2018 Convention: Highlights

October 26th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

More than 700 community development leaders from every corner of the state converged on the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Saturday, October 20 for MACDC’s 2018 Convention.  It was a day of celebration, learning, networking, action and inspiration. This was the largest MACDC Convention so far, with hundreds of community residents, CDC board members, staff members, funders, partners, and allies in attendance.   Thanks to Bank of America and our generous sponsors, the event was free to our members and to the public.

The day was filled with many highlights, including:

  • Gubernatorial Forum:  Both Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Baker, and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Jay Gonzalez, participated in our Candidate Forum, fielding questions about affordable housing, the racial homeownership gap, small business development, social determinants of health, the Community Investment Tax Credit and more.  Jay Gonzalez promised to double the state’s housing capital budget, with $50 million earmarked for affordable homeownership and said he would fight to increase the state match for the Community Preservation Act.  Charlie Baker affirmed his strong support for the Community Investment Tax Credit and said he would sign legislation to increase the state CPA match.  Watch the Forum in its entirety on our website.
  • Book Presentation:  We gave both candidates a copy of the book, The Color of Law, as an appreciation for their participation and to help them learn more about the history of housing discrimination in our country, and its legacy today.  If you have not read the book, you should.  You can also start with this book review written by Joe Kriesberg.  To see how the candidates reacted, watch the video.
  • Awards:  Spencer Buchholtz from Lawrence Community Works received the Ricanne Hadrian Award for his outstanding organizing work in Lawrence, and three CDCs were honored with the first CITC Community Impact award – NewVue Communities, Revitalize CDC, and Asian CDC.  Those CDCs produced wonderful videos that were shown at the convention and can now be viewed on our website.
  • Workshops:  The convention include eight workshops on key topics, including:
    • How to Tell Your Story of Change
    • Assessing YOUR Community's Housing Need and Strategies
    • Cracking the Code: Building Support for Affordable Housing in Suburban and Rural Areas
    • Leveraging Art for Community & Economic Growth
    • Healthy Food Focused Economic Development
    • From Awake to Woke - Starting Race Talk
    • Addressing Fundraising Anxiety: How Board Members and Residents Can Raise Funds
    • We Are the Now and the Future. Youth Empowerment!

We also were inspired by four wonderful community leaders who shared their stories about why they have become active with their CDC and by the “CDC Roll Call,” where every CDC in attendance shared an example of the great work they are planning for 2019.

Of course, perhaps, the best part of the day was the opportunity to be together, to network and talk with colleagues, and to feel the energy of this dynamic movement.  We are truly more powerful when we are united and the 2018 MACDC Convention proved that yet again.

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MACDC 2018 Convention Color of Law Book Presentation

October 26th, 2018 by

At MACDC's 2018 Convention, we hosted a Gubernatorial Forum. Both the Democratic candidate, Jay Gonzalez, and the Republican candidate, Charlie Baker, participated. As each candidate wrapped up their portion of the forum, MACDC's President and CEO, Joseph Kriesberg, presented them with a copy of the book The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. Check out this video to see each candidates presentation and acceptance of the book.

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October 25th, 2018 by John Fitterer

This summer, MACDC announced the Community Investment Tax Credit Awards to celebrate the collective power of community leaders, community developers, and our partners to leverage and to build thriving communities. The awards were presented to three organizations at MACDC's 2018 Convention on Saturday, October 20th. The submission criteria was a 2-3 minute video that highlights a successful program/project that was launched, or expanded with CITC funding.

Here are the three award winners!


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SBTA Funding Restored, $2 Million in Grants Awarded to 40 TA Providers

October 24th, 2018 by David Bryant


MACDC salutes the Baker Administration and the Legislature for funding the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program at $2 million in FY 2019, to ensure that this outstanding network of CDCs, CDFIs and other community-based groups continue helping small businesses grow and thrive in every community. 

In early October, The Baker Administration and the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) – the administrator for the SBTA program, announced the awards of $2million in grants to 40 organizations.  The grants range from $10,000 -- $120,000 and will allow these community-based organizations to provide customized management and operational assistance, financial training and lending services to small businesses, resources that are targeted to serving low- to moderate-income communities across the Commonwealth.  (You can learn more about these non-profit organizations and the programs they provide here.) 

