Helping Communities Understand Benefits of Smart Surfaces

Sponsor: Abell Foundation

The national Smart Surfaces Coalition (SCC) partnered with the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) to provide Baltimore policymakers, neighborhoods and advocates with a powerful new tool to promote livability and resilience. Through the tool and focused community engagement, SCC and BNIA aim to encourage the use of practices such as green roofs and trees, and reflective pavement and roofs, collectively known as “smart surfaces,” in support of improved local air quality and reduced heat impacts.

Equity Analysis of Baltimore City’s Capital Improvement Plan, FY2014-FY 2020

Sponsor: Baltimore City Department of Planning

In 2015, in the aftermath of civil unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, the Department of Planning staff convened an Equity in Planning Committee to examine the Department’s role in contributing to inequities present in the City. One of the first recommendations of the committee was to assess the equity of the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which encompasses the capital budget for Baltimore. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA), analyzed CIP data provided by the Department and indicator from Vital Signs to see how capital investments in neighborhoods relate to demographic and other factors in those neighborhoods.

Data-Driven Local Outreach for the 2020 Census

Sponsor: Annie E. Casey Foundation; National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership Cross-Site Project

The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance will be helping the City of Baltimore’s Complete Count Campaign with 2020 Census local outreach to ensure a complete count of young children by better understanding community variations in digital access. A forthcoming brief will outline the ways that local data and tech organizations can contribute to strategic planning and mobilization for outreach.

to incorporate the materials into lessons and course research. Outcomes will be showcased at the annual Baltimore Data workshop held every year in July.

Cultural Mapping Tool (GEOLOOM)

Sponsors: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), France-Merrick Foundation, Baltimore Development Corporation

Arts and cultural activities contribute to the vitality of neighborhoods by creating spaces for social interaction and sharing, stimulating community-based economic opportunities, and transforming the physical and emotional notions of place. As Baltimore’s communities, growth, and economy are increasingly tied to arts and culture, creating a mapping tool to track related data has become essential to the city’s future.

Baltimore Energy Initiative Program Evaluation

Sponsor: Customer Investment Fund that resulted from Public Service Commission conditions for the 2013 merger between Constellation and Exelon.

The Baltimore Energy Initiative was announced in 2014 as a three-year program to streamline and expand energy efficiency and security services, with a focus on lower-income residents. BNIA’s role is to evaluate the multiple city agencies and programs involved in the initiative to ensure they meet their goals of reducing energy consumption throughout the city. Through this project, BNIA has expanded its expertise to include program evaluations for city agencies and non-profits. In FY2017, BNIA is continuing our role as program evaluator.

Overcoming Barriers to Homeownership in Baltimore City

Sponsor: Abell Foundation

From 2007 to 2017, a troubling trend emerged: the homeownership rate in Baltimore City fell from 51% to 47%, and the Black homeownership rate sank to 42%. This trend is part of a national crisis – even as other racial groups across the country have largely recovered from the wave of foreclosures during the Great Recession, Black homeownership continues to decline. The question now is whether more extensive first-time homebuyer incentives, and more flexibly underwritten home loans, could reverse declining rates of homeownership. The report finds that new incentives and more flexible loans alone would have an insufficient impact on homeownership rates in Baltimore, because they do not address the systemic racism and inequities that disadvantage Black households.

Baltimore City Early Childhood Care & Education Landscape Analysis

Sponsor: Family League of Baltimore City

The 2020 Baltimore City Early Childhood Landscape Analysis was commissioned by the Family League of Baltimore City to support the work of the Baltimore City Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC). The analysis was supported by a grant from the Maryland State Department of Education with funds made available from a federal Preschool Development Planning Grant the State received in 2019. To conduct the analysis Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) provided data analysis and geo-mapping drawing from the U.S. Census American Community Survey and other sources; Maryland Family Network provided Baltimore City child care availability, capacity, and EXCELS quality rating data from its Maryland LOCATE: Child Care database; interviewed Judy Center staff; and conducted a telephone survey of child care providers in the city. Strategic Thinking for Social Change coordinated the project, conducted additional analyses and prepared presentations and drafts for review and discussion.

