using the site

This section is provided to help you make the most of Understanding Brookline launched by the Brookline Community Foundation.

Brookline Areas

This project includes data for Brookline and Norfolk County, along with comparable counties (Essex and Middlesex) and cities (Arlington, Cambridge, Everett, Newton), as well as the state of Massachusetts, and the nation.

A Guide to the Understanding Brookline Website

Understanding Brookline is rich with information, with indicators provided in both text and graphic format. Detailed information and trends are also available. Some users will want quick reference information, while others will want more detail. Spending a few minutes reviewing this section may aid your work and help make using the Understanding Brookline website a more satisfying experience.

Organization of the Site

Information on this site can be accessed from the topic links that extend across the entire page just above the main image. Clicking on a topic provides a list of the indicators and links to ‘All Indicators’, ‘Create a Dashboard’ and ‘Insights’. Helpful links are listed at the bottom of the website, including:

Page Name Content
All Indicators A complete list of indicators on the website.
Create a Dashboard A visual summary of key indicator data across topic areas.

Insights are reports, briefings and research that draw from this and other Brookline-focused data to offer deeper understanding of current issues and pathways forward for the community.

Using the Site A guide to the site features and functions – current section.
Contact Us Information on how to get in touch with the Community Indicators initiative.


The site is organized by topics and indicators. Six categories or topics were selected for Understanding Brookline. These topics are shown above the main image and arranged alphabetically across the page. By clicking on any of these topics, you will be provided with the Key Trends, Indicators, and three buttons (All Indicators, Create a Dashboard, and Insights).

On each Key Trends topic page you will find a brief description of the topic. Below that are Featured Topic Indicators providing quick access to information that is featured on important issues impacting Brookline and our County, and a summary of key trends, followed by a list of indicators in that topic. 

Here are several additional tips for navigating the Understanding Brookline website:

To return to the home page...

From any page on the site, you can return to the home page by clicking on the Understanding Brookline logo in the upper left corner of the page.

To get to a topic page... From any page on the site, you can navigate to a topic page by clicking on the name of the topic.
To customize charts... After clicking on the charts in the detailed indicator pages, you can customize your own chart with the data available by clicking on or off the items in the legend. To view the underlying data, hover over the chart. You may also print or save these charts using the buttons in the upper right corner of the chart.
To download data... After clicking on the detailed indicator pages, scroll to the bottom of a table to see the Download Data Table button. This will open an Excel spreadsheet.

A Glossary of Terms:

Term Definition and How it is Used in the Understanding Brookline Website

An indicator is a measure that helps to describe an economic, environmental, social, or cultural condition over time. An indicator is usually expressed as a rate or percent, such as the poverty rate, the unemployment rate, or the incarceration rate. Understanding Brookline provides information and analysis on 50 indicators throughout this website. For each of the six indicator categories, the individual indicators are accessed from the main page, or topic page. A list of every indicator is available by clicking on "All Indicators" found in the drop-down of any topic.

Inflation Adjusted

This refers to an actual value that is adjusted to account for inflation. The changes in a series of actual values over time reflect several factors, including inflation. If the series is inflation adjusted, however, the changes reflect only the other factors. For example, median household income in our state (Economic Equity & Justice) is adjusted to the most recent year in the series.

Median The median refers to the mid-point of a set of values. For example, median household income in Brookline (Economic Equity & Justice) is $122,400. This means that an equal number of households earn more than $122,400 as earn less.
Percent The portion of the whole represented by any given value. The whole is 100 percent, and the percent of any given value is its relationship to 100 percent. Mathematically, the percent is derived by dividing the given value by the value of the whole, and then by multiplying the result by 100 to express the result as a percent.
Poverty Level The United States government uses two principal methods to measure poverty: the poverty thresholds established by the Census Bureau and the poverty guidelines used by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Census Bureau approach is used to determine how many people live in poverty, and the Health and Human Services data is used for various benefit programs, such as eligibility for food stamps. In some applications, eligibility for federal assistance programs is based on multiples of the poverty guidelines (such as 125% or 165% of the poverty level). The difference in these measures is not significant.
Rate The relationship between two values. For example, when driving, the rate of speed is measured by the distance traveled (miles) in a certain amount of time (hours). Hence, the rate of speed is expressed as miles per hour. Rates can be expressed in a variety of ways.