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

State House Forum Brings to Life the Power of Early College

Event Recap

MassINC unveiled new research on Early College high schools last Thursday, June 6th, at a State House forum. Our new report showcases data from two independent randomized controlled trials suggesting Early Colleges have demonstrated ability to double post-secondary degree completion among low-income high school students. Based on these strong results, rigorous cost-benefit analysis finds Early

‘Gateways’ Goes to Early College: Leominster

Gateways Episode 20

Hosts Ben Forman and Juana Matias begin the second installment in our podcast series exploring the promise of Early College by reflecting on a recent State House forum where over a hundred Early College students and educators shared their transformational experiences. Juana then interviews Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago. He explains how Early College

Northern Massachusetts Transformative Transit-Oriented Development (TTOD) Regional Forum

Event Recap

On Thursday, May 30th, the Northern Massachusetts Transformative Transit-Oriented Development (TTOD) Regional Forum brought people from across the Commonwealth to the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub. Participants in the morning’s activities dug into how Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill are transforming their cities and surrounding communities using transit-oriented development. Speakers and panelists discussed proposed and active rail

Wielding the Double-Edged Zoning Sword

The Gateway Cities Journal

The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance released a new study linking the state’s housing crisis to zoning at a well-attended State House event last week. Amy Dain, lead author of the report, pointed to four ways zoning inhibits the housing market: height and density limits, ad hoc approval processes, mixed-use commercial requirements, and “edge city” land

Special fare for low-income T riders gains momentum

Some control board members back more commuter rail discounts

MBTA GENERAL MANAGER Steve Poftak said on Monday that the agency intends to research how to implement a special, less expensive fare for low-income people, but he said the scope and parameters of the study need to be worked out. “The intent is to study it. It’s just a question of the depth of the

‘Gateways’ Goes to Early College: Salem

Gateways Episode 19

This episode is the first in a series of three exploring the unique power of Early College pathways. We begin with Joel Vargas, a national leader in the Early College movement at Jobs for the Future. Then we visit Salem to talk with a group of educators about their collaborative effort to launch an Early

Central Massachusetts Transformative Transit-Oriented Development (TTOD) Regional Forum

Event Recap

On Tuesday, May 21st, the Fitchburg Art Museum hosted the Central Massachusetts Transformative Transit-Oriented Development (TTOD) Regional Forum. Along with event partners, the MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Institute explored how Fitchburg, Leominster, Worcester, and other cities are using transit-oriented development to transform communities in Central Massachusetts. The panelists and presenters shared insights about proposed rail

From “collective breaking point” to collective victory

The Gateway Cities Journal

In 2013, Gateway City leaders worked with MassINC to develop an education vision. This blueprint articulated how they could take advantage of their many uniquely urban assets to build economically-integrated schools that provide all students with exceptional educational opportunities. Gateway City educators labored to fulfill this vision with an array of innovative programs, but time

Press coverage

  • Boom in transit ridership could signal big changes for Brockton

    “Brockton was really slow to see any reinvestment and then all of a sudden the city has built a tremendous pipeline,” said Ben Forman, director of MassINC’s Gateway Cities Institute, which studies the state’s substantial collection of mid-sized, formerly industrial cities. Brockton has since “leapfrogged” many of the cities it once lagged behind in terms of housing production, according to Forman.

    Read More…

  • Viewpoint: Affordability, congestion can be solved with smart, bold policies

    A flexible tax credit equal to up to 25 percent of development expenses, HDIP is quietly accumulating an impressive track record breathing new life into abandoned buildings and long-vacant lots near Gateway City train stations. MassINC research shows each dollar in state HDIP funding has leveraged approximately 12 additional dollars. Housing Choice and Opportunity Funds could provide even more leverage in the future, but the state must have credits available to deploy. Currently, HDIP is up against an annual cap of just $10 million.

    Read More…

  • A Complex Recipe for Housing Financing

    Rob May, Brockton’s director of economic development and planning, famously offers up his seven-layer dip to anyone with a taste for the city’s downtown.

    A 121B Urban Renewal plan forms the base. Then, he mixes in 40Q District Improvement Financing, a 40R Smart Growth Overlay District, a 40V Housing Development Zone and a Transformative Development District. He recently has added an Opportunity Zone for a dash of spice. Apparently, a few stout souls have an appetite for this concoction; a downtown that sat idle for four decades has been steadily drawing private investment.

    As a case study for planners and policymakers, May’s seven-layer dip raises two central questions: How do we get other Gateway Cities to make better use of available state and federal development tools? And how do we refine these programs so that form a complementary fabric rather than a conflicting patchwork for cities?

    Read More…

  • Opinion: State should strengthen, not take over, local school committees

    As a result, the strategic plans Massachusetts schools prepare today are anything but strategic. MassINC research shows that these plans don’t allocate resources to meet priorities, they don’t contain measurable goals to hold leaders accountable for results, and, perhaps most tellingly, they aren’t clear and accessible. This leaves parents with little grasp for what their schools are trying to improve upon, and how they can support the effort.

    Read More…

  • Next Stop: The Commuter Rail

    WGBH News’ Bob Seay sits down with President of Transit Matters, Josh Fairchild, Transportation-Oriented Development Fellow of the Gateway Cities Institute at MassINC, Tracy Corley, and Mayor of Salem, Kim Driscoll, to discuss reliability, fare hikes and the future of the Commuter Rail. Watch it here…

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@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 Pollack, Manager 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 Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank

  • 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 Former 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

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.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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