Systemic Solutions to Social Justice Issues.

Our Projects

Our projects use policy analysis, research and documentation, public education, community organizing, pro bono engagement, coalition building, and litigation.

About Us

Massachusetts Appleseed’s mission is to promote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues.

Contact Us

For more information about how you can get involved in Massachusetts Appleseed’s efforts, contact us today!

Celebrating 25 Years of Fighting for Justice

Our Story

In the early 1990s, the Harvard Law School Class of 1958 wanted to make a class gift that would leave a lasting impact. They wanted to leverage the power of pro bono and collaboration, and create systemic change that would help as many people as possible.

In 1994, the Class of ’58 founded Massachusetts Appleseed and the Appleseed Network.

For 25 years we have grounded our work in identifying unseen injustices and fighting to reform and reverse harmful policies. As we enter the next 25 years, we will continue to follow this mission, advocating for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable communities.

2019 Good Apple Award Reception

Massachusetts Appleseed

Our Mission

MA Appleseed’s mission is to promote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues.

First We Mind the Gap, Then We Mend It

At MA Appleseed, we dedicate ourselves to remedying social injustices for at-risk and underserved children, youth, and adults. Working with volunteer lawyers, community partners, and others, we identify and address gaps in services and opportunities in areas such as education, homelessness, and the court system.

Through in-depth research, community problem-solving, and consensus building, we develop powerful solutions that reform systems and structures.

Learn More: National Appleseed Network

  • We believe that systemic reform is a powerful advocacy strategy for effecting broad-scale solutions to issues that prevent equal treatment for all.

  • We identify issues that have not been fully addressed by either public or private sectors and offer solutions which promote self-sufficiency for Massachusetts communities and residents.

  • We are independent, non-partisan and objective. We take a position on an issue only after thoroughly researching it from all sides.

  • We leverage our lean budget by cultivating significant pro bono support from law firms, accountants and other professionals, allowing our active board and dedicated staff to accomplish significantly more work in shorter periods of time.
  • We organize volunteers, including attorneys and other experts, who work in teams to analyze issues and propose solutions.
  • We work closely with community stakeholders to gather input, garner support and build consensus around proposed solutions and their implementation.

In the Spotlight


Melanie L. Todman and John A. Shutkin Elected Chair and Vice-Chair of Massachusetts Appleseed's Board of Directors

For Immediate Release BOSTON, MA – The Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Melanie L. Todman, Associate at Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, to Chair of its Board of Directors…
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The 2020 State Budget is on the Governor's Desk!

Action Alert This week, the Conference Committee released its final, reconciled 2020 budget - a consolidation of the House and Senate versions totaling $43.1 billion. This year, our budget priorities included: Support for Homeless Youth…

The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission Gets It Right on Courthouse Cell Phone Bans

By Jake Hofstetter | Research and Policy Associate In just two decades, cell phones have gone from convenient accessories for making calls to essential tools in our everyday lives. Without our phones we lose not only our capacity to entertain…
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The 2020 State Budget: Results from the Senate

Action Alert Thank you to everyone who raised their voices and called their state senators to advocate for our FY20 budget priorities! The Senate debates have ended, the conferees of the Conference Committee have been decided, and the next…

12 Years of Service: An Interview with Kristen Graves

Can you tell me how you first got involved with MA Appleseed? What drew you to the mission? I applied for a summer internship with MA Appleseed after my first year of law school, but I did not get the job! Instead, I ended up working for…

Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission Calls for Phasing Out Courthouse Cell Phone Bans, Drawing on Recommendations from Massachusetts Appleseed Report

For Immediate Release BOSTON, May 29, 2019 – The Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice applauds the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s conclusions in its recently released report that courthouse cell phone bans create…

2019 Good Apple Award

On March 28, 2019, we presented Robert F. Rivers, Chair and CEO of Eastern Bank, with the Good Apple Award. Many thanks to everyone who attended, donated, participated, and to all of our generous sponsors. We cannot thank you enough! To see pictures from the 2019 Good Apple Award Reception, click here.

Current Projects

Access to Justice

A 2014 study by the Boston Bar Association found that civil legal aid service providers turn away 64% of income-eligible cases, for lack of funds. That means that over 30,000 low-income residents in Massachusetts, facing eviction, domestic violence, and other crises, faced them alone. The BBA Report made special note of family law cases, which are turned away 80% of the time. Is technology a big part of the solution for this tremendous need? MA Appleseed thinks so, and is embarking on a new direction for our organization to look at the models by which low-income people are provided legal services and how technology can make a real difference in access to justice.

Keep Kids in Class

Our signature project positions MA Appleseed at the forefront of understanding the intersection of school discipline practices, zero tolerance, and youth entering the juvenile justice system. We seek to mitigate effects of zero tolerance, remove barriers to access to public education, and support at-risk youth to keep kids in class where they are safe, supported, and available for learning.


We partnered with the Massachusetts Law Reform InstitutePAIRKIND and other organizations to create a “Family Preparedness Packet” for immigrants and others who might need to make arrangements for their children in case they are suddenly unable to care for them themselves. This packet includes information about how families can protect their assets and determine who will care for their children in emergency situations such as a medical crisis or the need to leave the country.

Legislative & Budget Advocacy

Each year, the Massachusetts state legislature passes a state budget that provides funding for various state programs, agencies and departments for the following year. Throughout the budget process, advocates, including Massachusetts Appleseed and our supporters, have opportunities to contact their elected representatives and urge them to adequately fund programs that they care about.

Raising the Grade

In response to an emerging homeless population among college students, MA Appleseed has partnered with the Office of Urban and Off-Campus Support Services (U-ACCESS) at the University of Massachusetts Boston to establish the “Massachusetts Homeless Post-Secondary Students Network”. The Network engages a cross section of diverse stakeholders, including colleges, high schools, state agencies, service providers, policy advocates, and community members, who all share a common purpose to support youth in access to public education. Together, these stakeholders work to identify systemic barriers, advocate for policy changes, and develop programs and best practices to facilitate meaningful access to higher education for youth at-risk of homelessness, youth subject to chronic poverty, and youth experiencing homelessness.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied homeless youth are youth who are not in the care of a parent or guardian and who lack safe, stable housing. Their numbers are growing and their needs go largely unmet. Massachusetts Appleseed co-wrote a policy brief entitled, “Unaccompanied, Unidentified and Uncounted: Developing Strategies to Meet the Needs of America’s Homeless Youth,” which examines their plight. The brief suggests recommendations meant to spur advocacy, further research and ultimately meaningful improvement to the lives of these children. The brief forms the basis ofMassachusetts Appleseed’s youth homelessness policy agenda, much of which we have achieved through our work on the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Youth.

Contact Us

Massachusetts Appleseed Logo
Massachusetts Appleseed
Center for Law and Justice

44 School Street, Suite 415
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 482-8686