Barr Foundation Knowledge Center

This collection includes publications and resources from our partners and in our program areas, both current and legacy. These resources are completely free to access and download. Most of these works were funded by the Barr Foundation. We may occasionally feature items relevant to our program areas which were not funded by Barr. Please be aware that views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barr Foundation. We encourage you to search our collection and suggest potential content to include (use "Suggest an Addition"). For questions or assistance, please contact feedback@barrfoundation.org.
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Featured

Get it Rolling: A brief guide to mobilize bus improvements in Greater Boston

June 21, 2021

This guide lays out a recipe to help local staff members, leaders, and advocates identify the right ingredients to launch successful bus improvements in high ridership, high delay corridors in their communities. These projects can seem daunting in their complexity, but they are important tools in achieving climate, equity, and transit goals, as well as improving quality of life for the thousands of people in our region.The guide identifies crucial stakeholders and project milestones. It offers examples of successful strategies, and it distills lessons learned. We identified six bus priority projects that started turning the wheels of change in the region. These projects were the first to involve quick, temporary, and easy to change elements in order to influence the permanent design.The information this guide sets forth was drawn from over thirty in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved in the six different projects we identify below:Everett's inbound bus lane on BroadwayBoston's inbound bus lane on Washington Street in RoslindaleArlington's inbound bus lane on Massachusetts AvenueCambridge and Watertown's inbound bus lane on Mount Auburn StreetBoston's inbound bus lane on Brighton Avenue in BrightonSomerville's inbound and outbound bus lanes on BroadwayThese six projects are described in detail in the individual case studies found after the workbook. You'll find examples from these projects throughout this guide that illustrate the different strategies municipal staff and their partners have used to accomplish progressive bus improvements.Every project's recipe will be different, and will require different ingredients, as well as different amounts of each. The projects showcased in this guide may not be directly applicable to your community, but they offer a framework for considering strategies to improve bus transit. With the ingredients presented in this document, we encourage you to innovate and experiment. Not all will apply to your situation, and not all will follow the same order as we have them listed here. This guide is not prescriptive, but instead offers direction based on the experience of people involved in the six local bus improvement projects that were studied.

Climate - Mobility
Featured

The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students

May 7, 2021

Launched in 2009, BPS Arts Expansion, the public-private partnership led by the Boston Public Schools Visual and Performing Arts Department and EdVestors, brings together local foundations, the school district, arts organizations, higher education institutions, and the Mayor's Office to focus on a coherent, sustainable approach to quality arts education for all BPS students. This collaboration of local leaders along with students, families, and school staff, has enabled Boston to emerge as a national leader among urban districts working to expand arts education.The purpose of this study is to examine how access to arts education in BPS influences education outcomes pertaining to student social emotional and academic outcomes as well as parent and teacher perspectives regarding school climate. This research strengthens the case for quality arts education for every student, finding significant evidence increases in arts education lead to improvements on a range of indicators of student and parent school engagement.

Arts - Public Support
Featured

Distance and Disruption: Listening to Massachusetts Students During COVID-19

February 1, 2021

Analyses of testing data from fall 2020 indicate the transition to remote learning has resulted in significant learning loss, particularly among low-income and minority students. Using data from the online learning platform Zearn, economists at the Harvard Opportunity Insights project found large losses in math learning for low-income students, whereas students from affluent backgrounds saw gains. This has exacerbated fears that the pandemic is widening the already large achievement gap between students from different income and racial/ethnic groups. The COVID-19 crisis has also had a worrisome impact on students' emotional health — particularly among full-time remote learners, for whom supportive networks of teachers and friends have been disrupted.Findings from the Distance and Disruption study correspond with those of a separate survey of 1,549 Massachusetts parents with school-aged children conducted in October and November 2020. That study found significant gaps by income and racial/ethnic group in access to in-person schooling, and parents of children in remote-learning situations — particularly hybrid in-person/remote arrangements — were more likely to feel their child was falling behind grade level.The Distance and Disruption study further adds to our understanding of the transfer to remote learning by exploring students' perspectives on specific differences in the quality of learning experiences between the in-school and at-home environments. Such differences are a critical link in explaining why remote-learning students are more likely to experience negative outcomes.

