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Crossroads & Connections: 2024 Tracking Oregon's Progress Report

June 3, 2024

Oregon is at a crossroads. Communities across the state continue to grapple with social and economic strains while they also find opportunities to make progress on key measurements. The 2024 Tracking Oregon's Progress Report from Oregon Community Foundation provides data and analysis in seven focus areas that define what makes a thriving and healthy community. The 2024 Tracking Oregon's Progress report suggests that many systems and structures that shape the critical conditions for well-being are struggling and not working for Oregonians consistently. The cost of Oregonians' daily lives is increasing faster than their incomes and other sources of wealth. For example, the cost of childcare in Oregon takes up nearly a quarter of household income, on average, which rivals housing and college expenses. More than half of Oregonians reported feeling left behind economically. The report adds that the social divides facing Oregon communities leave residents feeling disconnected and socially isolated.  Yet, the report also points to promising opportunities that can have positive impacts on community well-being. For example, investing in early childhood education produces an array of benefits that stretch well into adulthood. The report also points to investments in specific pressure points that can have a big impact, including building workforce and affordable housing and alleviating the cost of higher education.  

Improving Baltimore Police Relations With the City’s Black Community Alternate response to non-criminal emergency calls for service

May 29, 2024

Baltimore has a history of troubled relations between the Police Department (BPD) and its Black citizens. The 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody ignited national outcry and widespread protests, especially in major cities. The Gun Trace Task Force indictments and convictions in 2017 revealed systemic corruption and management issues in the BPD. In response to these problems, a federal consent decree was imposed in 2017, requiring the BPD to meet certain standards and to focus its efforts on initiatives such as more community-oriented policing. The consent decree also required research efforts to monitor progress.Since 2017, research conducted by the monitoring team has consistently shown a strained relationship between the police and the community. Building on this work, researchers from the University of Maryland produced a pair of companion reports examining the current state of community-police relations and the possibility of expanding a city program to divert certain 911 calls to civilian responders, with the goal of helping BPD better understand what it can do to increase trust among Black residents. In Part 2: Improving Baltimore Police Relations With the City's Black Community, Professors Greg Midgette, Thomas Luke Spreen, and Peter Reuter examine the possibility and potential benefits of extending that approach to other non-criminal emergency calls. The report examines successful reforms in Albuquerque, Atlanta, and Houston that divert some categories of 911 calls to civilian agencies rather than the police with the goal of reducing the role of police in everyday life. The researchers analyze Baltimore 911 data to model scenarios for diverting additional calls in terms of reduced police contact and easing BPD's staffing shortage. Given the existing mistrust described in Part 1, reducing police involvement in non-criminal incidents should remain an important goal for Baltimore City.

What Can Be Done To Improve PoliceCommunity Relations In Baltimore?: Exploring the experiences and perspectives of Black residents

May 29, 2024

Baltimore has a history of troubled relations between the Police Department (BPD) and its Black citizens. The 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody ignited national outcry and widespread protests, especially in major cities. The Gun Trace Task Force indictments and convictions in 2017 revealed systemic corruption and management issues in the BPD. In response to these problems, a federal consent decree was imposed in 2017, requiring the BPD to meet certain standards and to focus its efforts on initiatives such as more community-oriented policing. The consent decree also required research efforts to monitor progress.Since 2017, research conducted by the monitoring team has consistently shown a strained relationship between the police and the community. Building on this work, researchers from the University of Maryland produced a pair of companion reports examining the current state of community-police relations and the possibility of expanding a city program to divert certain 911 calls to civilian responders, with the goal of helping BPD better understand what it can do to increase trust among Black residents.In Part 1: What Can Be Done To Improve Police-Community Relations In Baltimore?, Professors Brooklynn Hitchens and Lauren C. Porter conducted interviews and focus groups with Black residents in Baltimore City to better understand experiences, attitudes, and perceptions with respect to BPD. The study deepened the findings of previous research showing that the department's current reform efforts have not altered perceptions among Black Baltimoreans and offers tangible recommendations from participants about how the BPD could improve its relationship with city residents and how funds should be invested to improve public safety and wellbeing.

Changing the Odds: Comprehensive Solutions for Atlanta's Future

May 2, 2024

In 2015, the Foundation released Changing the Odds: The Race for Results in Atlanta, which explored systemic barriers that keep Atlanta's kids from reaching their full potential. Exploring data on the communities where children and their families live, their educational experiences and outcomes and their access to economic opportunities, the 2015 report highlighted a racial divide between wealthier, majority-white communities to the north of Interstate 20 (I-20) and lower-income communities of color to the south. Charged with the need to identify solutions to address the barriers to opportunity revealed by the data, the Foundation convened a group of local leaders to form the Changing the Odds Network during the development of the report in December 2014. Four years later, the Foundation's Changing the Odds: Progress and Promise in Atlanta report reexamined the data and proposed policies and approaches — several of them advanced by members of the Changing the Odds Network — that showed promise for dismantling the barriers to opportunity faced by Atlanta families. As in many communities across the country, Atlanta residents experienced devastating setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with disparate effects for Black children, young adults, families and communities. The pivot to online learning quickly revealed long-standing educational inequities, including unequal access to digital technology. Black children were less likely to have access to computers and digital devices as well as the broadband connections necessary for virtual learning, while their parents were less likely to be able to work virtually from their homes. Black Atlantans experienced a disproportionate number of deaths caused by the pandemic in part due to being more likely to be exposed to the virus from holding positions as frontline workers and facing greater barriers to health care access.Atlanta is a city of great promise, but we know that opportunity isn't evenly distributed. This 2024 report builds on the first two Changing the Odds reports, shining a light on disparities, progress and promising solutions led by organizations and coalitions to ensure all Atlantans can live in thriving communities, receive a quality education and have access to economic opportunity to realize their full potential.

