Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC)

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is committed to providing opportunities for all to participate in, influence and direct planning programs by fostering equity, diversity and inclusion in the organization and by advancing racial justice and equitable access to opportunity in our member communities.

Equity, inclusion and diversity are inclusive concepts which encompass but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, class, gender, sex, age, sexual orientation, varying ability, educational attainment, family status, spiritual beliefs, creed, culture, tribal affiliation, nationality, immigration status, political beliefs and veteran status. With greater diversity, the PVPC can be more creative, effective and just, and bring more varied perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, talents and interests to our agency and to the communities we serve. We recognize that achieving diversity and inclusion is an evolutionary process that requires an ongoing renewal of our commitment.

Related terms defined:

  • Diversity is having a seat at the table
  • Inclusion is having a voice
  • Belonging is having that voice be heard

This statement was researched and prepared by racial Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI) working group using materials from Baystate Health Systems and the American Planning Association.

DEI Brief History of Work

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) is working to advance racial equity and access to opportunity. In 2019 we created a Racial Justice Equity Diversity, and Inclusion Committee staffed by members of our team to examine our potential biases as a workplace and as a public agency serving diverse communities across the 43 cities and towns of Hampden and Hampshire Counties.  The Committee prepared a JEDI statement that was adopted by our Commission in 2021.

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is committed to providing opportunities for all to participate in, influence and direct planning programs by fostering equity, diversity and inclusion in the organization and by advancing racial justice and equitable access to opportunity in our member communities.

Equity, inclusion and diversity are inclusive concepts which encompass but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, class, gender, sex, age, sexual orientation, varying ability, educational attainment, family status, spiritual beliefs, creed, culture, tribal affiliation, nationality, immigration status, political beliefs and veteran status. With greater diversity, the PVPC can be more creative, effective and just, and bring more varied perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, talents and interests to our agency and to the communities we serve. We recognize that achieving diversity and inclusion is an evolutionary process that requires an ongoing renewal of our commitment.

We are steadily working to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice within our mission to catalyze regional progress, building organizational infrastructure to advance racial equity and we are available as a resource to our member municipalities interested in advancing racial equity and access to opportunity.

 As the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), PVPC staff coordinate the MPO  to focus attention on the environmental and human health effects of transportation projects on minority and low-income populations with the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities and we support and enforce environmental justice in our transportation planning work.

We have administered Community Development Block Grants for member communities for the past 30 years. These funds support low and moderate income neighborhoods and individuals, providing housing rehabilitation so homeowners can live in a decent home, neighborhood infrastructure improvements, public social services like adult literacy, domestic violence prevention, and community health, economic development to improve blighted downtowns, and ADA plans for public buildings.

PVPC also administers the Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP) for the small municipalities in the 4 counties of Western Massachusetts. HMLP is a program of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, established by the Massachusetts Legislature to assist homeowners and small landlords to fund the necessary changes to keep disabled or elderly family members in their own homes and communities.

In 2021, we partnered with the Healing Racism Institute of the Pioneer Valley to train all staff as part of our ongoing work leading to the adoption of actions to help catalyze change internally, as well as bringing racial justice and economic equality to the forefront of our projects.

In 2020 PVPC joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and collaborated with the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network and the Massachusetts Public Health Association to organize a webinar for over 200 attendees explaining the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and introducing the tool: Racial Equity Impact Assessments. The goal of this work is to advance integration of racial equity tools and resources to our 43 local member municipal governments. We are happy to share the presentations used in the webinar and the research on the status of racial equity impact assessments completed as part of this work. We are advancing integration of a Race and Health Equity Impact Assessment in Springfield as part of the LiveWell Springfield Climate Justice work funded by the Kresge Foundation’s Climate Change Health and Equity (CCHE) initiative.

As an organization, we have a history of identifying and highlighting racial inequity and disparate access to opportunity in our regional planning work combined with collaborating with our member municipalities and organizations and individuals to improve access to opportunity.

Some examples of PVPC’s work to advance racial justice, equity, diversity and inclusion include:

In 1994 the PVPC staff supporting the MPO worked to implement executive order 12898 to: 1) identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, 2) develop a strategy for implementing environmental justice, and 3) promote nondiscrimination in federal programs that affect human health and the environment, as well as provide minority and low-income communities access to public information and public participation.

In 2007 and 2012 PVPC staff responded to Congressional direction to implement and integrate protections under Title VI by order of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA C 4702.1B and Circular 4702.1A). The MPO staff efforts ensure that the level and quality of transportation service is provided in a nondiscriminatory manner, promotes full and fair participation in public transportation decision-making without regard to race, color, or national origin, and ensures meaningful access to transit-related programs and activities by persons with limited English proficiency. As part of this effort, PVPC staff created a Title VI program to identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects of programs and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.  

