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Journeys in Building Community Philanthropy: How an Eight-year Initiative is Changing People, Organizations and Communities

July 6, 2021

This report captures the impacts and experiences of part 1 of the Building Community Philanthropy (BCP) initiative: eight years of convening, reflection, peer support, continuous learning, community engagement and challenging conventional wisdom to center community for better philanthropy across Washington state. 

Black Funding Denied: Community Foundation Support for Black Communities

August 1, 2020

In light of the national uprising sparked by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (and building on other recent tragic movement moments going back to the 2014 murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri), NCRP is analyzing grantmaking by community foundations across the country to find out exactly how much they are – or are not – investing in Black communities.We started by looking at the latest available grantmaking data (2016-2018) of 25 community foundations (CFs) – from Los Angeles to New Orleans to New York City to St. Paul. These foundations represent a cross section of some of the country's largest community foundations as well as foundations in communities where NCRP has Black-led nonprofit allies.

Putting "Impact" at the Center of Impact Investing: A Case Study of How Green Canopy Designed its Impact Thesis

March 7, 2018

This case study documents the journey of one organization, Green Canopy Homes – and its financingarm, Green Canopy Capital – toward more systematically thinking about, measuring, and managing itsimpact. While developing the impact thesis for its resource-efficient homes, Green Canopy applied atheory of change tool, an approach common within the social sector, to systematically map the causalpathways between its strategies and intended impact. Its rationale for adopting this approach wassimple: use it to maximize impact, and understand and minimize possible harm. The tool also effectivelypositioned Green Canopy to measure and communicate about its social and environmental performance,and to make client-centric adaptations to its business.The case study provides an illuminating example of how investors can adapt theory of change toserve their impact management needs. By demonstrating the relevance and transferability of this toolfor articulating, measuring, and managing impact, the hope is that this case study can contribute tostrengthening other investors' approaches, in turn contributing to building the evidence base for the"impact" of impact investments.

Exploring the Green Infrastructure Workforce: Jobs for the Future

March 28, 2017

How many people work in green infrastructure? What are the jobs? What level of compensation do they offer? What are the educational requirements? How much potential is there for job creation as green infrastructure investments increase? How is the green infrastructure workforce within the six U.S. cities examined for this report similar to—or different than—that in the nation as a whole?This issue brief attempts to answer these and other questions about current and emerging workforce trends related to the rise in green infrastructure activities. It summarizes the results of research conducted by Jobs for the Future (JFF) as part of NatureWORKS, a national initiative to understand the jobs, careers, skills, credentials, and potential of the U.S. green infrastructure workforce. The study was funded by the U.S. Forest Service's National Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program as recommended by the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, NUCFAC.The research focused on occupations involved in the direct installation, maintenance, and inspection (IMI) of the green infrastructure (GI) and their first-line supervisors. This report describes the GI-IMI involvement of occupations whose work includes green infrastructure activities. It also discusses the emerging movement to certify green infrastructure workers in the stormwater management field as a way to both raise the quality of GI work and promote green infrastructure implementation, thereby expanding the workforce.

How Boston and Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts: Funding for Cultural Nonprofits in Boston and 10 Other Metropolitan Centers

January 21, 2016

A new study commissioned by the Boston Foundation on how Boston and comparable cities support the arts shows that only New York City has higher per capita contributed revenue for the art than Boston, among major American cities.The study, titled "How Boston and Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts: Funding for Cultural Nonprofits in Boston and 10 Other Metropolitan Cities," also examined Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Portland Oregon, San Francisco, and Seattle. "How Boston" is a follow-up of sorts to a 2003 Boston Foundation report titled, "Funding for Cultural Organizations in Boston and Nine Other Metropolitan Areas."Key findings of this study, regarding Boston, include the fact that Boston's arts market is quite densely populated. While Greater Boston is the nation's 10th largest metro area and ranks ninth for total Gross Domestic Product, its non-profit arts market, which consists of more than 1,500 organizations, is comparable to that of New York and San Francisco, and consistently surpasses large cities such as Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia, in terms of the number of organizations and their per capita expenses.