Education - Public Will
Featured

Winter Places: A Design Guide for Winter Placemaking

October 28, 2020

As COVID-19 restrictions and public safety concerns limit indoor activities for restaurants, entertainment, public events and social gatherings, communities have adapted by expanding into the outdoors. This lifeline, perfect during the warmer spring and summer months, becomes more challenging during the impending colder, darker winter months… But it's time to change our relationship with winter outdoors!Winter Places, a design challenge for winter placemaking, sought ideas and designs for innovative, quickly implementable, low cost interventions to drive visitors back to Main Streets to support area restaurants and small businesses. This program and its success wouldn't have been possible without the support of our partners in what has become an international collaboration to bring new life to our main streets and downtowns.Since July, our team has worked together to compile this resource and develop this guide. Thank you to every single student, team, architect, landscape architect, designer and artist who submitted a concept to Winter Places. We received submissions from 65 individuals or teams from 6 countries and couldn't be more thrilled to see this cross border and cross continent collaboration to help extend a lifeline to our main streets and commercial centers during these extraordinary times.The information contained in the guide is designed to support cities, towns, main streets, BIDS/ BIAS, non-profit organizations, community groups, businesses and others in reimagining what's possible this winter on their main streets and commercial districts. We encourage all communities to employ strategies to change mentalities around how we approach winter. Encourage personal warmth as a policy… wear layers to spend time outdoors and bring a blanket for extra warmth (wool is best)! Look to implement projects in areas that get as much sun as possible during the day time and try to also factor in typical wind directions and wind tunnels in the area when choosing installation locations. Together, let's make this our first winter of many where we approach the winter with a positive attitude instead of hibernating indoors, welcoming the 4th season as one to enjoy and look forward to. One where we embrace the outdoors, embrace our communities and reconnect with our small businesses and neighbors again.

Climate - Mobility
Featured

MIRRORS FOR LATINX STUDENTS: Attracting and Retaining Latinx Teachers in Massachusetts

January 30, 2020

From national test scores to graduation rates, we have reason to be proud of the progress we have made over the past decade.1 During that same time, it has become clear that Latinos have played, and will continue to play, a larger role in the Commonwealth's future. Latinos are expected to comprise 15 percent of the population of Massachusetts by 2035 – growth fueled primarily by in-state births rather than immigration.2 It is critical, then, that Massachusetts' workforce, at every level, reflect our population. This work begins now, in the classroom. Investing in a strong education system that meets the needs of Latinos and other students of color, as well as students from low-income backgrounds, is an investment in the workforce of the future.

Education - Invest in Educators

Quick and Creative Street Projects: Measuring Impact in Mass

December 10, 2021

Cities and towns across Massachusetts are implementing innovations on their streets. Quick and creative projects that prioritize people are having big impacts.These changes are mostly simple: making space for chairs and tables for neighbors to sit and chat, slowing down traffic via cones so kids can play and bike to school, and painting bus lanes for essential workers to travel faster.And a new report with examples and impact data from 23 municipalities over the course of 2020 and 2021 shows that simple changes have big impacts.  

Climate - Mobility

Riding Toward Opportunities: Communities Need Better MBTA Service to Access Jobs

December 1, 2021

*For Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese translations of the executive summary please click 'Download' > 'via Publisher' to visit Conservation Law Foundation's website*This report documents the access to jobs provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Eastern Massachusetts and how chronic delays reduce that access. It also shows that delays disproportionately undercut economic opportunity for communities of color, low-income communities, and limited English proficient residents compared to white, wealthier, and English-speaking populations.As the MBTA plans to adjust service on buses, trains, and ferries following winter and spring 2021 service cuts and plans to address anticipated budget shortfalls for future fiscal years, access to jobs could be undermined even more. This will have the greatest impact on those riders already hardest hit by delays.

Racial Equity Guide for Climate Program Grantees

November 30, 2021

This guide is made for Barr Foundation Climate Program grantees that may fall in different places along the racial equity knowledge and practice spectrum. It includes assessment tools and resources for having introductory conversations on racism and white supremacy, information about collaboration models and movement structures, available workshops, training, and consultants that you can leverage to further your learning. It was written and compiled by Kendra Hicks for One Square World and edited by Adeola Oredola, Vatic Kuumba, and Andrea Atkinson. 

