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John S. and James L. Knight Foundation;
Communities across our nation are experimenting with new ways to engage citizens in the decisions made by civic leaders from the public, private and non-pro!t sectors, working sometimes together and sometimes at cross purposes. Ultimately, success at making democracy work and sustaining healthy communities requires engaged individuals, organizations, and institutions.
Across our country, community engagement bright spots are emerging. These initiatives foster a sense of attachment, expand access to information and resources, and create opportunities for citizens to play more active roles in setting priorities, addressing issues, and planning the longer-term sustainability of their communities.
The National League of Cities, working with The John S. and James L Knight Foundation, selected 14 communities that the two institutions are engaged with to explore how well or poorly some of these experiments are faring today. This analysis then focused more closely on four communities -- Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Austin -- to document the lessons learned and the challenges ahead.
National Institute for Transportation and Communities;
This report presents finding from research evaluating U.S. protected bicycle lanes (cycle tracks) in terms of their use, perception, benefits, and impacts. This research examines protected bicycle lanes in five cities: Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, D.C., using video, surveys of intercepted bicyclists and nearby residents, and count data. A total of 168 hours were analyzed in this report where 16,393 bicyclists and 19,724 turning and merging vehicles were observed. These data were analyzed to assess actual behavior of bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers to determine how well each user type understands the design of the facility and to identify potential conflicts between bicyclists, motor vehicles and pedestrians. City count data from before and after installation, along with counts from video observation, were used to analyze change in ridership. A resident survey (n=2,283 or 23% of those who received the survey in the mail) provided the perspective of people who live, drive, and walk near the new lanes, as well as residents who bike on the new lanes. A bicyclist intercept survey (n= 1,111; or 33% of those invited to participate) focused more on people's experiences riding in the protected lanes. A measured increase was observed in ridership on all facilities after the installation of the protected cycling facilities, ranging from +21% to +171%. Survey data indicates that 10% of current riders switched from other modes, and 24% shifted from other bicycle routes.
National League of Cities;
CPER's founding funders had ambitious aims from the start. They sought specific education reforms that would expand opportunities and improve student outcomes. Yet at the same time, they looked beyond individual policy targets to questions about how policy decisions are made: Whose interests drive decision-making? What parties are considered to have relevant knowledge? Funders shaped CPER with the goal of transforming the policymaking process and enabling diverse stakeholders in vulnerable communities to fully exercise their educational rights—as one essential component of realizing a broader opportunity and justice agenda.
Committee for Economic Development;
The example of how the Austin (TX) Chamber of Commerce has worked over several years with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) to plan and implement a new strategic compensation plan demonstrates how collaboration can help the two sectors better understand each other and work together to develop an important new policy initiative and build public support for it. It illustrates how a community of concerned stakeholders can work together to accomplish the common goal of ensuring that all AISD's students are successful.
National Academy of Public Administration;
Addressing Community Concerns: How Environmental Justice Relates to Land Use Planning and Zoning is the Panel's third report on environmental justice. It focuses on low-income and people-of-color communities because it is generally recognized that their residents are exposed to significantly greater environmental and public health hazards. The study examines the relationship of planning and zoning decisions in five localities across the nation where residents have raised environmental justice concerns: Huntington Park, California; Austin, Texas; Chester, Pennsylvania; Altgeld Gardens in Chicago, Illinois; and St. James Parish, Louisiana
The report will help local, state and federal officials to improve their understanding of how they can use local and state land use planning and zoning laws for solving current environmental justice problems and preventing them in the future.
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.
Charles F. Kettering Foundation;
Between 2007 and 2009, more than 3,000 citizens met with their neighbors in community centers, classrooms, churches, and libraries throughout the United States to talk about the issue known as the achievement gap. Participants in the forums discussed three possible options for closing the gap: raising expectations; providing more funding for struggling schools; and addressing root causes, such as poverty and poor health. As they deliberated, the citizens learned a great deal -- about their schools and their neighborhoods, about the persistence of subtle racial inequities, about the lives of young people, and about how these factors interact to support or prevent learning. Attitudes about teaching and parenting were questioned and reassessed. The experience of immigrant families, shrouded by language and culture, was brought into focus.
These and other findings are the subjects of this Kettering Foundation report. In the end, the people who participated in forums realized that schools cannot shoulder the entire task of educating the next generation, that the quality of education cannot be measured by test scores alone, and that success for all our children requires something more from all of us.
