MASSPIRG has a 40-year history of advocating for students, the environment and consumers.
Here are just a few of MASSPIRG’s recent accomplishments:
New Voters Project
In the past 10 years, we’ve helped over 30,000 young people in MA get registered to vote and turnout in elections. In 2018, we saw a 50-80% increase from the 2014 elections at student-heavy polling locations near our campuses. We’ve got big plans for the 2020 elections to make sure that politicians consider our voices when making decisions about our future.
Making College Affordable
Our professional advocates in D.C. helped prevent a proposed $2.6 billion cut to Pell Grant funding, protecting the ability for thousands of MA students to afford a college education. Student advocates lobbied congress to help get $5 million allocated for Open Textbook Grant programs that will save students an estimated $50 million in textbook costs. The Open Education Resources program at UMass Amherst has already saved students over $2 million in the last 8 years.
100% Renewable Energy
We’re tackling the devastating consequences of climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels by mobilizing support from students, faculty, local elected officials, and community members to move our communities toward a future powered by 100% clean, renewable energy. We helped introduce the 100% Renewable Energy Act in the MA state legislature and generated over 300 calls to our legislators to help get 113 legislators to cosponsor the bill – a majority of both the house and senate! Now, we’re pushing our campus to make a 100% commitment.
Students in MA launched a campaign in the spring of 2017 calling on the beloved New-England based coffee chain to do their part to create a zero-waste society by finding alternatives to the toxic single-use polystyrene (foam) cup. By February 2018, the chain announced they’ll phase out the cup in stores across the U.S. by 2020, effectively eliminating over a billion cups from circulation, protecting our environment and our health.
Protecting Public Health
Over 70% of our life-saving antibiotics are being used on factory farms and given to animals that aren’t even sick. This creates superbugs that can cause infections that antibiotics can’t cure. We’ve successfully organized to get McDonald’s Subway, and KFC to stop selling chicken raised on routine antibiotics to protect public health. Now we’re asking fast food chains to phase out antibiotics from their beef and pork supply.
2018: D.C. Advocates helped prevent a proposed $2.6 billion cut to Pell Grant funding, protecting the ability for thousands of MA students to afford a college education. Student advocates lobbied congress to help get $5 million allocated for Open Textbook Grant programs that will save students an estimated $50 million in textbook costs.
2018: Helped to convince Dunkin’ Donuts to retire their polystyrene (foam) cup, effectively eliminating 1 billion toxic, single-use cups from our environment each year
2017: Delivered 10,000 student signatures and 200 faculty endorsements in support of the Act for Renewable Energy that will commit MA to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050
2016: Helped to get the first city in MA to make a commitment to getting 100% of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2050
2016: Registered over 8,000 students to vote in our non-partisan voter reg. drive and increased voter participation from the previous presidential election by 20% at certain student-heavy polling locations
2016: Helped pass a statewide bill to lift the cap on solar energy and helped to pass city council resolutions for 100% renewable energy in Dartmouth and Salem.
2015: Helped convince McDonald's and Subway to commit to serving meat raised without antibiotics - a major step towards stopping antibiotic resistance and protecting public health.
Fall 2015: Our federal advocate worked with three senators to introduce the College Textbook Affordability Act which would expand the use of open textbooks in order to achieve savings for students.
Spring 2015: Convinced faculty across the state to use open textbooks, saving students thousands of dollars.
Fall 2014: We helped register over 8,000 students to vote in the midterm elections
Fall 2013-Spring 2014: After a decade-long campaign to pass an update to the Bottle Bill - the Baystate's most successful recycling program - through the legislature without any movement from Beacon Hill, we decided to take this bill to the people. We collected over 160,000 signatures from voters across MA to qualify this initiative for the Nov. 4th ballot.
Spring 2014: Students collected hundreds of petitions to deliver to Stop and Shop asking the store to label GMO produce.
Winter 2013: Interns and volunteers with MASSPIRG across the state worked together to collect over 10,000 public comments urging the state NOT to increase trash incineration in the state of Massachusetts.
