Introducing Invested: Community Voices Informing Policy and Practice in New England Introducing Invested: Community Voices Informing Policy and Practice in New England

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April 13, 2017

What does it mean to be invested in your community? It might be economic: securing public- and private-sector funding for community initiatives, bringing in new businesses and jobs to the community, or helping to stabilize household finances. It might be social: making sure all families have access to education and safe neighborhoods, providing assistance and services to community members in need, or holding community forums and events to increase civic participation. And it might be personal: reinforcing your sense of connection to and roots in your community, knowing and supporting your neighbors, and representing your community with a sense of pride.

For low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities in New England and across the country, these forms of investment in community collectively establish an important first line of defense against unexpected economic shocks and household financial stressors. Understanding the local and regional economic landscape, as well as the needs and interests of one's neighbors and constituents, is crucial to further strengthening and supporting economic growth in communities. At the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, our community development research and outreach work seeks to shed light on LMI community needs and conditions and to connect New England's policymakers, community-based organizations, and residents with the tools and resources they need to most effectively invest in their communities. Starting this fall, Communities & Banking becomes Invested, our new outlet for stories, ideas, and strategies to spur informed and productive investment of all kinds in New England's LMI communities.

Why are we changing C&B, and what will be different?

Building on the strong foundation provided by our longstanding and popular platform Communities & Banking, our new publication will feature voices from our communities alongside facts and data to provide a rounder view of what is really happening in New England's low- and moderate-income communities. One of the most significant changes to the existing C&B model will be a shift to focusing on one overarching topic for each year of content. Each four-issue year of Invested will culminate in a detailed compendium and a practical, action-oriented set of recommendations for policymakers and practitioners on a specific issue area, based on a powerful combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence from experts–both those studying and those living and working in our communities.

Our goal for this publication is to thoroughly investigate, over the course of four issues, a selected economic challenge facing New England's low- and moderate-income communities, with an emphasis on four things:

  • Gathering and amplifying the voices of those in our region affecting and affected by the issue;
  • Weaving together statistics and data with first-person experiences to build a more nuanced picture of how the issue is playing out in New England;
  • Offering a user-friendly entry point into the larger body of work on the issue available at the Fed, along with further resources and research in the region; and
  • Providing a useful, in-depth, and constituent-informed reference resource covering the issue for our region's policymakers, practitioners, and community stakeholders.

C&B has covered important community development issues in New England for over 25 years, and we hope to build upon that successful history with this new publication. As we have always done with C&B, we will keep our focus largely on external voices in Invested, and feature content that highlights the promising practices and ideas emerging here in New England. We will continue to share views from across our six-state region and from many different types of community stakeholders. Maps and data presentation will remain an important component of the new publication.

We also will be modernizing the format of Invested to make it even more accessible and actionable for broader audiences. Invested will be presented online, where an increasing number of readers are reaching us and reading the news and other media. With the online format, we will be able to feature interviewees in text, audio, and video. Invested will also be informed by and feature responses from our ongoing Community Outlook Survey to further increase the range of views and voices included on a given topic.

Over time, our new approach will make the content more interactive, engrossing, and dynamic, helping to draw new audiences in to learn about key regional community development issues. Publishing the content regularly online will also make it easier to share on social media, the primary forums for people's consumption and sharing of news and information.

We recognize that this is a significant change from C&B, which has been offered in print since 1991, and that some readers prefer a hard-copy publication. With each issue, we will provide a printable summary of the information in the magazine that can be shared with in-person audiences, including a link to the extended content online. We will make it easy to subscribe online to receive an email notice each time a new issue is posted, not unlike opening your mailbox to find the print magazine. Previous issues of C&B and Invested will also be available in an archive on the Invested page on the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's website.

Who should read Invested?

Among our central goals for Invested are to make the content accessible to a wide range of audiences and to both initiate and spur conversation among those working on and affected by a given issue in New England. We expect the content will be of relevance and use to policymakers, practitioners, and officials across the region, but it will not be limited to those stakeholders alone. Invested will also be a useful resource for LMI communities seeking accessible information to share with their neighbors and government representatives. Financial services professionals and business leaders will be able to turn to Invested for information on successful community investment strategies and to learn about the communities in which their investments may have the greatest impact.

For researchers, the publication will offer local viewpoints and a more qualitative look at community development concerns in the region. Invested will also be a user-friendly entry point for teachers and students into complex community and economic issues. It is our goal to ensure the content in Invested is relevant and enticing for both our existing C&B readership and new audiences alike.

How can you get involved?

We welcome our readers' participation and feedback on Invested. If you are an existing print subscriber and already have sent us your email address, you will receive a notification email as soon as the first issue of Invested is available online this fall. Print subscribers who have not yet provided us with an email address are encouraged to send one to us at CommunityDevelopment@bos.frb.org or to use the tear-out card in this issue to remain on our subscriber list. New readers will be able to subscribe online or may simply visit the Invested page on our website at www.bostonfed.org, where all of the content will be available to the public free of charge, as always.

The Invested page will also include a form through which you may send us feedback. Please be in touch to let us know what you think of the new publication, share your reflections on the previous issue, or offer suggestions for future content or interviewees. Thank you for your loyal and engaged readership of Communities & Banking, and for taking this hopeful leap with us into Invested.

Articles may be reprinted if Communities & Banking and the author are credited and the following disclaimer is used: "The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston or the Federal Reserve System. Information about organizations and upcoming events is strictly informational and not an endorsement."

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