Research + Evaluation

Data-Backed Success | People-Driven Results

Forward Cities’ suite of Research and Evaluation tools has been applied and vetted in communities around the country. Clients value gaining an evidence-based understanding of the state of their economic ecosystem particularly through the lens of entrepreneurship. They learn where, to whom and why entrepreneurial opportunity is (in-)accessible and what can be done about it.

Our tools produce results to act on, providing the greatest value when delivered in an integrated fashion as part of our 2-year Community Entrepreneurship Accelerators (CEA) or 7-month Readiness Assessments (RA). At the same time, any organization can commission individual tools for a fee; our member cities pay a discounted rate.

More information about specific tools and resources can be found below and by contacting [email protected]

Entrepreneurship Indicators


> What is the economic punch of young businesses in your city?
> How many jobs do young entrepreneurial ventures create?
> If we don’t prioritize promoting equitable entrepreneurial opportunities, what potential is lost in terms of businesses not started by underserved communities in your city? 

It is questions like these that we set out to answer in all the communities we begin to work in. Baseline data about neighborhood-level and socio-demographic inequities in accessing economic opportunity through entrepreneurship level-sets everyone around the table. Continued tracking of these Census data points over time, complemented with analysis of longitudinal private datasets that Forward Cities offers, establishes a robust foundation for evaluating the medium to long-term effects of ecosystem-building in your community.

No matter whether you are a community organizer, entrepreneur, work for the economic development office at City Hall or are a grants officer at a local Community Foundation, check out the interactive to the right and see how your city performs on three, select entrepreneurship indicators.

Entrepreneurial support self-assessment

Entrepreneurial resource maps, directories, startup rails or grids pop up in entrepreneurial communities across the country. All of them are tools to organize the support resources available and make them more visible to entrepreneurs. But what these directories don’t capture is whether the support organizations act in unison, pull together towards shared objectives and a mutually agreed upon vision for the ecosystem.

Technology can’t smooth over fundamental trust and collaboration challenges in the ecosystem. The entrepreneurial support self-assessment is a survey for entrepreneurial resource providers that highlights the growth potential for entrepreneurial supporters along three dimensions of ecosystem cohesion: awareness, alignment and action.


If we want to really begin to understand the complex and messy realities that entrepreneurs confront on their journeys, the barriers they face and the unfiltered feedback they have for supports available (or not available) to them, we need to ask them. The Survey of Entrepreneurs is designed to reach the full breadth of the entrepreneurial population (aspiring and current entrepreneurs) resulting in a considerably richer picture than existing secondary data can provide.

As part of the data analysis we visualize the gathered relational data through social network mapping. This allows us to depict structural holes in the ecosystem, identify populations or areas that are under-served by support providers and gather vignettes out of the lives of entrepreneurs that can feed into ongoing storytelling.


Want to build a company that matters? Focused on urban issues? Our partners at the Conscious Venture Lab can help you! Apply for @CVLab26's 6th cohort to receive training, mentorship, office space, & up to $100K investment.

Our first presenter this morning is @kheprw’s Alkhemy social entrepreneurship development program and their new pilot space at 38th and Illinois in partnership with @ForwardCities.

‘Scarlet Knight’ Cuts Through Comic Book Stigma With Real-Life Entrepreneur, Brand Crossovers

Via @StartlandNews:

@ForwardCities and KI's new co-working space is now open! Come visit at 3802 N. Illinois St., and thank you to all who attended our opening reception!

photo credits: @MrWildstyle

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