These grants were made possible thanks to a legislative campaign led by MACDC earlier this year.  In January 2018, MACDC wrote to Governor Baker and legislative leaders to outline our FY 2019 budget priorities and restoring funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program to at least $2 million was at the top of the list.  (The program had been funded for FY ‘18 at just $750,000, a 62% reduction in two short years). 

Our members know we have an obligation to support people of color and people living in poverty as they seek support for building businesses and bringing opportunities to their neighborhoods and towns.  Governor Baker’s FY 2019 budget submission proposed to restore funding for SBTA to $2 million, and the House and Senate leadership affirmed its support throughout the final budget process this summer.

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Automating Membership Renewals with MACDC

October 22nd, 2018 by Stefanie Archer

501Partners recently worked with Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) to streamline their membership program. MACDC is a statewide association with complex programs and needs, as well as a small staff—meaning they have no time to waste on laborious recordkeeping. We helped MACDC move from an onerous manual system tracking memberships to a fully integrated and automated one, using the power of Salesforce, FormAssembly, and Webmerge. Read this inspiring case study!

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Largest New Construction affordable housing development in Cambridge in 40 years, developed by HRI

October 11th, 2018 by Homeowners Rehab

(Rendering of Concord Highlands, a 98-unit affordable housing development in Cambridge. Image from ICON Architecture.)

Concord Highlands celebrated the groundbreaking on Friday October 5th with local and state officials, lenders, and community groups.

Concord Highlands is the largest new construction affordable housing development in the City of Cambridge in 40 years. Located across from Fresh Pond in the Alewife-Cambridge Highlands neighborhood, the development will provide 98 apartments that are affordable to low‐, moderate‐ and middle‐income households for the long term.

Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc. (HRI), the owner/developer of Concord Highlands, has been committed to building and preserving sustainable, affordable housing in Cambridge for over 40 years. This development will provide crucial affordable housing units in an area of Cambridge that is rapidly transforming from an industrial and manufacturing district into a new mixed-use neighborhood of offices, retail, and residential buildings. The Concord Highlands development will link residents and families with local amenities, including transit, schools, businesses, and open space at the Fresh Pond Reservation.

Sixty of the apartments are eligible for households earning up to 60% Area Median Income (AMI), and HRI has committed to setting aside ten of these units to households with incomes at or below 30% AMI. The remaining units are divided into 21 moderate-income units for households earning between 61-80% AMI and 17 middle income units for households earning between 81 100% AMI.

“This is a great project for the City of Cambridge and we are very pleased to play such an important role. We look forward to welcoming the families to their new home," said Peter Daly, Executive Director.

“We are pleased to celebrate with HRI the groundbreaking on the largest new affordable housing development undertaken in Cambridge in almost 40 years. The 98 new affordable units are a direct result of the combined efforts of many stakeholders working collaboratively to meet the housing needs of our community,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “In the last 5 years, City has financed the creation or preservation of more than 600 affordable units, and this year has committed more than $24 million to affordable housing and homeless service efforts," said Chris Cotter, Housing Director of City of Cambridge.

Concord Highlands is aiming for the highest levels of resiliency and sustainability through high quality materials, energy efficient equipment, and a podium-style building structure to meet Enterprise Green Communities and Passive House standards. It also incorporates Active Design principles, facilitating a healthy environment for residents.

To date, Concord Highlands has received major financial support from the City of Cambridge, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and TD Bank. The development’s broad range of affordability, as well as access to transit, and other community amenities, will greatly expand affordable housing opportunities in this neighborhood. HRI is excited and proud to develop another innovative, high quality affordable housing project that will improve the quality of housing for low-to moderate- income families as well as preserve the diversity of Cambridge residents.

About Homeowners Rehab, Inc.
Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1972. With an initial focus on homeownership, HRI has strived to support mixed‐income communities, rich in ethnic and racial diversity. Over the past 20 years, HRI has shifted its focus from homeownership to include rental properties as a means to create new opportunities for households that cannot compete in Cambridge’s housing market. To date, HRI has developed more than 1,500 units of housing, owns more than 1,337 apartments, and 55,000 square feet of commercial space in Cambridge. For more information about HRI please visit

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Leveraging Arts and Cultural Programming to advance Racial Equity

October 3rd, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

Reflections of a Learning Journey to Seattle by Joe Kriesberg


Last week, I had a special opportunity to participate in a Learning Journey to Seattle, Washington to study their efforts to ensure that people of color have full access to arts and cultural opportunities and to leverage the power of human creativity to drive racial equity.  It was an inspiring and educational trip!