Annie E. Casey Foundation;
This report tells how four tax-preparation programs are breaking the mold and tackling the world of health care enrollment. Readers will learn the challenges and opportunities associated with such a move, which has the potential to help millions of low-income Americans take a critical first step toward a healthier future.
Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston;
This paper provides a brief research background on the field of alternative staffing and what we have learned about connecting job brokering activities with training and education opportunities. This includes drawing on recent research by the Center for Social Policy on the Alternative Staffing Demonstration II, 2008 to 2011, funded by the Charles Stewart (C. S.) Mott Foundation. The paper also offers several points for consideration in connecting temporary help workers to training opportunities. Specifically, it puts the role of alternative staffing in the context of the entry-level job market and discusses the value of staffing services from the perspective of job seekers, customer businesses, and the workforce development field. A number of examples are provided of training programs and partnerships that combine skills development with job brokering. Overall, we address two questions: 1) What do we know about connecting staffing services with training opportunities?, and 2) What are some promising examples of connecting ASO workers to skills training?
Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston;
This paper presents results of a three-year study of workers and former workers at four Alternative Staffing Organizations (ASOs). ASOs are fee-for-service job brokering businesses created by community-based organizations and national nonprofits whose objective is to gain access to temporary and "temp to permanent" opportunities for workers facing barriers to employment. The paper looks specifically at the relationship between the personal characteristics of workers, their temporary work experiences through the ASO, and the subsequent employment status of former ASO workers, determined through a follow-up survey conducted by telephone six to eight months after workers had left theASO. We found several factors influenced employment status at the time of follow-up. Workers with jobs at follow-up had worked substantially more weeks through the ASO, had higher earnings than other study participants, had received some additional services at the ASO, and, in some cases, had held ASO assignments at the ASO's parent organization.However, workers without a valid driver's license, those with children and those who were receiving public assistance had more trouble finding a job after their time at the ASO.This paper demonstrates how the complex relationships between individual worker characteristics and experience with an ASO affect future job prospects.
Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston;
Organizations that aim to improve the experiences and employment chances of job seekers who face barriers to employment have, over the years, had to contend directly with potential employers and their requirements. This is particularly true for community-based job brokers that use a temporary staffing model, offering job access and immediate work to their service population.
Alternative staffing organizations (ASOs) are worker-centered, social purpose businesses that place job seekers in temporary and "temp-to-perm" assignments with customer businesses, and charge their customers a markup on the wage of the position. These fee-for-service organizations can help job seekers who face labor market barriers gain work experience and access potential employers. Created by community-based organizations and national nonprofits, ASOs are often embedded within larger organizations that provide other employment, training, and human services to their community. The parent organizations may also be operating other social enterprise ventures.
Businesses that contract ASOs for staffing services are customers that expect a service, but also represent an opportunity for employment and work experience for job seekers. Thus ASOs must operate with a dual agenda to serve both sides of the equation. In related publications, we have explored how ASOs operate as social enterprises and how the model fits within the goals of the parent organization. With detailed information from five well-established ASOs, and as part of two waves of a demonstration initiated by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, we have documented the employment experiences of workers placed in assignments and their employment status after leaving the ASO.
In this paper, we address engagement with businesses and their perspectives on ASO services. This is a major issue for ASOs as well as for other workforce development organizations.
ASOs engage with businesses while selling staffing services and monitoring worker performance. By the very nature of temporary staffing, they receive rapid feedback on worker performance and their services from customer businesses. As such, ASOs provide a window into how to connect to potential employers in order to access opportunities. Also, activities of ASOs shed light on how hiring takes place for entry-level jobs, and how customer businesses use ASOs to solve their entry-level hiring problems.
This paper demonstrates what can be learned from customers of established ASOs about their reasons for using these services. Specifically, it explores how customer businesses use temporary staffing by ASOs, and for what purposes. What business needs do they meet with ASO services? What are their reasons for using an ASO over conventional staffing agencies? And finally, what causes customer businesses to use an ASO and retain the service over time?
These concerns are salient for those organizations considering the creation of an ASO. They also are important for workforce development programs that need to become more active in engaging potential employers and that seek solutions for job seekers who need to connect to employment and need immediate income.
Cultural Policy Center at The University of Chicago;
This case was prepared for a class discussion rather than to demonstrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation, and is based on seven interviews with staff, board members, and community leaders involved with the Long Center for the Performing Arts project as well as internal documents and the public record. The authors would like to thank all of the people who graciously agreed to be interviewed.