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Resilient communities are strong communities. Unfortunately, some communities - especially those that are primarily people of color or historically low-income - are disproportionately impacted by environmental, economic, and social challenges. And yet, when we design the built environment to address these challenges, the voices of the residents are often left out of the process.The Sasaki Foundation Design Grants focused on the biennial theme of resilience to highlight the role of design in building stronger communities - proactive approaches to climate adaptation, housing, transit, and placekeeping - the Sasaki Foundation issued a call for proposals to find projects that engaged with communities in the Gateway Cities, Metro West, and Greater Boston.In 2019, the Sasaki Foundation received 18 applications representing 42 organizations, 11 institutions, 8 Boston communities, 6 Greater Boston cities, and 2 Gateway Cities. Finalists pitched their ideas to win grant money and coworking space in the Incubator at Sasaki. The three winning teams spent ten months in the Incubator working on projects that promote equity in design.
Analyses of testing data from fall 2020 indicate the transition to remote learning has resulted in significant learning loss, particularly among low-income and minority students. Using data from the online learning platform Zearn, economists at the Harvard Opportunity Insights project found large losses in math learning for low-income students, whereas students from affluent backgrounds saw gains. This has exacerbated fears that the pandemic is widening the already large achievement gap between students from different income and racial/ethnic groups. The COVID-19 crisis has also had a worrisome impact on students' emotional health — particularly among full-time remote learners, for whom supportive networks of teachers and friends have been disrupted.Findings from the Distance and Disruption study correspond with those of a separate survey of 1,549 Massachusetts parents with school-aged children conducted in October and November 2020. That study found significant gaps by income and racial/ethnic group in access to in-person schooling, and parents of children in remote-learning situations — particularly hybrid in-person/remote arrangements — were more likely to feel their child was falling behind grade level.The Distance and Disruption study further adds to our understanding of the transfer to remote learning by exploring students' perspectives on specific differences in the quality of learning experiences between the in-school and at-home environments. Such differences are a critical link in explaining why remote-learning students are more likely to experience negative outcomes.
An update to Massachusetts' climate policy is on the agenda. In the past year, the Massachusetts House and Senate along with Governor Charlie Baker have all put forward substantial policy proposals to deal with various aspects of climate change. From Speaker Robert DeLeo's GreenWorks resiliency grants for cities and towns to the Governor's new ambitious goal of driving the commonwealth to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, state government is taking the issue seriously. The Massachusetts State Senate just passed new legislation to go even further, setting new emissions targets, pricing carbon, and encouraging purchases of electric vehicles. These bills come at a time of growing anxiety among residents about climate change, and reports from the scientific community that grow more alarming by the day.These are among the findings of a new survey of 2,318 residents of Massachusetts conducted by The MassINC Polling Group. This work is the latest in a series, dating back to 2011, that defined a culture of climate protection as 1) recognizing global warming as a problem and priority, 2) supporting policy efforts to curb global emissions, and 3) putting a premium on individual efforts to reduce one's own carbon footprint. This survey shows progress towards all three of these. The survey was preceded by a series of focus groups conducted across Massachusetts. This report includes insights and quotes from that qualitative research alongside the quantitative findings throughout.
We as a society have made choices that have led to deep inequities. Whether intentional or not, these inequities divide places, races, classes, and cultures across the Commonwealth. To bridge these divisions, policymakers, leaders, and practitioners must reframe decisions and actions with equity as an intentional outcome and part of the process. We write this paper to present a framework of how transit-oriented development (TOD) can help cities, specifically Gateway Cities, embed equity into market-based and other policy tools and practices, thereby transforming their regions through equitable growth and development.This report expands on our 2018 recommendations and lays the groundwork for a series of future policy briefs that will explore the issues covered here in more depth. We call for infusing equity into TOD policies and practices for four specific reasons:Over the past 50 years, demographic change has divided people and communities socially and economically in Gateway City metropolitan regions.Gentrification fears have surged in Gateway Cities' weak real estate markets, where increasing property values threaten to destabilize households and neighborhoods, strip cities of their cultural vibrancy, and put vulnerable residents at risk of displacement and homelessness.Local and nationwide histories of socioeconomic exclusion—particularly along racial and cultural lines—persist today. These histories have exacerbated wealth gaps and income inequality and require both acknowledgement and correction.Finally, a false policy dichotomy that supports either large "urban" or small "nonurban" communities ignores the vital role Gateway Cities play as regional hubs for surrounding towns and cities, thus deepening geographic disparities across the Commonwealth.