The “Journey” was organized by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) with support from the Barr Foundation and brought 25 civic, government and community leaders to the Pacific Northwest for two action-packed days.  The diverse delegation included the Mayors of Lynn, Salem and Beverly; two state senators; two state representatives; a Boston City Councilor; local officials from suburban and rural communities; and nonprofit leaders from groups like MACDC and MASSCreative.  

Our visit began at the Wing Luke Museum with welcoming remarks from Ken Workman, the great, great, great, great grandson of Chief Seattle.  He reminded us about the people who were here for centuries and whose culture was devastated (but not destroyed) by Europeans. We then heard from city and state leaders about their expansive efforts to ensure that children of color have equal access to a full range of cultural and creative programming throughout their k-12 education, both during the school day and beyond. We learned about an ambitious effort to inventory every cultural space in the city and to create a “dating app” that would allow any “creative” to find space to pursue their craft.  The City and County have innovative funding streams to support these efforts, including a five percent levy on all for-profit entertainment venues (sadly, male professional sports are exempted; a mistake we should not make if we seek to replicate this model in Massachusetts!).  We toured an incredibly ambitious public art project that includes nearly 60 massive murals along a rail corridor south of downtown.  And all of this was on the first day.

On day two, we toured the wonderfully renovated historic Washington Hall where a 17-year-old Jimi Hendrix preformed publicly for the first time and now is home to three community-based organizations that promote the arts.  The Hall is in an historically African American community that has been significantly gentrified, so the programming seeks to affirm and support the remaining African American community and to honor the history of the neighborhood. Seattle is growing even faster than Boston; it is a day-to-day fight to slow displacement, preserve neighborhoods, and retain the historic and cultural assets that make the city special.  Arts and culture are both a potential victim of this process and a tool for fighting back.

Our last visit was with an amazing program called Creative Justice that uses the arts to engage and support court-involved youth.  While their program is having great success with young people, that is not their only mission.  We were told that the goal of Creative Justice is not to change young people, but to change the criminal justice system!

A few lessons really resonated for me.  First, it was clear how much Seattle values the arts for their intrinsic value.  They don’t seek to justify investment in the arts solely because of the jobs, economic impacts, and reduced high school dropout rates, although they certainly achieve those results.  Arts and culture are intrinsic to human experience and everyone should have access to it everywhere.  

It was also hard not to be inspired by the commitment to racial equity. What stood out for me was the fact that they were undeterred by the complexity and uncertainly about what precisely racial equity might mean in different contexts.  One speaker noted that racial equity has never existed in the history of the world – just like a piece of art, or music that has not yet been produced.  He suggested that we view this work as an act of creativity, where we first envision something and then we create it.  Like any creative work, there are no hard definitions, no defined pathways, no absolute right answers, and plenty of trial and error.  We were told to “think big, start small, and go fast” even if we don’t know exactly where we were going.  This is something for me and MACDC to think about as we embark to deepen our own commitment to racial equity.

As if the program itself did not teach me enough about the fight to promote the arts in Seattle, I continued to learn when I was in my Lyft ride going to my sister-in-law’s house (yes, I also had family to visit!).  My driver was a 50+ year old man who plays in three rock bands and drives Lyft to help pay the bills. He had just gone to his first City Council hearing ever to protest the demolition of an historic music hall, which might be replaced with a 44-story condominium development.  Seattle needs more housing desperately, but at what cost? My driver told me that he was a nervous wreck as he waited to testify at a public hearing for the first time in his life.  But he was pleased with himself for speaking up. He’s hopeful the Hall will be saved, but who knows? There are law suits and political battles to come. Either way, he and others are raising their voices and I’m confident that the creative community in Seattle is here to stay!

As I write this essay on my flight home to Boston, I am still thinking about how this work ultimately fits within MACDC’s agenda and what we can contribute to the effort.  How can we leverage the power of the arts to advance our goals for community voice and racial equity? How can arts and culture be part of our efforts to address displacement or promote neighborhood revitalization? I welcome your thoughts as my learning journey continues.


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