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.