Neighborhood Change at Select Schools in Baltimore City

Sponsor: Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health

The purpose of this research brief is to provide an illustrative analysis of how the context around a select number of schools can help shed understanding on educational outcomes within the schools for practitioners and government officials such as the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Family Success. To address the questions raised in this brief, neighborhood changes around the selected schools are measured by a core set of community based indicators: changes in racial composition and diversity, changes in total population and housing occupancy, changes in child poverty and unemployment rates and changes in measures of neighborhood accessibility such as commute time to work and walkability.

Civic Switchboard Field Project

Sponsor: Civic Switchboard is an Institute of Museum and Library Services supported effort that aims to develop the capacity of academic and public libraries in civic data ecosystems.

“Exploring the Baltimore Regional Study Archives and the Baltimore Vital Signs Open Data to Improve Quality of Life in Baltimore Neighborhoods”

The Baltimore Regional Study Archives (BRSA) at the Robert L. Bogomolny Library (Library) contains a wealth of archival information on Baltimore’s neighborhoods. However, these resources do not currently have clear pathways for potential users to interact with open data prepared by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) for neighborhoods to track quality of life measures impacting their community. The purpose of this collaboration is to create scaffolded learning experiences and pedagogical supports to better understand how to access both archival materials as well as open data to empower everyone who cares about neighborhoods to effectively “tell their story”. This project will convene community members in a workshop with tailored resources from the Baltimore Regional Study Archives and the Baltimore Vital Signs report.

“Smart Cities” Initiative

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

The University of Baltimore is among four of Maryland’s leading universities working together on a plan to apply cutting-edge technologies—such as free public internet, smart street lights and innovative transportation hubs—to improve the lives of residents in West Baltimore. Led by the University of Maryland, College Park, and supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the “Smart Cities” initiative will pair smart technology with the latest research in equity, health and urban planning to outline a roadmap for city policymakers as they work to increase quality of life in Baltimore. Other universities involved include the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University. Read more…

Baltimore City Open Land Database (BOLD)

Sponsor: Abell Foundation

In partnership with the Community Law Center and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, BNIA-JFI is developing data-driven technology tools to create solutions to vacant property problems and empower advocates to devise efficient stabilization and revitalization strategies in neighborhoods across the city. This project will create a user-friendly mapping and data tool that integrates publicly available parcel-level property information from multiple sources, including property ownership, code violations, occupancy, foreclosure, and tax sale status. The tool will provide users with a comprehensive set of relevant information to better understand, analyze, and reform various property-related policies, including tax-sale foreclosure. This resource is now available online at

McElderry Park Crime Reduction Plan

Sponsor: Project funded by the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice through a Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Planning Grant from the US Department of Justice

Working with faculty in UBalt’s School of Criminal Justice, BNIA-JFI used community-based indicators to develop a data-driven analysis of the drivers of crime within the McElderry Park community.  Several crime hotspots were identified along with systemic issues related to violent and property crime in the area.  Evidence-based and community-led solutions will be documented in a plan that will be utilized by the McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition and submitted to the DOJ for implementation funds for the Byrne Grant.

Localizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sponsor: Project funded by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

In 2015, as part of a program called the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI), Baltimore was selected as one of three US cities to pilot implementation of 17 new United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, adopted by UN member countries in September 2015, form a cohesive and integrated package of global aspirations the world commits to achieving by 2030. They address the most pressing global challenges of our time, calling upon collaborative partnerships across and between countries and communities to achieve objectives around economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, headed by Professor Jeffery Sachs, approached the University of Baltimore and other key stakeholders to launch USA-SCI in Baltimore (now known as SCI-Baltimore) in order to develop citywide targets and strategies to achieve the SDGs.

Baltimore Community Foundation Target Neighborhoods Evaluation

Sponsor: Baltimore Community Foundation

In a team led by the University of Maryland School of Social Work, BNIA-JFI is providing data and community-based indicators to evaluate progress within BCF’s two target neighborhoods, Greater Highlandtown and Reservoir Hill. BCF Target Neighborhoods have received a commitment of $1 million in resources over three years, which includes $600,000 in grants, a significant amount of staff time on the ground in these neighborhoods, and a thorough evaluation of social capital, cleanliness, greening, safety, and vibrancy.  Specific sustainability indicators derived from this evaluation will be incorporated into future Vital Signs reports.

