In April, you joined us in calling on the House to prioritize equity, justice, and opportunity in the Massachusetts state budget, especially for those who have been hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re so thankful to everyone who took action, sending more than 100 letters to representatives across the Commonwealth! This was an extraordinary show of support, but we can’t back down.

The budget is now in the hands of the Senate and with debates right around the corner, we need you to raise your voice once again and join us to expand language access, create safe and supportive school environments, and increase support for youth experiencing homelessness. Find more details below and take action today!

 

Amendment #139 (Sen. DiDomenico) would provide $8 million to improve the capacity of our public-facing state agencies to meet the critical language access needs of our Commonwealth’s increasingly diverse population.

Massachusetts is one of the most linguistically diverse states in the country, with nearly 1 in 10 residents estimated to be limited English proficient. But the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inability of state agencies to provide desperately needed information and services in languages other than English. It is urgent that limited English proficient residents have equal access to public health information, education, unemployment assistance, healthcare, housing, and other crucial services

 

Amendments #645 and #646 (Sen. Chandler) would support public schools and school districts in transitioning to safety models that do not rely on stationing police in schools. Research has shown that while having police in schools does not improve school safety (particularly with respect to preventing school shootings), police presence in schools has been tied to greater numbers of suspensions, lower graduation rates, and lower college enrollment rates, as well as contributing to the criminalization of Black and Latinx students.

Amendment #673 (Sen. DiDomenico) would increase funding for safe and supportive schools, helping expand and improve strategies and tools so all students are empowered to succeed in school.

Amendment #824 (Sen. Crighton) would ensure limited English proficient parents and students are provided with competent interpretation services at school, helping protect the civil rights of limited English proficient parents and enabling them to fully participate in their child’s education

Together, these amendments will help disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, address disparities in education, and create safe, welcoming, and supportive school environments for all students.

In the wake of the many disruptions and traumas students have endured throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure they are set up for success and able to thrive in school is essential. Please send a message to your State Senator urging them to co-sponsor budget amendments #645, #646, #673, and #824!

 

Amendment #475 (Sen. Chang-Díaz) would increase funding for the budget line item “Housing and Supportive Services for Unaccompanied Youth” (4000-0007) from $8.5 million to $10 million.

It is impossible to ignore the lifetime toll homelessness can have on young people, increasing their risk of poor health outcomes, exposure to violence, susceptibility to exploitation, and dropping out of school. Challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have only increased the scale of need across the state, while the availability of services has a direct correlation to the number of youth experiencing homelessness advocates are able to identify and help

This increased investment in supportive services for our most vulnerable youth is vital to help create a sustained and effective response to end youth homelessness. Please reach out to your State Senator and ask them to co-sponsor and actively support Sen. Chang-Díaz’s budget amendment #475!

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter and Instagram! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

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The state budget is a reflection of our values and an opportunity to secure essential funding for services across the Commonwealth. As our communities work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the budget prioritizes equity, justice, and opportunity for those who have been hit hardest is more urgent than ever.

The Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means recently released its FY23 budget proposal. MA Appleseed is supporting several budget amendments that would expand language access, disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, and increase support for youth experiencing homelessness. And with the full House scheduled to debate soon, we need you to raise your voice. Learn more and take action below!

 

Amendment #1381 (Rep. Cabral) would provide $8 million to improve the capacity of our public-facing state agencies to meet the critical language access needs of our Commonwealth’s increasingly diverse population.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inability of state agencies to provide desperately needed information and services in languages other than English. As one of the most linguistically diverse states in the country, we must ensure that limited English proficient residents have equal access to public health information, education, unemployment assistance, healthcare, housing, and other crucial services

 

Amendments #1133 and #1138 (Rep. Uyterhoeven) would utilize existing funds in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education budget to provide targeted interventions (#1133) and school supports (#1138) to reduce the use of suspensions among students in pre-K through 3rd grade.

