The Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) was established in 1982 and serves as a trade organization for community development corporations (CDC’s) located within the Commonwealth.
MACDC’s base is situated right in the heart of Downtown Boston. The non-profit currently has nine employees, including John Fitterer. John was initially the director of communications from 2013 to 2017 before taking up the position of director of operations in January 2018.
The trade organization currently consists of 90 members broken down into 66 voting members and 24 associate members. There are 62 certified CDC’s signed up as members of MACDC. Each CDC must pay annual dues to be a part of MACDC.
“Community Development Corporations are usually organizations that are focusing on the revitalization and overall sustainability of the communities, neighborhoods or towns that they’re working in,” John explains. “Community development corporations are probably the most well-known for their real-estate development work.
“Some of our organizations have actually focused on building hundreds and hundreds of units of affordable housing in the communities in which they work. That’s providing a level of sustainability for those residents. Some of the communities have been devastated due to severe economic challenges and other changes that have occurred in different communities.”
Some of the CDC’s that are members of MACDC include Urban Edge in Jamaica Plain and Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation. One CDC that has a pressing issue to contend with is the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing in East Boston.
“One of the focuses right now of some of their work is climate resiliency of that community because it’s so susceptible to the rising sea levels,” John informs. “The CDC is responding to those issues in different ways.
“Raising awareness within the community and raising these issues more broadly. They must do something different with their projects than a real estate development project that’s not going to be susceptible to flooding until potentially 30, 40 years from now.”
MACDC provide two primary services to its members. On one hand, there is the advocacy work that they participate in to support and stand up for their member CDC’s.
MACDC has a full-time lobbyist working at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The trade group also enlist a lead organizer who co-operates with CDC’s so that advocacy issues are identified, and possible solutions are generated and met.
Mel King Institute
The other purpose of MACDC is capacity building. Under the capacity building arm lies the Mel King Institute for Community Building. The institute will be 10 years old this January.
Mel King, now 90 years old, was a civil rights leader, a professor at MIT and the first African-American to run for Mayor of Boston. His run for mayor in 1983 was unsuccessful but the institute set up in his honor attracts a huge number of participants every year.
“We offer about thirty courses a year. We’ve about five hundred participants come through the program each year. It’s also a clearing house for information and knowledge and an opportunity to really build networks within the community development field.
“We have a curriculum committee that meets to help put together and craft the course offerings throughout the year. We’ve done some interesting work particularly around board engagement and board work where it’s been a whole series that’s been offered over Saturdays or something like that over the course of weeks.
MACDC charges a fee for the Mel King Institute, which varies from course to course. The trade organization offer discounted rates for corporations that are members of MACDC.
This year, MACDC will combine their annual meeting with a convention that they hold every four years. The event will take place on Saturday, October 20 at Hynes Convention Centre on Boylston Street in Boston.
The convention has been specifically arranged to take place on a Saturday to get the highest attendance possible to attract those who work from Monday to Friday. The event will take place from 9am to 3pm and admission is free on the day with MACDC providing free childcare.
“We want residents of communities to come together. We want the board members of our CDC’s and other organizations to come together with us for a day of learning, discussion, networking. I think it’s also great particularly when people can have an opportunity to hear from the candidates for their governor.
“We’re obviously raising money for that [convention] because the event is free. We have a significant fundraising responsibility. It’s grant writing, sponsorships.”
Quality of living
While the MACDC Convention in two months’ time will come and go, issues affecting community development will remain. The quality of living conditions has been recognized as a key issue that can inhibit social development.
“One of our board members said that housing is the social determinant of everything,” says John. “I think that’s a great way to say what it is we’re trying to address.
“When you begin to look at a home, if you improve the quality of a family’s home, that child will go to school more, the parent will not miss work as much. The multipliers around access to healthy food options, access to reliable transportation options.
“If you were to think about what CDC’s are doing, its providing opportunities to make it possible for people to increasingly thrive in their lives.”
Image Attribute: MACDC