McCormack Speaks

November 7, 2018
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What’s Cooking at the Center for Social Policy

by Susan Crandall

As the leaves tumble faster and the weather grows ever cooler, the mounting darkness seems to exacerbate the onslaught of tragedies that befall us. I’ve often wondered how people go on in times of upheaval, conducting their daily business as the world is shattering. But I am frequently reminded that tragedies like gun violence and homelessness have been part of the fabric of everyday life for many communities like our neighbors in Dorchester and Roxbury. If they can on, I can go on: deriving purpose through the Center for Social Policy’s dedication to shine a light on the root causes of economic hardship through our community-engaged research.

Aside from voting, to find comfort elsewhere, I cook soups and stews. With my multi-function Instant Pot, I saute, mix ingredients, simmer, walk away and return to a ready-to-serve meal – usually in less than an hour. It’s quick and easy! In contrast, our projects at the Center for Social Policy are more like cooking in an old-fashioned kitchen. We juggle multiple projects at a time, moving the simmering pots and pans from the back to front burners, sneaking a taste here and there, all while keeping some ideas warm in the oven. Here’s a sample of what’s cooking at CSP on cliff effects:

Cliff Effects

Our cliff effects research agenda, guided by CSP Senior Fellow and Professor of Economics Randy Albelda, tackles the dilemma of losing public benefits in response to working more. Now ready to serve is our new chart pack which analyzes more family types and benefit packages and spotlights the impact of housing assistance and universal childcare.

Next up, we are washing, slicing, and dicing the data to prepare our next set of cliff simulations based on our recent report on benefit packages authored by Research Associate Caitlin Carey. We are also analyzing the impact of the new minimum wage law on cliff effects, led by Professor of Economics Michael Carr in partnership with Mass Budget and Policy Center.

We provide technical assistance on public benefits and cliff effects for UTEC in Lowell and for the City of Boston Office of Financial Empowerment. These organizations are grantees in Learn to Earn, Governor Baker’s initiative to mitigate cliff effects for job seekers enrolled in workforce development programs to help them advance in their careers. Our cliff effect research also informs the work of On Solid Ground, a family-engaged statewide coalition with over 45 members that advocates for housing stability and economic mobility for vulnerable families.

Early Education and Care

Cliff effects are especially detrimental for very low-paid workers, such as early childhood educators. Thus the Center for Social Policy, along with the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, launched a study on Massachusetts’ early care and education workforce. Our interdisciplinary research team is examining compensation and benefits, public benefits and cliff effects, debt load, and professional development in order to provide in-depth data to inform future policymaking for the early care workforce.

Workforce Development and Employment

Our CSP team, spearheaded by Senior Research Associate Brandynn Holgate, is partnering with the City of Boston Office of Workforce Development to map career pathways in the creative economy for non-traditional adult learners. This project is in collaboration with the UMass Donahue Institute, with whom we are also embarking on a study with the City of Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to expand job training and employment to more underserved Cambridge residents.

Meanwhile, Research Director Francoise Carre, with co-investigators Chris Benner of UC Santa Cruz and Chris Tilly of UCLA, is examining the workplace impacts of changing retail technologies, like automation. And through her work with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), Dr. Carre lends statistical expertise on job classification for organizations such as the International Labor Organization to improve policies for informal work, such as domestic workers.

Student Homelessness

Workers and their families need stable housing to thrive. This is why the Center for Social Policy is proud to be selected as the evaluation partner for a cross-sector partnership to address the crisis of 4000 homeless students who attend Boston Public Schools. The collaborative is working together on a pilot program in seven schools to coordinate across housing, education, and health sectors to reduce homelessness and improve educational outcomes. Partners include the Chair of the Boston City Council’s Homelessness and Education Committee, Boston’s Chiefs of Housing and Education, Higher Ground, DSNI, Project Hope, New Lease for Homeless Families, Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Housing Authority.

In the Community

When we are not cooking up a storm in the kitchen, we are out and about in the community. Recently, I served on a panel of experts to speak to business leaders on the Modern Workforce, highlighting the need for tuition assistance and debt counseling to attract and retain today’s financially-burdened millennial workforce. I was also an invited speaker on cliff effects and workforce policy at the Department of Labor Employment and Training and Administration Region I Administrators meeting hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

September 4, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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Updates on the Center for Social Policy From Director Susan Crandall

“Stars are born out of dark moments.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

It has been a year of crisis and upheaval across our campus, the nation, and the world. In spite of it all, the Center for Social Policy has made significant progress in our quest to shepherd meaningful change for low-income families. The Center for Social Policy leverages its unique strength as a research center at an urban public university rooted in the community it serves, and taps the talents of our faculty, staff, and students in order to:

PRODUCE IMPACTFUL RESEARCH

CONTRIBUTE TO POLICY

  • CSP Director Susan Crandall was appointed to the City of Boston Mayor’s Office Economic Roundtable.
  • CSP Research Director Francoise Carré was appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Community Development Research Advisory Council.

BUILD THE CAPACITY OF THE FIELD

SUPPORT STUDENT GROWTH

  • Center for Social Policy student employees obtained employment with the City of Boston, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Community Economic Development  Assistance Corporation (CEDAC).
  • Public Policy Doctoral Student Caitlin Carey was awarded the Beacon Graduate Leadership award.
  • Public Policy Doctoral Student Bianca Ortiz-Wythe was selected to present her research on youth inclusion for the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.
  • Uchenna Nwangu, a third-year doctoral student at the UMass Boston School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, joined us as our summer Werby Intern.

