Mayor Walsh announces initiatives to build a more equitable, resilient City
September 20, 2017
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today addressed the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, sharing his vision and progress in making Boston a more equitable, inclusive and resilient city. From opening career pathways for public school students, to fighting to make the public transportation system more accessible in every community, to providing more training for Boston's diverse workforce, Mayor Walsh reaffirmed his commitment to shared growth and inclusivity by working toward a "Boston for everyone," and discussed his efforts to bring opportunity to every resident in every neighborhood.
- The Economic Mobility Lab: The City of Boston, in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities and the Rockefeller Foundation, is launching a planning year for a cross-departmental Economic Mobility Lab. The Lab will advance economic mobility for Bostonians by analyzing existing programs and policies, highlighting and expanding what works to promote upward economic mobility, and creating innovative, scalable solutions to promote economic security for everyone.This work will involve collaboration across area non-profits and universities to compile and analyze demographic data to better understand the barriers to opportunity facing particular demographics within Boston. After initial research, engaging with stakeholders, and conducting a comprehensive survey of programs and policies, the Lab will be well positioned to scale successful programs and design pilots and policies that address those identified gaps. The results will lead to an economic mobility plan that builds off of the City's Resilience Strategy and Economic Equity and Inclusion Agenda, outlines gaps in the ecosystem using quantitative and qualitative data, and provides concrete steps to address them.
- The Veterans Coordinated Approach to Recovery and Employment Program: Transitioning back into civilian life and finding and maintaining employment can be challenging for many veterans, in particular for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The City of Boston will participate in the Veterans Coordinated Approach to Recovery and Employment (Veterans CARE). The $6 million Pay for Success project will expand the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program, an evidence-based approach to support unemployed or underemployed veterans with PTSD in attaining competitive, compatible employment. In Boston, the project will aim to serve 120 veterans with Service-Connected PTSD over three years.
"The Veterans CARE project will provide our veterans with new tools to help them succeed in the workforce and it will further strengthen our relationship with the City of Boston," said Vincent Ng, Director, VA Boston Healthcare System. "This Pay for Success project is about supporting veterans with PTSD to help them achieve their goals for competitive employment."
- The Fairmount Line Pilot Proposal: Mayor Walsh will propose a pilot to increase service on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line. Two citywide plans, Go Boston 2030 and Imagine Boston 2030, share the goal of expanding opportunities and reducing disparities for residents who live in the Fairmount Corridor, through coordinated investments in mobility, education and neighborhood vibrancy. Today, residents in Dorchester, Mattapan & Hyde Park -- the residents on the Fairmount Line -- have some of the longest commutes and the highest transportation costs of any neighborhoods in Boston. By increasing the frequency of train service on the line, the City aims to increase access to good employment and cultural and recreational opportunities for thousands of residents in this corridor.
"Providing frequent, reliable and equitable public transportation service for Mattapan, Dorchester and Hyde Park is key to ensuring the economic health of residents of these neighborhoods," said Dara Frederick, Hyde Park resident and Business Employment Specialist at the Fairmount Indigo CDC Collaborative. "It is important that we continue to work with the City of Boston to improve Fairmount Line service to guarantee that residents of these neighborhoods are afforded access to jobs located throughout the City. We look forward to bringing quality transit services into these communities and offering residents a mobility option that will help them to achieve their professional goals."
- The 2018 Boston Climate Summit: Boston will host a international climate summit next summer to discuss how cities can uphold the commitments of the Paris climate agreement. With more than half of the world's population living in urban areas, cities play a critical role in driving action on climate. Boston has long been a leader on climate action, and this year Mayor Walsh doubled down on those efforts by setting a new goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Next year's summit is an opportunity to expand the role of cities and drive action beyond the Paris Agreement.
- The Fort Point Channel Open Space Initiative: Fort Point Channel is a critical waterway that stretches between downtown and the South Boston waterfront, into the heart of some of Boston's residential neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to climate change. Mayor Walsh and The Trustees of Reservations will reimagine the channel, both in open space design and recreational programming. A varied, connected and expanded open space network around the channel will connect the channel's edge and the water, with the potential to mitigate significant flood risk. The currently inactive waterway will be transformed into a new public space for the city through islands, marshes, and pedestrian bridges. Large open spaces on each side of the channel will serve local populations of residents and workers, and draw visitors from across the city. Fort Point Channel will be a vital link in the open space network, tying together the Harbor Walk, Martin Richard Park, the 100 Acres plan and the Greenway.
"After two years of careful research and planning, the Trustees stand ready as a strategic partner with the City of Boston, to implement the Mayor's vision of equitable open space and climate resiliency along Fort Point Channel for all Bostonians," said Barbara Erickson, President and CEO of The Trustees of Reservations. "Our 126 years of land management experience along with our ability to generate community support makes the Trustees uniquely able to help see this vision become a reality."
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: A partnership with Paul English to create a world-class Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Boston. The goal of the Boston memorial is to inspire visitors by Dr. King's words, and to also reflect on Boston's history with race and civil rights. The City and Mr. English are currently forming 'MLK Boston' with the project set to be kicked off on September 20, 2017. An Executive Director will be chosen to oversee all fundraising and community engagement, and will also be the main liaison between MLK Boston, the City of Boston, and other relevant parties. Subsequently, the MLK Boston Art Committee will publish a Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) in October 2017 to solicit applications from artists from Boston and beyond. The Art Committee will then select five finalists to develop renderings for each of their proposals. An announcement of these finalists is expected close to MLK Day 2018, at which time a public engagement process will begin. MLK Boston will engage all local constituents including representatives from the African American community in Boston, public arts organizations, neighborhood associations, the labor movement, the immigrant community, Boston University, civil rights leaders and leaders from local ministry. The MLK Boston Art Committee will choose the artist to be commissioned for the work. Paul English has supplied the initial funding for the project and seeks to raise $5 million to carry out the Memorial. For more information, visit mlkboston.org.
