The Policy Center builds diverse partnerships to produce rigorous research that frames issues and offers actionable strategies.
We strive to be a vigorous participant in civic debates, hosting and presenting at events, serving on advisory councils, testifying before legislative committees, and providing a sounding board for journalists. Occasionally, we take a leadership role with long-term initiatives like the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute and the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.
- Unlocking the economic potential of regional cities.
- Improving the performance of the Massachusetts criminal justice system.
- The Next Generation Accountability Learning Community (NGALC) explores Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from the perspective of small-to-midsize urban districts.
Gateway City Leaders
- Feb 17, 2017
“The criminal justice system, from the front end to the back end . . . is broken, it’s deeply broken,” said Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, one of about a dozen senators who have filed criminal justice reform bills this session.
The senators characterized the reforms as a matter of inequality because people of color and low-income residents are disproportionately incarcerated. It is also a financial imperative, they said, because it is expensive to keep people behind bars.
A 2016 report by MassINC, a nonpartisan think tank, found that Roxbury residents are incarcerated at twice the rate of Boston residents as a whole. It also found that more was spent incarcerating residents of the Codman Square neighborhood in Dorchester in 2013 than was spent on grants for gang prevention for the entire state of Massachusetts.
- Feb 2, 2017
Federal No Child Left Behind legislation measured schools based on test scores, too narrow a gauge for most observers.
But how will schools in Springfield, Holyoke and other Massachusetts Gateway Cities respond to new standards that require a broader measure of how well a school is doing?
“Everybody says that a thing that gets measured gets managed,” said Benjamin Forman, research director for MassINC, a Boston think tank. “What is happening now is that people are taking broader measures of school performance.”
Forman hosted a series of panel discussions Thursday in Springfield in an effort to learn how schools in Gateway Cities — older industrial communities now struggling to reinvent their economies — can have a say in new school criteria and use them to their advantage.
- Jan 31, 2017
MassINC and the Univeristy of Massachusetts Dartmouth hosted a breakfast meeting Monday at the Waypoint Event Center to discuss potential changes.
Matthew Deninger of DESE told the group that as the state rewrites the rules for measuring school quality, it could consider such factors as access to the arts, a well-rounded curriculum, advanced coursework in high schools, school climate and culture, and the rate of chronic absenteeism.
“ESSA provides us an opportunity to push our thinking,” he said.
Ben Forman, research director at MassINC, said the state’s system of accountability has helped raise achievement to the point where low-income Massachusetts students now rank first in the nation in Grade 8 math, the same as all eighth-graders in the state, whereas in 2003, low-income students ranked 26th, far behind the general population, which ranked third.
- Jan 13, 2017
A thinktank that co-sponsored the forum, the Massachusetts Institute for a new Commonwealth, or MassINC, is helping gateway cities and school leaders take advantage of the new education act as a way to advocate for their school districts.
A MassINC report on ESSA shows the challenges that Lowell and other gateway cities face. An average of two-thirds of students in such districts are from low-income families, a major increase from 2002, and claim a disproportionate share of students who are foreign-born or do not speak English as their native language, according to the group.
- Dec 16, 2016
WORCESTER – A teachers union president, a school administrator, and a high school student all agreed at a panel conversation Thursday morning: there is room in the state’s next accountability standards for factors other than test scores.
Other speakers at the event, which was hosted by MassINC and the Worcester Education Collaborative at the Beechwood Hotel, also expressed optimism that Worcester and other “Gateway Cities” in the state in particular could be helped by a new approach to measuring school success.
Why support massinc?
We enjoy what we do.Whether it’s planning events, conducting research, or analyzing the news, our team works on projects that we’re passionate about.
We develop leaders.Former MassINC employees have gone on to work at reputable organizations like Harvard University, Boston University, City Year, EnerNOC, and Governor Baker’s office.
We stick with it.Our work on transformative development, which uses public and private funding for projects to revitalize an entire downtown or urban neighborhood, began as Policy Center research report in 2013. A year later, the state legislature passed a bill funding transformative development projects across Massachusetts.
We are nonpartisan.Our Board of Directors includes prominent Massachusetts Democrats and Republicans. We are interested people’s ideas, not which side of the aisle they sit on.
We have a complete toolbox.We aren’t just a think tank. We bring nonpartisan research, civic engagement, journalism, and independent polling together under one roof.
We have state-wide reach.We know that Beacon Hill isn’t the only place to make progress. We’re on the ground in cities across the state working with local leaders.
We have unique networks.We use our connections to bring together a cross-section of diverse leaders to solve problems. Our networks include mayors, economic development directors, superintendents, business people, newspaper editors, arts leaders, and regional transit officials.
Explore research reports
- MassINC is a key partner to the Boston Foundation, and all of us who are seeking to advance the regional conversation around economic opportunity and a strong quality of life for all. MassINC's robust, nonpartisan research is exactly what our citizens and leaders need to make good decisions.
Paul Grogan President of The Boston Foundation
- I watch my inbox for CommonWealth magazine’s Daily Download. I can count on the newsletter to tell me succinctly what’s happening in politics and public policy. The magazine itself always delivers in-depth news, analysis and commentary. It's simply outstanding, quality journalism. I am happy to support unbiased reporting through my participation in Citizens Circle.
Helen Chin Schlichte
Former Public Administrator; President Emeritus, South Cove Manor at Quincy Point
- MassINC's long-term dedication to Gateway Cities makes them a valuable resource to all of our communities. They are a true thought partner. They go the distance to help others appreciate our unique opportunities, needs, and perspectives.
Tim McGourthy Executive Director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau
- MassINC serves as a credible, thoughtful resource for all of us who are invested in the future of the Commonwealth. Its emphasis on careful analysis that is grounded in data, research, and polling makes an important contribution to and helps elevate the conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing the region.
Trevor PollackManager of Special Projects for the Barr Foundation
- The potential of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities is limitless. MassINC’s dedicated work in promoting these cities has been, and will continue to be, instrumental in their individual and collective success.
Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and former chair of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute
- MassINC has always provided research showing the detrimental impact of the state’s unforgiving criminal justice system on our communities. Their polling confirmed that the public understood the need for change in our system. That criminal justice reform is at the forefront of bipartisan local and national debates today is in no small measure due to MassINC’s persistent and fair commitment to the issue.
Juliette Kayyem Faculty Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Founder Kayyem Solutions LLC
- Through my partnership with MassINC, the Building On What Works Coalition is working to unite a diverse collection of civic leaders around an urgent call to encourage the state to act on the progress that has been made ensuring all children in Massachusetts have a true chance to succeed in the state’s economy. MassINC’s research and commitment to data driven public policy are helping to give the children of Massachusetts a better education.
Kim Driscoll Mayor of Salem
- MassINC's work with the Gateway Cities is unmatched. As Eastern Bank strives to help businesses in these communities thrive, MassINC has been a tremendous partner, providing data-driven research and affirming that these cities are full of opportunities.
Bob Rivers Eastern Bank President and COO
- When MassINC speaks, it’s well worth listening. After all, the nonpartisan think tank has established itself as a thoughtful, careful, credible voice on public policy in Massachusetts.
Scot Lehigh Boston Globe Op-Ed Columnist
- Few organizations in the country have better understood the important role of governance reform and accountability in education policy and economic development than MassINC.
Bruce Katz Vice President and Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution
- [MassINC's] understanding of the complexity of the challenges facing the state’s older cities, its belief in the opportunities that present themselves in those communities, and its advocacy of the role that public higher education can and should play in them, has added to the understanding that policy makers need to have as they move our state toward the future.