• About the Project


Goals & Indicators:
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Racial and Ethnic Diversity, Boston
  • Total White Population
  • Total African American Population
  • Total Latino Population
  • Total Asian Population

As of 2010, 53% of Bostonians were people of color compared to just 32% of the population in 1980.  Citywide, 22% of Bostonians were African American, 17% Latino, and 9% Asian Pacific Islander.  The neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan are home to the highest concentration of African Americans in both Boston and Massachusetts while the city’s Latino population mostly resides in East Boston and parts of Jamaica Plain.  Boston’s Asian population is largely concentrated into the small neighborhood of Chinatown as well as the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester.

Foreign-Born Populations
  • Foreign-Born Population, Boston
  • Foreign-Born Population, Massachsetts
  • Households by Ancestry

As of 2010, more than 27% of Bostonians were foreign-born, up from 26% in 2000 and 20% in 1990.  The greatest number of immigrants in Boston live in the neighborhoods of Chinatown, East Boston, and parts of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan where foreign-born residents range from about 30% to 60%.

Statewide, 14.5% of residents were foreign-born with the highest concentrations in Chelsea (42%), Malden (39%), Lawrence (36%), Everett (35%) and Randolph (30%).

In 2010 Irish remained the largest single ancestry reported by Bostonians with more than 100,000 identifying as Irish followed by about 50,000 identifying as Italian and more than 40,000 identifying as West Indian, of which more than 24,000 were Haitian.  An additional 36,000 identify as English, 28,000 as German and about 25,000 as Sub-Saharan African of which more than 10,000 are Cape Verdean.

Opportunities for Civic Discourse, Metro Boston
  • Measure

Greater Boston offers an unusually large number and broad range of opportunities for public dialogue, ranging from small and informal to the technologically advanced, which have only grown in the past few years.  These opportunities range from the formal to the informal, and include free public lectures, panel discussions, and structured settings for small-group dialogues.  Technological advances of interactive websites, email distribution lists, blogs, podcasting and Internet video streaming contribute further democratize access to information and create new forums for the sharing of ideas.

Civic Forums & Lecture Series:

Boston Speaker Series

Boston by Foot

YWCA Community Dialogues

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Trust in Neighbors, Boston
  • Measure

Rates of neighborly trust have increased city-wide but vary across all Boston neighborhoods and over time.  According to the most recent Boston Neighborhood Survey conducted in 2008, nearly 81% of Bostonians surveyed felt that they could rely on a neighbor for help, up from 76% in 2006 and 79% in 2003.  More than 90% of residents in the North End, South Boston and Charlestown felt trust in their neighbors—the highest rate among the City’s neighborhoods.  Though Roxbury (74%), North Dorchester (73%) and Mattapan (70%) continue to have the lowest rates of neighborly trust, rates have increase since 2006 when roughly 65% of residents reported feeling their neighbors were willing to help.

Volunteer Activity, Boston and MA
  • Volunteer Activity, Boston

Bostonians logged more than 63,000 volunteer hours in 2010, down slightly from the peak in 2009 when volunteers logged more than 64,000 hours.  However, since the beginning of the last decade total hours logged have more than tripled from 18,000 in 2000.

During that time, volunteers also stepped up to leverage resources for Boston Cares partner agencies struggling to keep up with increased client needs, generating 30 tons of food for Greater Boston Food Bank and 3,900 pairs of children’s shoes for Room To Grow and Cradles to Crayons.

A sampler of Boston Cares volunteer accomplishments from 2011 includes: providing for the basic daily needs of 90,450 individuals, supporting 1,040 youth through academic tutoring and career coaching, and providing comfort and social stimulation for 400 independent seniors, children in transitional housing and special needs athletes, saving community arts and parks organizations $155,000 through projects that provided affordable access to cultural performances and recreational green spaces for thousands of neighborhood residents and visitors to the region, as well as improving learning, library, and recreational spaces used by almost 20,000 Boston Public School students.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Corporate Leadership Diversity, MA
  • Women as a Percent of Corporate Boardmembers

According to the Boston Club, among the 100 largest companies in Massachusetts in 2011: women comprised 11.1% of board members, down from 11.3% in 2010; 41% had no women board members; and, 29% had no women board members or executives.

The Commonwealth Compact is an initiative of Boston's civic and business community that aims to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of leadership and the workforce at all levels.  As of the most recent Commonwealth Compact Benchmarks Report, in 2008 87% of the 111 organizations submitting data reported that employees of color comprised at least 10% of the workforce, including 22% of high-level management positions and 37% of lower-level clerical and technical positions.  Among companies located in Boston, people of color comprised 37% of the total workforce compared to 21% of the workforce in companies outside of Boston.  Healthcare organizations had the highest level of diversity (44% people of color) followed by nonprofits (37%), for profit corporations (24%) and education (22%).  

