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

Strengthening Capacity and Equity in New England Evaluation

August 10, 2021

This report presents results from the Strengthening Capacity and Equity in New England Evaluation (SCENE) study. The SCENE study was conducted between August 2020 and August 2021 by a research group at Boston College with funding from the Barr Foundation.The purpose was three-fold: (1) to characterize evaluation providers, evaluation practices, and evaluators working in the New England area; (2) to explore whether and how evaluators address inequities and advance equity; and (3) to identify ways to strengthen capacity and equity among evaluators within the region. By providing an initial assessment to inform future capacity building and learning initiatives, we aim to inform regional evaluation practitioners and commissioners interested in advancing equity in evaluation. Findings are particularly relevant to local affiliates of the American Evaluation Association, including: Greater Boston Evaluators Network, Vermont Evaluation Network, Connecticut Area Evaluators' Network, Maine Evaluation Society. We also sought to address gaps in the evaluation literature regarding what equity and equity-focused evaluation mean and look like in practice. We plan to submit study results for publication/dissemination in academic journals.

Nonprofit Sector Effectiveness
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

Mortality-based damages per ton due to the on-road mobile sector in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. by region, vehicle class and precursor

June 8, 2021

A new study that quantifies the total and interstate deaths from transportation-related air pollution from five vehicle types in 12 states and Washington, D.C. has been published in Environmental Research Letters. The research was led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.The study is part of the Transportation, Equity, Climate, and Health project (TRECH), a multi-university research team from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University, University of North Carolina, and Columbia University, which analyzes policy scenarios to address carbon pollution from the transportation sector.Key TakeawaysOzone and fine particulate matter from vehicle emissions in 2016 led to an estimated 7,100 deaths in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., and pollution from tailpipe emissions is also traveling across state lines, harming the health of people living in cities and states downwind.Region wide, light-duty trucks, which include SUVs, were responsible for the largest number of premature deaths at 2,463 followed by light-duty passenger vehicles (1,881) and heavy-duty trucks (1,465)All states experienced substantial health impacts from vehicle emissions and can gain health benefits from local action.New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey were hardest hit with health damages at $21 billion, $13 billion, and $12 billion, respectively, in 2016 (the most recent data available from EPA).Many states are heavily impacted by out-of-state emissions and some states cause more deaths out-of-state than in-state, including PA and NJ, highlighting the importance of region-wide action to reduce vehicle emissions.On a ton for ton basis, buses in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area had the largest health damages at $4 million for every ton of particulate matter emitted.Ammonia emissions play a stronger relative role in causing health damages compared to oxides of nitrogen. Regionally, ammonia emissions from vehicles were responsible for 740 premature deaths in 2016, more than 10% of the total deaths. Ammonia emissions from vehicles are an unintended by-product of catalytic converters and are unregulated in the U.S., and their role in urban air pollution has been generally under appreciated.

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

Justice in 100 Metrics: Tools for Measuring Equity in 100% Renewable Energy Policy Implementation

January 1, 2021

This report reviews existing literature and compiles equity metrics for the implementation of 100% renewable energy policy. Initiative for Energy Justice created this literature review for energy regulators and communities engaged in energy rulemaking proceedings in particular. The content may also be adapted to address equity initiatives within utilities, and used by advocates in independent efforts to hold utilities accountable to equity standards. The resources provided are meant to provide a flexible basis from which to expand systems of accountability regarding equity goals in the implementation of 100% renewable energy (or 100% clean energy) policy.

Climate - Clean Energy
Featured

Transportation in a changing world: Fewer trips, different trips, alone

May 27, 2020

A sharp increase in working from home could also spell huge changes in commuting patterns. Massachusetts residents say they will probably be making fewer trips as the state emerges from coronavirus crisis, but more of those trips will be by themselves, according to a new statewide poll out today. On balance, residents expect to drive or walk more, and use all types of shared or public transportation mode less.In all, 35% of residents say they will ride the MBTA subway less than before, and 33% say the same of the commuter rail. Among the most frequent transit users, 44% say they will ride the subway less, and 45% expect to drive more. Young people and Boston residents are among the groups indicating the biggest increases in driving.  

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
Featured

Carbon Free Boston: Summary Report 2019

January 1, 2019

Carbon Free Boston was developed through comprehensive engagement with City staff, utilities, neighboring municipalities, regional authorities, state agencies, industry experts, and community representatives, among others, and was supported by comprehensive analysis using models that project feasible pathways to carbon neutrality by 2050. To ensure meaningful and actionable outcomes, we looked across scales and considered opportunities and challenges associated with specific actions at the city, state, and regional levels. We also addressed disparities in communities' capacity both to mitigate climate damages and to benefit from the transition to a carbon-neutral city.Supporting technical reports and other resources are also available on the project web site: http://sites.bu.edu/cfb/

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

The Transportation Dividend: Transit Investments and the Massachusetts Economy

January 29, 2018

As home to America's first subway, Boston has been a transit-oriented city for more than a century. In fact, much of our regional economic success is due to the connectivity that a transit system provides. It is no coincidence that the area served by the MBTA houses almost 70 percent of the state's population, offers 74 percent of the jobs, and generates 84 percent of Massachusetts's gross domestic product. The MBTA is the backbone of our economy and any successful strategy for continued growth and prosperity for the region must begin with smart investment in this system.Luckily, the calculus is straightforward as the benefits from our transit system far outweigh the costs we dedicate to support it. A new report from A Better City, made possible through support from both the Barr Foundation and The Boston Foundation, measured the MBTA's performance and economic impact. It found that through travel time and cost savings, vehicular crashes avoided and reduced auto emissions, the MBTA provides an estimated $11.4 billion in value to Greater Boston each year for both transit users and non-users alike. Boston residents experience all of these benefits from the T's annual operating budget of approximately $2 billion.The report also considered the alternative, examining what would it cost if our transit system did not exist. Our economy would require the capital cost of nearly 2,300 additional lane miles of roads and 400,000 more parking spaces. If we needed to build that today, the cost for this vehicular infrastructure would be over $15 billion. The MBTA is a bargain today and for the future.

Climate - Mobility

Indicators of School Quality

June 1, 2021

This document provides a framework, including a set of definitions for each of the components of the seven indicators of school quality in practice. The framework, which is a living document, is intended to help guide educators who are designing and operating school models that will achieve a community's shared vision of student success. Positive youth development and educational equity—which should underpin all systems,structures, and practices in a school—are named across all seven indicators because these must exist holistically in order to create learning environments where all students thrive.

Education - New Models

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.

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