Trust Magazine

Return on Investment

In this Issue:

  • Spring 2024
  • A Change to Federal Methadone Regulations
  • A Journey to Earth’s Last Great Wilderness
  • Art With a View on History
  • Expanded Protections for a Biological Hot Spot
  • Honduras’ Coastal Wetlands
  • Insights on What Communities Need to Thrive
  • Majorities Say Social Media Is Good for Democracy
  • Americans Say Officials Should Avoid Heated or Aggressive Speech
  • Return on Investment
  • The Digital Divide
  • The High Cost of Putting a Roof Over Your Head
  • The Pantanal in South America
  • Tribal Nations First Ocean and Coastal Protections in U.S.
  • What Does Being Spiritual Mean?
  • View All Other Issues
Return on Investment

Improving Public Policy

Rock formations and canyons define southeastern Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands.
Gordon Kico

417,000 acres protected in Owyhee Canyonlands in Oregon

In February, the Bureau of Land Management released a final Record of Decision covering 4.6 million acres of public lands in southeastern Oregon that identified 417,000 acres as lands with wilderness characteristics. Pew’s U.S. conservation program worked for many years in support of a management plan that reflects safeguards proposed by the local citizen advisory committee. The protected landscape includes multicolored winding canyons, spectacular high desert rock formations, and rolling sagebrush uplands that are home to the greater sage-grouse and more than 350 other species, including the pygmy rabbit, pronghorn antelope, and golden eagle. The protections also help to sustain hiking, camping, hunting, angling, and wildlife-watching, which are popular pastimes in southeastern Oregon that contribute to the state’s thriving $15.6 billion outdoor recreation economy.

Major conservation gains for three large ocean regions

Pew’s international fisheries project and its partners secured key conservation measures at three international regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) that will improve the long-term health and resilience of large-scale fisheries and ecosystems across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

  • In November, the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission became one of the first RFMOs to commit to adopting ecosystem-based management and to integrate climate change factors into fisheries management decisions.
  • Also in November, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas adopted 20 binding measures to improve management of tunas, swordfish, marlin, and sharks, including better electronic monitoring standards for these fisheries. The commission also agreed to ban the catch of devil rays, manta rays, and whale sharks in the Atlantic, which, when combined with measures previously secured by Pew and its partners at other RFMOs, will protect these species across 90% of the global ocean.
  • In December, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission adopted a harvest strategy for north Pacific albacore, a move that means that now half of the world’s tuna catch is managed through science-based control rules, contributing to economic stability and food security in coastal communities around the world and sustainability in the marine environment.

New tools help states’ long-term budget analysis

At a Pew-sponsored webinar in November attended by officials from 34 states, Pew’s state fiscal policy project introduced two analytical tools that states can use to determine if their budgets are on a sustainable path. The tools—long-term budget assessments, which project revenue and spending years into the future, and budget stress tests, which estimate the size of temporary shortfalls and gauge whether states are prepared for them—allow states to measure the risk of future budget deficits and prepare for or prevent them. These tools can help avoid painful consequences such as tax increases and service cuts that harm residents and local economies. The webinar previewed a 50-state report, “Tools for Sustainable State Budgeting,” which defined these tools for the first time, identified which states use them, and proposed strategies to help states implement them effectively.

A resident of Lynn, Massachusetts, navigates a street flooded by Tropical Storm Elsa in July 2021.
Christiana Botic The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Pew research informs Massachusetts bill to establish disaster fund

In November, Massachusetts state Senator Joanne Comerford (D) and Representative Natalie Blais (D) hosted an event for legislators, stakeholders, and the public highlighting a policy proposal to create a state disaster fund and assistance program. Pew’s managing fiscal risks project (formerly known as the fiscal federalism initiative) has been sharing research with Sen. Comerford’s staff since early 2023, and the event included Pew’s disaster budgeting report, “How States Pay for Natural Disasters in an Era of Rising Costs.” That report named five common disaster-funding mechanisms, identified by Pew research and the Government Accountability Office: rainy day funds, statewide disaster accounts, transfer authority, supplemental appropriations, and state agency budgets.

Washington state protects three rivers as Outstanding Resource Waters

The Washington Department of Ecology in December designated more than 950 miles of the Cascade, Green, and Napeequa rivers as Outstanding Resource Waters, affording them the highest level of protection under the Clean Water Act. The designations, which will protect critical salmon habitat and waters spiritually significant to Tribal Nations, mark the first time Washington state has used this important tool to safeguard its freshwater ecosystems. Pew and its partners provided technical assistance and generated support from 240 local government and Tribal leaders and conservation, hunting and angling, outdoor recreation, and business organizations to secure these protections.

