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Baltimore is the 30th-largest US city by population and is a study in contrasts. It has a low average income compared with other wealthy Northeast cities, has nine colleges and universities, and is a magnet for people pursuing higher education but has undergone decades of population loss. A large social sector provides important services to residents and buoys the local economy: nearly every third job in the city is with a nonprofit employer. But this also illustrates the city's limited economic vibrancy. This mix of market and nonmarket forces makes Baltimore an important place to examine the geography of opportunity in an American city.
Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research;
Baltimore has long been plagued by high rates of homicides, with guns playing an important role. City and law enforcement officials in Baltimore have attributed much of the gun violence to the illegal drug economy and the availability of guns for criminal use. For many years, the most visible and direct approaches employed by the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) to curb gun violence have focused on enforcement of drug laws to reduce violent crime associated with the drug trade. In the most ambitious and resource-intensive efforts, the objective of law enforcement actions has been to "take down" or severely weaken organized groups selling illegal drugs through targeted arrests and prosecutions. Such efforts are intended to both remove violent criminals from communities and, ideally, deter violent crime. Most of these targeted drug law enforcement efforts have been place-focused, targeting "hot spots" for homicides and shootings. Within these hot spots, there is often some degree of targeting of individuals believed to be important drivers of gun violence, based on intelligence gathered, individuals' histories of criminal offending, and individuals' criminal associates.In the early 2000s, Baltimore City leadership encouraged aggressive enforcement of drug laws, resulting in the arrests of tens of thousands of individuals for drug possession and drug distribution. However, beginning mid-2007, the BPD shifted its focus to initiatives aimed at apprehending violent criminals and targeting illegal gun possession. We used data from January 1, 2003, through December 23, 2017, to estimate the effects of place-focused policing and prevention initiatives that were focused on criminal offending involving guns and/or drugs to estimate the effects of those interventions on homicides and nonfatal shootings. An overview of the specific interventions assessed in this study follows.
My Brother's Keeper- Baltimore;
This report looks at the "enormous survival challenges facing Black males of all ages in communities across Baltimore." The recommendations presented in this initial report are intended to establish a blueprint that can be used to focus city-wide collaborations and refine programmatic strategies to realistically address the alarming challenges faced by Black male youth.
Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative;
The report, Strengthening Baltimore's Workforce: Reflections and Lessons Learned, presents data on program completion, job placement, starting wage and employment retention rates for 1,187 participants. While the outcomes varied by program, most jobseekers benefited on every measure. For example, approximately 80% of participants in the construction program completed training and received at least one credential. Of those placed in jobs, 70% were still employed after six months. Graduates across all programs were able to secure average starting wages of $12 to $18 an hour, much higher than the $8.75 state minimum wage, the report finds.
The collaborative is a public/private partnership between Casey, other local and national foundations, corporate donors and representatives of city and state workforce agencies. Collectively, its members have pooled more than $14 million to support sector-specific strategies that provide greater training and job opportunities for residents who face barriers to employment. These efforts are primarily focused on six growing industries: biotechnology, construction, food service, transportation and logistics, environmental sustainability and manufacturing.
Baltimore's unemployment rate was 41 times the national average in August 2016, with many residents facing obstacles such as prior criminal convictions, limited math and literacy skills and unstable housing. The report outlines several strategies that have helped the local workforce development effort succeed despite these barriers:
collaboration with employers and stakeholders to understand and address labor force needs;
programming that includes relevant skill development and industry-recognized certifications;
wraparound services, peer groups and supportive instructional approaches to address the barriers jobseekers face;
rigorous job placement and post-program follow-up; and
a commitment to monitoring and tracking the performance of training programs and allocating resources accordingly.
The report calls for additional policy and system reforms to address the inequities that have left many communities disconnected from quality employment and educational opportunities. They include changes to wages, benefits and safety practices, as well as criminal justice reform and an expansion of mental health, addiction and adult education services. Many of the programs have already made notable shifts, including the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, JumpStart and the Baltimore Center for Green Careers, which expanded job opportunities to individuals without a college degree and those with prior criminal records.
"These results show what's possible when we focus on the needs of local employers and create opportunities for residents to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to build family-supporting careers," says Allison Gerber, a senior associate at the Foundation. "The next step is to ensure more youth and young adults can benefit from these programs. This report gives us a good outline of what's working, and where we need to build."
Considering the breadth of community employment needs, existing sectoral programs operate at a much smaller scale than what Baltimore requires. To expand the scope and ensure more residents can secure family-supporting jobs, the report recommends partners across the city work to increase investment in industry-specific workforce programs, increase the number of quality jobs that are available and educate and prepare more individuals to enter these programs.
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago;
Afterschool programs are seen as a way to keep low-income children safe and to foster the skills needed to succeed in school and life. Many cities are creating afterschool systems to ensure that such programs are high-quality and widely available. One way to do so is to ensure afterschool systems develop and maintain a data system.This interim report presents early findings from a study of how afterschool systems build their capacity to understand and improve their practices through their data systems. It examines afterschool data systems in nine cities that are part of The Wallace Foundation's Next Generation Afterschool System-Building initiative, a multi-year effort to strengthen systems that support access to and participation in high-quality afterschool programs for low-income youth. The cities are Baltimore, Md., Denver, Colo., Fort Worth, Texas, Grand Rapids, Mich., Jacksonville, Fla.,Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., Philadelphia, Pa., and Saint Paul, Minn.To date, research on data use in afterschool systems has focused more on the implementation of technology than on what it takes to develop and sustain effective data use. This study found that the factors that either enabled or hampered the use of data in afterschool systems—such as norms and routines, partner relationships, leadership and coordination, and technical knowledge—had as much to do with the people and process components of the systems as with the technology.Strategies that appear to contribute to success include:
Starting small. A number of cities intentionally started with a limited set of goals for data collection and use, and/or a limited set of providers piloting a new data system, with plans to scale up gradually.
