UMass Boston

Current Projects

Here is a sample of a few of our current and recent projects:

Public Benefits Access for Low-Income Asians in Massachusetts. The Center for Social Policy is investigating access to public benefits for Asians in Massachusetts facing economic hardship. Using American Community Survey (ACS) data, we are exploring the extent to which education, occupations, employer benefits, and other factors influence receipt of public benefits for low-income Asians. These data will provide a more nuanced view of racism affecting the Asian community and point to policy interventions. This research is funded by the Anti-Asian Racism Project at the UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies (IAAS).

Early Childhood Educators Housing and Economic Stability. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts commissioned UMass Boston to conduct a statewide survey of early childhood educators ── a collaboration between the Center for Social Policy, the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy. The survey was designed to inform policy solutions to improve the quality of early education and care in Massachusetts as well as the economic security and professional development of educators. The Center for Social Policy is conducting further research with this dataset to investigate racial inequities, the intersection of wages and public benefits for the EEC workforce, and the impact on housing and financial insecurity. This research is funded by the UMass Boston Labor Resource Center.

Family-Led Stability Pilot (FLSP) for Homeless Families. The Center for Social Policy is conducting an evaluation for this innovative pilot focused on cross-sector partners working together to achieve quicker and more sustainable results to house homeless families with children in Boston schools. The initiative aims to help families obtain permanent housing, improve educational and social-emotional outcomes for students, and to support families in achieving their self-defined goals. FLSP partners include Boston Public Schools, the City of Boston, the Boston Housing Authority, the Department of Neighborhood Development, Higher Ground, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Project HOPE and New Lease for Homeless Families.

The Informal Economy. CSP provides expertise on measuring the changing nature of work and job quality through a long-standing partnership with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). Our research on alternative forms of employment is focused on home-based workers, domestic workers, and street vendors. In addition, we provide statistical expertise on employment classification to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Job Quality and Automation in Retail. CSP is conducting research on Job quality, including exploring digital technology and career ladders, in the retail sector, in collaboration with the University of California Los Angeles. We are also exploring the future of work for the retail sector, in collaboration with the Keystone Research Center. 

UMass Boston Professional Apprenticeship Experience (PACE). This innovative program provides undergraduate students with paid career-related positions. Faculty and staff mentors guide apprentices through the skill-building process, creating portfolios of projects they then present to future employers. CSP conducted an equity analysis of campus Work Study employment trends, disaggregated by race, gender, and age. CSP also conducted research interviews with students and faculty to investigate student employment experiences on campus, with an emphasis on equity.

UMass Boston RESPOND. In response to the pandemic, UMass Boston developed a program to connect struggling students to a referral and peer coaching system. RESPOND peer coaches identify needs and connect students to services, who are disproportionately low-income students of color. CSP conducted an evaluation of RESPOND, engaging directly with impacted students, so that the university was able to learn and adapt the program as it was being implemented.

Workforce Development for Offshore Wind. Offshore wind is critical for diversifying clean energy supply, meeting environmental goals, accelerating economic development, and creating thousands of jobs. The Center for Social Policy is conducting an analysis of the workforce system in offshore wind to determine if the workforce development infrastructure will successfully meet demand for jobs, create high quality jobs, and create equitable access to career opportunities. This project is funded by the Oceans Endowment at the McCormack Graduate School at UMass Boston.

Workforce Development Strategic Planning. Building off a workforce community needs assessment for the City of Cambridge, we collaborated with the UMass Donahue Institute to help Cambridge-based Just-a-Start develop a business planning process for its adult workforce development programs. The plan was informed by focus groups the Center for Social Policy conducted with City of Cambridge residents. For Just-a-Start, we conducted a workforce equity assessment, an analysis of training providers, key stakeholder interviews, and an assessment of sustainability. The resulting business plan included enhanced financial coaching, increased trauma-informed support services and access to the safety net, and expanded opportunities in the biotechnology sector, especially for African Americans.


Center for Social Policy

Healey Library, 10th Floor, Room 12
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125 USA


The Center for Social Policy is affiliated with the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.