ATTRACT ATTENTION

  • CSP Research Director Francoise Carré’s Where Bad Jobs are Better book was cited in the New York Times, The Nation, CBS News, and Le Monde.
  • CSP Director Susan Crandall’s research on Open Book Management profit-sharing for restaurant employees was featured in the Boston Globe.

I am so proud of the accomplishments of our CSP team! I am especially proud of our hardworking students, who, without the resources of a private university, dedicate themselves to produce high quality, award-winning research. I am deeply indebted to our funders, sponsors, partners, family engagement advisors, and UMass Boston faculty, staff, and students. With the Center for Social Policy receiving less than 15% of its funding from the state, we need your support to continue our efforts to systematically research policies and reveal the stories of those living in poverty, and develop policy solutions for a much brighter world for all families.

With appreciation,
Susan Crandall

June 5, 2018
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Center for Social Policy Hosts Annual Conference For Improving Job Training, Workforce Systems in MA

Earlier this spring, the Center for Social Policy hosted the 15th annual Sharing Skills-Building Connections Commonwealth Workforce Coalition Conference in Worcester. The Commonwealth Workforce Coalition is a program of the Center for Social Policy at the McCormack Graduate School. The statewide initiative offers research-based training and networking events to strengthen the capacity of Massachusetts’ job training and workforce system to produce better employment and earnings outcomes for both unemployed and underemployed residents.

Center for Social Policy director Susan Crandall welcomed the group of nearly 300 workforce development practitioners. She explained that the conference theme of Advancing Equity was chosen because the “Commonwealth Workforce Coalition is on the frontline of inclusion and helping workers advance.” The CWC has always had a strong emphasis on making sure everyone has what they need to be successful in their pursuit of employment, Crandall continued. She encouraged participants to soak in workshops on diversity and inclusion to “learn how to get even better at our craft” of job training and development.

Crandall then welcomed morning keynote speaker Secretary Rosalin Acosta of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Secretary Acosta reminded attendees that not every community and every population is benefiting from Massachusetts’ strong economy. She noted that “now is the time to work on equity, both in access to employment and pay.” She also encouraged employers to cast a wider net when it comes to hiring and to be more intentional and thoughtful regarding diversity. She also highlighted the importance of the statewide cross-agency Learn to Earn initiative, which leverages Center for Social Policy research on cliff effects to develop solutions for workers balancing public supports, such as childcare, with their efforts to advance in the workforce.

The conference featured impactful workshops relevant to the conference theme of Advancing Equity by community partners around the state, including EMPath, Commonwealth Corporation, Jobs for the Future, Jewish Vocational Services, WayFinders, Holyoke Community College, several Workforce Investment Boards, and the UMass Boston Institute for Community Inclusion.

The Platinum Sponsor of the CWC conference was the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. MGC Commissioner Bruce Stebbins delivered remarks about MGC’s ongoing efforts to ensure diversity. He highlighted the “Build A Life That Works” campaign, a first-of-its-kind statewide recruitment initiative which aims to increase tradeswomen in the building trades to 20% by 2020.

MGM Springfield General Manager Alex Dixon delivered the luncheon keynote address. Dixon spoke about MGM’s extensive workforce development efforts and the 3,000 jobs—many that are entry-level with opportunities for growth–available when the resort opens. In addition, MGC’s Director of Workforce, Supplier, and Diversity Development Jill Griffin led a workshop detailing MGC’s work to maximize access to careers created by the state’s emerging expanded gaming industry.

Additional conference sponsors included Boston Private Bank, CEDAC (Founding Partner), CHAPA, SkillWorks, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, Partners Healthcare, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

“This kind of conference is exactly what the Center for Social Policy excels at,” noted David Cash, dean of the McCormack Graduate School, “leveraging its research expertise to convene the right people to address pressing issues of equity, job growth and economic development.”

June 5, 2018
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Center for Social Policy Research Director Leads Conversation on Job Creation

Françoise Carré, Research Director at the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, spoke this spring at a symposium hosted by the MIT Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative. The symposium examined job quality across industries. Carre reviewed the findings and recommendations from her recently published Russell Sage book, Where Bad Jobs are Better.

Carré’s policy recommendations included raising the minimum wage, which would improve the quality of retail jobs, since retail workers hold about one-fourth of all minimum wage jobs in the U.S. She also recommends limiting the “hours arms race” that pressures stores to stay open overnight. She proposed policy changes to hours regulations targeted by geographic area and type of store.

Read more about Dr. Carré’s research and presentation here.

December 21, 2017
by McCormack Speaks
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Bad Retail Jobs Are Not Inevitable – New Book by Françoise Carré and Chris Tilly Explains Why

book cover: Where Bad Jobs are Betterby Robert Turner, McCormack Graduate School

Retail, the largest U.S. employer, is not inevitably the domain of dead-end jobs with low pay, few benefits, and problematic work schedules. A new study of seven countries demonstrates that better retail jobs are not just possible but already exist.

Françoise Carré of UMass Boston and Chris Tully of UCLA, the study authors, say that changes in government policies and broadly-held values could improve the quality of retail jobs in America, as they have in Europe. New York Times columnist and Economics Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman tagged the study findings as “Supremely important. We have low wages in large part because of political choices, not ineluctable logic of markets.”
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