From Boston to New York: Is a More Just City Possible?


From Boston to New York: Is a More Just City Possible?

Two Cities

Two Historic Transitions

Two Days

Funder Learning Tour, April 2-3, 2014


Thank you for joining us in Boston and New York! On this site you're find the materials from the tour, as well as updates on the work and reflections from our members. Please check back regularly for updates. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us at with any questions.

With historic public sector leadership transitions occurring in both cities, the learning tour  engaged elected officials, policymakers, activists and funders in both cities in a conversation about strategies for advancing a more equitable urban agenda. Sponsored by NFG’s Housing Justice and Place Based Working Groups, the tour asked:

  • How are low income and historically disadvantaged communities’ voices and needs shaping policy priorities during the transitions in both Cities?
  • What strategies are community-based groups organizing around to advance more inclusive land use, housing and economic development policies?
  • How can we foster more effective philanthropic/public and private sector partnerships to accelerate inclusive place based change strategies?
  • What are examples of place-based approaches that both build resident leadership, capacity and, indeed, ownership, while also leading to improvements to neighborhood assets?

Read two blog posts offering reflections on the tour:

Tour Reflections from a Native New Yorker, by Stacey Millett at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation

I joined Neighborhood Funders Group for the learning tour in early April; we spent day two in New York City for an interactive, information-packed trip that took us by bus from Midtown to East Harlem to the Bronx and back.  These were places I had not seen since leaving my native city years ago.  But I was struck by how the patterns of transformation I saw on the tour mirrored the changes on New York’s Lower East Side where I was raised and remain deeply connected through family, friends, and frequent visits.... Read the full post here

From Boston New York: Is a More Just City Possible, by Kevin Ryan, Program Director at the New York Foundation.

On April 2 and 3, Neighborhood Funders Group hosted From Boston to New York: Is a More Just City Possible?, a two-day learning tour that focused on the promise of both cities’ new mayoral administrations to be more transparent and accountable, and to develop strategies that bridge the income gap between the wealthy and the poor. More than 40 grantmakers joined us for the tour, as well as over 40 organizers, activists, community residents, developers, and public officials who presented their strategies to create a more equitable urban agenda for transportation, affordable housing, land use, and community benefit policies.

There were countless wonderful, provocative, and informative moments during the learning tour. Below are five points that resonated most with me... Read the full post here.  

General Tour Materials:

Two Day Tour Agenda  

Participant list  

Speaker Bios  

Photographs from the Tour 


Day 1: Boston, MA 

We spent the first half of the day with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, learning about resident-led strategies for neighborhood stabilization through housing, education, and community partnerships; and with City Life/ Vida Urbana, which leads a number of effective campaigns for foreclosure defense, just cause tenant eviction protections, and other policies benefiting communities hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis.  Among recent indications of progress, DSNI’s former executive director has been designated the City of Boston’s Chief of Economic Development by the Walsh Administration shortly after its taking office.  We spent the second half of the day with Chinese Progressive Association and Right to the City Boston – leaders in the fight against gentrification and in resident mobilization in the mayoral race. All of these organizations are now working to ensure that the new Boston mayor is accountable to residents for equitable redevelopment.

Readings and video for day one:

One-pager on gentrification  

Gentrification and Financial Health  

Right To the City Vote's Platform  

Holding Ground trailer - the Dudley Street Street Neighborhood Initiative story.

For the People, By the People: Best practices for maximizing resident, minority, and female participation on construction projects, by Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative 

A case study of the new-construction Kroc Center, a $115 million development, for which hiring/MBE contracting outcomes exceeded the local and minority/women hiring requirements for the City of Boston, and fell only slightly short of its own overall goals for the project. This was done via the auspices of DSNI's "Kroc Workforce Committee," which met weekly during the Kroc Center development process. This provides context and background for current discussions between advocates and the City of Boston on establishing 50%-50%-15% hiring targets, which were mentioned throughout the tour.


Day 2: New York, NY   

We spent the first half of the day in East Harlem, with Picture the Homeless and Community Board 11, learning about a new community land trust in development. We spent the second half of the day in the Northwest Bronx, with Faith in New York, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, among many others, learning about the recent resident win for redevelopment of the Bronx Amory, and other NYC community benefit agreements that community organizations are leveraging to lead a better plan for the city. What we learn will serve as a launching pad for conversations with local residents and organizers about ensuring that low income communities benefit from and shape development priorities in their communities and across the city. 

The New York City Community Land Trust Initiative 

East Harlem Demographics, Housing Focus

Community Land Trusts National Survey Findings  

CLT Handout English and Spanish

Picture the Homeless Banking on Vacancy - Executive Summary  

Regional Plan Association East Harlem Report Exec Summary  

Info Sheet about Participatory Budgeting  

Participatory Budgeting Report Year 1

Participatory Budgeting Report Year 2

Participatory Budgeting NYC Cycle III Brochure

PBNYC Sample Ballot - District 8 2012

Report by the Real Affordability for All Campaign

Weathering the Storm Executive Summary

Willets Point Agreement Summary  

For the additional readings for day two, write to us at