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A Better City;
Over the past several years, many valuable public realm projects have been implemented in Boston. In 2015, A Better City partnered with the Boston Transportation Department to develop the Public Realm Planning Study for Go Boston 2030. As co-chair of the Go Boston 2030 Plan, A Better City identified the untapped potential of Boston's transportation system to function as a network of vibrant public spaces that would support social, cultural, and economic activities. The process also highlighted a need for new short- and long-term public space strategies to reclaim underutilized transportation infrastructure in our neighborhoods.Building on this work, in December 2018, A Better City partnered with the City of Boston to publish Boston's first Tactical Public Realm Guidelines, designed to catalyze "tactical" interventions—such as plazas, parklets, outdoor cafes, and street murals—that can transform the public realm through lower-cost, rapid implementation. These modest interventions can convert our streets into spaces in which to convene, create, and experiment, fostering more vibrant communities and economies alike. As a testament to the importance of this work, the City of Boston hired a Public Realm Director in 2018 and integrated the Tactical Public Realm Guidelines into the City's Public Improvement Commission review process. A Better City has also worked with the City of Boston to develop sidewalk cafe guidelines and to convene a public realm interagency working group.A Better City has undertaken several public realm projects to date, including two outdoor seating projects in East Boston, a one week pop-up tactical plaza and permanent tactical plaza design in Roslindale Village, and a parklet design on Green Street in Jamaica Plain.The groundwork laid by these projects and the tactical guidelines, proved to be extremely beneficial in 2020 when the global pandemic created a tremendous need for flexible public space to help support local businesses, namely restaurants. For example, in many commercial districts across Boston, parklets were quickly installed to help support physically distanced outdoor dining.This publication includes case study summaries of the planning, design, and implementation process for three projects managed by A Better City—Birch Street Plaza, Green Street Plaza, and Outdoor Seating in East Boston— as well as a fourth case study describing the six pop-up plazas implemented by the City of Boston Director of Public Realm.
Livable Streets Alliance;
In March of 2017, the City of Boston released Go Boston 2030, their long-term mobility plan. Informed by an extensive two-year community engagement process, the plan envisions a city where all residents have better and more equitable travel choices, and aims to create economic opportunity and prepare for climate change. In order to ensure Go Boston 2030 doesn't sit on a shelf, LivableStreets has committed to independently assessing the City's progress on their goals regularly until 2030.Our report found that since Go Boston 2030 was released three years ago, the City of Boston has made important structural changes to their mobility-related departments, budgets, and priorities, including adding millions of dollars and 20 new staff to the transportation department. These changes provide a strong foundation for the progress they are making on implementing several Go Boston 2030 projects and policies. However, implementation of these projects and policies has not yet demonstrated significant progress toward most of Go Boston 2030's goals and targets. It will be important for the City to increase the scale and pace of its projects to stay on track and begin to see more meaningful progress toward its goals and targets.The report includes key findings, recommendations, and deep dives into key projects, including Better Bike Corridors. One section of the report focuses on providing updates on aspirational targets the City laid out in Go Boston 2030, including eliminating traffic fatalities and decreasing commute to work times. In addition, the report includes a project scorecard that provides status updates, evaluations, and recommended next steps for all 33 Go Boston 2030 early action projects and policies, including Walk- and Bike-Friendly Main Streets and Smart Signals Corridors. The report is intended to assess not only the quality and extent of work the City has done, but its overall impact.
New England Foundation for the Arts;
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.
Weinberger & Associates;
The Barr Foundation's BostonBRT initiative was convened in 2013 as part of Barr's climate program. Acknowledging that any serious efforts to address climate change must advance solutions for mobility, BostonBRT sought to determine technical feasibility of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the Boston Region, and, in the event that BRT was feasible, to advance a conversation within the Greater Boston community to build regional support for BRT.In 2018, Barr hired Weinberger & Associates to conduct a systematic review of the BRT initiative. The review was to measure Barr's progress and to assess the appropriate role for the Barr Foundation as BRT implementation continues. The work was conducted by and the report authored by Weinberger & Associates.The document describes the transportation and climate crises facing Boston and the Boston region, looking closely at the impetus for the BostonBRT initiative. It then looks at the planning context for BRT projects, contrasting the US experience with apparent "overnight" successes abroad. It discusses Barr grantmaking to date and the resulting achievements of the BostonBRT initiative. It highlights some apparent challenges to BRT implementation in the Boston region and points to potential scenarios that might facilitate the goal of implementing Gold Standard BRT in Greater Boston. The concluding section summarizes the consultant's analysis and provides recommendations to the Barr Foundation on how to move the initiative forward.