In 2011, PVPC launched Leadership Pioneer Valley with an inaugural class of 32 participants, of which over 30% were people of color. PVPC incubated the program for two years, fostering a highly inclusive program to develop new public, private, and civic leaders for our region with a an ongoing focus on diversity. LPV is now a successful leadership program.

In 2012 we collaborated with the city of Springfield on their Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and when we secured one of the first regional sustainability planning grants from the Obama Administration we collaborated with the Capitol Region Council of Governments and the CT Open Communities Alliance on the 2014 Fair Housing Equity Assessment, work that lifted up the reality that our region is one of the most segregated regions in the country with respect to Hispanic/white interaction and ranked 32nd with respect to Black/white interaction.

In 2013 the PVPC MPO staff implemented a Language Access Plan to identify language barriers and implement policies and practices that ensure meaningful access to programs and activities by persons with limited English proficiency. As part of this effort PVPC developed mapping tool to identify concentrations of minority, low-income, and persons with limited English proficiency.​

From 2012-2014 we updated all our regional plans and integrated them into the region’s sustainability plan: Our Next Future, that balanced equity with the environment and the economy and included an explicit focus on engaging people who are too often left out of traditional planning processes as documented in this video: http://www.pvpc.org/content/new-video-building-skills-equity-and-engagement-planning. In addition to innovative engagement and updating existing plans we also facilitated development of missing regional plans including the Pioneer Valley Regional Brownfields Plan to facilitate assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of contaminated and blighted properties in the region; the regional Food Security Plan, a new Green Infrastructure Plan and our first ever award-winning Regional Housing plan. The brownfields plan provides an analysis of the disproportionate number of brownfields within low income and minority block groups and offers a series of strategies for each ABI relative to site-specific environmental assessment, cleanup and/or redevelopment planning.

In 2015, PVPC became the lead agency on the Pioneer Valley City2City initiative, planning and carrying out a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee to research inclusive and equitable initiatives there. Prior to this, PVPC had participated in the City2City program when it visited Grand Rapids, Michigan, where participants discovered the model for the future Healing Racism Institute of the Pioneer Valley.

In 2015 PVPC also secured competitive funding from PolicyLink and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, co-chairs of the Transportation Equity Caucus  to collaborate with LiveWell Springfield and collaborators: Joseph Krupczynski, Center for Design Engagement (CDE); Natalia Munoz, Verdant Multicultural Communications, and Evelin Aquino, to lift up the Statement of Principles of the Transportation Equity Caucus and build the capacity of emerging leaders from communities of color in Springfield Massachusetts with the goal of advancing them into positions of power.

In 2016 we secured funds from the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Community Foundation of W MA for the Re-Energizing Democracy work in Northampton in addition to collaborating with the city of Springfield, Arise for Social Justice and the Public Health Institute of W MA on the city of Springfield Strong, Healthy and Just: Springfield’s Climate Action and Resilience plan.

In 2016 the PVPC MPO adopted a comprehensive public participation plan to promote the full and fair participation of all affected populations in transportation decision making process. 

From 2016 to 2022 PVPC has been partnering with the Public Health Institute of W MA to lead the development of and now implementation of the Hampden County Health Improvement Plan, explicitly leading with race and striving for equitable access to opportunity. 

In 2017, PVPC partnered with regional foundations to form the Pioneer Valley Data Collaborative. Through the website pioneervalleydata.org, we work with regional partners to create a one-stop data portal for local and regional data, providing a user-friendly way for municipalities, the public, and community based organizations to access the data needed to measure results, facilitate informed policy choices, and provide a data foundation necessary for honest community dialogue about the challenges and opportunities we face as a region. 

In 2019 PVPC secured funding from the MA Department of Energy Resources to improve access to and promote availability of energy efficiency funds from Mass Save as well as clean energy incentives from the MA Clean Energy Center focusing on people who live in low income and affordable housing. This work has developed into a collaborative effort to launch a new Black or Hispanic owned energy efficiency business in Springfield.

In 2020 PVPC received a CARES grant from the Economic Development Administration for the purpose of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency has completed research on unemployment and other economic data by race to demonstrate the disparate impacts of the economic shutdown on minority populations in the region. PVPC is also conducting outreach to diverse communities and constituents to determine needs and potential solutions, as part of our commitment to a long-term inclusive economy strategy.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic recession that took its toll on the regional economy--hitting our BIPOC communities particularly hard--we created the Pioneer Valley COVID Recovery Dashboard and established a blog to enable us to share deeper analysis about data trends affecting the region. COVID hit the regional economy hard, both exacerbating and highlighting longstanding disparities in well-being rooted in race and ethnicity.  

