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The Boston Opportunity Agenda: Ninth Annual Report Card

May 19, 2021

Our annual report card is a key vehicle for reporting on our success and challenges at the system and student level across the educational pipeline, and we are pleased to share with you this Ninth Annual Report Card. Due to the pandemic, we did not issue a report card last year in 2020 and many of the indicators that we traditionally track, including MCAS, are not available this year. As students return to school and our systems work to close the learning gaps created by more than a year of disrupted learning, it is critical that all stakeholders understand previous trends and baselines for each of our measures of success. It is equally critical that we report on measures that focus on where the systemic shortfalls are as, together, we seek to create the necessary prerequisites for students to experience success. This year's report card is designed to do just that.  As Boston students return to in-person learning across all settings, it is more important than ever to ensure we highlight the gaps that need to be addressed so that all students regardless of their race, ethnicity or socio-economic status are able to participate fully in our world-class city and economy.

How much learning was lost? A survey of K-12 Parents in Massachusetts

July 1, 2020

These results are based on a survey of 1,502 parents of K-12 students in Massachusetts. Live telephone interviews and online interviewing were conducted in English and Spanish June 4-19, 2020. Telephone respondents were reached by both landline and cell phone. Oversamples of Black, Latino, and Asian American respondents were obtained to bring the total interview count up to at least 250 for each group. Results within race and ethnicity were weighted to age, gender, and education level for each group. Groups were then combined and weighted to the population parameters by race for the state as a whole.

The ROI of ESOL: The Economic and Social Return on Investment for ESOL Programs in Greater Boston

February 6, 2020

Recognizing the importance of immigrants to Greater Boston and the value of English classes and other supports to building an inclusive and welcoming community, the Boston Foundation and the Latino Legacy Fund commissioned a study that explores the "return on investment" (ROI) for teaching English to adults who are speakers of other languages. Known as ESOL programs, these services are an important component of adult education and a key piece of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The result of that study is this report, comprising an analysis of the region's ESOL landscape that provides background and context for the in-depth case studies and ROI estimates that follow.

Creative City

April 1, 2019

The inaugural three years (2015-2018) of the Creative City pilot program supported artists of all disciplines to reimagine places for art in Boston, engage public imagination, and inspire community members to share in civic experiences. With acknowledgement of the Barr Foundation's funding and thought partnership, NEFA is excited to share the learnings through the Creative City Report and video series featuring the inspiring stories of the pilot program grantee work and the transformative power art can play in civic life.

Wage Equity Matters: A Deeper Analysis of Compensation and Benefits Data from Valuing Our Nonprofit Workforce

January 16, 2019

For the past several years, TSNE MissionWorks has been looking at key trends in leadership, compensation, staff development and other areas that impact the resiliency of the nonprofit sector. In this new report, Wage Equity Matters by Lyn Freundlich and Owen Berson, we have an opportunity to look more closely at the data that relates to wage equity and racial and gender demographics. What we found are that white employees are still over-represented at the top, and wages for the lowest paid in our sector are inadequate. But while data helps us remain vigilant in identifying inequities, it should also spark a commitment to taking action to address the issues.As we continue to think as a sector about how to create more diverse and inclusive organizations with people of color being recruited into leadership roles, it is important to look at who currently occupies the top jobs and what that means for the pipeline of leaders in our organizations.

Massachusetts Working Cities Challenge Final Assessment of Round 1 Progress

July 20, 2018

In May 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (Boston Fed) formally launched the Working Cities Challenge: An Initiative for Massachusetts Smaller Cities. The Working Cities Challenge (WCC) encourages and supports leaders from the business, government, philanthropy, and nonprofit sectors in smaller, postindustrial cities to work collaboratively on innovative strategies that have the potential to produce large-scale results for low-income residents in their communities. Ultimately, the Boston Fed expects that the teams' efforts will build the cities' civic infrastructure leading to long-term improved prosperity and opportunity for residents in Working Cities.The Boston Fed developed a competitive process for city selection in which a jury chose the winning cities with the grant award varying based on the strength of the cities' proposals. WCC announced in early 2014 the award of a total of $1.8 million in grants to six working cities. The competitive grants included four implementation grants ranging in size from $700,000 to $225,000 over a planned three-year period awarded to Chelsea, Fitchburg, Holyoke, and Lawrence. In addition, WCC awarded two smaller $100,000 one-year seed grants to Salem and Somerville. Based on the assessment of progress at the midpoint of the implementation period, the Boston Fed extended the grant cycle slightly and augmented the implementation grants. Following a second juried competitive application process, the Boston Fed awarded each of the four implementation cities an additional $150,000 and extended the grant period through September 2017, making implementation a full three-and-a-half years. Beyond the grant funds, the working cities have received technical assistance and opportunities for shared learning and peer exchange. While perhaps less tangible than technical assistance, but no less important, the working cities now have greater visibility and new forums for access to funders as well.Below is a presentation produced by Mt. Auburn Associates.Please find the full report, case studies, and additional resources here: https://www.bostonfed.org/workingcities/massachusetts/round1/process/evaluation.htm

The Transportation Dividend: Transit Investments and the Massachusetts Economy

January 29, 2018

As home to America's first subway, Boston has been a transit-oriented city for more than a century. In fact, much of our regional economic success is due to the connectivity that a transit system provides. It is no coincidence that the area served by the MBTA houses almost 70 percent of the state's population, offers 74 percent of the jobs, and generates 84 percent of Massachusetts's gross domestic product. The MBTA is the backbone of our economy and any successful strategy for continued growth and prosperity for the region must begin with smart investment in this system.Luckily, the calculus is straightforward as the benefits from our transit system far outweigh the costs we dedicate to support it. A new report from A Better City, made possible through support from both the Barr Foundation and The Boston Foundation, measured the MBTA's performance and economic impact. It found that through travel time and cost savings, vehicular crashes avoided and reduced auto emissions, the MBTA provides an estimated $11.4 billion in value to Greater Boston each year for both transit users and non-users alike. Boston residents experience all of these benefits from the T's annual operating budget of approximately $2 billion.The report also considered the alternative, examining what would it cost if our transit system did not exist. Our economy would require the capital cost of nearly 2,300 additional lane miles of roads and 400,000 more parking spaces. If we needed to build that today, the cost for this vehicular infrastructure would be over $15 billion. The MBTA is a bargain today and for the future.