Amendment #1321 (Rep. Khan) would create a $600,000 grant program, administered by the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, to support public schools and school districts in transitioning to safety models that do not rely on stationing police in schools.

Both excluding students from the classroom at an early age and maintaining a police presence in schools have been shown to lead to worse educational outcomes, especially for Black and Latinx students, students with disabilities, and students who are economically disadvantaged. Together, these amendments will help disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and keep students in class where they are safe, supported, and available for learning.

It’s time to end the over-policing and criminalization of students of color and ensure all students have the care and support in school they need to thrive. Please send a message to your State Representative urging them to co-sponsor Rep. Uyterhoeven’s budget amendments #1133 and #1138 and Rep. Khan’s budget amendment #1321!

 

Amendment #494 (Rep. O’Day) would increase funding for the budget line item “Housing and Services for Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness” (4000-0007) from $8.5 million to $10 million. When young people experience homelessness, they are at a greater risk of poor health outcomes, exposure to violence, susceptibility to exploitation, and dropping out of school. This increased investment in supportive services for our most vulnerable youth is vital to match the scale of need across the state and help create a sustained and effective response to end youth homelessness

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter and Instagram! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for our mailing list.

 

Thanks to the swift action of supporters like you, the Judiciary IT Bond bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee favorably earlier this year! Now, it moves to the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

We cannot miss this opportunity to invest in access to justice at an unprecedented scale. Take action today and tell your legislators to support the Judiciary IT Bond bill!

The civil justice system is designed by lawyers and for lawyers, and trying to navigate complex court processes without legal representation can be almost impossible. But for thousands of people facing life-changing challenges like wrongful eviction or crushing debt who cannot afford an attorney, representing themselves is their only option.

In 2019, we issued a report detailing how technology could help solve this crisis. Specifically, we recommended that the Massachusetts Trial Court create a centralized, online legal help center. But because the courts’ IT systems are so out-of-date, technology-based solutions remain out of reach

H.4499, the Judiciary IT Bond bill (An Act to Improve and Modernize the Information Technology Systems and Capacities of the Judiciary), would update the Massachusetts Trial Court’s severely outdated IT structure and fund online innovations that can help people successfully advocate for themselves and protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.

Massachusetts residents shouldn’t need a law degree to avoid catastrophe. By funding these essential and long-overdue technological improvements, the legislature can reduce disparities between wealthy and low-income litigants, ease burdens on working families, provide language access for immigrant and limited English proficient residents, and empower everyone to resolve their civil legal problems – whether they can afford an attorney or not.

We’re one step closer to making access to justice for all a reality, but we need your help to keep the pressure on and make it clear that ensuring fairness in our justice system must be a priority!

The Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets is holding a hearing on the Judiciary IT Bond bill TOMORROW at 10 AM. Please take this one-minute action NOW and urge your legislators to support H.4499 by asking the Joint Committee to issue a favorable report for this bill.

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

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Budget season is in full swing in Massachusetts, and we need you to raise your voice for language access.

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts House released a supplemental budget bill (H.4479) allocating about $1 billion in federal funds. In exciting news, Chairman Antonio Cabral of New Bedford has filed an important amendment in support of language access for immigrant and limited English proficient families!

Please contact your State Representative by 1:00 PM today and tell them: we need to invest in language access for all.

Amendment #42 (Rep. Cabral) would apply $8 million in federal funds to improve the capacity of our public-facing state agencies to meet the critical language access needs of our Commonwealth’s increasingly diverse population. 

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inability of state agencies to provide desperately needed information and services in languages other than English. As one of the most linguistically diverse states in the country, we must ensure that non-English speaking state residents have equal access to public health information, education, unemployment assistance, healthcare, housing, and other crucial services.

When we invest in language access, our communities are healthier, safer, and stronger. Now, we need to act fast. Please take this one-minute action TODAY before 1:00 PM and urge your State Representative to co-sponsor budget amendment #42.

