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.

Resources

Gateway City Leaders

Increasing access to high-quality summer learning

The Gateway Cities Journal

Next week, Rep. Alice Peisch will host a briefing on her new bill, An Act to Increase Access to High-Quality Summer Learning Opportunities. This legislation will give more students the chance to participate in high-quality summer learning programs all across our Commonwealth. Mayors and school leaders from Worcester, New Bedford, and Salem supported an earlier

MassINC issues public comments on state’s proposed ESSA plan

For the past 12 months, MassINC has been focused on the potential the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers to further educational excellence in our Gateway Cities. This work builds on over a decade of MassINC research on education accountability, including the seminal report Incomplete Grade: Education Reform at 15. Our efforts to

Profiles in Courage

The MassCJRC Journal

Last month, Governor Baker introduced much anticipated legislation to address recommendations made by the Council of State Governments (CSG) on backend criminal justice reform. In public remarks given on the same day the CSG legislative package was unveiled, Chief Justice Gants called this work a “first down, not a touchdown.” Calling attention to the State

The National Day of Empathy

Event Recap

On March 1, MassINC joined with the national bipartisan initiative #cut50 along with organizations across the country for a single day of action to highlight the strength of the bipartisan criminal justice reform movement. The Day of Empathy united groups from Boston to Oakland in solidarity, as a way to generate compassion and understanding on

State leaders unveil bill aimed at cutting recidivism

Officials divided on further changes, Gants urges repeal of most mandatory minimums

STATE LEADERS UNVEILED long-awaited legislation Tuesday aimed at reducing recidivism rates in the criminal justice system. But whether the bill tackles the most pressing issue facing the system or simply marks a good first step in what should be a more sweeping reform process depends on which leader is speaking. That divide is likely to

Talking workforce development innovation at the State House

The Gateway Cities Journal

The topic was workforce development at the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus last week. MassINC shared recent research findings showing one in five Gateway City residents is struggling in the labor market, working in very low-wage employment, unemployed, or no longer actively seeking a job. A slightly larger share of the young adult Gateway City population,

Next Generation Education Accountability in Pittsfield

Recapping Our Sixth (and Final) Community Conversation

Tuesday, MassINC joined with the Berkshire Compact for our final community forum on the possibilities the Every Student Succeeds Act presents to improve teaching and learning in inclusive urban school districts. A coalition of community partners, including the K-12 schools, college leaders, and local businesses and business-led organizations, the compact works to strengthen the regional economy by raising

Senators outline broad criminal justice reform agenda

Lawmakers look to broaden scope beyond pending report

SAYING THE TIME is right for the state to take a look at sweeping criminal justice reforms, a group of Democratic state senators is urging the Legislature to take up bills addressing everything from mandatory minimum drug sentences to fines and fees that lawmakers say are unfairly leading some people to spend time behind bars

Next Generation Education Accountability in Boston

Recapping Our Fifth Community Conversation

Last Saturday, MassINC joined with a number of partners to bring students, parents, teachers, and civic leaders together to think about the possibilities the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents to improve teaching and learning in our inclusive urban school districts. The format for the meeting was slightly different than our previous forums. With more

Requesting Public Comment

Massachusetts ESSA State Plan Draft

From the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education The draft of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan has been posted on the Executive Office of Education’s website. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education welcomes your comments, and asks that you use this survey to provide feedback so that all of your thoughts can

Press coverage

  • Mandatory sentences need reform, ex-cons and officials say

    The National Day of Empathy, held in conjunction with MassInc. and #Cut50, was designed to generate empathy on a massive scale for millions of Americans impacted by the criminal justice system…Those gathered at the Statehouse highlighted the needs and shared the perspective of Americans impacted by the current justice system — with speakers ranging from incarcerated individuals working to transform themselves to people with criminal records desperately seeking a second chance.

    Read More

  • How to make sure every student succeeds

    MassInc. Research Director Ben Forman said that for so-called Gateway Cities like Pittsfield, urban centers outside of Boston that are critical indicators of the state of the commonwealth, to advance, they must enhance their educational assets and vision to create high-quality learning environments.

    “If the new formula the state designs to sort schools is not sensitive to the complexity of inclusive urban districts,” Forman wrote in a December 2016 policy paper, “Gateway Cities will have great difficulty attracting both families with young children and talented educators to their communities.”

    MassInc. convened a public breakfast forum at the Berkshire Museum last week, in partnership with the Berkshire Compact for Education, to address how to best improve the state’s current accountability system.

    Read More

  • Senators push criminal justice reform

    “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.

    Read More…

  • Grading the schools: New standards to factor in advanced courses, career prep

    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.

    Read more…

  • New Bedford could fare better in new school evaluation system

    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.

    Read more…

MassINC Policy Center

Coming up

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 Videos

@MassINC

  • 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.

    Jay Ash
    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.

    Jean MacCormack

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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