In September, OSI-Baltimore launched Blueprint for Baltimore: 2020 and Beyond, a collaborative effort that is designed to lift up community voices and support a process to elect competent, accountable, transparent leadership for Baltimore City.
As part of the process, OSI is partnering with grassroots community groups, conducting a citywide survey of more than 10,000 residents, and using that data as the basis for a series of Mayoral and City Council forums in the lead-up to the primary election in April, 2020. After the general election in November, OSI and community partners will monitor leadership’s adherence to community priorities and engage business and philanthropic leaders to explore how they can also respond to community priorities.
Soon after the launch, OSI and community partners Black Leaders Organizing for Change, CASA, Baltimore Votes, Black Girls Vote, and the No Boundaries Coalition held a series of Survey Design Workshops where community members identified the subject areas that the survey should focus on. HR&A Advisors, a national organization that specializes in creating surveys designed to leverage municipal change and has conducted similar surveys in Houston, New York, and other cities, consulted on the process.
Each community group recruited ten local residents to be Data Fellows, who HR&A trained in principles of data equity and ways to leverage data to shape public policy. The Data Fellows conducted the survey in October and November through house-to-house canvassing, community meetings and other gatherings, and online outreach. The results will be reported publicly by January, 2020. Importantly, this data will be community-owned and available for the public to use as a resource. OSI and the community partners will host forums where Mayoral and City Council candidates will answer questions based on the survey results.
“Baltimore’s talented, passionate people are its greatest asset,” says Tracy Brown, acting director of OSI-Baltimore. “As we tried to imagine a process that would lay the groundwork for accountable, responsive city governance, we knew we needed to start with the people and the trusted, on-the-ground organizations that can tap into their collective insight.”
After the 2020 elections, OSI and community partners will monitor city leaders’ adherence to their promises and convene business and philanthropic leaders to explore ways they can address community priorities. “The ‘and Beyond,’ is an important part of the project’s name,” says Brown. “We want to make sure that this process builds community power and accountability far beyond the 2020 elections.”
Information about Blueprint for Baltimore will be available online at osibaltimore.org/blueprint. Support for the Blueprint for Baltimore comes from Open Society Institute-Baltimore and the T. Rowe Price Foundation.