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for our mailing list.

 

The civil justice system is designed by lawyers and for lawyers, which means trying to navigate complex court processes without legal representation can be almost impossible. But thousands of people facing life-changing challenges like wrongful eviction or crushing debt cannot afford an attorney, so representing themselves is their only option.

Contact your legislators and tell them: Massachusetts residents shouldn’t need a law degree to avoid catastrophe. Expand access to justice by supporting the Judiciary IT Bond bill!

Right now, people are continually thrown into the civil justice system on their own and unaware of their fundamental rights. The impact of this can be devastating – sending families spiraling into poverty and upheaval, further disenfranchising our most vulnerable communities, and perpetuating systemic inequities.

In 2019, we issued a report detailing how technology could help solve this crisis. Specifically, we recommended that the Massachusetts Trial Court create a centralized, online legal help center. But because the courts’ IT systems are so out-of-date, technology-based solutions remain out of reach

H.1520, the Judiciary IT Bond bill (An Act to Improve and Modernize the Information Technology Systems and Capacities of the Judiciary), would update the Massachusetts Trial Court’s severely outdated IT structure and fund online innovations that can help people successfully advocate for themselves and protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.

This is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in access to justice at an unprecedented level. By funding these essential and long-overdue technological improvements, the legislature can reduce disparities between wealthy and low-income litigants, ease burdens on working families, provide language access for immigrant and limited English proficient residents, and empower everyone to resolve their civil legal problems – whether they can afford an attorney or not.

And as the COVID-19 pandemic has destabilized families and heightened legal needs, this bill is more urgent than ever.

An important deadline is fast approaching: on February 2nd, the legislature will decide which bills from this legislative session move forward and which will not. Please take this one-minute action TODAY and urge your legislators to support H.1520 and ensure the Judiciary Committee issues a favorable report for this bill.

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for our mailing list.

 

The Massachusetts Legislature is preparing to break for the holidays soon. But before that happens, we have an exciting opportunity to move the Young Student Exclusion Ban Act forward and eliminate harsh disciplinary policies that fuel the school-to-prison pipeline.

This bill is scheduled for a legislative hearing next week – which means we have just a few days to consolidate as much support behind it as we can. Contact your legislators and tell them: our youngest children belong in class where they are safe, supported, and available for learning.

The Young Student Exclusion Ban Act (H.3876) aims to improve educational outcomes by replacing the use of exclusionary discipline in response to minor offenses by students in pre-K through 3rd grade with effective, alternative approaches like restorative practices, mediation, and other forms of conflict resolution. As young students return to school from traumatic experiences brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to ensure they remain in the classroom where they can get back on track.

Excluding students from the classroom at an early age makes it increasingly likely they will experience expulsion or suspension in later grades, contributing to poor academic performance, failure to graduate on time, or even dropping out altogether. 

And with Black and Latinx students, students with disabilities, and students who are economically disadvantaged disproportionately more likely to experience exclusionary discipline at an early age, the Young Student Exclusion Ban Act will help address long-standing inequities and opportunity gaps in education.

We need to make sure this bill has strong support heading into next week’s hearing, but that can only happen with your help. Please take this one-minute action today and urge your legislators to support the Young Student Exclusion Ban Act!

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

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Just a few weeks ago, the House debated hundreds of amendments to determine how to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and surplus funds from last fiscal year. And with your help, several significant amendments were included – prioritizing BIPOC youth and youth experiencing homelessness and addressing barriers to education for low-income students.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn and we have another chance to fight for the inclusion of essential initiatives to ensure Massachusetts’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is equitable, sustainable, and centered on families and youth who have been hit hardest during this devastating time.

Last Wednesday, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) released S.2564, their own document to allocate ARPA and surplus funds. Senators had until Friday afternoon to submit amendments to that proposal, and the full Senate will be debating and voting on those amendments TOMORROW (November 10th).

