Massacusetts CDC Leaders Chosen for MA Committees

March 30th, 2015 by Sarah Murphy Gray

MACDC President Joe Kriesberg and Executive Director of Asian CDC, Janelle Chan, now serve as two of several new members to the New England Community Development Advisory Council. This council provides instrumental support to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on issues pertinent to community development and ways in which the bank can improve communities and the lives of low and moderate income families. The council is representative of several different sectors from across New England, including academic institutions, foundations, community organizations, private non profit  developers, state and local government, and banks. The work of the Advisory Council plays a role in the larger system of Federal Reserve Banks as well, providing national support to community development initiatives as a whole. ​Joe Kriesberg has also been chosen to serve on the Housing Matters Advisory Committee. How Housing Matters, an organization sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and the Urban Land Institute, produces key research on how education, economy, and health​ can be improved by affordable housing.Congratulations Joe and Janelle!

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ICIC Small Business Development Programs

March 26th, 2015 by

Joe Kriesberg and David Bryant recently met with Steve Grossman and his staff from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) to learn about two of their programs designed to help small businesses develop, thrive and grow at different stages. Here is a brief overview of the programs, Inner City Capital Connections and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) programs. We urge you to share this information with small business partners in your communities.

Both the Inner City Capital Connections Program (ICCC) and 10KSB Program help small businesses at different stages of their growth cycle. The 10KSB program provides the foundational tools necessary to build a growth plan. The Inner City Capital Connections Program works with companies who have a growth plan to help them build capacity and access capital needed to drive continued growth.


Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is a national program designed to accelerate small business growth and access to capital. ICCC helps firms in the growth-to-exit stage overcome obstacles to reach their respective goals. Our participants experience different business challenges from the need for capital to restructuring growth strategies.

Our executive education will be held in Philadelphia, Birmingham, Dallas and Boston. The culminating conference will be held in New York.

Companies must have the following qualifications:

  • Independent, for-profit corporation, partnership or proprietorship
  • Inner city location—headquarters or 51%+ of physical operations in economically distressed urban areas of the U.S. or have 40% or more of your employees residing in an economically distressed area.
  • Revenues of $2 million or more in 2014.

If you have any questions, please email Hyacinth Vassell at


Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a world class entrepreneurship education program that provides small business owners with the opportunity to step away from day-to-day operations and focus on growth. In professional workshops, business owners will:

  • Learn from some of the brightest minds in business
  • Explore opportunities to access financial capital
  • Build a powerful network of professional support

If accepted, program tuition is at no cost to the business owner!

With the launch of 10,000 Small Businesses at Babson College in late 2013, the 10,000 Small Businessesprogram is now available to business owners from all 50 states. This unique model of the program, our National Cohort, connects small business owners with a nationally-sourced class of peers for 11 weeks of practical business education delivered through a blend of online facilitated learning and on campus sessions at Babson College. All business owners graduate with a customized 5-year strategic growth plan for their business.

There is no cost to apply, and all accepted business owners receive a full scholarship to participate. All reasonable travel and accommodation costs associated with the trips to Babson College are covered as part of this scholarship.

The program’s qualifying criteria are as follows:

  • The applicant is a small business owner or small business co-owner
  • The business has been in operation for at least two years
  • The business revenues were are at least $150,000 in the most recent fiscal year
  • The business has a minimum of four employees (including the owner)

The application deadline for the upcoming fall 2015 National Cohort is April 20th, 2015. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so business owners are encouraged to apply early! For more information, please visit or email



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Massachusetts Loses Two Housing Heroes

March 25th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

Massachusetts is home to many outstanding “housers,” but sadly we lost two of our best last week when Michael Stone and Florence Hagins passed away.

Florence was the Assistant Director for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance until her retirement a few years ago, but she was much more than that too.  She was a devoted mother, community activist and the first person to ever buy a home with the Massachusetts Soft Second Mortgage program in 1991 – the first of more than 18,000 first-time homebuyers to use the program. Florence was just another community member hoping to buy a home when she ran into the same obstacles facing many moderate-income families of color in Boston. Then she discovered MAHA and the Soft Second Program and everything changed. She bought a house, became a volunteer, a staff member, and ultimately Assistant Director. Along the way, she negotiated with bank presidents and lobbied legislators and inspired all of us who do this work.  All of us who knew her and worked with her will miss her deeply. You can learn more about her extraordinary life by reading this tribute from MAHA.

