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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Black Advisory Commission Announces First Set of Priorities and Recommendations

Black Advisory Commission Announces First Set of Priorities and Recommendations

BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker and the Black Advisory Commission announced the Commission’s first set of priorities and recommendations. Last year, Governor Baker signed Executive Order 575 establishing the Black Advisory Commission to advise on issues relating to the economic prosperity and well-being of the Black community living in Massachusetts.

“Our administration remains committed to ensuring the promotion of economic inclusion and equality for all citizens of the Commonwealth and we thank the Black Advisory Commission for their hard work and their dedication to the advancement of the Massachusetts Black community,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are pleased to announce the Commission’s priorities and look forward to working with Commission members to deliver on them.”  

“Through my experience traveling to the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns, I have seen firsthand the tremendous contributions the Massachusetts Black community has made to the economy and society,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I look forward to working with our secretariats on pursuing the recommendations put forward by the Commission to continue to support and promote the strengths of the Black community.”

In order to assess the paramount challenges and opportunities of the Black community in Massachusetts, the Black Advisory Commission stewarded a comprehensive statewide process to produce various priorities and recommendations. This included holding six Statewide Community Listening Sessions, four roundtables with industry experts, seven commission meetings and meeting with community and industry leaders across the Commonwealth.
  
“The dedicated work of the Black Advisory Commission has provided our workforce development partners with valuable insights in how to best ensure that all communities have access to high demand job opportunities in the Commonwealth’s growing economy,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta. “Our teams are looking forward to helping enact these recommendations through innovative workforce programs like Learn To Earn and the Apprenticeship Expansion Initiative.”

“The central tenet in the Baker-Polito Administration’s economic policy is creating ‘opportunities for all’ so that everyone in Massachusetts can participate and share in economic success,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. “Through our work with the Black Advisory Commission, we have enhanced and refined workforce and small business initiatives to increase access and support, and I am pleased that we’ll be increasing funding for both – including the formation of a new apprenticeship tax credit -- through the economic development legislation Governor Baker signed in August.”

“We thank the members of the Black Advisory Commission for their insights, and for encouraging us to take our ongoing initiatives around early college and career pathways to the next level, particularly for underserved minority students and first-generation college-goers,” Secretary of Education James Peyser said. “Through designated Early College programs and Innovation Pathways, students have an opportunity to take college-level courses and explore careers so they are able to increase their knowledge, experience, and confidence, in order to continue their education.”

This first set of priorities and recommendations relate to the advancement of career pathways for Black students, workforce development and increasing competitiveness for Black owned businesses.

Priority:  Expand pathways for success of Black students: The Commission recommends strengthening foundational academic skills in K-12 and developing college and career pathways for high school students.

  • Building upon best practices from examples such as Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Diverse and Learner-Ready Teachers Initiative and Teach Western Mass, implementation of this recommendation could include developing regional systems for proactive recruiting, training, and retaining Black teachers in communities of color.

  • To focus on improving early literacy curriculum and instruction in low-income communities, examples to follow include the Pre-School Expansion Grant program and Early Literacy Expert Panel.

  • The Springfield Empowerment Zone partnership is an example of a way to create opportunities to empower educators to better match programs and school cultures to their students’ needs and assets, while deepening out-of-school time partnerships with community-based youth development organizations.

  • The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to increasing access in high school to college-level courses through the Early College program. Currently there are more than 1,000 students in 26 different “designated” early college programs, at 17 high schools around the state that partnered with nine colleges. To build upon this success, partnering with non-profit organizations like Mass Insight and Equal Opportunity Schools could create more opportunities for proactive recruitment of under-represented populations and additional supports to improve outcomes.

  • Building on best practices from examples such as 100 Males to College, Posse Foundation, Bottom Line and One Goal, we can expand investments into cohort-based college readiness and success programs for first-generation students.

  • Expanding upon the Administration’s commitment to workforce development and vocational technical programs through programs like the Workforce Skills grants, we can strengthen career planning and coaching in urban middle and high schools and expand career pathways and vocational-technical programs in urban high schools, including academic supports, integrated with job readiness and work-based learning experiences.