Evaluation of the Baltimore City Vacants to Value Program

In 2010, the City of Baltimore kicked off the Vacants to Value (V2V) program, a multifaceted strategy to use code enforcement and related tools to reduce the number of vacant properties in the city and put them back into productive use. In 2015, after the program had been underway for five years, the City of Baltimore commissioned the Center for Community Progress, in partnership with the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) and the Schaefer Center of the University of Baltimore, to conduct an evaluation of the City’s Vacants to Value (V2V) program, and make recommendations for future program directions.

What Happened in Baltimore and What Can We Do? A Neighborhood’s Perspective

What Happened in Baltimore and What Can We Do? A Neighborhood’s Perspective offers a clear set of data-driven objectives for community organizations, non-profits, elected officials and all stakeholders to work together to eliminate disparities in neighborhoods. This report represents the synthesis of several years of work by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) and points to 3 key goals that could serve as a common agenda to improve quality of life in every neighborhood.

Opportunity Collaborative, Regional Housing Plan

Sponsor: Project funded by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council through a Sustainable Communities Grant from the US Department of Housing

In a team led by the Innovative Housing Institute with BAE Urban Economics and the Housing Group at UMD’s National Center for Smart Growth, BNIA-JFI  worked to develop a plan that will identify regional housing priorities and develop a toolkit of strategies to address them.  The core components of the plan will be  (1) a Regional Housing Demographic and Market Assessment, and (2) a Fair Housing Equity Assessment (FHEA). For more information, visit

Connecting People to Place: Equity in Weatherization Assistance Programs

In June 2013, National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) launched a cross-site project supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) to build the capacity of local NNIP partners for working with organizations and agencies running integrated data systems (IDS) in order to expand the use of IDS to support better neighborhood-focused policymaking and program development. Address-level property records from BNIA-JFI, including data on foreclosure filings, was linked to a database of WAP applicants and recipients from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. In addition to BNIA-JFI’s property records, the Jacob France Institute’s (JFI) IDS on wage records and social assistance was linked to the database of WAP applicants and recipients using various linking methods. JFI maintains individual-level, longitudinal data from the Maryland Departments of Labor, Licensing and Regulations, Human Resources, and Education.

Family League Community Needs Assessment

The Family League’s 2014 Community Needs Assessment examines key data points and the issues facing Baltimore’s children in the areas of education, health, hunger and criminal justice. This assessment is required by Maryland state law of every Maryland Local Management Board and is used as a part of the Family League’s planning process.

View Family League Community Needs Assessment.

Effect of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative on Foreclosure Prevention

BNIA-JFI linked participants in the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), a program of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (Coalition) working to improve housing for children living in economically challenged communities, to various dataset including foreclosure, housing violations and home sales. BNIA-JFI found that the program tends to operate in low-to-moderate income neighborhood markets and does improve the housing stability for program participants. Overall, the GHHI program may have the greatest impact on helping to stabilize neighborhoods through 1) reducing potential home foreclosures and vacant housing notices and 2) increasing the further rehabilitation investment by homeowners.

Grow Baltimore

Sponsor: Goldseker Foundation

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Grow Baltimore  in December 2011 with the goal of increasing Baltimore City’s population by 10,000 new households by 2020. In partnership with the Goldseker Foundation, the City aims to target retention strategies using data on former and current residents. Several City agencies and community partners have been working towards this goal independently through their strategies, services, and programs. However, there is a need for a coordinated overarching strategy to achieve the Mayor’s goal of achieving sustained population growth. The Goldseker Foundation funded BNIA-JFI to produce actionable information for the Mayor’s Office, city departments, and local nonprofit organizations to further the Grow Baltimore initiative. An advisory committee formed in 2014 and meets approximately every six weeks to insure that the work proceeds in collaboration and partnership with key stakeholders who will implement policies to more effectively retain Baltimore residents.

