• 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.

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  • 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…

  • Experts: Look beyond scores to measure school success in cities like Lowell

    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.
    Read more… 

  • Panel says there are many ways to measure students beyond tests

    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.

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  • Worcester Superintendent of Schools Maureen Binienda receives Gateway Cities award for creating more opportunities for students

    SPRINGFIELD — Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Maureen Binienda has worked to create partnerships with local corporations and non-profits to create more opportunities for students.

    Those efforts earned her an award at the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, or MassINC, fourth annual Gateway Cities Innovation Awards and Summit.

    At the event on Tuesday, Binienda accepted the Gateway Cities Champion Award, given annually to someone who has shown “exceptional leadership,” MassINC said in a statement.

    “I was humbled to get the award because there are so many people doing great work,” she said Wednesday morning.

    The event, held at the MassMutual Center, seemed to have a recurring message of collaboration, Binienda said, which especially stood out to her. She took in stories of other people and organizations who addressed problems by looking beyond themselves.

    “Collaboration is the only answer,” she said.

    Read more…

  • Boston real estate four times as expensive as in Gateway Cities

    On the surface, that seems like a plus for house-hunters and businesses looking to relocate in Gateway Cities — but it actually has negative consequences. The low cost of housing means it is not financially worthwhile for developers to build there, so the cities and their economies are not growing.

    That is one of the key pieces of information included in a new study released by the MassINC think tank called Rebuilding Renewal.

    The study identifies the economic challenges faced by Gateway Cities due to slumping real estate prices. Although Massachusetts already invests disproportionately in Gateway Cities, the study recommends that the state increase its efforts to invest in what MassINC calls “transformative development,” which means building projects that are meant to catalyze other development in the surrounding areas.

    “Urban neighborhoods are attractive to people today… On the other hand, these neighborhoods aren’t improving the way we would like them to,” said Ben Forman, research director for MassINC.

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  • Boston real estate boom not giving boost to cities like New Bedford

    “It’s really striking that Massachusetts spent more on courthouses in Gateway Cities than on housing or economic development,” said Benjamin Forman, research director at MassInc. “We need to approach every single dollar spent in these cities by thinking how can this dollar create more growth block by block.”

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  • Sen. Warren calls for federal help with public ed in Clark speech

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave Clark University’s annual Lee Gurel lecture on Monday at the university immediately preceding a symposium focusing on urban education and federal law, and the nationally-known Democratic politician drew applause and amens from a crowd eager to hear her plans on improving urban education.

    The talk was co-sponsored by Clark and MassINC, and the speakers who introduced Warren spent some time talking about Worcester as a “gateway city,” with some needs and areas to improve, especially around education.

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  • Mayor Faces ‘Rite of Passage’: A Campaign Seeking His Exit

    LAWRENCE, Mass. — Daniel Rivera, a first-term mayor who promised to change the pockmarked political landscape of this underdog mill city, has not been charged with a crime or accused of graft.

  • Crime-fighting summit draws AG, area police chiefs, mayors

    Attorney General Maura Healey on Thursday addressed a closed-door meeting of 25 mayors, police chiefs and other officials from around the state who gathered to swap policing strategies.

    The meeting at the downtown campus of Northern Essex Community College was closed to the public. But afterward, Healey and others said it focused on helping police in the state’s so-called gateway cities – mid-sized cities that are struggling to regain their economies after their manufacturing industries failed or left – share best practices in fighting crime.
    Read more…

  • Dohan honored as a Gateway Cities innovator

    Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise – Dohan honored as a Gateway Cities innovator
    The Gateway Cities Innovative Institute, an organization created by the think tank MassINC, celebrated its first anniversary at a luncheon on Tuesday that included the issuing of these awards.

  • Gateway Cities target education

    Worcester Telegram & Gazette – Gateway Cities target education

    Fitchburg Mayor Lisa A. Wong and Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll were co-chairmen of the initiative, which involved dozens of people and is supported by the MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Institute.

  • English, preschool should be focus of education in Gateway Cities

    Support for early education and English language learners should be policy priorities for struggling regional hubs like New Bedford, according to a new report on Gateway Cities.