"Growing up in Boston, I was always aware of MLK's history here, and I have been inspired by his messages of love and social justice," said English. "I want to bring to Boston a world-class memorial to MLK to celebrate his teachings as well as to look at the work we all still have to do today to get to his promised land."
"I believe that we need a local memorial to celebrate Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The College, Career and Life Readiness Initiative: Over the past year, the Boston Opportunity Agenda convened representatives of higher education, workforce development, schools, the Mayor's Office and philanthropy to create a common definition for what it means to be ready for 'College, Career and Life' when a young person graduates high school. In addition to academic preparedness, the readiness definition includes other important skills like communication, collaboration, the ability to take initiative, and the abilities to analyze, navigate and adapt in a variety situations. The definition, and the set of metrics identified to track young people's progress towards readiness, will drive effort across Boston's education ecosystem - schools, youth-serving nonprofits, higher education and industry partners - and ensure that the city's youth have the knowledge, skills and experiences needed to prepare them for successful careers and productive futures.
"We are thrilled that the Boston Public Schools, Boston's Catholic Schools, and Boston's Charter Schools have all agreed upon a definition of College, Career and Life Readiness," said Kristin McSwain, Executive Director of the Boston Opportunity Agenda. "Having done so, we can collaboratively focus on providing young people with the learning opportunities that they need, both inside and outside of the classroom, to develop the skills that are necessary to fully participate in Boston's economy."
- The STEM Bootcamp for Dearborn STEM Academy Students: The City of Boston is partnering with Red Hat to host up to 20 high school students from the Dearborn STEM Academy as part of a week-long STEM Bootcamp during February Recess. Building on Red Hat's CO.LAB initiative first launched in Boston last spring, the STEM Bootcamp will include an immersive experience through coding, open source technology, and collaboration for participating students. The program will be complemented by soft skill training and enrichment to further prepare students for meaningful summer job experiences. Additionally, the STEM Bootcamp will highlight career pathways taken by a diverse network of Red Hat employees and Boston's tech community as an opportunity to recruit and engage new tech employers for the 2018 Mayor's Summer Jobs Program.
- The Expansion the Mayor's Tuition Free Community College Plan: Launched in 2016, the Mayor's Tuition Free Community College Plan (TFCC) has already enrolled 100 Boston high school graduates and will continue to grant three years of community college education tuition-free for low-income students. The plan will expand again to include Boston students who have a HiSet/GED and Metco students, allowing additional Boston residents, who might not otherwise have had the opportunity, to pursue a college degree tuition-free. This expanded eligibility will be phased in starting in the Spring of 2018, and is funded through linkage fees generated by large-scale commercial building projects throughout Boston. The majority of TFCC participants come from the City's Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods.
"Too many students believe they cannot afford higher education. Tuition-free community college shows a path forward," says Taneka DeGrace, the Director of RoxMapp at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. "This plan says: The limiting factor in your potential is not a bill, only your will to succeed."
- Career Pathways From BPS to City Government: The Office of Workforce Development (OWD) and the Private Industry Council (PIC) will work with BPS high school students to create awareness of career opportunities within city government and to develop workplace and life skills, as well as specific skills relevant to working in various city departments. BPS high school students will be eligible for internships that will help them gain the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare for entry-level positions that will support them while they pursue post-secondary education and training. This combination of work and learning will position BPS high school students and graduates for career advancement and the opportunity to secure positions in city agencies.
"Students often ask me how to get a job with the City after high school," commented Dan Cuddy, a longtime PIC career specialist at Brighton High School. "Mayor Walsh's new initiative will provide an answer to that question without forcing them to choose between the job they need to support themselves after high school and the college education they need to advance their careers over time."
- The Homeshare Pilot Program: The Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab, the Elderly Commission, and nesterly, a local social enterprise working to make existing homes work better for today's households, have launched the Intergen Homeshare Pilot. The Intergen Homeshare pilot sets out to pair senior households with an extra bedroom to students who are looking for not only an affordable place to stay during their studies, but also an opportunity to engage more deeply with the local community, establish companionship between different generations, and help seniors with simple home maintenance while receiving lower rent. An action item from the Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan, this pilot currently has eight pairings, and will run through December to determine the impact, feasibility, and resources needed to potentially scale this initiative into a city-wide program. With the current demographic shifts and the pressing need to increase affordable housing, the City and nesterly are collaborating to bring this innovation housing solution to the City of Boston.
"It's going great!" said Brenda Atchison, one of the first participants in the program. "The City and nesterly were so thoughtful, and matched me with a wonderful architecture student from Greece. I'm an empty-nester, and Phoebus brings a presence into my home that makes it feel so much more alive and full. We're cooking dinner together; I'm showing him Roxbury's beautiful architecture. Not only am I learning from him, but I also like being able to feel as though I'm helping in another way -- his PhD. program might have been a reach if he had to pay an exorbitant fee for housing, but now there is another alternative."
- The Increase of Funding to the Boston Home Center: Currently, the Boston Home Center offers down payment and closing cost assistance to low- and moderate-income households who are attempting to purchase homes. While the City currently makes loans of up to three percent of the purchase price of the home, the City is planning to double the amount of funding for its down payment and closing cost assistance program due to the current rising cost of homeownership in Boston, and is adding an additional $1 million to the program's budget. These funds will be used to both increase the amount of the loans made by the City and also to increase the number of constituents served. The funds will be recaptured at sale or refinance, allowing the City to create a new down payment and closing cost pool.