Effects of a Geographically-Targeted Intervention and Creative Outreach to Reduce Shelter Intake in Portland, Oregon

July 18, 2014

Animal shelters focus much of their efforts towards decreasing euthanasia and one of the best ways to reduce euthanasia risk may be to prevent cats and dogs from ever entering a shelter. This study, conducted in Portland, Oregon, relied on the capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to precisely and scientifically identify an intervention area (with high shelter intake) and to identify control areas to compare the project results with community-wide trends. The intervention itself was designed and implemented in a comprehensive way by seeking numerous paths to engage pet owners and reduce shelter intake of cats and Pit Bull type dogs. This research highlighted the ability of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to significantly improve a community's capacity to identify the most appropriate locations to focus resources and to closely track and measure interventions. Portland's targeted intervention to reduce shelter intake utilized many outreach tools with varying levels of impact. The overall intervention yielded a reduction in intake of owned cats that was greater in total numbers and percentage than four control areas. Furthermore, this work identified a percentage of cat spay/neuter out of the estimated number of owned, originally intact cats within the intervention and control areas. As percentages approached or surpassed 20%, those areas realized larger intake reductions than control areas with lower percentages.

Public Funding for Art: Chicago Compared with 12 Peer Regions

June 5, 2014

Supported in part by Arts Alliance Illinois, and with the cooperation of several local arts agencies, including Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special events, and of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.This study compares the direct public dollars received by organizations and artists in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (OR), San Diego, and San Francisco from 2002-2012.Often, studies of public funding for the arts look at appropriations made on the national and state levels and estimates of local expenditures, but this report delves more deeply using grant-level data to examine the dollars received by organizations and artists resident in each city or region.Key findings:In 2012, Chicago arts organizations received $7.3 million in public dollars via competitive grants from local, state, and national public arts agencies combined. Only three of the 13 regions studied received more total dollars in 2012.Though Chicago arts organizations receive among the greatest amounts of public funding in total, a relatively small portion comes from the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Of the competitive arts grants dollars received in Chicago in 2012, 59% came from the Illinois Arts Council, 24% from the National Endowment for the Arts, and 17% from the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. For most cities/regions in our study, excluding Chicago, the majority of public grant dollars received by not-for-profits in the area for arts programming came from their local arts agency in 2012. For example, in 2012, San Diego received 93% of its public funding from the local level, 2% from the state level, and 4% from the federal level.DCASE's funding levels have been among the lowest of the 13 cities/regions studied on both a per capita basis, and in terms of total dollars, over the past decade (2002-2012). In 2012, Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events awarded $1.2 million in grants, which is $0.44 per capita. Of the 13 local agencies analyzed, only Phoenix, Boston, and Baltimore spent less in total dollar or per capita terms in 2012.Over the past decade, DCASE annually awarded among the highest total number of grants compared with other regions' local agencies. In 2012, DCASE awarded 520 grants in total -- 305 to organizations and 215 to individuals. In 2012, it awarded competitive grants to approximately 31% of the arts and cultural organizations in the city.Aside from competitive grants, five of the 13 cities/metro regions included in this study provide support to select arts and cultural organizations through line-items, which serve as significant sources of general operating funds.

Lessons from Green Lanes: Evaluating Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S.

June 1, 2014

This report presents finding from research evaluating U.S. protected bicycle lanes (cycle tracks) in terms of their use, perception, benefits, and impacts. This research examines protected bicycle lanes in five cities: Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, D.C., using video, surveys of intercepted bicyclists and nearby residents, and count data. A total of 168 hours were analyzed in this report where 16,393 bicyclists and 19,724 turning and merging vehicles were observed. These data were analyzed to assess actual behavior of bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers to determine how well each user type understands the design of the facility and to identify potential conflicts between bicyclists, motor vehicles and pedestrians. City count data from before and after installation, along with counts from video observation, were used to analyze change in ridership. A resident survey (n=2,283 or 23% of those who received the survey in the mail) provided the perspective of people who live, drive, and walk near the new lanes, as well as residents who bike on the new lanes. A bicyclist intercept survey (n= 1,111; or 33% of those invited to participate) focused more on people's experiences riding in the protected lanes. A measured increase was observed in ridership on all facilities after the installation of the protected cycling facilities, ranging from +21% to +171%. Survey data indicates that 10% of current riders switched from other modes, and 24% shifted from other bicycle routes.