This is an unprecedented opportunity to advance social justice and invest in the systemic solutions our communities deserve. 

Please reach out to your Senator now and ask them to include key funding initiatives in S.2564 that support students, youth experiencing homelessness, and renters facing eviction.

Amendments We Support:

Amendment #32 “Youth Employment”: Sponsored by Senator Eldridge, this amendment would allocate $50 million to support employment programs for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, including programs that serve LGBTQ+ and questioning youth and youth of color. This investment would empower an estimated 10,000 young people with jobs and pathways to career success. Click here for more information about this amendment from our advocacy partner Breaktime.

Amendment #257 “MLAC”: Sponsored by Senator DiDomenico, this amendment includes funding for the Housing and Eviction Representation program and the Right to High-Quality Education for All Students program. Use this form to urge your State Senator to support Amendment #257!
  • The amendment would provide $12.4 million for one year of temporary funding for the Housing and Eviction Representation program to provide housing stability and homelessness prevention to those at risk of eviction. This program would make tenants and owner occupants whose incomes are below 80% of the Area Median Income eligible for free legal representation.
  • The Right to High-Quality Education for All Students program would allocate $1.9 million to address barriers to fair, equitable, and high-quality education for low-income students across Massachusetts. 
  • The amendment would also provide $3.9 million to fund two programs providing legal help and benefits to low-income and vulnerable families in medical and family settings.

Amendment #422 “Trained and Qualified School Interpreters Workforce Development”: Sponsored by Senator Crighton, this amendment would allocate $4 million over 5 years to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to build a statewide system of trained and qualified school interpreters. This includes providing statewide training and assessment for 1,100 bilingual school staff to become qualified school interpreters. Click here for more information about this amendment.

Amendment #439 “School Meals”: Sponsored by Senator DiDomenico, this amendment would extend universal free school breakfast and lunch at higher need school districts through the 2024-2025 school year. The amendment would also eliminate meal costs for families that qualify for reduced-price lunch in all eligible school districts where at least 40% of students are in families that already participate in food assistance programs like SNAP.

Amendment #457 “Community College Campus Hunger Pilot Program”: Sponsored by Senator Lovely, this amendment would allocate at least $2.7 million to establish the Massachusetts Community College Campus Hunger Program. Applying community colleges would be able to utilize program funds to combat student hunger and food insecurity through meal cards, meal vouchers, meal plans, and other campus-designed projects.

Amendment #458 “Hunger-Free Campus Initiative”: Sponsored by Senator Chandler, this amendment would allocate at least $1 million to the Department of Higher Education to create the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative. This program would distribute grants to public colleges and universities to combat student hunger through increased access to federal nutrition program benefits, to create meal swipe exchange programs, and to maximize access to on-campus or local food pantries. Program funds would also be utilized to create Hunger-Free Campus Task Forces on public college and university campuses that emphasize student participation and input to tackle food insecurity.

Time is of the essence. Please reach out to your State Senator to help us pass these amendments! 

What You Can Do

  • Contact your Senator TODAY and ask them to co-sponsor Amendments #32, #257, #422, #439, #457, and #458 to S.2564.
  • Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow up with a phone call to ask whether the Senator will co-sponsor Amendments #32, #257, #422, #439, #457, and #458 to S.2564.
  • Click here to find your Senator’s email and phone number.

The next 24 hours are critical so please contact your State Senator NOW.

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for our mailing list.

On Monday, the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means (HWM) released House Bill 4219An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs, a bill to allocate funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and surplus state funds from last fiscal year. Representatives had until yesterday afternoon to submit amendments to that proposal, and TOMORROW (Thursday), the full House of Representatives will be debating and voting on those amendments.

This is an unprecedented opportunity to advance social justice and right the systemic wrongs that have gone unaddressed for too long. 