Spring 2012: With the global recession, more and more people are struggling to meet their basic needs. Last spring, MASSPIRG worked with students across the country to raise $45,000 to address local and national need around hunger and poverty issues.
Fall 2012: We registered over 11,000 students to vote across Massachusetts and made over 30,000 peer-to-peer voter contacts to turn students out to the polls. Three student-heavy polling places had an increase in voter participation by over 20% from the past major election.
Summer 2012: Our advocates in D.C. stopped the doubling of student loan interest rates, saving over 7 million students from an extra $1,000 in student debt this year.
Spring 2011: In February, the U.S. House passed H.R. 1, a federal budget for 2011, which included a $5.7 billion cut to the Pell Grant program. MASSPIRG Students and Student PIRG volunteers came together to generate thousands of calls and petitions to their Senators urging them to stop this $845 per person cut to financial aid, ensuring that it did not become law.
Spring 2011: With the global recession, more and more people are struggling to meet their basic needs. Last spring, MASSPIRG students and students across the country held the annual Hunger Cleanup, raising more than $45,000 to fight hunger in their communities.
2010: Right now, global warming pollution is altering our climate in ways that carries a high price for humanity and the environment. And yet polluters and their allies in Congress pushed for a series of proposals to block the Clean Air Act from doing its job. Teaming up with other student organizations around the country, MASSPIRG volunteers convinced lawmakers to stop rollbacks to the Clean Air Act.
Spring 2011: To help students avoid rip-offs and unsafe products and have the information to make educated choices, we've been creating a set of guides for students. Last spring, we released the Young Persons Guide to Health Care and a Guide to Controlling Your Information on Facebook.
2010: After the Gulf oil spill disaster, we joined a national coalition of groups to gather more than 400,000 petitions and calls to the Obama administration calling for a ban on new offshore drilling. And we won, despite heavy pressure from big oil and gas companies. On December 1st the Obama Administration announced that it will protect the coasts of the continental United States from new drilling through 2017.
2010: MASSPIRG Students joined a nationwide voter registration and get-out-the-vote effort. We helped over 31,820 students register to vote and had 170,000 conversations with students in the days leading up to Election Day to remind them to turn out to the polls.
2010: Helped pass a new law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to lower health care costs for families including young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
2010: Helped to pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which among other things, adds $36 billion into the Pell grant program. MASSPIRG Student Chapters and Student PIRG lobbying and organizing over the past several years was critical to the passage of this historic law.
2009: Helped pass strong legislation called, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act that will end some of the worst abuses of the credit card industry, including some which are often targeted at college students.
2009: Student PIRG and MASSPIRG student activists mobilized their peers and helped persuade Congress to include an additional $2.5 billion down-payment for high-speed rail in their appropriations bill, more than doubling President Obama’s original recommendation.
2009: Help to launch the Resolve Conference, where 250 students from across the country were joined by activists, advocates and organizers for a weekend of education and training to create anti-poverty campaigns in their communities.
2008: Helped pass the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Senate passed this landmark global warming legislation that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the Commonwealth by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Students around the state organized call-in days, gathered over 7,000 petitions to their legislators, and organized events on their campus to build support for this legislation.
2008: Helped with passing the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The law contains several important policy changes, including an increase in the maximum authorized level of the Pell Grant to $9,000.
2008: MASSPIRG students helped get an Affordable Textbooks provision included in the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act. The provision helps lower the cost of textbooks for millions of students by requiring publishers to disclose textbook pricing and revision information to faculty and requiring publishers to offer textbooks and supplemental materials "unbundled."
2008: MASSPIRG's New Voters Project helped register more than 10,000 students to vote and in the days leading up to the election and contacted over 30,000 students to remind them to vote through phone-banks, door to door outreach, and text messages.
2008: Surveyed over 2,000 students and released a subsequent report, “The Campus Credit Card Trap,” which garnered nationwide media coverage.
2007: Joined the nationwide Student PIRGs' What’s Your Plan? Campaign which talked to the presidential candidates over 100 times on the campaign trail, to ask them about their plans for global warming and higher education.