State of the Healthcare Workforce in Massachusetts: Challenges, Opportunities, and Federal Funding

January 5, 2017

This report is the third in a series designed to highlight potential ways for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to work more effectively with the federal government. The first report in this series, Maximizing Federal Support and Opportunity for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, examined a number of opportunities by which Massachusetts might work with the federal government to receive additional federal funding, more effectively utilize existing funding, or improve efficiencies in various state-federal partnerships. This report focuses solely on the healthcare workforce, which holds many opportunities in Massachusetts, particularly for low-income workers. The report provides an overview of the state of the healthcare workforce, explains strategies for moving more youth and adults through health career pathways, and explores federal funding sources for workforce training.

The Boston Opportunity Agenda: Sixth Annual Report Card

January 1, 2017

The Boston Opportunity Agenda is a public/private partnership among the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools, the city's leading public charities and many local foundations to ensure that all Boston residents have access to the education necessary for upward economic mobility, civic engagement, and lifelong learning for themselves and their families. We fervently believe that by combining our resources, expertise and influence around a single agenda, we will have a greater impact on Boston's cradle-to-career educational pipeline.While Boston has many exciting programs and organizations that focus on providing opportunities for individuals, the Boston Opportunity Agenda is a long-term partnership focused on achieving system change that will ultimately affect all Boston residents.  It is with this in mind that in 2014 the leadership of the Boston Opportunity Agenda expanded the focus of our work to include not only Boston Public Schools, but also Catholic and Charter schools located in Boston.Over the past several years, the Boston Opportunity Agenda member organizations have used three organizing principles to guide our collective work and network structure. The partnership is governed by the CEOs of each member organization who identify strategic issues facing our educational pipeline in whole or in part, formulate the Boston Opportunity Agenda priorities and strategies, and provide a call to action for community stakeholders.

Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Projections for Boston

June 1, 2016

While the broad outlines of how climate change would impact Boston have been known for some time, it is only recently that we have developed a more definitive understanding of what lies ahead. That understanding was advanced considerably with the publication of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Projections for Boston by the Boston Research Advisory Group (BRAG).The BRAG report is the first major product of "Climate Ready Boston," a project led by the City of Boston in partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission and funded in part by the Barr Foundation. The BRAG team includes 20 leading experts from the region's major universities on subjects ranging from sea level rise to temperature extremes. University of Massachusetts Boston professors Ellen Douglas and Paul Kirshen headed the research.The BRAG report validates earlier studies, concluding Boston will get hotter, wetter, and saltier in the decades ahead (see figures below). But the group has produced a much more definitive set of projections than existed previously, especially for the problem of sea level rise. BRAG also concluded that some of the effects of climate change will come sooner than expected, accelerating the urgency of planning and action.

Advice to Strengthen Strategic Mergers and Collaborations: A Catalyst Fund Report

April 1, 2016

The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits was created to demonstrate how strategic mergers and collaborations can help nonprofits pursue their missions. The Fund's new report, Advice to Strengthen Strategic Mergers and Collaborations, captures knowledge and experience gained from five years of work with more than 80 Boston-area nonprofits. The free, online resource includes "four truths of nonprofit collaborations" as well as step-by-step guidance for nonprofits, and reflections from funders on support for this work. The Catalyst Fund's primary goals were to give nonprofits dedicated resources for exploring strategic partnerships and to challenge misconceptions about mergers as a sign of fiscal distress. The Fund was itself a collaboration of The Boston Foundation, LISC Boston, The Hyams Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, managed by Nonprofit Finance Fund. Catalyst Fund grant awards resulted in 20 collaborative ventures, including 13 mergers. An additional six ventures are still in exploratory phases. 

The True Cost of Boston's Charter Schools: Charter Expansion Has Not Been a Revenue Issue for Boston Public Schools

March 25, 2016

As Boston approaches its cap on charter schools seats, and long wait lists remain at many of the Commonwealth charter schools serving Boston residents, efforts have begun to lift the charter cap and expand the number of seats available to Boston residents. This situation raises questions about whether the increase in charter seats is the reason for the annual budget problems facing the Boston Public Schools (BPS). Is the growth in charter school seats taking state Chapter 70 school aid away from the BPS schools? How is Chapter 70 education aid allocated to cities and towns and charter schools? Do Commonwealth charter schools receive an unfair share of public resources for education? The purpose of this report is to answer these questions and more by explaining the structure of educational aid in Boston and analyzing the effect that charter seat expansion, and the resulting increased cost of the charter school assessment has had on the City and the operations of the BPS. The number of Boston resident students attending Commonwealth charter schools is currently 9,260 or 14% of all Boston resident students attending a public school. In this report, "charter schools" refer to Commonwealth public charter schools. Also, all fiscal 2016 financial information is budgeted not actuals.