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CommonWealth Development Compact

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Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash


Minority and women-owned firms are underrepresented in private real estate, comprising less than one percent of developers in the nation and less than one percent of real estate assets across the Northeast. Systemic changes, such as impactful DEI policies, municipally supported tools, industry support, and partnerships, are critical to increase the number of minority and women-owned firms that participate in and benefit from private real estate development.

The CommonWealth Development Compact aims to build economic opportunity for minority and women-owned firms in real estate development through a municipal pilot project, research into industry best practices and barriers, and ongoing coalition building and education for multidisciplinary stakeholders. This initiative is a partnership between the Civic Action Project (CAP), Builders of Color Coalition (BCC) and Boston Society for Architecture (BSA) and made possible with the support of the Eastern Bank Foundation Impact.


The work will result in:

  • A commitment from five municipalities—Boston, Cambridge, Lynn, Salem and Somerville—to request DEI plans for public and private development projects and to actively promote DEI as a priority in development projects in their municipalities.
  • Tools and processes for private real estate development that benefit Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
  • A coalition composed of MBEs, other businesses, and partners that can share best practices, showcase successful partnerships, educate multidisciplinary stakeholders, and offer opportunities for meaningful connections.


Boston Society for Architecture (BSA), Jenny Effron and Maia Erslev

The BSA supports this initiative in several ways:

  • Dedicated staff bringing stakeholders together for networking, learning, and educational opportunities to build a larger ecosystem advancing DEI goals.
  • Dedicated staff working with a consultant to research insurance and bonding issues.

Civic Action Project (CAP), Rebecca Gordon and Steve Crosby
CAP will lead efforts to work with municipalities by supporting data collection, review and adoption of DEI plans, ensuring developer compliance, public land disposition, and evaluation. Additionally, CAP will lead the project team on state and local executive branch or legislative strategies to achieve project objectives, while also advising on policy research.

Builders of Color Coalition (BCC), Colleen Fonseca and Paola Villatoro
BCC will take the lead on best practice research and tool kit development and will lead mentoring and partnering efforts on behalf of minority firms.

Timeline: 2023-2024

May 2023 | Pilot Launch

Pilot partners will gather and analyze data to develop case studies of best practices in DEI in development from within the municipalities and from other informants both in and outside the sector and region.

Summer 2023 | Ongoing Research

Initiative team will conduct research and stakeholder engagement to address barriers that bonding and insurance practices in the private market create for smaller minority and women-owned businesses trying to grow in the real estate business.

Fall 2023 | Educational & Networking Opportunities for Professionals

Early 2024 | Presentations/Workshops

Topics will include bonding and Insurance research outcomes and best practices for DEI in real estate development. Findings from case studies and stakeholder engagement will be disseminated through a toolkit for the industry and other mediums.