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Civic Agenda
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1.1 Metro Bostonís Competitive Edge in Civic Health
1.2 High Rates of Social Capital
1.3 Representative Leadership
1.4 High Rates of Voter Participation
1.5 Healthy Race and Community Relations
1.6 Stability and Investment in Neighborhoods
1.7 A Welcoming and Inclusive Environment
1.8 Access to Information
1.9 Strength of the Nonprofit Sector
1.10 Public Support and Philanthropy

Civic Health

Boston is officially a "majority-minority" city, and Bostonians of color have flexed their political muscle with recent electoral breakthroughs in city and county-wide elections.  The loss of local corporate headquarters has eroded the pool of business leaders, but new leadership is emerging from universities, hospitals, smaller businesses and community-based organizations. New collaborations are also underway: the Commonwealth Housing Task Force; the Early Education for All and Great Schools campaigns; the SkillWorks collaborative for workforce development; and MetroFuture for regional planning. However, concerns persist that the region's civic culture is closed to new faces and lacks the "collaborative gene."

Did you know?

  • Boston is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the nation with more than 100 ethnicities represented in its neighborhoods and 140 languages spoken in its homes.
  • Voter turnout in Boston increased by more than 9% between the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, including double-digit increases in precincts where voters of color predominate in Dorchester, Mattapan and Jamaica Plain.


See Civic Health Highlights for the sector Context, Key Trends and Findings, Major Accomplishments and Innovation, Remaining Challenges, and Competition.


New@Civic Health

Harvard School of Public Health has introduced its new website,, which provides detailed summaries and comparative data for America's metropolitan areas on issues related to race/ethnicity and quality of life.

U-Mass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies,  Far from the Commonwealth: A Report on Low-Income Asian Americans in Massachusetts (01/07) (pdf): Highlights low-income Asian Americans in Massachusetts. Many Asian American sub-groups have higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower levels of educational attainment than other racial/ethnic groups.

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, Property Taxes in Massachusetts: Trends and Options (01/07) (pdf): Reports that property taxes have increased as a proportion of personal income over the last five years, and it has hit moderate- and middle-income households harder than higher-income households. Report provides options for alleviating the problem.

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,  Measuring Disparities in Non-School Costs and Revenue Capacity among Massachusetts Cities and Towns (12/06) (pdf): In a new approach to the formula for State aid to cities and towns, this report take a look at the ability of municipalities to raise additional funds.

U-Mass Boston McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, Transformation and Taking Stock: A Summary of Selected Findings from the McCormack Graduate School of Diversity Survey (12/06) (pdf): Reports the results of a survey on race conditions in Massachusetts. Among its findings: African Americans and Latinos are more likely to state that conditions for minorities has not improved.

The Boston Globe, To the Polling Place, From Everywhere (11/06): This photo essay showcases the voting experiences of 8 immigrant Lynn households.  

Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, State of Women: A County by County Report on Women and Girls in Massachusetts (11/06): Provides a county level analysis of the status of women in terms of demographics, income, poverty, education, health and political representation.

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, Measuring Up: Taxes and Spending in Massachusetts--FY2004 Edition (11/06): Massachusetts ranks 32nd among the states in the share of personal income going to state and local government taxes, and 39th in terms of spending as a share of personal income. In terms of expenditures as a share of personal income, Massachusetts ranked 48th on wages and salaries for government workers, and on education.

National League of Cities, Research Brief on America's Cities: City Fiscal Conditions in 2006 (10/06): Reports that the fiscal condition of cities has stabilized, but are facing increased health and pension costs.

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, Creating a Transparent Budget for Massachusetts (10/06): Outlines 18 recommendations that would make the budget and the budget process more user-friendly for citizens and advocates.

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, The Long-Term Mismatch Between Available Resources and Important State Priorities: A Five-Year Fiscal Analysis (9/06): Even with optimistic revenue projections, Massachusetts will need to level fund most programs in order to maintain budget integrity.

The Greater Boston Food Bank, Hunger in Eastern Massachusetts 2006 (3/06): discusses emergency food distribution in Eastern Massachusetts in 2005, assessing the demographics of those who use food aid, and drawing comp