Tax Incentives for Charitable Contributions

Tax Incentives for Charitable Contributions.   Urban Institute. Rob McClelland et al.  November, 12 2019

This Chartbook explores the implications of current law income tax incentives for charitable donations along with several alternatives for tax deductions that are more universally available. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 17 pages].

Investing in Equitable Urban Park Systems: Emerging Funding Strategies and Tools

Investing in Equitable Urban Park Systems: Emerging Funding Strategies and Tools. Urban Institute. Matthew Eldridge, Kimberly Burrowes, Patrick Spauster. July 16, 2019

Urban parks and green space provide significant tangible and intangible benefits for cities and their residents. However, for residents and communities to take full advantage of these benefits, parks must be accessible and high quality. Historically, low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have had faced barriers in accessing quality parks. To bridge these gaps and achieve “park equity” (all residents having reasonably equal access to quality parks), park leaders and their partners are increasingly focused on directing park investments to communities in greatest need. Drawing from interviews with park and recreation leaders and a scan of innovative practices and approaches from across the country, this report highlights funding strategies and models communities are implementing to place equity and communities at the center of park investments and funding decisions. In addition to elevating interesting, replicable examples, this report offers 11 takeaways for park leaders and their government and community partners. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 74 pages].

Catalyzing Neighborhood Revitalization through Strengthening Civic Infrastructure: Principles for Guiding Place-Based Initiatives

Catalyzing Neighborhood Revitalization through Strengthening Civic Infrastructure: Principles for Guiding Place-Based Initiatives. Urban Institute. Aaron Shroyer, Joseph Schilling, Erika C. Poethig. April 16, 2019

Place-based revitalization initiatives seek to make every neighborhood safe and healthy and to connect them to high-quality services. These initiatives share a few common characteristics. They concentrate resources in a specific geography; combine physical revitalization with the provision of services (e.g., health, education, and job training programs); leverage existing institutions, networks, and capital; and engage local leaders and residents. However, they have a mixed track record on whether and how much current residents benefit from such redevelopment. To address these and other limitations, more place-based initiatives are starting to marry physical revitalization with intentional efforts to build civic infrastructure. Civic infrastructure incorporates a broad view of community assets and therefore seeks to improve physical and civic assets as well as the processes, practices, and interactions those assets enable. By strengthening civic infrastructure, revitalizing physical assets can help create equitable outcomes for residents and increase community benefits. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 42 pages].

NYC Civic Corps Program Evaluation

NYC Civic Corps Program Evaluation. Urban Institute. Nathan Dietz, Daniel Teles, Deondre’ Jones. March 14, 2019

New York City shows a tremendous need for robust social services. Nearly 3.8 million people (45 percent of residents) live in poverty or just above the federal poverty level—and income inequality continues to increase. The scope and scale of these issues, among others, require an extensive mobilization of resources to respond effectively, but organizations often lack the capacity to do so. Approximately 5,000 community-based organizations in NYC provide education, health, economic opportunity, or emergency management services, but staff and budget constraints are common.

The Office of the Mayor recognizes these challenges in its long-term strategic plan, One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City, and, as part of its vision, seeks to build the capacity of the civic sector through its NYC Service office, which oversees civic engagement. The NYC Service administers the NYC Civic Corps program and connects 100 NYC Civic Corps members, all of whom are AmeriCorps members, with indirect service positions at 50 community-based organizations and city agencies. These connections supply additional support to recruit and manage volunteers.

The Urban Institute conducted an evaluation of the NYC Service Civic Corps program in 2017–2018 to assess how much organizations benefit from the Civic Corps members. The evaluation sought to answer whether NYC Civic Corps members have significantly greater volunteer management capacity, on average, than similar organizations that do not host AmeriCorps members provided by NYC Civic Corps. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 75 pages].

Building beyond Policing: A Case Study of Eden Night Live in Alameda County, California

Building beyond Policing: A Case Study of Eden Night Live in Alameda County, California. Urban Institute. Cameron Okeke. September 25, 2018

 Key takeaway: How community parties have helped California sheriffs rethink public safety

This report describes how the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office used Eden Night Live, a community festival and pop-up marketplace, to creatively reimagine and rebuild community-police relations in Ashland/Cherryland. Through interviews with officers, community members, and staff, this case study examines how artistic performance, community participation, and community-based economic development can build local commerce, foster community cohesion, and change perceptions of public safety. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 42 pages].

Collaborating For 21st Century Solutions

Collaborating For 21st Century Solutions. Urban Institute. Elizabeth Reynoso, Kathryn L.S. Pettit, Christopher Whitaker. June 19, 2018

 Communities should cultivate and draw on their capacity to use data and technology to benefit residents with the fewest resources. From 2014 to 2018, the Civic Tech and Data Collaborative brought together local government officials, civic technologists, and data intermediaries across seven communities to explore how to harness data and technology to benefit low-income residents. Drawing on the local experiences, the three guiding national organizations – Living Cities, Code for America, and the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership – share advice on engaging low-income residents, mobilizing for collective action, resourcing collaboratives, and sustaining the gains achieved.

As part of the initiative, local collaboratives in Boston, St. Louis, and Washington, DC created products that use data and technology in new ways to improve services or programs in their cities.  To access the three case studies, ecosystem mapping guide, and other project resources, visit  [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 40 pages].

Pathways for Community Voices: Building Feedback Loops with Clients of Charitable Food Assistance

Pathways for Community Voices: Building Feedback Loops with Clients of Charitable Food Assistance. Urban Institute. Molly M. Scott, Somala Diby, Robert Santos. May 2, 2018

 Across the country, many nonprofits and government agencies are grappling with how best to create a culture of continuous learning to get better results. Many organizations use performance management systems to measure client outcomes, but there is a need to complement these data with short-cycle or ongoing feedback from clients that helps organizations understand how to make meaningful changes to their programs and services so that they have a real impact on clients’ lives.  Client feedback loops have emerged in the service sector as an alternative to these models, with the goal of integrating a low-burden and inclusive process into organizations’ everyday business. But there is little research and documentation about what it takes to implement successful, impactful, and ethical feedback loops. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 114 pages].