Michael recently retired as a Professor at UMass Boston where he had taught and wrote about affordable housing for decades. Of course, it was hard to tell that Michael had retired because he remained so active – serving on boards of housing nonprofits, conducting research, developing policy proposals, advocating, teaching, mentoring, and motivating all of us who had the honor of knowing him. Michael worked with the Boston Tenant Coalition, the Coalition for Occupied Housing in Foreclosure (COHIF), City Life Vida Urbana, and many others. His book Shelter Poverty: New Ideas on Housing Affordability has been called "the definitive book on housing and social justice in the United States." I can recall many conversations and debates with Michael where we would pore over his numbers and try to reach a common understanding. Sometimes we did. Sometimes we didn’t.  But I also felt respected and always learned something in the course of our discussions.  A few days ago, Michael passed away tragically while on vacation in Hawaii. All of us are still in shock. He was a good man who did important and impactful work that will long be remembered.

May the memories of these two wonderful people serve as inspiration to the rest of us who carry on the work of making sure that everyone has a safe and decent place to call home.

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SCC's First Source Celebrates First Year

March 23rd, 2015 by Jorge Colón

This month, the Somerville Community Corporation's (SCC) First Source Jobs Initiative celebrates one year of connecting local job seekers with local jobs. It's a clear-cut mission, but one that takes many hands, minds and partners to make a reality.

Stemming from SCC's Jobs for Somerville organizing work, and in partnership with the City of Somerville and The Career Place, SCC launched First Source in March 2014 to provide soft-skill workshops and individual case management to best match Somerville job seekers to local employers. With an emphasis on residents facing barriers to employment, First Source quickly expanded its vision, participation and impact throughout the year, illustrating a great need for support services like this in Somerville.

First Source "Year 1" Highlights:

  • Hosted 48 soft-skills workshops on things as financial education and  interviewing tips, reaching 125 individuals and enrolling 256 to the talent bank;
  • Enrolled 154 people into talent bank through active intakes, identifying more than twice as many people than predicted actively seeking employment;
  • Performed case management with over 130 people, assisting on a individual basis with resume preparation and mapping out a goals to secure ideal employment;
  • Helped 61 people find job placements in Somerville;
  • Registered 77 employers to support local hire;
  • Held 2 Job Fairs, attracting 118 job seekers;
  • Supported 53 youth ages 18-24 under the new Pocket Change with job training and short and long-term employment and 20 of them obtained employment

It truly is a time to celebrate 
While SCC's vision for First Source and its impact on the Somerville community continues to grow into its second year, so does its funding. We thank the City of Somerville for its continued support for this program which will benefit so many residents.
For more information on First Source, contact Jorge Colón 617-776-5931 x232 or

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Pro Bono Analytics for CDCs

March 23rd, 2015 by Michael Johnson

How do you know if your programming is making a difference?  How are you measuring your organization’s impact?  If you can provide direct first-hand experience in a compelling narrative for one situation or family with whom you provided critical support, then you’re off to a strong start.  But, of course, it’s not enough anymore to send along one or maybe two success stories to a funder; and personal narrative doesn’t help you identify trends and patterns as readily as data.  Of course, data is a vague term and even idea to many.  Often, discussing how to measure the impact of an organization can quickly become supplanted by how much is this going to cost and statements, such as “I can’t dedicate half my staff to measuring what the other half of the team is doing!”  This is where a consultant in operations can be of great value to identify what needs to be tracked, measured and quantified, and, of course, how to do it without consuming mission-critical resources.

As a professor in business operations and management at UMass Boston, I first became interested in the work of CDCs when I learned about the vital role they play in providing affordable housing. After coming to UMass Boston, I directed a class project with MACDC as the client, and saw how impactful the field was to many communities across Massachusetts.