Diversity of Elected Leadership in Boston and Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts State House Districts
  • Massachusetts State Senate Districts
  • Gender and Racial Diversity of Elected Officials

Boston: In 2009, the first woman of color, Ayanna Pressley, was elected at-large to the Boston City Council; a position that has been held by just two African Americans, one Latino and one Asian American in the 100 year history of the City Council.  With two vacant at-large positions, the 2009 election drew the largest and most diverse candidate pool in recent years with 15 total candidates, up from 9 in 2007, of whom six were African American, two Latino and one Vietnamese-American candidate.  Among Boston's appointed government officials, the 2007 Benchmark Report on Diversity in State & Local Government by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy found that 27.8% were African American, 11.5% Latino and 6.6% Asian.  Boston excelled in demographic representation compared to all other municipalities with a high percentage of people of color, with only Chelsea exceeding Boston.  This report has not been updated since 2012.

Massachusetts: Despite many recent "firsts" in in both statewide and municipal electoral representation, leadership across Massachusetts remains predominantly male and white.  According to the most recent data and reporting from the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and the Massachusetts Municipal Association, women comprised just 20.6% of municipal officials in 2007 - virtually unchanged from 20.9% in 1997.  Likewise, 37% of cities and towns in Massachusetts had no women serving in their government bodies and just 7% had achieved gender parity in their leadership corps. Along lines of race and ethnicity, The Benchmark Report on Diversity in State & Local Government found that top-level state-wide and executive appointments are overwhelmingly white: top state-wide and executive appointees are 89% and 91.5% white, respectively, as of 2007.  There has been no update of this report since 2007.
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Registered Voters and Participation Rates, Boston
  • Registered Voters
  • Ballots Cast
  • Turnout Rate

As of 2011, more than 347,000 Bostonians were registered to vote with the largest increases spurred by the 2008 presidential election, 2009 mayoral election and 2010 gubernatorial election.  Though the total number of registered voters fell from the peak of more than 370,000 in 2010, there are nearly 100,000 more registered voters in Boston today than in 2010.

A total of 63,009 ballots were cast in the 2011 City Council election, which typically draw lower turnout than presidential, gubernatorial or mayoral elections.  However, this was a 36% increase over the last City Council election in 2007 when 46,249 ballots were cast.

Neighborhoods with the highest turnout rates for the 2011 election--greater than 30%--were in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, South Boston, West Roxbury and Hyde Park.  The lowest turnout rates--below 14%--were in student-dominated neighborhoods such as Fenway, Allston and Brighton.

Contested Elections in MA

In 2010—the last state-wide election—36 of 40 Senate seats and 88 of 160 Representative seats engaged in a contested battle between at least two candidates.   This is a dramatic increase over 2008 when only 10 Senate seats and 42 Representative seats were in contested elections—the lowest overall rate in the past decade.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Reported Hate Crime by Type, Boston
  • Hate Crimes by Type
  • Hate Crimes by Victim
  • Hate Crimes by Perpetrator

The Boston Police Department's Community Disorders Unit investigated 180 incidents classified as hate crimes in 2009--the most recent year for which data are available--down from 229 in 2005 but up slightly from 177 in 2008.  The majority of incidents, 36, were racial harassment and epithets, up from 15 incidents in 2006 and crimes against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) individuals at 36 down from 51 in 2007.

The majority of hate crime victims were African American, with 64 incidents up from 33 in 2006, followed by GLBT at 36 and white victims at 31.  The lowest number of crimes was instigated against Asians with just 6 incidents.

The majority of incidents, 89, were perpetrated by a white individual followed by 49 incidents perpetrated by an African American individual and 35 in which the perpetrator's race/ethnicity was unknown.

Degree of Residential Segregation
  • Residential Segregation by Race/Ethnicity

Boston and the region remain largely segregated along lines of race and ethnicity, despite growing diversity. People of color and newcomer immigrants are highly concentrated in Greater Boston’s “gateway” cities. 

Within Boston, the neighborhoods of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the North End, South End and West Roxbury remained more than 60% white in 2010.  By contrast, people of color comprise more than 80% of the population in areas of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and East Boston.

As of 2010, cities & towns with the highest percentage of African American residents were: Randolph at 377; Brockton at 30%, Boston at 22%, and Springfield at 19.5%.  Since 2000, the greatest increase in African American residents has been in Randolph, +16.5%, Brockton, +13% and Everett, +7.5%.

Quincy had the highest concentration of Asians at 24% followed by Lowell and Malden with 20% and Lexington with 19.8%.  The greatest increase in Asian population was in the suburbs of Boston.

In 2010, Lawrence had the highest concentration of Latinos at 74%, followed by Chelsea, 62%, and Holyoke 48%.  The Latino population is growing the fastest in Revere, +15%, Lawrence +14% and Lynn +13.7%

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
People Living at the Same Address, Boston Neighborhoods
  • Percent Households the Moved in Between 2000-2004, Owners
  • Percent Households the Moved in After 2005, Owners
  • Percent Households the Moved in Between 2000-2004, Renters
  • Percent Households the Moved in After 2005, Renters

Boston continues to have a highly mobile population.  As of 2010, 73% of all householders had moved into their current residence since 2000, with 41% of householders having moved into their current homes since 2008.  Among households who moved since 2008, 88% were renters, a more highly mobile population.

