MassINC: Strategies to Increase Diversity and Equity in Education

Session 2: Eighth Annual Gateway Cities Institute Innovation Awards & Summit

The second in MassINC's series on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for a Strong Recovery, this session will focus on strategies to correct the disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes for students of color.

New data from Brown University show that low-income students in Massachusetts earn nearly one-third less than their peers as adults. Education, including both pre-K-12 as well as higher education, has the potential to create equitable opportunities for students – but not in its current state.

But there are several new and exciting programs that have tremendous potential to advance equity and inclusion while creating better out comes for students. From increasing the number of educators of color to expanding early college opportunities in Massachusetts, this session will showcase efforts from Kimberley Murphy, Kimberley Murphy, Assistant Principal, Chelsea High School, and Shirley Edgerton, Cultural Proficiency Coach, Pittsfield Public Schools, to create more opportunity for students of color and low-income students.

Register here

Awardees & Presenters:

Gateway Cities Champion

The Gateway Cities Champion Award recognizes leaders who display exceptional commitment to the advancement of public policies that support the growth and renewal of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities. This year’s recipients exemplify what committed policy leadership can achieve for our urban communities.

Aaron Vega

State Representative Aaron Vega, Hampden 5th District 

Through more than a decade of service as a Holyoke City Councilor , State Legislator, and most notably, as the co-author of the PROMISE Act, Representative Aaron Vega exemplifies committed policy leadership on behalf of all Gateway Cities. The precursor to the Student Opportunity Act signed by Governor Baker in 2019, Representative Vega’s bill called for fully resourcing public schools to meet the needs of all learners in the 21st century. Beyond Education Rep Vega has championed issues around housing and workforce development for Gateway Cities. 

Gateway Cities Innovation Awards

The Gateway Cities Innovation Award recognizes individuals and programs that provide an exceptional contribution to the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities. The 2020 honorees for this session will deliver a case study presentation on their remarkable efforts to increase diversity and equity in electoral and nonprofit leadership in Gateway Cities.


Shirley Edgerton, Cultural Proficiency Coach, Pittsfield Public Schools 

Shirley Edgerton
As Cultural Proficiency Coach with the Pittsfield Public Schools, Shirley Edgerton built a program to recruit teachers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).  During the Summer of 2019, the city hosted the first cohort of 12 participants. During the weeklong visit, the students evaluated the district’s curriculum and visited cultural venues and historical sites to learn more about the Berkshires and the region’s black community. Through the exchange, the district learned more about recruiting and retaining sought-after HBCU graduates.


Kimberley Murphy, Assistant Principal, Chelsea High School

As the Assistant Principal for Grades 11 and 12 at Chelsea High, Kimberley Murphy has played a leading role building one of the largest and most successful Early College programs in Massachusetts. Chelsea High’s Early College gives students the opportunity to take courses at Bunker Hill. The exposure to college life and the significant number of college credits they earn for free while still in high school has made it more than twice as likely that these Chelsea High students will be the first in their families to earn a college degree.

  • October 15, 2020 at 10:30am – 12pm