PROJECTMunicipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard

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The multitrillion dollar municipal bond market is a significant source of private investor capital for states, localities, school districts, and public authorities. The market is increasingly focused on environmental, social, and governance indicators. However, evaluating the benefits and distribution of these benefits from issuances, particularly in terms of racial and social equity, remains a challenge. 

The Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard (the “scorecard”) is designed to help issuers and borrowers document, self-assess, and summarize the potential racial equity and social impacts of proposed bond issuances. The scorecard’s results can encourage issuances that promote racial and social equity, strengthen communities, and benefit residents.

This scorecard is part of a broader project led by the Public Finance Initiative, the Municipal Bond Markets and Racial Equity project, which centers on leveraging municipal bond markets to drive positive racial and social equity changes. The project framework outlines the guiding principles for the project as a whole, including the scorecard.

Use the scorecard

Frequently Asked Questions 

How can the Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard be used? 

The Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard aids bond issuers and other interested parties in documenting, self-assessing, and summarizing bond issuances’ potential impact on racial or social equity. The scorecard aligns with the Public Finance Initiative Municipal Bond Markets and Racial Equity Framework.

While some issuers might not focus on racial equity in specific bond issuances, they might emphasize alternative dimensions of equity, equality, social justice, or other values. The scorecard offers standard definitions of these terms as guidance and is adaptable to diverse issuance approaches. It provides room to incorporate each user’s most relevant definitions.

What do users need to get started?

Before starting the scorecard, we recommend users review its questions and gather relevant documents, such as a preliminary official statement, offering document or memorandum, term sheet, and/or verification report.

How can users interpret and apply the results?

After completing the scorecard, users will receive a bond issuance score, interpretation guidance, and a comprehensive list of their responses. The Urban Institute will not publish these; they are for users to review and share at their discretion. For examples of the information produced after completing the scorecard, see the sample scorecard, which is based on a hypothetical project.

The completed scorecard will categorize the overall issuance score into one of four tiers, from “low” to “very high” community impact. The score reflects potential racial equity and other social impacts an issuance could achieve based on scorecard responses, including community priorities and anticipated use of proceeds. Note that this score may be just one factor when considering an issuance’s potential for racial equity or social benefits.

For a deeper understanding of scoring and result interpretation, consult the user guide and methodology.

Terms of Use 

By using the Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard, you agree to the following terms of use:

General terms: Through use of the tool, (a) you acknowledge that you have read, understand, and agree to our terms of use; (b) you acknowledge that you allow the Urban Institute to use your data and/or content for refinement, research, and diagnostics of our services; (c) you acknowledge that your data and/or content may be deleted from our servers at any time, at our discretion; (d) you acknowledge that submitting information to this site is your choice and you do so at your own risk; (e) you explicitly agree not to provide any personally identifiable health data as defined by the HIPAA Privacy Rule; and (f) the Urban Institute and Public Finance Initiative (PFI) will not use any personally identifiable information (your name, organization, or email address) in our research, and if we publish findings, they will be aggregated and anonymized.

The Urban Institute and PFI are disseminating and offering the content communicated and provided in this tool and website as general information for the education, use, and benefit of various municipal bond market participants. In providing this general information, the Urban Institute and PFI are not acting as municipal advisors to any particular municipal entity or obligated person, are not providing advice to or on behalf of a municipal entity or obligated person with respect to municipal financial products or the issuance of municipal securities, are not undertaking any solicitation of a municipal entity or obligated person, and do not owe a fiduciary duty to any municipal entity or obligated person as a result of their publication of this communication. The content communicated and provided herein does not constitute, and should not be construed to be, a recommendation regarding particular municipal financial products or the issuance of particular municipal securities (including with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters concerning any particular financial products or issues). Municipal entities and obligated persons should independently evaluate any information and material contained in this communication and seek advice from their municipal advisors with respect to the adoption or application of any of the content communicated and provided herein by the municipal entity or obligated person in connection with their municipal financial products or issuance of municipal securities.

The information contained in this tool and website also does not constitute investment advice in any form and is presented purely for educational purposes. The Urban Institute and PFI are not investment advisors. Any reference to municipal securities, municipal securities issuers, financial organizations, debt instruments, or any investment products are presented for information purposes only. In addition, any links to external websites with the noted information are for information purposes only. The Urban Institute and PFI are not endorsing, recommending, or advising on the financial merits or otherwise of any debt instrument or investment product and no information within this communication should be taken as such, nor should any information in this communication be relied upon in making any investment decision. A decision to invest in anything is solely yours. The Urban Institute and PFI accept no liability of any kind for any investment an individual or organization makes, nor for any investment made by third parties on behalf of an individual or organization, based in whole or in part on any information contained within this or any other public communication related to this project.

Limitation of liability: Neither the Urban Institute nor PFI will be liable for any damages of any kind arising out of or relating to the use of your data. Neither the Urban Institute nor PFI shall have any liability or responsibility for your acts, omissions, or conduct, or for the conduct of any user or other third party.

Indemnity: You agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Urban Institute, PFI, and their board members, directors, officers, employees, agents, and contractors from and against any and all claims, damages, losses, costs (including without limitation reasonable attorneys’ fees), or other expenses that arise directly or indirectly out of or from (a) your breach of any provision of our terms of service; (b) your activities in connection with the website; or (c) unsolicited information you provide to the Urban Institute through the website.

Contact the Project Team

To ask questions about the scorecard or to request a demonstration for your organization, please email the Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard team at [email protected].

Project Credits

The Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard was developed as part of the Municipal Bond Markets and Racial Equity Framework project of the Public Finance Initiative, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We are grateful to them and to all our funders, who make it possible for Urban to advance its mission. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, PFI, their trustees, or their funders. Funders do not determine research findings or the insights and recommendations of our experts.

We’d also like to thank the Capital for Communities Scorecard team, including Martha FedorowiczSolomon GreeneBrett TheodosElizabeth Burton, and Kathryn Reynolds, whose work was a critical foundation for the development of the Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard. A particular thanks to Solomon Greene, who played an instrumental role in the early conversations that launched the Municipal Bond Racial and Social Equity Scorecard.

CONTENT Brett Theodos, Amanda Hermans, Kim Reuben, and Lourdes German

PROJECT MANAGEMENT Amanda Hermans, Gerald Gilkey, Amariz Palencia, and Alex Grun

DESIGN Deena Tamaroff

DEVELOPMENT Rob Pitingolo, Silke Taylor, Sybil Mendonca, Jessica Kelly, and Patrick Walsh

EDITING Lauren Lastowka

WRITING Laura Swanson, Brett Theodos, Amanda Hermans, Kim Reuben, and Lourdes German

Tags Community and economic development Capital flows Equitable development Finance Racial inequities in neighborhoods and community development