To identify an approach to measuring the level of love in cities, particularly for children of color, The Schott Foundation and our research partners, Mesu Strategies (MS), created a list of known social, economic and environmental influences on academic success and student wellbeing. This list drew primarily from experiences and expertise from grantees, partners and community members in Schott’s network, and previous research and ideas compiled by the Kirwan Institute. Mesu Strategies reviewed literature related to these factors to identify those with greater weight of research evidence (findings outlined in the “Literature Review” section above).

MS reviewed data sources to determine:

  • availability of data for multiple cities (including but not limited to the ten initial cities)
  • geographic specificity of the data (e.g., state, county, city, census tract, other)
  • frequency of data collection (e.g., annual, decennial, etc.)
  • availability of data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and gender
  • type and rigor of methodology (e.g., sample, census, or model; validity and reliability of approach)
  • data accessibility (e.g., publicly available vs. private, available by purchase only)
  • likelihood of continued data availability (e.g., possibility of future data collection)

MS provided this information to Community Wealth Partners and the Schott Foundation, and together we identified factors to include in the Loving Cities Index based upon a combination of criteria, including:

  • the availability and quality of relevant data for each factor
  • the availability and quality of disaggregated data for each factor
  • the strength of the research evidence linking the factor with academic success and student wellbeing,
  • the opportunities to create change related to each factor, and
  • public access/availability to data sets.
  • Factors were also selected to achieve balance across categories.


The Schott Foundation aimed to profile a diversity of cities by size and geography, and include communities that we know are further along on their journey to adopt loving systems of supports. Our goal is for the report and findings to be valuable to communities in localities across the country, so we aimed to include cities that reflect different types of characteristics that define the living and learning environments in local places, and include those with significant political importance to the national dialogue and policies.


For each factor, we gathered and organized data from matching time periods and consistent geographies across all ten cities studied, striving for consistency across factors wherever possible. This required that we use data related to the largest or primary public school district in each city for which multiple school districts were present. It also required utilizing consistent population-weighted averages when aggregating block-group level data to the city level for certain indicators (such as walkability). For factors with data available by race and ethnicity, MS then assembled data into four ethnic and racial groupings for each city: Non-Hispanic White, Non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic/Latino, of any race, and Non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander. Where there were inconsistencies across data sources, MS made adjustments to align the data as closely as possible for comparison. For information on data sources see Table 1 below. For more detailed information on steps taken to prepare data, please contact the Schott Foundation directly.


Using SPSS, Excel and ArcGIS, MS calculated results for the factors for each city. MS then scored the results for each factor in each city based upon threshold targets and targets for racial equity determined by the Schott Foundation and Community Wealth Partners (detailed in Table 1 below). Building upon the data and scores, MS developed profiles of each city in the Loving Cities Index and a national profile, drawing from an expanded literature search in PubMed, Google Scholar, and Web of Science, as well as desktop research on community conditions drawing from local and national resources (as cited). Community Wealth Partners and the Schott Foundation drew from these profiles and the complementary research and policy agendas from partners in the field to develop the national and local profiles of the status of institutionalized love in localities across the country and the call to action.


The Loving Cities Index offers a novel representation of the holistic community factors that contribute to academic success and student wellbeing. However, like any static, quantitative tool, the Loving Cities Index provides only a limited window into the realities of the community experience. The Loving Cities Index measures 24 community and school climate factors as selected variables among many political, economic, and social forces that contribute to complex student outcomes. The thresholds and targets set in the Index are offered as a means for comparison and measurement, and not as a definitive declaration of where community conditions should be. The Loving Cities Index was created remotely by researchers and program managers outside of the cities in the Loving Cities Index initial cohort; they strived to reflect priorities of partners locally but this may not directly represent the full set of priorities of community residents. We are committed to meaningfully engaging communities and technical advisors as we continue to develop this Index and plan to make iterations and additions to the indicators in future revisions of this initial tool. We invite constructive dialogue on all content and methodologies to improve this tool in its next iteration.


Cities could earn a maximum total score of 108 points for 24 indicators across four domains: Care (33 points), Stability (30 points), Commitment (24 points), and Capacity (21 points). The table below lists each indicator with a description of the metric used, the source, and the scoring benchmark set by the Schott Foundation and Community Wealth Partners.

Click here to download the table of Loving Cities Index Indicators, Sources and Benchmarks.

Full citations and references can be found in the report PDF.