Boston Public Schools;
In 2007, Boston Public Schools commissioned a report from EY-Parthenon to examine how the district was serving youth who were off-track to graduate from high school. That examination of the dropout pipeline revealed a serious need for improvement and was followed by investments in some crucial areas, and in alternative education in particular, to better serve our youth. Since then, significant efforts have been made by BPS and by the Boston community as a whole to support all of our students not just to graduation, but also to a fruitful life after high school. Thanks to these concerted efforts, the BPS four-year graduation rate has risen from 57.9% in 2007 to 72.7% in 2017. Over the same time frame, the annual dropout rate has fallen from 7.9% to 3.6%. But these improvements are not enough. This second report updates our understanding of how our secondary schools support our youth who are off-track to graduate. The results of this study support what we suspected: (1) some of our own policies are contributing to the inadequate service for our youth and (2) our practices are not yet sufficiently developed to prevent students from falling off-track or to help them recover fully if they do.
Applied Economics Clinic;
On behalf of the Conservation Law Foundation, this report, prepared by the Applied Economics Clinic (AEC), investigates how well Massachusetts' energy efficiency programs are reaching under-served communities and hard-to-reach families. In 2017, Massachusetts' "Mass Save" energy efficiency programs ranked number one in the annual efficiency scorecard produced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for the seventh consecutive year. Mass Save's ranking is not, however, a good indicator of whether or not low-income households are getting the services they need. At present, it is not possible to answer this question completely because Mass Save program administrators have access to - but do not include in publicly available statistics - information regarding low-income households, under-served communities and hard-to-reach families. Working with limited data, AEC found that there are substantial differences in energy savings among Massachusetts' towns, and lower-income communities are receiving lower efficiency savings. This report presents maps and other figures showing differences in efficiency savings, income, and other community characteristics like language abilities and renter status for both Massachusetts towns and neighborhoods within Boston.
Boston Green Ribbon Commission;
In May 2017, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Boston Green Ribbon Commission (GRC), and Boston Society of Architects (BSA) convened two workshops bringing together over 60 experienced industry professionals from diverse professional backgrounds. The workshops focused on the legal implications of failing to adapt to known climate risks for both government entities and private sector professionals and the potential obstacles to considering and designing for climate risks. Workshop participants were asked to identify and think through on-the-ground barriers to adaptation and what role law and policy plays in encouraging or discouraging adoption of climate adaptation and resilience strategies. The purpose of the workshops and this Report has not been to identify climate resilient design strategies or regulatory solutions. Rather, the focus has been on how potential liability may advance or inhibit implementation of known and well-developed adaptation approaches.
Sustainable Solutions Lab University of Massachusetts, Boston;
This report, sponsored by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission with the generous support of the Barr Foundation, looks at different financial mechanisms for climate resilience. It provides recommendations for the City of Boston and the region on how to pay for climate adaptation investments.
Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston;
Few organizations in Jewish life can match the scale and scope of CJP's search for a new CEO—or the pedigree of its search committee. But in assembling a team of all-stars—and then executing a search with precision and professionalism—CJP's board provides a model to which all organizations can aspire.
This report shows results of a new poll of Massachusetts registered voters, putting many of these struggles into perspective. The poll was designed and conducted by The MassINC Polling Group with input from a steering committee of policy experts, transportation planners, and businesss leaders. It was sponsored by The Barr Foundation. The results suggest voters, and especially commuters, are feeling the effects of the transportation system's problems in very personal ways. For a large portion of those with the longest commutes, the frustration of being stuck on the roads or transit has led them to consider changing jobs, or leaving the region altogether.
The Boston Opportunity Agenda;
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.
Boston Green Ribbon Commission;
Metro Boston hospitals have made significant energy reduction and GHG progress. Completed in May 2017, this analysis of more than 24,000 energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) records covering 22 million square feet of metro Boston hospitals shows they cut their energy's greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent between 2011 and 2015, are on track to reduce emissions 33 percent by 2020, and 47% by 2020 compared to "business as usual" energy growth of 1.5% per year. The 47 percent reduction is the equivalent to eliminating the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 42,220 passenger vehicles.