    The report, released by the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC)’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, was authored by Mayors Kimberley Driscoll of Salem and Lisa Wong of Fitchburg and based on a year-long study of other former industrial cities’ educational needs.

    Wong said the purpose of the report is to underscore the unique needs of Gateway Cities and to help lobby the state and federal government to fund education programs to help revitalize them. Read more…

  • Gateway Cities target education

    The state’s Gateway Cities are banding together to try to improve education in their areas, a move they hope will lead to economic revitalization.

    Fitchburg Mayor Lisa A. Wong and Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll were co-chairmen of the initiative, which involved dozens of people and is supported by the MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Institute. The group is releasing a report today about the need for more access to high-quality preschool and new approaches in high school.

    Gateway Cities, a group of 26 cities identified by law that includes Fitchburg, Leominster and Worcester, are home to a third of the state’s residents under 5 years old and half of all high-need students, Ms. Wong said in a press release.Read more…

  • Report highlights need for students in gateway cities to excel

    A “grassroots” effort to improve educational opportunities and skills training for students in the state’s 26 “gateway cities” is underway.

    The report, the Gateway Cities’ Vision for Dynamic Community-Wide Learning Systems, or the “Vision” for short, calls for increased access to high-quality pre-kindergarten education and academic development in high school, said Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, who co-chaired the initiative.

    She, along with Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, who joins Wong as co-chairwoman of the initiative, unveiled the report to news reporters during a phone conference on Tuesday. Read more…

  • Gateway Cities share vision of improved education, community partnerships

    In order for cities such as Worcester, Fitchburg and Leominster to churn out citizens that are prepared to enter the workforce and strengthen the middle class, they first must create a way to provide a better education in a nurturing and stable environment.

    To this end, officials from each of those cities, along with those from more than a dozen other urban communities, spent more than one year preparing a multi-tiered plan, complete with proposals and policy changes, in order to reach their goal.

    On Tuesday, Gateway City mayors and members of the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC), a non-partisan think tank, unveiled “Gateway Cities Vision for Dynamic Community-Wide Learning Systems,” a 60-page report focused on strategic ways to better prepare children for careers as adults. Read more…

  • Urban centers strive to prepare students for 21st Century jobs under newly released vision

    A group of mayors and education leaders from the state’s Gateway Cities, such as Springfield and Holyoke, are calling for expanded efforts to help prepare students for 21st century jobs.

    The local leaders, in collaboration with a not-for-profit think tank, MassINC, unveiled their vision Tuesday that includes: expanding access to high-quality, pre-kindergarten education and creating stronger partnerships with local employers and colleges.

    In addition, the report calls for increasing the number of school-based health centers to help students with “social and emotional growth,” increasing funds for after-school enrichment programs, increasing learning time in the early grades, and expanding summer-enrichment efforts among other endeavors. (Read more…)

  • Lowell organization named Gateway Cities innovator

    A Lowell organization and Fitchburg community leader were honored at the Gateway Cities Innovator Awards for their work to improve and redevelop neighborhoods and stimulate entrepreneurship among residents.

    The Gateway City Innovative Institute, an organization created by the think tank MassINC, celebrated its first anniversary at a luncheon Tuesday by awarding the Merrimack Valley Sandbox and Marc Dohan, executive director of Twin Cities Community Development Corporation.

    Lowell, Lawrence, Fitchburg and Leominster are among 26 Gateway Cities across state, which are cities with populations between 35,000 and 250,000. Read more…

  • O’Connell Companies of Holyoke, Jay Minkarah of DevelopSpringfield, Armando Feliciano of Springfield Redevelopment Authority honored by MassINC Gateway Cities

    MassINC, together with leaders from the 26 Gateway Cities, will celebrate the innovative spirit of Massachusetts’ historic Gateway Cities by honoring five individuals and two organizations that have had a transformative impact on their communities, according to a news release.

    Local honorees are the O’Connell Companies of Holyoke; Armando Feliciano, of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority; and Jay Minkarah, of DevelopSpringfield.