In 2021 PVPC applied for and was chosen as one of only six agencies nationwide to participate in an EDA and National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)-sponsored program to develop inclusive economic strategies. The initiative will involve research on regional economic clusters and more in-depth community engagement.

Related terms defined:

Diversity is having a seat at the table

Inclusion is having a voice

Belonging is having that voice be heard

PVPC’s JEDI statement was researched and prepared by the JEDI working group using materials from Baystate Health Systems and the American Planning Association.

Tips from Baystate on Operationalizing your organizations commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Addressing Diversity:

–Intentionally recruit for mid-level and executive leaders who are from many different backgrounds. Identify critical strategic roles in your organization and also ensure you are bringing in people from many different backgrounds.

–Know what the diverse talent markets are in your city (universities, professional resource groups, heavily networked people) and build relationships with key influencers at these institutions. They will be your perpetual talent scouts (i.e., your boards, and advisory councils, etc.).

–Create a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Strategic Plan that provides goals, responsibilities/accountabilities, and timetables for achieving milestones.

Addressing Inclusion:

–Know the importance of community engagement as it relates to your organization’s utilization of place and social influence. How do communities view your presence —as a partner or as an intruder? What are their dreams, hopes, and visions for their communities versus yours —are they in alignment or not.

–Culturally honoring & minority-lensed leadership development. How does “leader” show up in the diverse communities you are serving? Are you willing to hire someone who is a leader in their community but may not be a “cultural fit” but is a culture add?

–Identify a corporate executive—such as a Chief DEI Officer—with responsibilities for design and execution of the Plan. Create a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council to provide guidance and support

Addressing Belonging (Equity):

–Look at the communities you serve, broken down by demographics (i.e., race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, etc.) —does your staff reflect those communities proportionately?

–Dis-aggregate programmatic data by race/ethnicity to see whether your impact is equitable. If not, you need to closely examine and reflect as to why.

–Partner with local, sector specific, or national coalitions or member associations of like-minded nonprofits and use your collective influence to address sector issues with funders or government agencies.

Push forward with the work even when diversity, equity, and inclusion  is not fun or cool anymore. That’s when most organizations and people give up, and when it’s the most important to sustain. Diverse communities you work with will become weary of broken commitments from other institutions.

Continuing, Comprehensive, and Cooperative Planning Process

Average Annual Daily Traffic

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)

Average Daily Traffic

American Farmland Trust

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

American Heritage Rivers Initiative

American International College

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Approval Not Required

American Planning Association

Aquifer Protection District

Air Quality Index

Air Quality Index

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (of 2009)

Automatic Traffic Recorder

Average Vehicle Ridership

Barnes Aquifer Protection Advisory Committee

Business Improvement District

Bicycle Level of Service

Best Management Practice

Bridge Management System

Board of Appeals (or Adjustment)

Board of Health

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990

Commercial Area Revitalization District

Community Action Statement

Central Business District

Cape Cod Commission

Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield

Community Development

Community Development Action Grant

Community Development Block Grant

Centers for Disease Control

Community Development Corporation

Community Development Fund

Community Development Plan

Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation

Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Community Enterprise Economic Development

Citizen Housing and Planning Association

Community Housing Development Organizations

Capital Improvement Inventory System

Capital Improvements Plan (or Program)

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program

Congestion Management Process

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission

Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area

Compressed Natural Gas

Carbon Monoxide

Council of Governments

Commonwealth Procurement Access and Solicitation System

Community Preservation Act

Citizen Planner Training Collaborative

Capitol Region Council of Governments

Community Service Block Grant

Combined Sewer Overflow

Department of Conservation and Recreation

Department of Environmental Protection

Division of Employment and Training

Department of Housing and Community Development

Direct Local Technical Assistance

Department of Energy Resources

Department of Revenue

Department of Transportation

Department of Public Works

Developments of Regional Impact

Executive Order

Production of affordable housing across a broad range of incomes 

Economic Assistance Coordinating Council

Economic Development Administration

Economic Development Council

Economic Development District

Economic Development Data and Information System

Economic Development and Industrial Corporation

Environmental Impact Report

Environmental Impact Statement

Environmental Justice

Environmental Notification Form

Economic Opportunity Area

Executive Office of Administration and Finance

Executive Office of Economic Affairs

Executive Office of Elder Affairs

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development

Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Site Assessment

Economic Target Area

Federal Aid

Functional Classification (of roadways)

Federal Housing Administration

Federal Highway Administration - An agency of the United States Department of Transportation that provides financial and technical support to each state for constructing, improving, and preserving America’s highway system.