Knowledge that Works for Baltimore: BNIA in the Classroom

Sponsor: University of Baltimore, Fund for Excellence

BNIA-JFI received a grant to 1) conduct an survey of academic users to understand the impact of BNIA-JFI data on academic analysis, curriculum development and service learning at UBalt; 2) establish a network of academic users for peer-to-peer learning and the advancement of the science of community-based information; 3) raise awareness among UBalt faculty by developing curriculum modules for faculty to incorporate in multi-disciplinary contexts, 4) host cross-university coursework and other projects online at; and 5) invite faculty and students to present findings at the annual workshop Baltimore Data Day. The goals of this project include integrated use of the community- based data on campus, support for UBalt’s designation as a Carnegie-designated Engaged University and growing educational opportunities in Geographic Information Systems on campus.

Interactive Map of Community Managed Open Space

Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture, US Forestry Service, Northern Research Station

In 2011, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership established Baltimore as one of seven pilot sites in an effort to coordinate resources to “revitalize urban waters and the communities that surround them”.  Collaboration among inter-governmental, inter-jurisdictional and non-governmental entities is critical to gaining a common understanding of localized problems and developing an integrated set of strategies for achieving community revitalization. Beginning September 2012, BNIA-JFI began to create an interactive resource tool for community gardens and open spaces in an effort to timely monitoring and coordinate activities to strengthen the relationship between improving urban waters and community revitalization.  This resource is now available online on the Green Patterns Map and should be useful for leveraging community-based funding, policy development and advocacy.

The Lines Between Us

“The Lines Between Us” was a year-long multimedia series by WYPR’s Maryland Morning about inequality in the Baltimore region that aired from September 28, 2012 to October 4, 2013.  Seema Iyer served on the advisory committee for the series and BNIA-JFI provided interactive mapping and data support as supplemental material for the series available online at The series was one of 14 winners of the 2014 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, among several local honors.

Urban Institute – Effect of Foreclosure on Children, Schools, and Neighborhoods

Since 2007, the foreclosure crisis in the United States has continued to affect families and children across the United States. While most of the research on foreclosures has focused on the impact on the housing market, the loss of the home, the decline in property values and a loss of wealth, little research has examined the impact of foreclosures on children. Research conducted in Baltimore City found that in the 2008-09 school year, 2.7 percent of public school children are affected by foreclosure while research in New York City found two percent of public school children are affected by foreclosure and research in Washington, D.C. found 2.2 percent of public school children are affected by foreclosure (Been et al., 2010; Comey and Grosz, 2010; Kachura, 2011).

The first phase of this research identified the number of students affected by foreclosure, provided information on their demographic characteristics, neighborhoods, schools, and housing characteristics (see Kachura, 2011). This brief, the second in a series about Baltimore City, focuses on whether foreclosures result in public school students moving homes, switching schools and the conditions in both the neighborhoods and schools before and after the move. There is significant literature and research that suggests residential mobility and changing schools has a negative impact on children and this brief relates these disruptive forces to the foreclosure crisis in Baltimore City.
Download BNIA-JFI’s Phase 1 Full Report
Download BNIA-JFI’s Phase 2 Full Report

“Housing and Schools: Working Together to Reduce the Negative Effects of Student Mobility”

Authors: Jennifer Comey, Sophie Litschwartz, and Kathryn L.S. Pettit
How has the recession and its resulting family instability impacted children’s residential and school mobility? Officials from housing, homeless, and school programs discussed the full spectrum of residential mobility in two recent Urban Institute roundtables: from chronic mobility, eviction, and foreclosure to doubled-up households and homelessness. Attendees explored programs and policies to reduce residential and student mobility, as well as brainstormed new ways for different organizations to work together. The discussion centered on examples of school districts, government agencies, and nonprofit housing counseling agencies working together to mitigate the negative effects of mobility.

Frederick County, Maryland Human Needs Assessment

BNIA-JFI and Marsha Schachtel of the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies created a human needs assessment for Frederick County Maryland.  This assessment was created for the Community Foundation of Frederick County and will be used to expand the Community Foundation’s strategic grant making to ensure maximum impact and create benchmarks to assess progress over the next 10 years. This human needs assessment combines research and data with input from service providers, stakeholders, community leaders, and others to determine the areas of need that are most pressing. The human needs assessment covers all areas of human services within Frederick County but pays particular attention to the Community Foundation’s core priority areas: health, youth, and basic human needs including housing and jobs. The report identifies key components in the Community Foundation’s three target areas that can be addressed with strategic funding, collaboration among funders and service providers, best practices, volunteer efforts, and community involvement.   The systematic needs assessment had three parts:

  • A quantitative perspective on human  needs in Frederick County;
  • A qualitative perspective on human needs in Frederick County; and
  • An analysis of the supply of services available to meet the identified needs and of gaps between supply of services and need for them.

Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition Foreclosures

With support from the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition,  BNIA-JFI collects and provides data on all mortgage foreclosure filings within Baltimore City. Filings are collected through the Baltimore City   Circuit Courts and the Maryland Judiciary Case Search system and put  into neighborhood oriented maps available on the web. Use of the map allows for interactive display of foreclosure filings  for each quarter starting in 2007 of foreclosure filings in each  neighborhood in Baltimore City. Spreadsheets are also made available  that show information for each filing including date of filing, filing  address, and neighborhood. Foreclosure cases are often long and complex with several different  possible outcomes. These outcomes include dismissal of foreclosure case, payment of mortgage debt, quick sale of property, and foreclosure of  property resulting in public auction. Current and future work by  BNIA-JFI is focused on determining what properties are reaching final  foreclosure at auction and are being ratified by the Baltimore City Circuit Court System. Foreclosure filings that have been ratified by the court will also be displayed on the interactive map of initial filings on a quarterly basis. This will allow neighborhood and policy makers to  better understand the current trends in the foreclosure process within Baltimore City.

Baltimore: Open City

Cheryl Knott, GIS Program Manager for BNIA-JFI has acted as a mapping mentor for students in the Exhibition Development Seminar at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Their exhibition, entitled “Baltimore: Open City” features the works of scholars, activists, community-based organizations, and artists to create a series of installations, workshops, and other public programs that investigate the ways in which Baltimore is and is not an “open city”.

An Analysis of the Exterior Repair Program Conducted by the Associated Black Charities of Maryland

Beginning in 2004, the Empower Baltimore Management Corporation  (EBMC) began working with homeowners located in the Baltimore City  Empowerment Zone to improve the quality of their home’s exteriors.  Homeowners received grants, ranging from $100 to $5,000 for repairing  their roofs, painting steps, replacing windows, replacing gutters, and  more. The purpose of the project was to fund investment in  owner-occupied properties with the belief that the initiative would have positive impacts on the quality of the housing stock in those areas and  stabilize the neighborhood. The project provided an opportunity for homeowners to complete exterior improvements that matched or increased   the investment of newer investors. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators  Alliance- Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore (BNIA-JFI) was asked provide assistance in the analysis of the program,  using their skills and expertise to provide an evaluation of the success  of the program.

The Baltimore Neighborhood Market DrillDown

The Baltimore Neighborhood Market Drilldown iis an assets-based market analysis conducted by Social Compact that   combines numerous data sets,both public and private, national and local,   in order to build a set of community economic indicators that are   tailored to urban markets. These indicators can be used to more   accurately describe the size (population), strength (income and buying   power), stability (homeownership and residential investment) and   investment opportunity of a given market.The DrillDown study area is defined as the entire City of Baltimore.   This summary highlights findings for the following thirteen distinct  markets selected by DrillDown partners because they have discrete   commercial districts and currently demonstrate strong efforts or   significant opportunities with respect to commercial revitalization: (1)    Belair Edison; (2) East Baltimore Development (EBD) Area; (3)  Edmondson  Village; (4) Govanstowne; (5) Highlandtown; (6) Oldtown; (7) Park  Heights; (8) Pennsylvania Avenue; (9) Pigtown; (10) Reservoir  Hill-North  Avenue; (11) Station North; (12) West Baltimore MARC; and  (13) West  Baltimore Street.

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore

Each year the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore publishes its State of the Downtown report which is aimed at measuring the economic progress of the  downtown area. BNIA-JFI supports the effort of the Partnership by  updating employment information from previous year data provided by  InfoUSA. Data is cleaned to ensure business data is only counted once  and detailed surveys are conducted to update employment numbers and  general information such as changes in contact information (business  location or change in number). Changes in business data helps the  Partnership identify potential new and closed businesses as well as  sectors in which changes have occurred. The State of the Downtown report, as well as other Partnership publications, can be found at their website.




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Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance
The Jacob France Institute
1420 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
410-837-4377 | [email protected]