Guest post: A Woman with a Master’s Degree Should Move to Fall River…

Today’s guest post comes from Jen Gonet, a soon-to-be graduate of the UMass Dartmouth MPP program who is currently a graduate research assistant at the Urban Initiative. 

Recently I’ve been compiling some data about the status of women in the South Coast. Soon to graduate with my master’s degree and living in New Bedford, I found one number of particular interest. Fall River women with graduate or professional degrees have a median income that is almost the same as their counterparts across the state. Fall River women with graduate and professional degrees are earning $56,099, while across the state their counterparts are earning $56,783. Additionally, the good news is that women with graduate or professional degree credentials in Fall River (and Massachusetts) also have higher incomes than our fellow females nationwide.

While this is exciting news to someone like me, who is soon to have these credentials, it brings up an important discussion for our region. The discussion is of the educational achievement of women in our region’s cities of Fall River and New Bedford and the implications it has.

While I don’t want to seem to be forgetting our male counterparts, I will demonstrate why higher educational credentials are so important specifically for the women in our area.  Compared to the men in our cities, achieving a higher education degree is much more important for the women. Don’t believe me? Here’s the data to show it. Women in both cities with lower educational attainment are making much less than the local males with similar credentials. For example, the median income for a male with less than a high school diploma in New Bedford is $31,930, while a woman with less than a high school diploma is making just $17,727. Fall River is no different with $29,513 for the same male while the woman is making $16,692. Across all levels of educational attainment women are making less than the males, however, the point here is to demonstrate that higher education is the key for women.  Men’s earnings are used as a reference point to show that in each community a woman does not earn more than a man without a high school diploma until she achieves at least a bachelor’s degree.  We are speaking in general terms, but the numbers do demonstrate the importance that, generally speaking, the higher her education, the higher a woman’s earning potential becomes. The opportunity does not seem to be the same for women with less educational attainment then are available to men.

One reason for the disparity is the types of occupations women and men are employed in within our cities. As an example, the chart below shows percentage distribution of New Bedford men and women in certain occupational sectors. The professions women are employed in require higher educational attainment in order to advance in their careers, while men are more evenly distributed across all sectors.

With both communities hovering around only 14% of women with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the outlook for women’s earning potential in our cities is an unequal playing field.




Guest post: Linking Budgets to Dollars

Today we feature another guest post by Chris Nunes, who graduated with a Master’s of Public Policy from UMass Dartmouth in 2011. He is a budget analyst for the town of Concord, MA. All opinions expressed herein are his own.

If we are taking etch-a-sketch candidates, how about a redo of New Bedford’s budget presentation?  While the City’s current 174-page FY12 budget document provides much line item information, the taxpayer is in no position to meaningfully analyze how their tax dollars are being spent.

For example, in FY12, the City Solicitor’s office budgeted $75,000 for consulting services—on top of $551,395 already appropriated in direct City employee personnel benefits.  While many of us are in no position to effectively analyze the inner workings of a Solicitor’s Office and propose corresponding organizational efficiency changes, we can and should however; doubt the necessity of an unexplained major line item until its need and value is explained.

New Bedford’s budget does its part to provide transparency, but a budget with just row-after-row of numbers lacks meaning.  And unless you’re Will Hunting, numbers without definition have very little meaning.

As revenue streams have dried up over the past few years, the need to link dollars to performance has heightened.  At the municipal level, there has been a significant movement towards the development of meaningful performance measures which are designed to serve two purposes.  First, presenting performance measures in a budget or similar document allows for the public to get a better sense of how their tax dollars are being spent.  Second, the constant tracking of performance allows the City to better analyze its policies and procedures.

Let’s say that the City decides to institute a performance measure that breaks down police overtime into specific categories (such as house calls, sick calls, court time, etc.)  Continuing this hypothetical, let’s say that the police department was to report that overtime costs were most excessive in responding to house calls.  By tracking this information, the public is now aware that overtime dollars are being allocated for service calls.  If overtime costs were excessive in a category such as sick calls however, then this information provides an accountability measure and puts pressure on the police department to review its staffing procedures.

Keeping the above points in mind, if I could etch-a-sketch New Bedford’s budget I would propose the following be intertwined into its design:

  1. Immediately develop performance measures to include in the City’s next budget document.  It is vital that these measures focus on linking dollars to performance as opposed to simply citing work frequency or output measures.  For example, one unnamed Massachusetts municipality cites the number of W-2 forms processed as an important financial indicator.  While this is labeled a performance measure by the municipality in its budget document, it provides very little operational analysis value.
  1. Have each department write a brief summary of their budget proposals and make these proposals accessible on each department’s website (the last thing that needs to be done is to make the current massive budget document double in size). While I can’t quickly think of a performance indicator that could measure the efficiency of the $75,000 budgeted for Solicitor consultants, the taxpayer—like a father grilling his daughter’s date—should know what the intentions are.
  1. Redesign the City’s website in a manner which provides for the increased dissemination of important information and documents.  I’m not proposing the posting of City employee Facebook passwords, but at least let me find a detailed capital improvement plan.

Job opportunities in Fall River

Catholic Social Services in Fall River, MA has full time job openings for a Program Manager and Case Manager at the Donovan House, as well as a part time Site Manager position of the Talbot Apartments.  Click here to view full job descriptions and how to apply.

The Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project

Here at the Urban Initiative evaluation is one of the things we do best. Check out this video by the Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project about innovative ways to measure progress and outcomes in nonprofit organizations focused on youth arts. The Urban Initiative is a great resource for organizations interested in learning more about the evaluation process or how to conduct their own.

To learn more about the BYAEP check out:

Two opportunities from the YWCA of Southeastern MA

Our local YWCA has two opportunities they’ve asked us to share. First, they’re seeking a strategic plan facilitator who can help the organization develop a three-year plan to cover November 2012 through November 2015. Proposals from qualified facilitators will be accepted through April 20. Click here for the full RFP.

The second opportunity is an opening for a Development Manager. This part-time (18 hrs/week) position involves overseeing fundraising from individual and corporate donors as well as grant research and writing. Applicants should have a Bachelor’s degree and at least three years of development experience. Click here for the job description.

Events to check out at the Rhode Island Foundation this week!

Evaluating your nonprofit program: the what and the how

Presented by the RI Foundation’s, Jill Pfitzenmayer, Ph.D., this workshop will cover the key components to creating a successful evaluation plan for your program or nonprofit. You will learn about methodology, data collection tools, and basic data analysis.

Thursday, April 12, 2012, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Cost: $15

Register Here.  Only a few seats left!

Google Analytics: A free and easy way to improve your online communications strategy

In a three-hour session, Ann-Marie Harrington,founder and president of Embolden, will show you how to interpret the data, including from advanced features and tools.

Friday, April 13, 2012, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Cost: Free

Register Here.

Are there too many nonprofits?

Tune into the Urban Institute’s panel discussion on Tuesday, April 3 from 12:00 to 1:30p

Panelists include:

  • Elizabeth Boris, director, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Urban Institute (moderator)
  • David La Piana, managing partner, La Piana Consulting; author, The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution and The Nonprofit Mergers Workbook
  • Glen O’Gilvie, chief executive officer, Center for Nonprofit Advancement
  • Mark Pacella, chief deputy attorney general, Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section,Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
  • Pat Read, principal, Pat Read Consulting; former senior vice president for public policy, Independent Sector

To watch the video webcast or a recording, go to