Our civic leadership formula is an iterative cycle engaging all members of the community: It loops through cutting edge research, major forums and convenings, strategic and proactive grant making, task forces and coalitions, communications and media, and deep public policy work. This process has influenced issues critical to the economic competitiveness of the Commonwealth.

The Work of Leisure Forum

"We felt the Foundation would be the right place not only to manage our money but to develop a relationship—as a funding partner, a programmatic partner, a thought partner.”

- Wendell Knox, Fund Trustee and former CEO, Abt Associates 

Supported by the Civic Leadership Fund, through our Understanding Boston series and other collaborations we identify challenges facing our city and region, commission fresh research and share information through a series of popular forums attended by thousands of people every year. See the impact.

Download a PDF of the Civic Leadership Fund brochure.


reports published since 2001, including 94 Understanding Boston reports


public Understanding Boston forums held since 2001


people attending Understanding Boston forums since 2001

The Boston Foundation also sponsors Boston Indicators, which provides a comprehensive, constantly-updated body of information about key aspects of life in Greater Boston through groundbreaking reports and a dynamic website.

In fiscal year 2017, the Boston Foundation released some of the most influential reports in its 15 years of civic leadership, each discussed at forums attended by hundreds of stakeholders and engaged citizens and many broadening their reach with extensive media coverage.

You can access all of the Foundation’s reports online and watch archived videos of forums at News + Insights. We invite you to join us for upcoming events and forums.

Recent Reports

Avenues to the Arts cover

Report | Arts and Culture

Avenues to the Arts: A New Creative District for Boston

How can Boston raise the profile of its world-class cultural offerings? This new report, created from two years of interviews and discussions, suggests branding a new creative district "The Avenues to the Arts," and bringing together civic, commercial and cultural assets to create a powerful arts partnership

Download the report
Equality and Equity cover

Report | Equality Fund

Equality and Equity: Advancing the LGBT Community in Massachusetts

This report from Boston Indicators and The Fenway Institute finds that young Massachusetts residents are much more likely to self-identify as LGBT than in previous generations, but they still feel many of the social pressures and discrimination of the past. The report also finds Massachusetts’ LGBT community is diverse, disproportionately young, and second in the nation when measured as a percentage of the state’s population.

Download the report
School Autonomy in Action cover

Report | Education

School Autonomy in Action: A Case Study of Two Massachusetts Innovation Schools

Leveraging autonomy to strengthen teacher collaboration and community engagement, two Massachusetts innovation schools created powerful, child-centered learning environments. The Winter Hill Community Innovation School in Somerville and the Paul Revere Innovation School in Revere—the 2017 Pozen Prize finalists—underwent rapid school improvement by supporting students’ social, emotional, and intellectual needs. Working in collaboration with The Boston Foundation, the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy produced this case study to describe how the two schools used school-based decision-making to accelerate student learning.

Download the report

Recent Forums and Events

Work of Leisure


The Work of Leisure

At this forum, the Boston Foundation released "The Work of Leisure: Behind the Scenes of Massachusetts' Leisure, Hospitality and Tourism Industry" - the first such study in 27 years - which is a detailed report that reveals how ubiquitous this industry really is and how much influence it has. The forum included a presentation of the report and a panel discussion about the implications of its findings.

View video
Holyoke Community College Patrick Prize


2018 Patrick Prize for Community Colleges

The Boston Foundation welcomed community college leaders and staff to the Foundation on June 5th where it was announced that Holyoke Community College has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Deval Patrick Prize for Community Colleges.

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Nonprofits women speaking

Video | Nonprofit Effectiveness

Leading with Intent

This forum was for the Boston release of BoardSource's national Leading With Intent report. The findings, including data on the state of nonprofit board diversity, were presented by Anne Wallestead. Following the presentation, an experienced panel of local nonprofit board and staff members shared their insights.

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Video | Equality Fund

Equality and Equity: Advancing the LGBT Community in Massachusetts

At this forum, the Boston Foundation released a report authored by Boston Indicators and the Fenway Institute that features new research about our state's LGBT community. Following a presentation of the report's findings, there was a series of discussions on the inequities facing today's diverse LGBT community and ways to address them and other challenges going forward.

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Reclaiming My Mind: Perspective-Taking through Metacognition

The most important lessons we learn to become better world citizens are often hard and uncomfortable. Because very few of us like discomfort, we often avoid those areas of discomfort and by doing so, bury many important lessons that we should be not only teaching, but also learning. In her presentation from the 2018 Boston EdTalks, Simone Miles Esteves, Middle School History Teacher and Advisor to the Director of Multicultural Services at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass., suggests perspective-taking through metacognition is a highly effective approach to teaching that strengthens our pedagogy—and our contributions to society—and supports the development of empathetic kids who will engineer and sustain an equitable and socially just world.

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