A weekly round-up of articles and information, recommended by our staff, that you won’t want to miss!

Hang on, spring is slowly getting here! For those of you still waiting for the weather to warm up, these articles from Living Cities staff can help you pass the time. For those of you already enjoying the sun and its warmth, this week’s articles on community feedback loops, racial disparities, equitable transportation and more are still worth it.

Happy reading!

Community Engagement

Evaluating our Work - Fund for Shared Insight

The Fund for Shared Insight just released its baseline report about where foundations and nonprofits are in their ability to listen to the intended beneficiary. The results are insightful - and will help you understand:

  • How, though Foundations understand conceptually what beneficiary feedback loops mean, there is still a need for internal practices that intentionally collect and utilize feedback from “the people they seek to help”.
  • The three most common barriers to implementing feedback loops into foundation practice.
  • The status of feedback-focused content in the field, and why there is definite room for more voices discussing this work.
  • The two most common barriers to foundation openness

This type of report is helpful context for any organization exploring or executing on community engagement strategies as part of its work.

Recommended by Daniela Pineda, Associate Director, Evaluation and Impact

Racial Equity and Inclusion

1.5 Million Missing Black Men - The New York Times

According to this jarring article in the New York Times, for every 100 black women living in America, there are only 83 black men. This gap is a result of social factors such as early homicide and incarceration. This disparity is exacerbated in the African American populace, while absent among the white populace (99 white men to every 100 white woman). The research - and metrics examined - really illustrate the disruption that social inequities are having on basic family structures.

Recommended by John Portacio, Operations and Development Associate

Big Data and Civic Technology

Bloomberg to Give $42 million to Help Cities do More With Data - The Washington Post

This week, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $42 million, 100-city initiative to promote government performance. This initiative, called What Works Cities, “will provide mayors with robust technical assistance, expertise, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities that will help them enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services to solve problems for communities.

The program will help cities:

  • Create sustainable open data programs and policies that promote transparency and robust citizen engagement;
  • Better incorporate data into budget, operational, and policy decision making;
  • Conduct low-cost, rapid evaluations that allow cities to continually improve programs; and
  • Focus funding on approaches that deliver results for citizens.”

This program has the potential to be a gamechanger in the field of municipal innovation and civic technology. Specifically, What Works Cities targets smaller cities, which often lack the resources and infrastructure larger cities have. We and the larger cities in our networks should be able to learn a lot from what they do!

Recommended by Tamir Novotny, Senior Program Associate, Public Sector Innovation

Cross-Sector Partnerships

Attention Cross-Sector Collaboration Champions: Are We Forgetting the Public Sector? - The Intersector Project

Interesting read on the role of cross-sector leadership training for public sector leaders. The bottom line is that current cross-sector leadership trainings don’t often recognize the unique constraints faced by the public sector, such as their reliance on compliance and regulatory process for negotiating and managing shared decision making processes with other sectors. The Intersector Project is launching a research project to understand if and how local governments are underserved by cross sector partnership resources.

Recommended by Jeff Raderstrong, Program Associate, The Integration Initiative


The Latest Sign of Bike-Share’s Social Equity Problem - City Lab

In spite of all its promise for urban transportation, the bike share field has been steadily criticized for failing to reach low-income communities. The latest membership survey from Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare program shows that this problem may only be getting worse. Roughly half of bikeshare members who responded reported having incomes over $100,000, up from 39% in 2011. To learn more about the specific challenges and opportunities that shared mobility has for improving how low-income people access opportunity, see Living Cities and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s recent report that explored this topic.

Recommended by me!