. LEF’s mandate is to provide grants for research projects that expand knowledge and understanding of the principles of land economics and to encourage and support the application of such principles to both public policy and private sector endeavours.

What is Land Economics?

Land economics is the study of land, including structures on land and natural resources under land, and issues related to use of land and its pricing. The study of land economics dates back even before the writings of David Ricardo in the 1820s. Professor Richard T. Ely, the initiator of LAI which was founded in 1930, is often regarded as the father of modern land economics. Urban land economics is subset of land economics. It involves the study of urban issues ranging from economic development and the spatial patterns of urban growth to transportation, housing, public finance, and poverty. LEF efforts focus on supporting research relating to real estate and issues in urban economics.

What Types of Research Does LEF Fund?

  1. Lessons to be learned from the study of past and present growth of existing urban areas
    For example, LEF contributed funding to a critical review of the 1909 Plan of Chicago and its relationship to contemporary and future city-building at the time of its centenary. The book The Plan of Chicago @ 100 was published by the Ely Chapter of LAI in 2009.LEF recently participated in the workshop funding for the city of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico to assist in defining urban growth patterns, transportation, water management and conservation for a community of 80,000 people. LEF is now supporting the preparation of a book of essays by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR). The book will address” best practices: lessons learned from other larger urban regions” based on updates of articles previous published in SPUR’s publication The Urbanist. Urban regions in the United States and Canada are studied. A by-product of the case studies is to assess the benefits of the efforts undertaken.
  2. Real estate impacts and planning implications of urban infrastructure investment
    As a case in point, LEF provided a grant to support research for a Master’s thesis dealing with the land value and land use impacts on lands surrounding stations of the then new light rail transit line in the Phoenix area.
  3. Support for Community Issues and Initiatives
    In 2006 LEF provided funding to Safe Horizon for a mediation program designed to train volunteers at three New York City locations to assist the low-income tenants in their dealings with unreasonable landlords. This has expanded to a number of major cities across the nation plagued with the same issues.LAND ECONOMICS FOUNDATION OF LAMBDA ALPHA INTERNATIONAL The Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics In cooperation with the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, LEF provided financial assistance for minority students to attend a comprehensive two-week program involving community redevelopment projects. LEF provided funding to a collaborative group creating a video to document a critical need to preserve open space as a natural link to urbanized communities in the San Diego area. LEF has committed to a non-profit group in Santa Fe to undertake a similar effort to ensure the preservation of a 100-year old Indian school.

How is LEF Supported?

LEF internal resources and LAI member contributions are small in relation to the research imperative to enhance and disseminate knowledge about the economics of urban sustainability. Much more in the way of financial resources is needed. The goal of LEF is to significantly increase its annual funding for research to the $100,000 level per year. LEF welcomes financial contributions from donors to accelerate and expand its research support into issues that will influence the sustainable growth prospects for urban areas and sub-areas. Various options are available: Financial contributions, annual or phased over several years, to supplement the internal funding sources of LEF to provide funding for research,Contributions to enlarge LEF’s Investment Fund and produce additional annual revenues to be available for funding research projects, or provide financing for all or part of specific research projects.

Donors will be given recognition for projects they fund in all or part for contributions of $15,000 or more; all donations in the United States are tax deductible. Prospective donors in other countries are encouraged to consult with their tax advisor.

How Do I Apply for Funding?

Researchers including academic professionals and postgraduate students undertaking thesis in the LEF priorities are urged to discuss their research idea with a member of LEF Board of Directors. Formal applications will be considered twice each year, generally in May and October. Applications are submitted electronically.