Federal Highway Administration

Franklin Regional Council of Governments

Federal Transit Administration

Greenhouse Gas

Geographic Information System - A system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the earth.

Geographic Information System

Global Positioning System

Housing Appeal Committee


Holyoke Community College

Housing Development Support Program

Housing Innovation Fund

Home Modification for Individuals with Disabilities Loan

Highway Overlay District

Historic Overlay District

Homeownership Opportunities Program

High Occupancy Vehicle

Housing Preservation Grant

Housing Production Plan

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Invitation for Bid

Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Job Access and Reverse Commute

Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway

Jacob's Ladder Trail

Joint Transportation Committee

Local Board(s) of Health

Limited English Proficiency

Local Housing Authority

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Level of Service

Local Option Transportation Tax

Local Pavement Management System

Light Rail Vehicle

Local Technical Assistance

Massachusetts General Laws

Hazardous waste cleanup regulations

Uniform procurement law for local governments


Planning/comprehensive permits

Smart growth zoning and housing production

Smart growth school cost reimbursement

Subdivision control

Expedited permitting

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century

Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Massachusetts Geographic Information System

Minority Business Enterprises

Massachusetts Development Finance Agency 

Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act

Massachusetts Geographic Information Council

Massachusetts Historical Commission 

Massachusetts Housing Partnership

Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency

Municipal Incentive Grant

Massachusetts Municipal Association

Memorandum of Agreement

Massachusetts Office of Business Development

Massachusetts Office on Disability

Memorandum of Understanding

Metropolitan Planning Organization

Metropolitan Planning Organization

Montachusett Regional Planning Commission

Metropolitan Statistical Area

Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices

Martha's Vineyard Commission

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

National Association of Regional Councils

New England Association of Regional Councils

Non-Federal Aid

National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended)

National Highway System

Neighborhood Housing Services program

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Northern Middlesex Council of Governments

Nitrogen Oxide

Nantucket Planning and Economic Development Commission

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Transportation Safety Board

Old Colony Planning Council

Overall Condition Index (Pavement)

Open Space and Recreation Plan

Pavement Condition Index

Priority Development Fund

Purchase of Development Rights

Peak Hour Traffic (or Trips)

Payment in Lieu of Taxes

[Metropolitan] Planning Funds

Pavement Management System 

Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area

Pavement Management Users Group

Planner on a Disc

Public Participation Process

Planned Unit Residential Development

Pioneer Valley Regional Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund

Pioneer Valley Transit Authority

Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp.

Rental Development Action Loan

Regional Employment Board

Regional Education and Business Alliance

Regional Economic Models, Inc.

Request For Proposal

Request for Qualifications

Request for Response

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Roadway Inventory Files

Revolving Loan Fund

Regional Planning Agency

Regional Pavement Management System

Regional Transit Authority

Regional Technology Corporation

Regional Transportation Plan

Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

Small Business Administration

Supplier Diversity Office 

State Implementation Plan (for air quality)

Sustainable Knowledge Corridor

Single Occupancy Vehicle

Special Permit

Special Permit Planning

Site Plan Review

Statewide Planning and Research Funds

Single Room Occupancy

Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District

Springfield Technical Community College

Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

Surface Transportation Program

Targeted Brownfields Assessment

Transportation and Community System Preservation [Pilot Program]

Transportation Demand Management

Transfer of Development Rights

Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century

Tax Increment Financing

Transportation Improvement Program

The Literacy Project

Turning Movement Count

Traditional Neighborhood District

Transit Oriented Design (or Development)

Transportation Research Board

Trip Reduction Ordinance

Transportation Systems Management

Urban Growth Boundary

Urban Land Institute

University of Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute

Unified Planning Work Program

Urban Revitalization Development Grant

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Geological Survey

U.S. Public Land Survey

Underground Storage Tanks

Vehicle Miles Traveled

Volatile Organic Compound

Vehicle Occupancy Rate

Ware Adult Learning Center

Weatherization Assistance Program

Women-owned Business Enterprises

Wellhead Protection Area

Western New England University

Water Quality Management Plan

Westfield River Watershed Association

Westfield River Wild & Scenic Advisory Committee

Water Supply Protection [District]

Westfield State University

Zoning Board of Adjustment (or Appeals)