Dear Brookline Community,

As we enter 2023, we embark on another year of stepping into the unknown—considering Covid-19, a fraught economic and political landscape and continued inequities at all levels of society. These can understandably create collective uncertainty and anxiety, but they can also propel us to see this as an opportunity to courageously envision the kind of reality we want to co-create.

As I come up on my first 100 days at the Brookline Community Foundation, I continue to be inspired by our values. In particular, our value of leading by listening has guided me in understanding BCF’s role in the community. I’ve focused on connecting with the Brookline community to learn from our nonprofit partners, community organizations, donors, Town officials, BCF leadership and staff, and community members.

Throughout all these conversations, I’ve heard one theme again and again: how significant the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding has been for Brookline. This $44 million dollar infusion has been vital for Town government and nonprofit organizations supporting crucial community needs like early education access, affordable housing, emergency assistance, and new programming and roles that are helping address disparities widened during the pandemic.

But what happens after ARPA, after this critical infusion of resources no longer exists? I keep thinking about this question. Even with all that money distributed into the community, we will still face considerable gaps in care, services, and resource equity—the things we need in order to ensure every member of the Brookline community is happy, healthy, and thriving.

BCF played a significant role in shaping funding priorities for ARPA investments through our community engagement work in 2021 and 2022. I believe we have a significant role to play in catalyzing community conversations about how we can continue making transformative investments in Brookline to grow and sustain what ARPA funding started.

A crucial first step in this conversation is listening to community partners to learn about how ARPA funding has impacted their work and how we can build on this momentum going forward. That’s why I’m inviting you to our first community event of 2023 titled After ARPA: Strengthening Brookline’s Care Infrastructure. We welcome you to join BCF and guest speakers from the Black N Brown Club, the Brookline Center for Community Mental Health, and the Brookline Housing Authority for a panel discussion and Q&A session on how we can sustain and strengthen our care infrastructure in Brookline. This event will take place virtually on Thursday February 9 from 5:00-6:30pm. Please register directly and learn more on the event page.

Another crucial step in this conversation will be the spring debut of the new Understanding Brookline report, which will explore how Brookline has changed since the 2010 census data was released, highlight new trends in our community, and identify gaps we must address. However, if Covid has taught us anything it’s how quickly our lives can change and how we need an ongoing way to track community progress and trends. That’s why, in addition to the report, we will also be publishing the Understanding Brookline community dashboard, a digital index that measures 50 community wellness indicators so we can see trends and gaps as they emerge and respond in real time.

Together, we aim to use both After ARPA: Strengthening Brookline’s Care Infrastructure and the release of the new Understanding Brookline report and dashboard to kickstart community-wide conversations about how we can collectively build upon the momentum of all of our efforts over the past few years, including the ARPA investments and diverse partnerships we have built and maintained throughout the community.

I’m excited to be in this work with you and for the opportunity to continue leading this work by listening to your ideas, insights, and perspectives. We are poised, perhaps now more than ever, to step boldly into this new year with a commitment to making ARPA just the beginning of a community-wide mutual reinvestment effort that will bring us one step closer to realizing our shared vision of a better Brookline for all.

In solidarity,

Aba Taylor