A sharp increase in working from home could also spell huge changes in commuting patterns. Massachusetts residents say they will probably be making fewer trips as the state emerges from coronavirus crisis, but more of those trips will be by themselves, according to a new statewide poll out today. On balance, residents expect to drive or walk more, and use all types of shared or public transportation mode less.In all, 35% of residents say they will ride the MBTA subway less than before, and 33% say the same of the commuter rail. Among the most frequent transit users, 44% say they will ride the subway less, and 45% expect to drive more. Young people and Boston residents are among the groups indicating the biggest increases in driving.
Global Strategy Group;
A September 2020 survey of Massachusetts voters on clean energy shows increasingly negative attitudes towards gas and other fossil fuels and heightened concerns about air pollution and public safety amidst the COVID crisis.Description:A survey fielded by Global Strategies Group in September 2020 showed Massachusetts voters continue to view clean energy as an imperative to protect the climate and public health and safety.65% of Massachusetts voters surveyed are ready for bold and decisive action to address the climate crisis, including a complete transition to clean and renewable energy statewide.Massachusetts voters trust scientists and public health experts above all others to convey the facts on energy issues. 85% of Massachusetts voters surveyed trust scientists and 82% trust public health experts to provide them with information on energy issues.Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly support using more solar and wind to generate electricity and a majority supports reducing our reliance on gas. 88% support using more solar, while 85% support using more wind. 52% support reducing reliance on gas.Finally, as the poll was conducted in the midst of the COVID crisis, in terms of stimulus spending to build back from COVID, providing assistance to people to pay their energy bills (86% support) and more incentives for energy efficiency (79% support) topped the list for Massachusetts voters followed by strong support for incentives to switch to cleaner heating alternatives such as heat pumps (68%).
Latinos for Education;
From national test scores to graduation rates, we have reason to be proud of the progress we have made over the past decade.1 During that same time, it has become clear that Latinos have played, and will continue to play, a larger role in the Commonwealth's future. Latinos are expected to comprise 15 percent of the population of Massachusetts by 2035 – growth fueled primarily by in-state births rather than immigration.2 It is critical, then, that Massachusetts' workforce, at every level, reflect our population. This work begins now, in the classroom. Investing in a strong education system that meets the needs of Latinos and other students of color, as well as students from low-income backgrounds, is an investment in the workforce of the future.
The MassInc Polling Group;
These results are based on a survey of 1,502 parents of K-12 students in Massachusetts. Live telephone interviews and online interviewing were conducted in English and Spanish June 4-19, 2020. Telephone respondents were reached by both landline and cell phone. Oversamples of Black, Latino, and Asian American respondents were obtained to bring the total interview count up to at least 250 for each group. Results within race and ethnicity were weighted to age, gender, and education level for each group. Groups were then combined and weighted to the population parameters by race for the state as a whole.
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund;
Money bail continues to divide New York States' criminal legal system into two tiers: one for those who can pay, and one for those who can't. Unfortunately, this means if you can't afford to pay bail, you go to jail.
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund;
In 2019, New York enacted historic pretrial reforms that will result in a dramatic reduction in pretrial detention populations across the state by eliminating bail and pretrial detention for most misdemeanors and non-violentfelonies. That means, in most cases, a person's liberty will not depend on how much money they have.
Center for Community Alternatives;
On January 1st, New York's new bail reform law went into effect. This law, fought for by communities across the state, was designed to reduce the number of people and families harmed by pretrial incarceration, protect the constitutional right to the presumption of innocence, and address the criminalization of poverty and of Black and brown communities.Before the passage of bail reform, New York's fifty-seven counties outside of New York City spent $705.5 million jailing legally innocent people each year.This system of mass pretrial incarceration coerced plea deals and destabilized individuals who were often in dire needof support, not pretrial punishment. By some estimates as many as 84% of people in New York jails had a substance use disorder or mental illness. National surveys show that 20% of people incarcerated in local jails have a "serious mental illness" like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Without bail reform, New York's local jails would have continued to function as warehouses for people failed by social services and social policy, including people struggling with mental health needs, substance use, and homelessness.Bail reform is already working. Each day, there are 6,000 fewer people incarcerated pretrial in New York's local jails.Thousands of people can thus return to their families and receive the treatment and care they need as they await their date in court. With the state budget deadline fast approaching, this is a critical moment for New York's legislature to protect the new law from regressive changes, and instead commit to shifting resources to the services - education, healthcare, mental healthcare, and housing - that keep communities safe and thriving. To do so, we must re-examine the staggering sums counties have historically spent on jailing compared to community-based resources.
SRI Education, the research partner for the Barr Engage New England (ENE) initiative, captured the ENE school and program grantees' learnings about improving instructional systems through interviews of school leaders, school staff members, and external partners; student focus groups; and staff surveys during the 2019-20 school year. This brief describes common facilitators and challenges experienced by grantees as they worked to further their instructional systems. It also provides some promising practices that grantees used to support these efforts or to address challenges.