Keeping the public eye on the issues

Maureen McDonald //October 21, 2011//

Keeping the public eye on the issues

Maureen McDonald //October 21, 2011//

During the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s recent Leadership Exchange trip to Boston, the delegation heard from the Boston Foundation’s President and CEO Paul Grogan, who spoke about education reform via the charter school movement.

While the Boston Foundation’s mission is to help enact widespread change, it also strives to keep issues in public view. One way that is does this is through the Boston Indicators Project, a biennial report through the year 2030 that offers new ways to understand Boston and its neighborhoods in a regional, national and global context.

The Boston Foundation’s Charlotte Kahn, who is senior director of the Boston Indicators Project, also met with our delegates during a morning breakout session, and she explained even more about the important role of the project in reporting information to regional stakeholders across sectors to help build consensus about key challenges and opportunities in Boston.

By synthesizing data from a wealth of information and research generated by the region’s public agencies, civic institutions, think tanks and community organizations, the Boston Indicators Project predicts trends before they are reported nationally and helps to develop strategic alignment among leaders in the public, private and nonprofit arenas.

In the first Boston Indicators Report 2002 – 2004, an “Emerging Civic Agenda for Greater Boston” was presented. It offered coherent, data-driven strategies to move the region forward over the next 30 years. This civic agenda is broken into four categories, including an open, dynamic civic culture, world class human resources, 21st century jobs and economic strategies, and 21st century infrastructure and sustainability. Each category has a definable goal and measurable milestones, which track everything from third grade reading proficiency and diversity of leadership in the region’s for-profit, nonprofit and public sectors, to citywide and statewide job growth by sector and the addition of new housing units each year to accommodate population and job growth.

The Boston Foundation aims for the Boston Indicators Project to democratize information, and the reports, along with extensive data and specialized articles, are available online at www.bostonindicators.org . In addition, each report is presented during a community session that gives regional business, civic and thought leaders the opportunity to listen and respond to the data.

At the conclusion of his session, Grogan asked the Leadership Exchange delegation, “Who in Colorado will help keep the issues in public view?” The answer is the Denver Metro Leadership Foundation, through the launch of our own Indicators Project program. Tentatively titled “Colorado in Context,” this project will convene existing data from organizations like the Mile High United Way, Colorado Health Foundation and Piton Foundation to help educate Coloradans about key issues, inform process and shape policy.

The Boston Indicators Project serves as inspiration for a similar model here in Colorado, and the Leadership Foundation is proud to lead this new initiative for our state. Stay tuned over the coming months for more information on Colorado in Context.
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