Neighborhoods with the largest percentage of renters who moved in after 2000 are Fenway/Kenmore (81%), Allston/Brighton (68%) and East Boston (59%).  Neighborhoods with the largest proportion of owner households that moved in after 2000 are Charlestown (28%), West Roxbury (28%), Hyde Park (27%) and South Boston (24%).

Small Business Loans by Race and Gender
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Linguistic Isolation & Multilingual Access
  • Linguistically Isolated Households
  • Linguistically Isolated Spanish Speaking Households
  • Linguistically Isolated Asian Language Speaking Households
  • Households by Language Spoken at Home

As of 2010, 35.5% of Bostonians spoke a language other than English in the home; 15% of the population over age 5 speaks Spanish or Spanish Creole, 12% speak other Indo-European languages, 7% speak and Asian/Pacific Island Language and 2% some other language.

Among those who speak a language other than English in the household, more than 33% are linguistically isolated—equal to more than 11% of all households in Boston.

The Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians continues to offer an interpreter pool at City Hall drawn from the staff of city departments to assist with licenses, permits, tax information, and consumer concerns. Translation in 24 languages is available, including Spanish, Chinese, French, Haitian, Cape Verdean, and Vietnamese.

Universal Accessibility

Universal Design of the city and its buildings is essential to ensuring quality of life for the roughly 12% of Bostonians (about 70,000) with audio, visual, cognitive, ambulatory or self-care difficulties with consideration of needs across life stages.  In the same time, some 5% of children under 18, 9% of the working-age population aged 18 to 64 and 43% of those 65 years and older had some disability.

A number of resources are available in Boston for those of all abilities, including:

Institute for Human Centered Design, formerly Adaptive Environments, is a Boston-based design and advocacy organization promoting universal design locally and globally.

City of Boston Commission for Persons with Disabilities oversees all ADA compliance in the Boston and provides access to resources in housing, travel, employment, education and community outreach;

Mass Office of Travel and Tourism lists all accessible travel and points of interest that are accessible to people with disabilities

Massachusetts Office on Disability supports key state initiatives such as ADA compliance, Community Access Monitor Training, the Model Employer Initiative and more.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Library Books in Circulation BPL
  • Boston Libraries and Population Under 18
  • Circulation by Boston Public Library Branch

Total circulation for the Boston Public Library continued to grow through FY2010 to more than 3.4 million, a 3.5% increase over FY2009.  Nearly 1.3 million of books circulated were from the central library and neighborhood branches with the highest circulation in FY10 were Jamaica Plain (164,310), Honan-Allston (164,077) and West End (156,548).  However, the branches with the largest year-over-year increase were Grove Hall (+116%), Mattapan (+74.3%) and Parker Hill in Roxbury (+22.7%).

Community Newspapers by Linguistic Group

Boston maintains a strong community-based newspaper system with more than 70 special interest services.  Of those, 24 are ethnic papers making the news available in just as many languages; 28 are neighborhood papers that keep residents up-to-date on the issues pertinent to the community.  Boston also has many free entertainment news magazines and special interest bulletins to keep people connected.  Click here for a complete list of Boston community newspapers from Boston Online or click here for the complete New England Media Directory provided by the Ethnic Media Project at UMass-Boston.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Nonprofits by Budget and Type
  • Nonprofit Organizations by Budget & Type

There were 3,871 public charities registered in Suffolk County in 2011, about 16% of Massachusetts’ total of 23,828 according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics.  

Budget: The majority of organizations, 2,508, in Suffolk County are Grassroots Organizations with a budget size of $250,000 or less. Safety Net Organizations with budgets between $250,000 and $50 million comprise 1,282 of all organizations, with most (580) in the smaller side with a budget between $250,000 and $1 million.  There are 81 organizations in Suffolk County that are considered "Economic Engines" with budgets over $50 million.

Organization Type: About one-third (1,207) of organizations in Suffolk County are Social Services such as community capacity-building, housing & shelter, and youth sports & recreation organizations.  The additional two-thirds are other societal benefit organizations such in the Arts (444), Education (599), Environment (121), Health Care & Medical (620), Philanthropy (186) and Other nonprofit organizations (694).  Education and Health Care organizations make up the five largest organizations by employment in Suffolk County : Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston University and Children’s Hospital.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Strength of the Philanthropic Sector
  • Total Number of Philanthropic Organizations
  • Total Foundation Assets
  • Total Foundation Giving
As of 2011 there were 23,828 organizations in the philanthropic sector--including foundations--registered in Massachusetts, up from 21,062 in 2003, according to the report Passion & Purpose Revisited.  The philanthropic sector had more than $52 million in revenue and held more than $62 million in total assets in 2011.

According to the most recent data available from Foundation Center, the number of charitable foundations in Massachusetts increased from 1,895 in 1997 to 2,413 in 2009 and total giving increase from $373 million to $1.2 billion over the same time, though this does not capture the trends since the recession.