Pew’s sentencing and corrections work featured at national convening

In December, Pew’s public safety performance project co-hosted the National Summit to Advance States’ Criminal Justice Priorities, partnering with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Arnold Ventures, the Crime and Justice Institute, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, and the Center for Naval Analyses’ Center for Justice Research and Innovation. Among the more than 500 attendees were legislators and policymakers from nearly every state. The event highlighted Pew’s contributions to the field over the past 17 years, including a spotlight on its 2008 report “One in 100: Behind Bars in America,” which both provided data showing that 1 in every 100 American adults was confined in a jail or prison and articulated a clear problem statement about the need to address correctional populations and costs nationwide. In addition to increasing national understanding of the issue, Pew’s history of diagnosing the factors driving prison growth in individual states and providing policy audits to identify options for reform, drawing on solid research, promising approaches, and best practices, was highlighted, with a number of state-specific examples. Lastly, the event provided an opportunity to publicly introduce Arnold Ventures as the new private sector partner in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, ensuring that critical efforts to assist states with data-driven sentencing and corrections policy change will continue.

Invigorating Civic Life

Alex Potemkin Getty Images

Report highlights how Philadelphia has changed in 75 years

To help mark its 75th anniversary, Pew in December released “10 Ways Philadelphia Has Changed in 75 Years,” a report examining trends and changes in Philadelphia. Pew was founded in Philadelphia in 1948, and the report examined indicators from the Philadelphia research and policy initiative’s annual “State of the City” to highlight key changes over time, such as rising educational attainment, an increasingly diverse population, and changes to dominant industry, from manufacturing to education and medicine. It also featured historic photos and U.S. Census maps and highlights Pew’s commitment to its hometown for 75 years.

Accelerator workshops help prepare Philadelphia’s incoming administration

Through a partnership with the William Penn Foundation, Pew launched the 2024 Accelerator: City Budget and Policy Workshops to inform and support Philadelphia’s incoming mayoral administration and city council members. A total of five sessions, hosted in November, December, and January, focused on municipal finance and public policy and how elected officials generate, allocate, and manage the dollars needed to provide high-quality services for residents, advance an equitable recovery from the pandemic, and ensure opportunity for all residents. The sessions highlighted Pew’s research and featured panels with national and regional experts on public policy. The sessions featured speakers highlighting local policy, including Marisa Waxman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority; Jodie Harris, president of PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation; and Chellie Cameron, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Attendees included then-Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker and then-incoming council president Kenyatta Johnson; there was also strong participation and engagement from current and incoming council members and administration officials.

Informing the Public

Parents, young adult children, and the transition to adulthood

In January, Pew Research Center released a report exploring the relationship between U.S. parents and their young adult children ages 18-34. As parents watch their young adult children navigate the transition to adulthood, they’re feeling more proud and hopeful than disappointed or worried. And they’re highly invested in how life turns out for their kids. Most parents of young adults (71%) say their children’s successes and failures reflect on the job they’ve done as parents. This is especially true of upper-income parents.

A pair of new surveys from the Center finds that the lives of parents and their young adult children are closely knit together through emotional and financial ties. In addition, a Center analysis of government data showed the shares of today’s young adults reaching certain key milestones—such as marriage and college completion—and how that compares with 30 years ago, when their parents were around the same age.

Global views of democracy  

As more than half the world’s population votes this year in elections that could shape the future of democracy, Pew Research Center released a comprehensive data package looking at the views of people in 24 countries on the state of democracy and political representation.

The first release, in February, found that enthusiasm for representative democracy has slipped in many nations since 2017, but most still believe it is a good way to govern. However, some also are open to other forms of nondemocratic governance. People also say that their country would be better off if more women, people from poor backgrounds, and young adults held elective office.

In March, the Center released an analysis exploring the many ideas people have, in their own words, for making democracy in their country work better. The report, “What Can Improve Democracy?,” finds that across 17 topics analyzed, better or different politicians are most frequently mentioned. An accompanying data essay, “How People in 24 Countries Think Democracy Can Improve,” showed a range of the ideas people have to improve their democracy.

Majorities Say Social Media Is Good for Democracy Honduras’ Coastal Wetlands

National Homeownership Month


37 Researchers Working to Transform Biomedical Science

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Biomedical researchers are on the front lines of scientific innovation. From responding to global pandemics to pioneering lifesaving cancer treatments, these researchers push past scientific boundaries to solve pressing health challenges. For nearly 40 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported more than 1,000 early-career biomedical scientists committed to this discovery.

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Four Priorities for Philadelphia

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Pew’s mission in its hometown expands to focus on policy issues that will build the city’s resiliency and strengthen its future.


Wildfires: Burning Through State Budgets

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Wildfires in the United States have become more catastrophic and expensive in recent years, with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service nearly doubling their combined spending on wildfire management in the last decade. Wildfire management consists of preparing for, fighting, recovering from, and reducing the risk of fires. To execute these activities, states, localities, the federal government, and Tribes, as well as nongovernment entities such as nonprofit organizations and private property owners, participate in a complex system of responsibilities and funding dictated by land ownership and an interconnected set of cooperative agreements.


For the People: Strengthening Democracy in America

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Philadelphians, like residents of other large cities, are also grappling with issues such as gun violence, deep poverty, and accessing affordable housing.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

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How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

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Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.