Please reach out to your State Representative NOW and ask them to include key funding initiatives in H.4219 that support students, youth experiencing homelessness, and renters facing eviction.

Amendments We Support:

Amendment #1031 “Mass ID”: Sponsored by Representative O’Day and Representative Khan, this amendment would allocate $200,000 to provide free Mass IDs to people experiencing homelessness, provide staffing resources to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to assist individuals experiencing homelessness to access Mass IDs, and track and report on the impact of the initiative. Removing barriers and easing the process for youth experiencing homelessness to obtain state ID is crucial for them to accomplish a host of everyday tasks and access services that require identification.

Amendment #594 “MLAC”: Sponsored by Chairwoman Balser and Chairman Day, this amendment includes funding for the Right to Counsel in Evictions Program and the Right to High-Quality Education for All Students program.
  • The amendment would provide $78 million for a Housing and Eviction Representation Program to provide housing stability and homelessness prevention to those at risk of eviction. This program would make tenants and owner occupants whose incomes are below 80% of the Area Median Income eligible for free legal representation. Read our testimony in support of Right to Counsel here.
  • The Right to High-Quality Education for All Students program would allocate funds to address barriers to fair, equitable, and high-quality education for low-income students across Massachusetts. 
Amendments #313 “Meeting the Need for 10,000 Jobs for Massachusetts Youth” and #314 “Addressing Technical Omission of Homeless Youth in Line Item 1599-2036”: Sponsored by Representative Elugardo, both of these amendments support employment programs for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
  • Amendment #313 calls for an additional $10 million investment, for a total of $50 million, in youth and young adult employment. This investment would empower an estimated 10,000 young people with jobs and pathways to career success.
  • Amendment #314 would add language into House Bill 4219 about how youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals, should be a major focus group of this funding. Click here for more information about these amendments from our advocacy partner Breaktime. 

Time is of the essence. Please reach out to your State Representative to help us pass these amendments! 

What You Can Do

  • Contact your Representative TODAY and ask them to co-sponsor amendments #313, #314, #594, and #1031 to H.4219.
  • Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow-up with a phone call to ask whether your Representative will co-sponsor amendments #313, #314, #594, and #1031 to H.4219.
  • Click here to find your Representative’s email and phone number.

The next 24 hours are critical so please contact your State Representative NOW.

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for our mailing list.

In Massachusetts, over 90% of tenants facing eviction are unrepresented, yet 81% of landlords do have legal representation.

This inequitable distribution of power means that thousands of people – disproportionately women, families of color, and families with children – are thrown into Housing Court on their own without any form of legal representation, and are more likely to be forced out of their homes unnecessarily.

There is a common sense solution to this crisis – increase access to attorneys in Housing Court! Legislators are currently debating how to use the increase in federal funding the state has received to address the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to tell your legislators they should set aside ARPA funds for the creation of a Right to Counsel program in Housing Court.

These funding decisions are being made now and the House may debate and vote on a bill as early as this week!

Full legal representation has been shown to make a significant impact on tenants’ ability to remain in their homes. Funding a Right to Counsel program would protect the most vulnerable of our population from homelessness, and the many other debilitating effects of evictions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for our mailing list.

 

The Massachusetts legislative session is in full swing, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to advance civil rights for Massachusetts residents.

An Act to Create Access to Justice (S.996/H.1792) would restore civil rights protections at the state level that were previously available under federal law, make legal remedies accessible, and protect all vulnerable groups. Check out this fact sheet to learn more.

Today, our goal is to reach as many Massachusetts lawmakers as possible. We need you to raise your voice! Please take this one-minute action today and urge your legislators to co-sponsor and support An Act to Create Access to Justice.

Everyone deserves protection under the law and the ability to seek redress in court.

 

Keep informed & stay involved!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action and support Massachusetts families and youth by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter! Check out our website for our most recent publications and action alerts.

To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Thank you for advancing social justice in Massachusetts!

 

Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for our mailing list.