Indicator data showcases region’s growth, challenges and opportunities
September 1, 2022 (Natick, MA) – The Foundation for MetroWest has updated and relaunched the Impact MetroWest interactive website, a community resource, that paints a picture of the growth and challenges across 39 cities and towns in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts. Impact MetroWest provides nearly 60 data indicators on the strengths and challenges facing the MetroWest’s 800,000 community members and is an essential tool for the region’s growing role in the Greater Boston and Massachusetts ecosystem.
“Each indicator on the Impact MetroWest site drives critical decision making to more effectively evaluate and ultimately lead to positive changes in the region,” said Jay Kim, Executive Director of the Foundation for MetroWest. “We’ve already seen this data change and transform the MetroWest, coming to life as it drives our partnerships, new initiatives and action projects.”
Celebrating MetroWest’s Growth and Vitality
With small, but fast-growing minority populations, the report marks a distinct 12.4% increase in overall population, with an 18% increase in foreign born residents, particularly in Lexington, Framingham, and Westborough, where foreign-born residents make up 28-29% of the population. Growth was fastest among Asian residents (118%), Black or African Americans (95%) and Hispanic/Latino (101%), though the region’s overall population is 74% White, 10% Asian, 7% Hispanic/Latino and 3% Black or African American. Of the region’s overall growth, the fastest growing population falls between ages 60-84, increasing since 2000 by 43%.
Explore the region’s demographics and diversity data here.
Building Financial Security through Workforce Development
The region’s impact is felt beyond sheer size, making ripples in the workforce, where 21% of jobs are held in high-tech industries. While the pandemic caused an 8% increase in unemployment, a meaningful change for the region’s previously low 2.7% unemployment rate in 2019. Impact MetroWest tells a more nuanced story.
The region’s overall poverty rate of 8% is below the state and nation, but rates are higher among Hispanic/Latino (19%) and Black or African American (14%) residents. In a region where a living wage for a family of four with two earners is $110,185, median incomes in Hispanic/Latino and Black or African American households are $60,000 and $66,000 respectively. Financial security and building wealth are unattainable for a subset of the MetroWest population, where the report found homeownership rates at 69% among White residents, 58% among Asian residents, 35% for Black or African American residents and 34% for Hispanic/Latino.
Addressing these disparities, the Foundation launched a workforce development project and recently made their first investment through their partnership with MassBay Community College. Five cohorts of certified nursing assistant students from MetroWest will earn their certification at no cost to students. The program will help fill the nursing assistant shortage while establishing a career path for the region’s vulnerable residents.
“Impact MetroWest has been a game changer for organizations like MassBay. The data help us better understand our community and be more responsive to its needs,” says MassBay President David Podell, Ph.D. “Through our strong partnership with the Foundation for MetroWest, our Certified Nursing Assistant certificate program is already making a difference in the lives of our students and the patients they serve.”
Addressing the manifold pathways to building wealth, Impact MetroWest also includes new data on:
- Business ownership, by race/ethnicity noting 80.2% of MetroWest businesses have White owners, following 8.4% Asian, 1.5% Hispanic or Latino and 1.1% Black or African American, lower than the state and national rates of business ownership for communities of color.
Addressing the Region’s Education Gaps with Action
In tandem, and tied to the region’s workforce disparities, lie disparities in education. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MetroWest saw a 14% increase in chronically absent students. In elementary school, third grade reading proficiency was found at 76% among Asian students, 67% among White students, 43% among Black or African American students and 38% among Hispanic/Latino students. The largest gaps are in Framingham, where the literacy rate is 35% as opposed to the statewide 52%. However, progress is being made with overall proficiency rates increasing across demographics by 8 to 10 percent since 2017.
To continue to drive change, the Foundation for MetroWest launched an action project collaborating with corporate partner, MathWorks. Together, they established literacy interventions that provide tutoring and basic needs support to Framingham students, thanks to the work of their nonprofit partners Literations and Jewish Family Service of Metrowest. The program, piloted in two elementary schools, is targeted to reach over 200 students and projects a success rate of at least 75% of students increasing their academic performance by half a grade. Based on the success, there are plans to expand this program into other schools.
Continuing to investigate education disparities, Impact MetroWest now includes new data on:
- Per student spending, which increased 15% since 2008, slightly below the state and national rates.
- College admission rates, by race/ethnicity showing 16% of Black students and 19% of Hispanic or Latino students were issued college acceptances in 2021, in contrast to 22% and 23% of White and Asian students, respectively.
Learn more about education in the MetroWest here.
“Impact MetroWest is more than a resource,” shared Zoey Bergstrom, Development and Communications Manager of One Family, Inc. “Beyond using the data for grant-writing and presenting, it has also helped us ensure our programmatic offerings are in line with the needs of the region and has become a force for change within our organization and the communities we serve.”
The Foundation for MetroWest encourages community members, as well as nonprofit and corporate partners to explore the Impact MetroWest data and website to learn more about their community and take action to help the MetroWest region continue to grow and thrive.
Review the full list of indicators and the website here.
About Foundation for MetroWest
The Foundation for MetroWest is a community foundation that improves the quality of life in 30+ MetroWest communities. Since 1995 the Foundation has been providing financial and educational resources to local nonprofit organizations, sharing essential data about the region to inform decisions, and partnering with donors to help guide and align their giving with the areas of greatest need in the community. The Foundation is supported by a range of businesses, individuals, and other philanthropic organizations. Currently the Foundation stewards more than $30 million in charitable assets for immediate needs and future impact.
To learn more about Impact MetroWest, contact Caroline Murphy, Director of Programs at [email protected] or 508-647-2260.