Building Community Partnerships in Support of a Postsecondary Completion Agenda

January 22, 2014

This report highlights key lessons from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Community Partnerships portfolio evaluation. It assesses the communities' progress over the course of the investment, and describes their work in the areas of building public commitment, using data, building and sustaining partnerships, and aligning policies and practices. The OMG Center served as the national evaluator of this initiative and the report also discusses the steps these communities can take to sustain their programs.

America's Big Cities in Volatile Times: Meeting Fiscal Challenges and Preparing for the Future

November 11, 2013

The Great Recession created fiscal challenges for the 30 cities at the centers of the nation's most populous metropolitan areas that continued well past the recession's official end in June 2009. For most of these cities, the fiscal brunt was borne later than for the national and state governments and recovery has been slow. Cities dealt with fiscal strain in a variety of ways: dipping into reserve funds, cutting spending, gaining help from the federal or state governments, and increasing revenue from tax and nontax sources. Although these strategies offered short-term solutions, many cities still faced declining revenue in 2011, the consequence of reduced spending, shrunken reserves, and rising pension and retiree health care costs. Property taxes, which can be slow to respond to economic swings, helped delay the early fiscal effects of the Great Recession for most of these cities, but they began to decline in 2010, reflecting a deferred impact of the housing crisis. This trend was compounded by increasingly unpredictable aid from states and the federal government that were dealing with their own budgetary constraints. Researchers from Pew standardized data from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports from 2007 through 2011, the latest year of complete data available, for all of these 30 cities. This report examines key elements of each city's fiscal conditions, including revenue, expenditures, reserves, and long-term obligations, and adjusted them for inflation to facilitate comparison across the years. These adjustments allow insight into fiscal trends across cities and over time. Direct comparisons between cities may be limited, however, by differences in cities' tax structures and the range of services each city provides

Food on Wheels: Mobile Vending Goes Mainstream

September 19, 2013

Mobile food vending generates approximately $650 million in revenue annually. The industry is projected to account for approximately $2.7 billion in food revenue over the next five years, but unfortunately, most cities are legally ill-equipped to harness this expansion. Many city ordinances were written decades ago, with a different type of mobile food supplier in mind, like ice cream trucks, hot dog carts, sidewalk peddlers, and similar operators. Modern mobile vending is a substantial departure from the vending typically assumed in outdated local regulations. Vendors utilize large vehicles packed with high-tech cooking equipment and sanitation devices to provide sophisticated, safe food usually prepared to order. Increasingly, city leaders are recognizing that food trucks are here to stay. They also recognize that there is no "one size fits all" prescription for how to most effectively incorporate food trucks into the fabric of a community. With the intent of helping city leaders with this task, this guide examines the following questions: What policy options do local governments have to regulate food trucks? What is the best way to incorporate food trucks into the fabric of a city, taking into account the preferences of all stakeholders?Thirteen cities of varying size and geographic location were analyzed for this study. Information on vending regulations within each of these cities was collected and analyzed, and supplemented with semi-structured interviews with city staff and food truck vendors.

Retooling Waterfront Governance in the New York-New Jersey Harbor: Case Studies from Waterfront Cities

April 1, 2013

Who is in charge of the waterfront? Everybody and nobody. The scramble of commissions and task forces in the wake of Superstorm Sandy brought the challenge of waterfront governance into sharp relief. With literally dozens of city, state, and federal agencies regulating and protecting New York Harbor and the regional waterfront, it is high time to construct a new regime that will manage our waterways and shorelines holistically, efficiently, and with dedicated foresight. We are developing a 21st century waterfront, with great opportunities and grave challenges for our coastal city. We need governance to match.As in New York, cities from around the world are reinventing their waterfronts. From Seattle to Sydney, other waterfront cities can provide valuable examples and innovative models for New York. This paper distills some of these examples into case studies meant to inform the discussion on how to improve waterfront governance in New York City. It concludes with the recommendation that a Department of the Waterfront is necessary to realize the economic benefi ts of a revitalized waterfront, to capture the cost savings from better coordination and planning, and to implement the city's critical goals for protecting its waterfront.