Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Systemic Solutions to Social Justice Issues

aka Massachusetts Appleseed

Boston, MA


MA Appleseed's mission is to promote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues. At MA Appleseed, we dedicate ourselves to remedying social injustices for at-risk and underserved children, youth, and adults. Working with volunteer lawyers, community partners, and others, we identify and address gaps in services and opportunities in areas such as education, homelessness, and the court system. Through in-depth research, community problem-solving, and consensus building, we develop powerful solutions that reform systems and structures.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Deborah Silva

Main Address

44 School Street, Room 415

Boston, MA 02108 USA


The Good Apple, Appleseed, KKIC (Keep Kids in Class), UHY (Unaccompanied Homeless Youth), special commission, Access to Justice





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (R05)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

MA Appleseed's programs all hinge on one idea: access. This idea of improving and guaranteeing access -- to education, to justice, and to the basic necessities of life such as housing and food -- regardless of race, gender, immigration status, education, or income is the organization's path to promoting equal rights and opportunities. By understanding the root causes of inequality and injustice, MA Appleseed can chart innovative ways to improve access to critical resources and unassailable rights.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Educational Justice: Keep Kids in Class

Access to Justice

The Homeless Youth Handbook

Fighting for a Better Future

Where we workNew!

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of research or policy analysis products developed, e.g., reports, briefs

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Context notes

"Cell Phones in the Courthouse: An Access to Justice Perspective" (2018). LawHelp Interactive Evaluation (2018).

Number of groups brought together in a coalition/alliance/partnership

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Estimated number of supportive policies secured for the sector

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Context notes

Three supportive policies were secured in 2018.

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

MA Appleseed's aim is to reevaluate how current models approach systemic issues of inequality and, through collaboration with other organizations and community partners, develop solutions that are innovative, practical, and centered on the communities in need. The organization seeks to raise awareness of issues often going ignored and identify barriers to the court and legal systems, educational opportunity, and services and resources dedicated for youth experiencing homelessness that impede meaningful access. Through policy analysis, research, and building strong coalitions, MA Appleseed believes in the power to make a lasting impact for those in need. Its goal is to break down barriers and expand access for unrepresented litigants, low-income or limited English proficient communities, and at-risk and homeless youth.

MA Appleseed's strategies are consistent with the Appleseed model: through in-depth research, community problem-solving, and consensus building, developing solutions that the organization collaborates with others to implement, such as the creation of a “virtual court service center," and advocating on behalf of the disenfranchised communities, including by submitting testimony on critical legislation. MA Appleseed's greatest asset is the belief that taking on these systems and structures of injustice can only happen through collaboration with others. Through coalition- and relationship-building, MA Appleseed brings together different groups with varied specialties but similar goals to create a strong, effective, and informed resistance to injustice and inequality.

With a dedicated staff, community partners invested in MA Appleseed's work, a growing volunteer base, and recognition on the national stage as a leader in access to justice, MA Appleseed is uniquely well-positioned to accomplish its goals. By leveraging partnerships within the legal system and among service providers, MA Appleseed has continued to push past milestones for new projects and consistently accomplish program goals.

MA Appleseed measures progress through the passing of important legislation the organization advocates for and the number of volunteers and donors engaged in the organizations work. Once reports are completed and published, MA Appleseed assesses the ongoing improvements and changes to policies and practices that impede access to justice, education, and resources for at-risk youth.

MA Appleseed successfully advocated for substantial increases in funding for civil legal aid and support for at-risk youth in the 2019 state budget. As an active member of the Coalition for Smart Responses for Student Behavior, MA Appleseed advocated for legislation to decriminalize non-violent student misconduct in schools, and similar provisions were included in the omnibus criminal justice reform bill, signed into law in April. This summer, MA Appleseed published its newest report, “Cell Phones in the Courthouse: An Access to Justice Perspective,” which examines the impact courthouse cell phone bans can have on self-represented litigants. MA Appleseed will continue to push for policy changes in this area and for legislation to eliminate lunch shaming in schools and to support homeless youth. MA Appleseed anticipates releasing its recommendations for a “virtual” Court Service Center and launching a new project to expand access to justice for youth experiencing homelessness soon.

External Reviews



Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?