Metropolitan Neighborhood Change

Metropolitan neighborhood change is a broad term utilized to encompass an array of work at the Kirwan Institute that focuses on the historic and contemporary structural drivers of inequality. This work examines the making of metropolitan space and inequality by focusing on structures such as education, housing, transportation, food systems, crime and policing, and employment, among others. The Kirwan Institute can work with partners to examine these issues individually or holistically in the form of equity assessments. This work includes both qualitative and quantitative research approaches and frequently overlaps with our Opportunity Mapping and Civic Engagement work. Summaries of current metropolitan neighborhood change research projects are found below.

Housing: Youth Homelessness
Kirwan provides a racial equity lens in collaboration with The National Youth Forum on Homelessness. Research support around policy and advocacy strategies with other national partners is provided. For more information about Kirwan’s work around youth homelessness contact Michael Outrich. For more information about youth homelessness please visit True Colors United.

Food Justice: The Microfarm Project
In response to more than three decades of economic disruption and job loss, Ohio State University has partnered with organizations in Mansfield and Richland County, Ohio to begin to pilot a solution. The Microfarm Project is a new local food production system designed to bring economic returns to low-opportunity neighborhoods and to create a wide swath of residual positive social impacts throughout the local community and the regional economy. 

Since January 2019, this partnership has been piloting microfarming in Mansfield with the support of a $1 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) Seeding Solutions grant program, matched by $1 million in combined community charitable and in-kind support. The FFAR funding will support this work through 2021, enabling the Richland Gro-Op, the membership cooperative of microfarmers born of this community-university collaboration, to become established and self-sustaining, providing reliable income for its members and a boost to Mansfield’s local economy.  The Kirwan Institute’s Glennon Sweeney has partnered with Dr. Kent Curtis, Microfarm Project PI, to engage in evaluating the impacts of the microfarming system, strengthen relationships with community partners, and address gaps in the microfarm implementation model to enable the project to meet its social and racial justice aims. For more information about Kirwan’s partnership with the Microfarm Project contact Glennon Sweeney,  614-688-1612. For more information about the Microfarm Project in general contact Tannya Forcone.

Education: Erase the Space
Erase the Space (EtS) was founded in 2016 by an English teacher from Olentangy Local Schools and an English teacher from Columbus City Schools. EtS endeavors to bring students together across segregated schools and neighborhoods to practice civic discourse. The Erase the Space model asks students to reflect on their own positionality within systems, listen to others’ reflections, learn about systemic inequality across communities in central Ohio, and plan to act in a way that disrupts inequality. In wake of COVID-19, the murders of Black Americans at the hands of police, and the calls from student communities to address white supremacy in education, Erase the Space is hosting a teacher learning series over the 2020-2021 school year in partnership with the Kirwan Institute and Otterbein University. Teachers will reflect, listen, learn, and act in ways that disrupt white supremacist structures in their schools and classrooms. The Kirwan Institute has been partnering with Erase the Space since 2018 to inform their curriculum and evaluate their exchange program. For more information about Kirwan’s collaboration with Erase the Space contact Glennon Sweeney, 614-688-1612.

Equity Assessments
The Kirwan Institute can partner with organizations and jurisdictions to examine regional equity. This work can include spatial, quantitative, and qualitative analysis and often overlaps with our Opportunity Mapping and Civic Engagement work. Three examples of our equity assessment work can be found below. For more information about our equity assessments, contact Michael Outrich

Franklin County Poverty Project:
Working in partnership with the Franklin County Commissioners Office, the Kirwan Institute provided data analysis that highlighted racial and economic segregation throughout Franklin County, informing a county-wide poverty alleviation strategy. This work can be found here. For more information about the Franklin County Poverty Project contact Glennon Sweeney.

Tacoma Equity Index:
In 2018, the Kirwan Institute partnered with the City of Tacoma, Washington’s Office of Equity and Human Rights to complete an equity assessment for the city. This work can be found here and has informed recommendations and policies aimed at addressing racial inequality and disinvestment in neighborhoods across Tacoma. For more information about Kirwan’s partnership with Tacoma contact Michael Outrich.

MVRPC Regional Equity Profile:
In 2017, the Kirwan Institute partnered with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) to complete a regional equity profile. This work examined the roles of historic policies including redlining and highway development and their influencing on shaping the current equity landscape in the Dayton, Ohio metropolitan region. This work can be found here. For more information about Kirwan’s partnership with MVRPC contact Michael Outrich.