April project update

While we usually post project updates in our monthly newsletter, we realized that we were taking up valuable real estate reporting on what’s currently underway, especially since many of our projects have long timelines. This month, we’re trying out the idea of posting this update on our blog, which could provide this information in a searchable, archive-able format. So without further ado, here’s what’s occupying the Urban Initiative staff this month:

1) The SouthCoast Urban Indicators Project (SCUIP)

  • This month, we’re developing content on Brownfields, walkability, and civic infrastructure.
  • If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our newest civic infrastructure pages on collaborative leadership in Fall River and New Bedford.

2) Taunton HOPE VI evaluation

  • Bob Golder has been conducting interviews of 25 randomly selected heads of household from the former Fairfax Gardens housing development, a process that will qualitatively inform both the service delivery of the HOPE VI program as well as the Urban Initiative’s evaluation.
  • We’ll be conducting focus groups in the upcoming months to learn about HOPE VI households’ experiences with and needs around supportive services in areas like childcare, health and wellness, and job training.

3) SouthCoast Healthy Housing and Workplace Initiative (SCHHWI)

  • This week we got feedback from the CDC on our evaluation plan (very positive!).
  • We just finished surveying New Bedford Housing Authority residents on smoking behavior and exposure and will do so in Wareham next.

4) Civic infrastructure survey project

  • As noted, the first research brief and accompanying pages of SCUIP were just released.
  • Upcoming topics will include nonprofits, philanthropy, and municipal government.

5) Sustainable cities

  • Our next event is Thursday, April 11 at 6p right here on the UMass Dartmouth campus. We’ll be talking about developing indicators for SCUIP related to environmental sustainability.
  • Mark your calendars for our final event, featuring keynote speaker Catherine Tumber (author of Small, Gritty, and Green.) We will host her at New Bedford’s Celtic Coffee House on Thursday, May 9 at 6p.

6) College access

  • We have just finalized our research proposal for investigating college access issues in the SouthCoast starting this summer. Next step: identifying funding.
  • UI intern Masi Faroqui is conducting some college access asset mapping in the region for a project in his MPP course, Applied Policy Research. We hope this will be a great way to generate some momentum for future research.

7) LifeWork for the WISE Woman

  • The Urban Initiative has been engaged as the evaluator for an innovative project being developed by the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts aimed at enhancing education and career outcomes for low-income mothers in New Bedford.
  • Our first step has been working with the Women’s Fund and their many partners to develop a logic model demonstrating the program theory. We look forward to the kickoff of this very important initiative!

We have several other projects currently in development, so expect more in this space next month.

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