Priority:  Increasing the advancement of the Black workforce: The Commission recommends expanding targeted workforce development programs to Black youth and young adults and enhancing ways for Blacks to competitively pursue and advance in senior level and leadership roles.

  • Working across secretariats with Housing and Economic Development, Labor and Workforce Development and Education, internship programs among quasi-public agencies, for instance, the Mass Life Sciences Center, can be developed to help increase diversity across sectors.  

  • Promoting the Administration’s YouthWorks program to private sector companies would direct qualified youth to more employment opportunities.  

  • Supporting the apprenticeship expansion strategy would focus on pre-apprenticeship programs that feed diverse youth into existing apprenticeship programs and engage more high schools, vocational tech schools, parents and companies to understand the opportunity of apprenticeships in non-traditional fields.

  • By working together with programs such as YearUp and Apprenti, internships and apprenticeships in the STEM industries, targeting opportunity youth and under-represented adult learners can be developed and expanded.

  • Leveraging successful practices from the Learn to Earn pilot would create targeted career pathways, aligned education, training and proactive coaching to develop and expand partnerships with local workforce organizations in low-income communities of color.

  • Building on the administration’s support of vocational-technical schools, incentives can be strengthened for adult basic education providers to develop career pathways with integrated instruction, including expanded after-hours access to local schools.

  • Continuing to increase the recruitment efforts of competitive Black candidates from outside state government into leadership roles that become available and pursuing a greater number of Black candidates for appointments onto state Boards and Commissions will intentionally increase the number of Blacks in leadership and executive positions.

  • Investing in leadership talent development programs such as New Manager Program and the Senior Leader Development program increase the pipeline of Black employees who are increasingly ready for next-level promotions.

  • Working together with the diverse professional associations and the private sector on innovative ways in which Black candidates are recruited and selected for top executive and leadership roles will also advance the community across all sectors.

Priority:  Grow the competitiveness of Black owned businesses: The Commission recommends expanding and strengthening the diversity requirements that increase opportunities and prosperity for Black owned businesses and growing access to capital and capacity building resources to increase competitiveness of Black owned businesses.

  • Using the Administration’s Open for Business initiative, Black-owned businesses would benefit from a targeted strategy and approach to increase participating such as utilizing the innovative procurement diversity and inclusion methodology introduced in recent years by Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), pilot programs can be incubated within Open for Business to grow and scale the participation of Black owned businesses.

  • Since taking office, the Baker-Polito Administration has increased the state’s supplier diversity benchmarks for spending with Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and can work towards continuing to do so.

  • The Supplier Diversity Annual Report that summarizes compliance and audit activities on various components of the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Program, including the supplier diversity commitments by state contractors and vendors can highlight a specific section for Black owned businesses.   

  • In order to grow competitiveness, the efforts of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, as well as public private partnerships, to promote and increase resources that enable Black owned businesses to grow and thrive by building capacity and providing access to capital and technical support though programs such as the Community Development Capital Program, Small Business Technical Assistance Grant Program and Massachusetts Small Business Development Centers can be leveraged.

  • Increasing the collaboration between state agencies and business support organizations would increase targeted outreach to ensure that Black owned businesses are aware of the various business tools and resources that are available for their region or in their business sectors.

  • Creating opportunities for Black owned business to increase their social and business networks, which can then be leveraged to support greater business partnerships could be convened by larger Black owned business and/or established business resource organizations, such as small business development centers and chambers of commerce in various regions of the state.

The Commission will further partner with the Baker-Polito Administration as implementation gets underway for this set of priorities and recommendations. It will receive updates on implementation plans and offer feedback and input at future meetings. The Commission is tasked with delivering a report with various recommendations on each of three selected priorities that promote the Black community’s economic prosperity & well-being every two  years and will provide another set of priorities and recommendations in 2019-2020 with focus on other prominent topics that may include health care, housing and public safety.

Members of the Commission include gubernatorial appointees with varying roles in many community, professional and non-profit organizations and represent a group diverse in gender, race, industry, region, age and education.

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