    Feliciano is a longtime Springfield community leader and chairman of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. After the 2011 tornado destroyed Feliciano’s home, he strove not only to rebuild his own property, but also to foster a collaborative partnership between the SRA and DevelopSpringfield, a newly formed public-private economic development organization. As the first CEO of DevelopSpringfield, Minkarah has devoted enormous energy to this joint effort. The opportunity their collaboration has produced is embodied in the Rebuild Springfield Plan – an ambitious, forward-thinking blueprint for the city’s future that the SRA and DevelopSpringfield are now working together to implement. (Read more…)

  • Gateway Cities bill would expand funding

    The Standard Times – Gateway Cities bill would expand funding

    A bill aimed at creating new benefits for the state’s post-industrial Gateway Cities, including a $125 million fund to stimulate residential construction, has drawn the support of mayors and a half-dozen state legislators even as critics contend that the measure unnecessarily locks smaller communities out of such funds.

    The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, a research center housed within nonprofit organization MassINC that looks to tackle problems faced by post-industrial communities, recently told the state Legislature that the Massachusetts economy as a whole has been “underperforming for some time.”

  • Armando Feliciano Jay Minkarah honored for Gateway Cities work

    MassLive – Armando Feliciano, Jay Minkarah honored for Gateway Cities work

    MassINC will honor Armando Feliciano, chairman of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, and Jay Minkarah of DevelopSpringfield as well as The O’Connell Companies for their efforts at revitalizing Massachusetts cities.


  • Priming the pump for Gateway Cities

    Springfield Republican – Priming the pump for Gateway Cities
    A bill now working its way through the Massachusetts legislature would put thousands of residents to work right away while overhauling the state’s midsize urban centers to make them stronger regional economic engines over the long term.

  • As Martha Coakley enters governor’s race does she hope to replicate Warren’s Gateway City success

    The Herald News – As Martha Coakley enters governor’s race does she hope to replicate Warren’s Gateway City success

    Her first day on the gubernatorial campaign trail Martha Coakley is busy shaking hands.

    According to a Nov. 2012 article in Commonwealth Magazine by Paul McMorrow, Warren scored big in the Gateway Cities to defeat Scott Brown, while Coakley’s margin of victory in the same cities two years earlier was much smaller, helping Brown to victory.


    Taunton Gazette – GUEST OPINION: Transformative redevelopment would help Gateway Cities
    Primed for transformative projects, Gateway Cities need the right tools.

  • ‘Gateway Cities’ Designation Could Be Key To Recovery

    Worcester Business Journal – ‘Gateway Cities’ Designation Could Be Key To Recovery

    Perhaps feeling as if they had always been taking a back seat to the Boston area, officials in communities dubbed Gateway Cities feel they’re making a stronger impact by leveraging common issues and concerns, to effect policy changes that can boost business and housing development within their locales.

    “The idea is that they’re very unique places, but the state’s economic policy hasn’t always recognized they’re different from Boston,” said Ben Forman, executive director of the Gateway Cities Institute at MassINC, a Boston-based think tank. 

  • Regional transportation forum open to public

    Eagle Tribune – Regional transportation forum open to public

    MassINC and Transportation for Massachusetts will hold a public forum and panel discussion on regional transportation investments in Massachusetts Gateway Cities Tuesday, April 2 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Hartleb Technology Center (Room 103AB) on the Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College, 100 Elliott St.

  • At UMD panel, speakers detail need for better bus service in region

    Fall River Herald – At UMD panel, speakers detail need for better bus service in region
    Loss of economic opportunity, lack of access to health care facilities and a burden on the work force are just some of the problems with the region’s bus service detailed by speakers at a panel discussion on Thursday during a forum on investing in public transportation for economic growth.

    The event was sponsored by the Boston-based think tank MassINC and held at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. MassINC also presented its findings on a study of improving regional transit authorities — including the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority — in Gateway Cities around the state.

  • Forum touches on taxes, transit

    Telegram & Gazette – Forum touches on taxes, transit

    Increasing public transportation offerings and access is crucial to economies in cities like Worcester, but meeting that demand must be tempered with the need to keep taxes low enough to help businesses grow, members of a forum at Clark University said Monday.

    Framed around a recent Mass-INC report on investing in public transportation in Gateway Cities, called “Reinventing Transit,” the forum looked at ways to smartly offer more service to public transportation users, and spotlighted challenges riders face, particularly in lower-income populations.

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