Democracy is good for the economy. Can business defend it?

April 29, 2024

Whether its genesis is slow and quiet or sudden and violent, rising autocracy threatens the most fundamental values of free people, including their rights of liberty and self-determination. Alongside the political and indeed moral implications of democratic erosion, there are economic consequences. U.S. democracy has declined in recent years, and additional erosion is possible. This paper assesses the material consequences of democratic decline and considers the role of business in preserving democratic functioning in the United States.

Beyond Bootstraps: Lifting up young women’s voices about how to build an economy that works for them

April 29, 2024

The notion of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps," deeply embedded in the American psyche, belies the fact that it is physically impossible to achieve. What if we flipped the script for young women? What if we focused on supporting them to do what IS achievable? What if we broke down barriers and built systems designed to maximize their capacity to thrive?The majority of young women preparing to enter or entering the workforce today will be working much or most of their adult lives. They will be key contributors to the economic security of their families—as co-, primary, or sole breadwinners—and the strength of our national economy. Yet they will face more barriers than on-ramps to economic security because our systems were never designed to support them to succeed.Women in the Economy (WE), a two-year research and action project at the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program (Aspen FSP), included interviews and a national survey of women across the country to get their insights about how to build an economy that works for them. Beyond Bootstraps highlights findings from the final phase of the research—in-depth interviews and a focus group with young women (ages 15-24) who are preparing for, entering, or in the early phases of their working lives. 

Healthy Places NC: 10 Years That Changed the Way We Work

April 3, 2024

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust launched an ambitious place-based program in 2012 to improve health in rural communities around our home state of North Carolina. Over the last decade, the Trust worked with residents to develop community-driven strategies to improve health outcomes in 10 rural counties, providing more than $100 million in grants and support to these communities.This report looks back at this work and offers key findings about what the Trust and Healthy Places NC counties accomplished. It identifies challenges and provides lessons for other funders interested in rural place-based work. We hope this 10-year evaluation serves as a resource to others investing in long-term community-led change. 

Climate Change and Rural Water for Frontline Communities in the Southwest United States

March 26, 2024

This issue brief provides an overview of the escalating threat climate change poses to rural water for frontline communities in the Southwest United States. This region, defined by the US National Climate Assessment's 6-state area (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah), is facing increasing water challenges due to prolonged droughts, extreme temperatures, groundwater depletion, wildfire, flooding, and reduced mountain snowpack. The brief delves into the observed and projected impacts of climate change, emphasizing the disproportionate risks faced by Latino, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations in these areas. Through this issue brief, the authors also aim to highlight the need for innovative strategies and approaches necessary to build equitable, climate-resilient rural water systems.

We are changing the political landscape of rural America. 2023 Impact Report

March 26, 2024

The Rural Democracy Impact Report celebrates a year of success and growth. It includes lessons from 2023, priorities for 2024, grantee spotlights, and financial and grantmaking details.

The Importance of Scaling Up Locally Led Adaptation

March 20, 2024

Despite people and communities being on the front line of climate impacts, only 10 per cent of international climate finance reaches the local level, according to the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED, 2019). Much of the decision-making surrounding adaptation funding, policy, design and implementation occurs at national and global levels, which makes it challenging to tap into the vast expertise and knowledge of local actors, communities and indigenous peoples, who are most affected and best placed to design and deliver appropriate and effective solutions = to the climate crisis. Locally led adaptation aims to address this problem, giving local actors maximum agency over diverse climate adaptation actions. 

Advancing Family Economic Mobility Microsite

February 28, 2024

The Family Economic Mobility project microsite showcases the Advancing Family Economic Mobility (AFEM) is initiative and its commitment to creating sustainable pathways to economic mobility and well-being for all people and families. The website will house features of public facing deliverables to ensure the posterity of the amazing work completed in the initiative.

2024 Waterfront and Resilience Platform: Waterfront Alliance Policy Priorities

February 22, 2024

Waterfront Alliance leads policy and legislative change; informs communities, elected leaders and decision makers; and educates residents, to bring forth systemic solutions. The 2024 Waterfront and Resilience Platform describes the following policy priorities and solutions for New York, New Jersey, and beyond:1.Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation      a.Infrastructure and Design      b.Governance and Planning      c.Dedicated Funding and Investment      d.Emergency Preparedness      e.Developing the Best Waterfronts Possible2.Climate and Estuary Education3.Public Access to the Waterfront4.Maritime, Working Waterfront, and Waterborne Transportation5.Renewable Energy