Climate - Clean Energy; Climate - Mobility; Climate - Resilience

Winter Places 2.0: A Design Guide and Report on Winter Placemaking

November 11, 2021

The past two years have presented a series of unimaginable financial, social and health challenges for communities across the globe. A continuing global pandemic forced the closures of businesses, the physical separation of people and all of us to grapple with the idea that outdoors was safer than indoors with a virus spread through the air around us. While none of us had ever lived through something like this before, communities across the country and around the globe got to work, supporting their communities by opening streets, granting permission to replace street parking with dining setups, establishing shared community dining spaces and much more. Creative projects were now embraced by public and private sector in a bid to keep people safe while allowing their communities to find opportunities to stay socially connected and local businesses to remain open and solvent throughout the pandemic.The winter of 2020 presented a unique set of challenges, one that required even more planning and support than the summer and fall of 2020. With the virus still raging cold weather communities had to think quickly to figure out ways to provide their communities a safe, outdoor, inviting space to connect with friends and neighbors while also providing the opportunity to support local businesses through what is already one of the more difficult times of the year. In the fall of 2020 we released a Winter Places Guide with creative concepts and ideas aimed at supporting communities around the world in their efforts to get people outdoors in their towns, supporting local small businesses in the process. The guide was downloaded over 3,000 times by individuals and organizations from across the US, Canada, Europe and Asia and we heard incredible feedback from Mayors, Main Street Directors, Town Planners, residents and artists inspired to get their communities outdoors in the winter months.Thanks to a funding partnership with Boston based Barr Foundation, we were able to support and fund twelve community winter placemaking projects across Massachusetts that were inspired by ideas in the Winter Places guide. These placemaking projects were led by some incredible cross-sector, public/private partnerships within each community and were designed, implemented and programmed alongside area businesses, residents and with the support and guidance of local boards of health. Though many delays were encountered based upon local Covid-19 conditions on the ground in each community, each project drew hundreds, if not thousands of area residents into the local commercial districts, giving residents a space to gather safely and businesses the opportunity to have foot traffic again during a traditionally difficult time of year, made even more difficult by the pandemic related restrictions. Nearly 100 local artists and craftspeople were employed for the implementation of these projects and close to 250 Massachusetts small businesses participated directly in this winter programming experience.The following guide includes detailed project reports on each campaign funded across Massachusetts as part of our program with Barr Foundation, resources produced during last years Winter Places program and information on how you can get support to activate your community during the coming winter. We hope this guide serves not only to inspire you to embrace winter outdoors in your community but provides practical tips to help get you there as we continue to work together to find creative ways to build community, foster new relationships and support our local economies in a changing pandemic environment.

Climate - Mobility

15-Minute Neighborhoods: Repairing Regional Harms and Building Vibrant Neighborhoods For All

September 1, 2021

In this paper, we use the "15-minute city" model as a jumping off point. This can feel like yet another urban planning buzzword, but we find it powerful for articulating a vision of what Greater Boston could become. Designed by Carlos Moreno and popularized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the 15-minute city model aims to build vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods where all residents can reach their daily needs within a 15-minute walk of their home. Our vision for Greater Boston is distinct because we add a few extra points of emphasis. First, we worry that a hyper-local focus can lead to a few, disconnected, amenity-rich islands of privilege, so we've designed our vision to be regional in nature, moving toward an interconnected network of 15-minute neighborhoods across Greater Boston.Second, we emphasize high-quality public transit and bike options as supplements to improved walkability. Third, we believe that 15 minute neighborhoods should reflect our region's racial and socioeconomic diversity, and any comprehensive regional planning initiative should be a means to reverse the entrenched patterns of racial and economic segregation. To accomplish this, the planning, creation, and stewardship of 15-minute neighborhoods must truly center the voices and needs of those who have historically been left on the margins, including Black, Indigenous and other residents of color, low-wealth residents, new immigrants, and those with disabilities.

Climate - Mobility

Opportunities to Invest in Community Resilience for COVID and Climate

May 6, 2021

The reality that COVID-19 was a pandemic became clear by mid-March 2020. Immediately, grassroots, community-led groups organized mutual aid and other COVID response efforts to bridge the gaps created by lack of preparedness as well as inadequate response on the part of the state and federal governments.The Barr Foundation is interested in learning how these community based responses were organized, how they operated, and what the network ecology looked like in Boston, Chelsea, and Revere. The overall goal is to understand how community-focused and community-led responses like these can be built upon and reinforced to support equity-centered climate resilience.

Everett-Boston BRT Implementation Playbook

April 1, 2021

This implementation playbook outlines critical steps and decision points to implement a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor in Massachusetts between the cities of Everett and Boston. Included are data-rich insights into specific on-the-ground conditions and illustrations of creative bus priority improvements in Everett along a potential Everett-to-Boston BRT corridor. The playbook highlights how the City of Everett, in collaboration with Boston, as well as state agencies and other adjacent municipalities can continue to be a municipal leader in transit innovation.Everett, Massachusetts is a diverse, vibrant community of 40,000 bordering Boston that, despite a critical lack of transit-specific infrastructure, has become a regional and national leader in transit-oriented development and bus-based transit innovation. It was a pioneer in installing peak-hour bus lanes at a time when other cities were worried about whether such lanes would be feasible and has continued to demonstrate the benefits of planning that prioritizes people over vehicles.Lessons in the playbook, especially around trade-offs, show how Everett and other communities in greater Boston can improve the bus rider experience. Each of Everett's transit-priority interventions has brought the city closer to a full-fledged BRT corridor. Conditions in Everett—with narrow roadways, complex traffic patterns and nearly a dozen bus routes—have posed challenges to implementing a full bus rapid transit system. BRT improves accessibility, equitability, and legibility, making the bus transit experience more time-efficient and easier to use and understand. Many creative solutions have brought and will continue to bring the city and region closer to this goal.While the playbook is focused on getting to BRT in and between Everett and Boston, it offers many lessons that are applicable to cities across the nation who are looking to build BRT across municipal lines and on roadways with limited width.

Climate - Mobility

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