Preparing Communities for a Green Future: CDCs and Sustainability

March 27th, 2018 by Allison Curtis


Check it out: MACDC releases new report highlighting the environmental initiatives of its members across the Commonwealth.


CDCs throughout the Commonwealth are leaders in the development and preservation of homes that are energy-efficient, transit-oriented, and environmentally sustainable. But many CDCs have sustainability programming that reaches far beyond housing. A recent report from MACDC, CDCs Go Green: A Snapshot of the Environmental Initiatives of MACDC’s Members, outlines the ways in which CDC sustainability work contributes to the overarching goals of comprehensive community development: creating places of opportunity where people of diverse incomes and backgrounds can access healthy, livable, and affordable neighborhoods.

Impressively, 33 of MACDC’s member organizations are involved in sustainability programming ranging from activism and advocacy, to supporting the local food economy, to open space preservation and stewardship. These three categories account for approximately 75% of CDC sustainability activities.  CDCs are also engaged in restoration and environmental clean-ups, recycling and waste initiatives, and resiliency and climate change preparation.

Highlighted in this report are three CDCs with particularly innovative and expansive sustainability programming. The Western Mass Food Processing Center, housed at Franklin County CDC, redefines the ways that CDCs can be involved in local food production. Through this unique facility, the CDC supports the efforts of local farmers and food businesses by providing technical and business support and encouraging local economic development, while also preserving green space and cutting back on the energy spent on transporting food. Groundwork Lawrence engages residents of all ages through an Environmental Technical Training Program and The Green Team youth program. While the immediate beneficiaries of these two initiatives vary (the training program provides workforce skills, while the Green Team prepares Lawrence’s youth for a lifetime of environmental and healthy community leadership), both address the environmental challenges faced by the City of Lawrence. Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) recently celebrated the success of their East Boston Climate Summit that attracted nearly 300 residents, organizers, and politicians. While the Climate Summit raised awareness, NOAH’s Community Action for Resilience Engagement Program identifies actions that all people can take to reduce the impact of climate change.

The impending repercussions of climate change threaten to derail the work CDCs are doing across the Commonwealth. The impacts of climate change and environmental degradation will impact low-income, minority, and marginalized populations first, and with the most vigor. By designing and implementing sustainability programming, CDCs are being proactive in the fight against these detrimental impacts. They can lessen the potential repercussions on communities through preventative programs as well as prepare communities for the impact of climate change in the future.

We hope that the work of CDCs highlighted in the report provides inspiration for organizations seeking to address community development issues through environmental programming.

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The role of CDCs in the Age-Friendly Community Movement

March 9th, 2018 by James Fuccione

A movement is gaining momentum in Massachusetts to create livable communities that focus on improving quality of life for older adults, but benefit all residents of all ages.


The goals of Community Development Corporations, as well as the CDC “Theory of Change,” aligns perfectly with those of the Age-Friendly Community Movement. Many cities in towns in Massachusetts are already engaged in this continuous improvement cycle where assessment, action planning, and implementation phases aim to enhance eight “domains” of livability as determined by the World Health Organization.


As CDC are experts in improving social determinants of health, building partnerships between healthcare and the community, and educating the public about the linkage of community development and public health, there is an opportunity to contribute to the success of the Age-Friendly Movement.


Learn more:


For more on how your CDC can get involved and join the MHAC Advisory Council or regional advisory groups, contact MHAC Senior Director James Fuccione.

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New Coalition Works to Reform Health Care System

March 5th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC is a proud founding member of the Alliance for Community Health Integration, a new coalition led by the Massachusetts Public Health Association which now has 24 member organizations.  The Coalition, which launched in September 2017, has already had a significant impact in mobilizing a growing movement that seeks to transform our health care system so it addresses the social determinants of health (SDOH).

The coalition is playing a key role in educating a diverse coalition about the current opportunities to move the needle and in helping us learn how to talk to and with each other – many of us have had to learn a whole new set of acronyms!

So far, the Alliance is focusing on three broad areas:

  1. Maximizing the impact of the new Mass Health Accountable Care Organizations on addressing the SDOH.
  2. Aligning Hospital investments with community needs through both the Determination of Need program and the Community Benefit requirements.
  3. Partnering with the healthcare sector to advocate for affordable housing policies.

“Health equity is emerging as a top priority for the CDC field as more and more of our members forge partnerships with the health sector to improve health outcomes at the local level,” said MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg.  “MACDC is thrilled to be part of this new Alliance which will greatly enhance our collective expertise and power to advance health equity at the state level”.

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