My research and community service has taught me that many organizations struggle to acquire, use and share data to improve daily operations, or to make difficult strategic decisions. One community development corporation wanted to prevent blighted properties from falling into the hands of ‘slumlords’. The CDC, however, could not develop all of the properties it had acquired in a timely manner – putting it at risk of becoming, in the eyes of community members, just as bad as the slumlords they were acting against. Another CDC was well-respected for their work in acquiring and redeveloping distressed housing, but wanted to do a better job identifying acquisition opportunities on the basis of characteristics they didn’t know how to measure: a property’s ‘strategic value’, and its potential contribution to  stabilizing local property values.

How could these organizations, and many like them, use data to make their organizations and their communities stronger?

One answer to this question is provided by the field of ‘analytics’. Analytics is the process of applying know-how to data to answer questions that can enable organizations to better fulfill their missions. Analytics can seem unfamiliar, or maybe not relevant to the challenge of serving and uplifting our communities, but it’s an important aspect of solving daily problems and setting strategic priorities.

Community-based nonprofits, mission-driven and resource-limited, don’t have much time or expertise to devote to analytics – there are proposals to write, staff to manage, clients to be served, all in an environment of shrinking, or at least shifting, resources. How could these organizations afford to hire data-savvy consultants?

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS, has developed a new initiative that can meet this important need of nonprofits, especially smaller, community-focused organizations. Called “Pro Bono Analytics," it connects nonprofits who need to use data to answer hard questions with volunteer experts who will work with these nonprofits to collect, analyze and share data – all for free.

If you work for an organization that would benefit from using data to help track performance and community impact, but can’t afford the time or resources to get the job done right, Pro Bono Analytics wants to help. 

For example:

  • How do we know if our programs are making a difference? Do they justify the time and effort we put into them?
  • We want to start a new program – but what is the need for it? How can we convince funders to support the initiative?
  • How can we redesign our initiatives to be as efficient and as effective as possible?

Pro Bono Analytics exists to answer these and other important questions. We’re different from students whose good works may not last after they graduate, or researchers who may produce studies that will sit on your shelves. Instead, we’re professionals in analytics who are committed to community service, and we want to help your organizations become as successful as possible, for free. If you’d like your organization to start a project with Pro Bono Analytics, or just want to learn more about analytics for nonprofit organizations, contact Prof. Michael Johnson at


Michael Johnson is a professor in the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs, University of Massachusetts Boston. His research focuses on decision models and analytics for housing and community development. He is a member of INFORMS and the Boston node of the Urban-Based Research Action Network, Urban.Boston. More information about his research, teaching and service can be found at

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People and Places Conference: National Convening Fosters Unity & Highlights Incredible Work

March 16th, 2015 by John Fitterer

Earlier this month, over 30 representatives from Massachusetts, including 4 MACDC staff, converged on Washington D.C., bringing snow and a city shutdown with them, to join peers from across the country for the People and Places Conference.  With close to 500 participants and 150 speakers, the conference highlighted the role that local practitioners are playing in fostering long-term, positive and durable change for low-income people and places. The conference was a joint project of the National Association of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA), the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and the National Urban League.

The conference had four major themes that provided an overarching outline to addressing critical needs in low- and moderate-income communities:  community control, capital flow, neighborhood level economies and thriving people.  Dozens of workshops were included within each of these four themes – with several Massachusetts –based practitioners highlighting their work.  

“I was very pleased to see this conference achieve both of its core goals,” said MACDC President Joe Kriesberg, who is currently serving as chair of the NACEDA Board of Directors. “First, we wanted to foster greater unity within the community development field by bringing together diverse leaders from throughout the country. Second, we wanted to highlight the exciting work being done by local practitioners who are adapting and innovating to the changing times and creating a community development movement for the 21st Century.  We did both.”

Going forward, the conference organizers will seek to build on their emerging partnership to create a stronger voice for community development practitioners in Washington, DC.  There also appear to be some emerging opportunities for new collaborations across the sector in such diverse areas as pay-day lending and responding to gentrification and red-hot real estate markets.  Keep reading the MACDC Notebook to learn about these and other efforts as they unfold.

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