Ongoing training. Stakeholders learned that high staff turnover required ongoing introductory trainings to help new hires use management information systems and data. Providing coaching and developing manuals also helped to mitigate the effects of turnover and to further the development of more experienced and engaged staff.
Outside help. Systems varied in how they used the expertise of outside research partners. Some cities identified a research partner who participated in all phases of the development of their data systems. Others used the relationship primarily to help analyze and report data collected by providers. Still others did not engage external research partner, but identified internal staff to support the system. In any of these scenarios, dedicated staffers with skills in data analytics were key.
Policy Studies Associates, Inc.;
Can schools and community organizations come together to provide children with critical enrichment activities that enhance knowledge and expand horizons beyond core academics during the school day? This report by Policy Studies Associates, Inc., highlights some ways in which they might.
The report investigates schools' use of the ExpandED Schools model, which seeks to use partnerships between public schools, community organizations and intermediary organizations to increase enrichment opportunities for children. In the model, regular school staffers focus largely on core academics, while a community-based organization offers enrichment activities during expanded school hours. A third, intermediary organization often coordinates and supports the effort.
Researchers studied the use of this model in 10 schools in three cities—New York City, Baltimore and New Orleans—over four years. In this report, they identify the parts of the model that were easiest for the schools to implement, parts that proved more challenging and strategies schools used to overcome hurdles along the way.
It finds that the partnerships were generally most successful in adding new activities to an expanded school day and were able to coordinate efforts between school staff and community organizations. But many schools struggled to find reliable sources of funding and to use data to drive programming and instruction.
We analyzed the relationship between crime and indicators of residential yard management in Baltimore City and County. Data came from a survey we conducted of over one thousand front yards that included more than 40 indicators relating to lawns, trees, shrubs, beds and other features. These indicators were related to point counts of crime at the 150 m scale using a combination of ordinary least squares, spatial error, and Poisson regressions. After controlling for income, population density, block-scale tree canopy, and housing type, we found a consistently significant relationship between crime and a number of indicators of yard management. Yard-level variables that were negatively associated with crime included: the presence of yard trees, garden hoses/sprinklers, and lawns, in addition to the percentage of pervious area in a yard. Those positively associated with crime included presence of litter, desiccation of the lawn, lack of cutting of the lawn, and number of small trees in front of or adjacent to the property. While these results do not establish causality, they add evidence to a growing literature that suggests the possibility of several mechanisms by which environmental design may reduce crime: ?cues to care? (the inverse of the ?broken window? hypothesis) can lead to reduced crime by signaling to criminals the presence of social capital and the active involvement of neighbors in community spaces; and more appealing landscaping draws more ?eyes on the street,? which in turn deters criminals.
Boston Foundation, The;
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.
Partners for Sacred Places;
Arts in Sacred Places (AiSP) was designed to facilitate long-term, mutually beneficial space-sharing relationships between arts organizations - with inadequate or no home - and houses of worship with space to share. AiSP maintains a database of information on arts organizations and sacred places; provides tools such as training, documentation, and budget and legal assistance; and acts as a matchmaker and facilitator for partnerships. Partners for Sacred Places also has strong expertise on adaptive re-use of vacant religious properties, leading design charrettes, community and political engagements, and business and funding plan development.
The proposed project, with national implications, addresses the facility needs of both sectors in a unique way that has the potential for catalytic change. To elevate the issue, we explored the complex space problems faced by the dance and theater communities and held two national convenings to disseminate research findings and educate leaders in the field on the direct and significant potential for impact that this solution offers. A recorded version of our Philadelphia convening can be found on this page along with the final version of our report.
Focus on Learning
The project highlights:
what has been done to date;what resources currently exist;what is the status and health of the dance and theater communities in the region; andwhat are their space needs.
Union of Concerned Scientists;
Cities all over the U.S. are coming up with innovative ways to fight back against a failing food system that is sickening millions of Americans each year. In this report, we present case studies of five local initiatives to increase access to healthy food. These solutions may serve as a model for other communities--and as a reminder that we need to transform the dysfunctional federal policies that make healthy food access harder than it should be.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has several implications for small businesses, but one opportunity is the Small Business Health Options Program or SHOP, an online marketplace for small businesses with features designed to offer flexibility to both employers and employees. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned a national study of small employers, conducted by PerryUndem Research/Communication and GMMB, to understand their feelings about offering health insurance. In particular, the study explored awareness of and interest in SHOP. It also tested its features and identified messengers to learn how best to communicate with small employers about the benefits of using SHOP.
This report presents findings from focus groups held in Baltimore and Salt Lake City, as well as a national survey of 821 small employers with two to 50 employees. Focus groups were held in August 2015. The survey fielded September 18 through September 29. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.4 percentage points. Methodology, survey toplines, and the full public use data set are also available.