A survey conducted for the city of Minneapolis suggests that the people who volunteer to serve on neighborhood boards may tend to be more likely white, better educated and more highly paid than the city's population as a whole.
The Neighborhood and Community Relations department surveyed 70 city-funded neighborhood organizations, and slightly more than half the board members completed the survey.
Robert Thompson, who conducted the survey, acknowledged that the low response rate limited the value of its conclusions. But he called it a first step to understanding the composition of neighborhood leadership.
"It now enables us to really ask some deeper questions," he said. "What's the real story that underlines the data? What does it mean that we're not getting the participation? Is it because of barriers? Is it because of the demands? Is it because of bias at the neighborhood organizations?
"We don't know enough yet, but this can help us start asking those questions."
Most survey respondents were homeowners, while just over half of city residents are renters.
The survey report recommends that the city do further research to find out why the response rates in some neighborhoods were so low.