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

Beacon Hill takes another look at regional transportation funding

The Gateway Cities Journal

Gateway City leaders testified at a State House hearing this week in favor of legislation to give voters the option to raise funds for local transportation projects through dedicated taxes. The bill, which is sponsored by Gateway Cities caucus co-chair Senator Eric Lesser, mirrors legislation championed by former caucus co-chair Senator Ben Downing. Senator Downing’s

MICCR hosts third annual convening

Project leaders come together

Senior academic researchers from across the country converged in Massachusetts this week for the third annual Massachusetts Institute of College and Career Readiness (MICCR). Over the past three years, these researchers have partnered with local Gateway City educators to develop and evaluate a range of projects designed to ensure students graduate well-prepared for post-secondary success.

Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus

Talks TDI and other FY 2018 budget priorities

The Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus met today, led by co-chairs Rep. Antonio Cabral and Sen. Eric Lesser, to discuss budget priorities and proposed amendments. A small victory for Gateway Cities came with the return of the English Language Learner’s in Gateway Cities line item (7009-6400). The program, which began with $3.2 million is FY 2013,

Ben Forman testifies before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue

In support of “An Act Relative to Regional Transportation Ballot Initiatives” (H. 1640)

Below is MassINC Research Director Ben Forman’s testimony in support of regional ballot initiatives to fund transportation projects in Massachusetts. Ben testified before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue on April 10, 2017. Joint Committee on Revenue In support of “An Act Relative to Regional Transportation Ballot Initiatives” (H. 1640) Ben Forman Research Director, MassINC

City Councilor highlights reentry initiative

OTO’s collaboration, coordination of reentry services has proven success

Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell held a hearing to review the Overcoming the Odds program (OTO), a reentry initiative from Community Resources for Justice. The goal of this initiative is to better engage individuals with existing programs and services and overcome barriers to success that individuals too often face following reentry. The program relies on

Seeking out the educational accountability muse

The Gateway Cities Journal

“Sometimes we live no particular way but our own” goes the Grateful Dead lyric which, in a nut shell, describes the educational accountability vibe in Massachusetts’s plan for implementing the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA invites states to hold schools accountable for delivering a wider range of learning. In contrast to a host of states that

The Codcast: Missed opportunities with new K-12 plan

Ben Forman talks MA state plan

Massachusetts is about to submit to the US Department of Education its plan for monitoring and holding schools accountable under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, the law passed in late 2015 that replaced the No Child Left Behind law. The new law, which, like the No Child statute, is really a reauthorization of landmark

A plan for building social-emotional support systems

BC’s School of Education visits State House

As much as two-thirds of the variance in student achievement has been attributed to out-of-school factors such as health, neighborhood safety, and family instability. Studies have demonstrated that systemic and coordinated effort to promote social-emotional development can help address these barriers to learning. The Gateway Cities education vision called for establishing such a system. Our research

Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus renews its commitment to lead on urban education

Investing significant energy and political capital

The Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus met on March 22nd to reaffirm their commitment to work collaboratively this session on issues affecting urban school districts. Caucus members were joined by Superintendents Kathy Smith of Brockton, Mary Bourque of Chelsea, and Dianne Kelly of Revere. The superintendents expressed grave concern over the future of funding for urban

Gateway Cities take a big step forward on early college

Expanding access to early college programs

Education leaders from across the state gathered in Boston on March 23rd to launch an initiative to dramatically expand access to early college programs in Massachusetts. A model pioneered by Gateway Cities over the last decade, early college was a central strategy outlined in the 2013 Gateway Cities education vision. The new initiative seeks to scale

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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