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Baseline Findings from the Racial Equity Organizational Self-Assessments of Barr Foundation Climate Program GranteesSeptember 30, 2022
In 2021, the Barr Climate Program partnered with Community Centered Evaluation and Research (Community CER) to design and implement a Racial Equity Organizational Self-Assessment. The goals of the self-assessment were to provide Climate grantees with an organizational profile that allowed them to review their organization's progress in adopting and implementing racial equity practices and to help the Climate Program better understand organizations' efforts and how to target resources. This report is a summary of the findings of the Climate grantees as a group. The appendix includes the full survey used in the self-assessment.Access the full report by clicking the cover below
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Resurging Regional Ridership: An analysis of mobility flows, riders, and ridership in the WRTA regionApril 21, 2023
This report is the second in the Worcester Regional Research Bureau's 2023 analysis of the WRTA and fare-free service, beginning with All Aboard: Financing a Fare-Free WRTA. To gain a comprehensive perspective of the WRTA, this analysis focuses not only on the profiles of the WRTA's riders and its ridership recovery, but also on regional mobility, key to understanding the context within which the WRTA's riders choose to use its service. This report ultimately finds that the WRTA experienced rapid ridership monthly-recovery since March 2020, and by December 2022 it exceeded pre-pandemic levels; in FY23, the WRTA is projected to have a total of 3,913,772 total UPT across all modes, the highest since its historic peak in 2016. Fare-free service undoubtedly played a role in that recovery.
Poll: More than three-quarters of Massachusetts residents support boosting funding for regional bus serviceApril 18, 2023
Results of a survey of 1401 Massachusetts residents, including 967 living in communities served by the state's 15 Regional Transit Authorities. The survey found majority support for increased funding for the RTAs. It also asked riders and non-riders about barriers to bus ridership and what factors would make the biggest differences in getting them to ride. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the Regional Transit Authority Advocates Coalition and was sponsored by the Barr Foundation.
The Worcester Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board has suspended fares at the agency since March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent emergency. It has been extended several times, and the latest extension is set to end at the end of June 2023 unless the Advisory Board adopts a budget that will extend fare-free for a longer period of time. The Worcester Regional Research Bureau previously released two reports: In May 2019, The Implications of a Fare-Free WRTA and in November 2020, Bureau Brief—Addendum to "The Implications of a Fare-Free WRTA." Both reports analyses found a strong argument in favor of a fare-free program at the WRTA. This report on finances serves as an update to those reports after three years of fare-free service.The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is consistently the largest source of revenues used for operating expenses, followed by, in FY22, the Federal Government, and then WRTA member community assessments.According to a 2018 survey of riders, 65% of riders had an income of less than $24,999.Collecting fares, whether fixed or variable, will entail costs of its own that may mitigate the revenues collected by restarting fares.A thought experiment of what different fare collection revenues could look like, including the possibility of discounting fares by income.The Massachusetts' Legislature and the new gubernatorial administration have expressed interest in increasing transportation funding across the state. Moreover, the Regional Transit Authority Caucus in the legislature has begun to put forward bills to raise statewide RTA funding to $150 million a year, nearly $55 million more than funding for FY23. Governor Healey's initial FY24 budget includes $96.8 million for RTAs, in addition to $6 million for operating expenses from a new $25 million grant.The Federal Government will be increasing its transportation funding until 2026.The WRTA experienced a rapid ridership recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and FY23 ridership is expected to increase. While this report reviews WRTA finances relative to sustaining a fare-free policy, please look forward to a forthcoming report on WRTA ridership from The Research Bureau. It is evident that a fare-free policy at the WRTA has had significant impact, particularly on ridership.
Massachusetts Poll: 78% of voters view transportation system in only ‘fair or poor’ condition; 59% support future MBTA shutdowns to expedite improvementsOctober 20, 2022
Survey of 987 Massachusetts likely voters in the November general election. Findings included the Governor's race, Ballot Questions #1 and #4, views of the condition of the transportation system, and support for the gubernatorial candidates' transportation agendas.
Changes in Traffic Patterns and Air Quality Along Mystic Avenue in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts, After Installation of an Intermittent Bus LaneAugust 10, 2022
The City of Medford, MA, (pop. 60,000) and the City of Somerville (pop. 76,000) immediately to the south are home to several major roadways including Interstate 93 and Massachusetts State Highways 28 and 38. These are among the busiest roadways in the Boston metropolitan area, together carrying over 240,000 vehicles per day through the two cities (Boston MPO, 2022). In an effort to increase bus efficiency, reduce traffic burden, and improve air quality in their communities, Medford and Somerville tested a bus lane with intermittent prioritization on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) bus route #95, which runs along Route 38 (Mystic Avenue) within the two cities.The goal of this study was to determine whether the bus lane on Mystic Avenue caused short term (months) changes in traffic patterns and improved air quality along the length of the bus lane.
New K-12 Parent Poll: Student mental health, academics pose challenge to Massachusetts schools COVID recovery plansMay 22, 2022
This poll surveys Massachusetts parents regarding their views about students' safety and academic preparedness related to COVID-19 and the state's COVID recovery plans. The pandemic brought long lasting academic and mental health concerns, which parents say remain serious challenges today.
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