MassINC Matters: The January/February Round-Up

The latest from our research, journalism, and polling


Welcome to our first “MassINC Matters” newsletter of 2024. As a valued member of our community, you’ll receive an email update from us every other month providing you with an insider’s perspective into the latest work happening across our organization.

While we wrap up the final days of the month, here’s a round-up of what we’ve been up to in January and February:

Policy Center

January 24th- MassINC released Criminal Justice Reform: A Five-Year Progress Assessment produced in partnership with Boston Indicators. The 2018 criminal justice reform legislation significantly reduced incarceration without harming public safety. However, it also points out challenges that require further attention, including growing racial disparities and limited behavioral health treatment capacity in the  community.
February 5th- MassINC released In Pursuit of Greatness: Bold Strategies to Grow a Strong and Diverse Educator Workforce. The report highlights various programs and policy changes to increase the the diversity of the educator workforce in Massachusetts. While these efforts have contributed to twice as many educators of color entering the workforce every year, the gap between the racial and ethnic composition of students and teachers is projected to widen in the coming years. The report includes recommended policy actions to accelerate the pace of change.

February 16th- The release of Housing for All: Forward-Looking Strategies for a Growing New Bedford, highlights the effect of the housing shortage in New Bedford’s residential market. It identifies factors driving up costs, the economic consequences of rising housing prices, and provides estimates for the number of homes needed to stabilize prices. This framework will help inform our ability to understand housing needs across our Gateway Cities and demonstrate its potential to address the statewide housing crisis.

MassINC in the Media

Incarceration and crime rates both down sharply since 2018 reforms

CommonWealth Beacon

New report: Drastic increase in housing needed to overcome crisis

The New Bedford Light

Mass. nearly halved its incarceration rate in 10 years, report finds

Boston Globe

Mass. districts boosted teacher diversity over the last decade, but the diversity of the student population grew faster

Boston Globe

Five years after landmark criminal justice reform, prison racial disparities widen in Mass.


Study says state faces growing teacher diversity challenge if action isn’t taken.

CommonWealth Beacon

As home prices rise in New Bedford, is gentrification really to blame?

The Public’s Radio

Fewer prisoners, but bigger racial gaps. What’s the future of Mass. criminal justice reform?


There’s a regional housing shortage in the SouthCoast. Here’s a closer look at why

SouthCoast Today


MassINC is seeking policy interns to contribute to various research projects across issue areas like housing, transportation, education, economic development and more. These paid internship opportunities are available to currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students.

Click here for more information; applications due by March 15th.

Gateway Cities Innovation Institute

  • January 23rd- The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute and the LEADS network held a housing discussion with Secretary Augustus and Gateway City leaders to identify ways regional cities can help the Commonwealth reach its housing goals.
  • February 9th- MassINC convened 75 municipal leaders for the Governor’s Climate Office to inform the administration’s climate action plan.
  • With the legislative session in its homestretch, Gateway Cities mayors recently put their weight behind the Downtown Vitality Act (dedicating a portion of online sales tax revenue to support local commercial districts), the Affordable Homes Act (the Governor’s $4B housing bond bill), and the RTA Advancement Bill (to strengthen regional transit agencies). Learn more by reading the full letters here.
  • MassINC staff developed a financial analysis of the Downtown Vitality Act and briefed the Executive Office of Economic Development, the Mass Association of Business Improvement Districts, and the Mass Municipal Association.

CommonWealth Beacon

  • February 12th- CommonWealth Beacon hosted its first membership event at the Shah Family Foundation featuring a lively conversation with a distinguished panel answering the question: “Is #mapoli Breaking Up?” Nearly 50 guests joined the live crossover podcast event with The Codcast and The Horse Race. You can listen to the episode and check out photos from the evening here.
  • CommonWealth Beacon is proud to announce its official membership to the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) and Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. As a member of INN network, CWB joins a collaborative group of news organizations across the country who are working to advance excellence in journalism. The LION membership strengthens the business acumen of its newsroom, providing access to resources that help increase reach, revenue, and impact.
  • CommonWealth Beacon continues to produce journalism that other news outlets recognize, with the Rhode Island Courant recently republishing an article by Michael Jonas on contradictory policies for young adults and the Boston Globe citing an article by Bhaamati Borkhetaria in its editorial calling for better regulation of THC-infused products. Banker & Tradesman is the latest publication to republish a CommonWealth Beacon article, amplifying Gin Dumcius’s story on Methuen’s claim that the state’s use of a motel for migrant housing qualifies the city to block a new project from being built.
  • CommonWealth Beacon launched a new partnership with the Civic Action Project and the Institute for Non-profit Practice to train participants in writing a compelling op-ed. Contributors are then invited to submit a piece to “CommonWealth Voices”, CWB’s opinion column. The online training was delivered by Renee Loth, an opinion columnist at the Boston Globe and adjunct lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The goal of the program is to expand and diversify CommonWealth Beacon’s opinion contributors while enabling emerging civic leaders to share their ideas with CWB readers. Two more trainings are expected this year.

Virtual training on op-ed submissions taught by Boston Globe opinion columnist, Renee Loth.

         Email Ryan Garcia to learn more about advertising opportunities.

Top CWB Articles 📰

1.    The last of Somerville’s old guard

2.    Healey goes on hiring spree at MBTA

3.    Healey outmaneuvering Wu on low-income fare

Popular Opinion 📈

1.    Some thoughts on how to deal with the Steward situation

2.    Newton leaders and residents made their own bed

3.    MIT students propose better ways to connect Kendall Sq. and Logan

Do you receive The Download, our daily newsletter covering statewide politics and civic life or CommonWealth Voices, our Sunday newsletter featuring opinion pieces from key contributors? If the answer is no, subscribe today to get them delivered to your inbox and consider becoming a member.

The MassINC Polling Group

  • MPG in the top 20 nationwide. The data and news website FiveThirtyEight has ranked The MassINC Polling Group 18th out of 540 polling firms nationally. The ratings are based on pollsters’ track record of accuracy and their transparency about their polling methods. Massachusetts is well-represented on the list, with 5 pollsters in the top 20.
  • Understanding Transportation in Western Massachusetts. MPG is embarking on a new project to understand the transportation needs of lower-income residents in Hampden and Hampshire counties. The MassDOT People and Transportation project pairs MPG with Way Finders, which provides housing and other support services to residents in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, and beyond.
  • A focus on small business. MPG is working with the Coalition for an Equitable Economy on the third wave of the survey of Massachusetts small businesses. Past surveys have been widely covered in the media, briefed to policy makers, and contributed to pro-small business policies at the state level.

Upcoming Events 📅

  • February 28- In Pursuit of Greatness Virtual Report Launch (via Zoom) | Register
  • March 12- Welcoming a New Era: Celebrating the Launch of CommonWealth Beacon (Members-only Event) | Become a member
  • March 27- A Conversation on MBTA Communities (Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, MA) | Register

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