2007: Over two hundred MASSPIRG students from our 18 chapters attended Powershift 2007, the largest global warming conference in history at the University of Maryland, College Park. MASSPIRG staff and students ran trainings, organized workshops and helped to run the conference. The conference ended with a rally at the capitol in DC and then students met with their legislators and lobbied them to pass the Safe Climate Act, a comprehensive cap on emissions at the federal level.
2007: In October, over 50 students from MASSPIRG chapters and student governments came to Boston to attend a hearing for the Massachusetts State House of Representatives Higher Education Committee. Students testified, presented petitions, and asked legislators to make textbooks more affordable by requiring publishing companies to disclose the price of their textbooks to faculty, and sell the book separately from the extra bells & whistles (like CDs, workbooks, etc) when applicable. The Affordable Textbooks bill which would address these issues and sponsored by Rep. Steven Walsh, passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation!
2007: In September, we helped pass the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the largest increase in federal student aid in 20 years. This law also made dramatic cuts in interest rates for student loans. We followed up by helping pass the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which was signed by President Bush in August 2008. That law contains several important policy changes, including an increase in the maximum authorized level of the Pell Grant to $9,000. This was a huge victory for MASSPIRG students, and staff who were organizing petition drives, student debt alert events on their campus, and speaking at higher education hearings in DC.
2007: In January, MASSPIRG students began organizing events on their campuses, asking for more renewable energy in the state. Students organized solar smoothie events, mini windmill farms, and coal vs. wind face offs. Our staff and students had district meetings with legislators and gathered petitions. Because of our hard work, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature voted to pass a strong renewable energy standard, requiring the state to get 14% of its energy from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar power by the year 2020.
2007: In January, newly elected Governor Deval Patrick signed Massachusetts on to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is a pact between the New England Governors to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming. This move came after years of tireless advocacy and activism on the part of students across the state. A commitment had initially been made by former Governor Romney who unfortunately backed the Commonwealth out of the agreement at the last minute. With this victory we can now put Massachusetts back on the path to solving global warming.
2007: MASSPIRG worked with a national coalition to convince the U.S. House of Representatives to pass HR 5, which would cut in half the interest rate on student loans. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, by a vote of 356 to 71. The bill would lower interest rates over five years on subsidized Stafford student loans, which are used overwhelmingly by students from low- and middle-income families. This would save the average low or middle-income borrower starting school in 2007 $2,300 in debt.
2006: MASSPIRG students and staff helped register over 6000 college students across the state to vote in the Massachusetts gubernatorial elections. In some districts, we increased youth voter turnout by 200% from 2004.
2005-2006: MASSPIRG along with the Student PIRGs across the country launched the Campus Climate Challenge. The goal of the challenge is for 500 colleges across the country to take the lead in fighting climate change by committing to reduce their emissions to 90% below 2005 levels by 2050.
2004-2006: MASSPIRG released groundbreaking reports on how the textbook publishing industry is ripping-off students. CALPIRG students surveyed hundreds of professors and bookstores and our research led to approximately 400 news stories across the country. In addition, Congress called for an independent study by the GAO. After our reports, Pearson announced an online textbook that is 50% cheaper than the paperback version and the UCLA Math department negotiated a 20% cheaper Thomson Learning textbook.
2005: Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed legislation that will cut utility bills for customers throughout the state by making common appliances more energy efficient. The law makes Massachusetts the first state to respond to the national energy crisis by embracing updated energy efficiency standards for furnaces and boilers, one of a home’s biggest energy users.
2005: GAO study on textbook prices supports MASSPIRG’s previous conclusions that textbook publishers’ practices are driving up the costs of textbooks. The GAO report received attention from press across the country including USA Today.
2005: MASSPIRG worked in a coalition to raise $50,000 for tsunami relief efforts. 2005: MASSPIRG students working with groups across campus organized different responses to Hurricane Katrina and Rita. UMass-Dartmouth MASSPIRG students organized trips down to the gulf for over 50 students. MASSPIRG students from UMass-Amherst, UMass-Boston, and Bristol Community College also joined trips to the gulf. On campus, MASSPIRG students organized fundraisers and educational events including a Dodgeball tournament fundraiser at UMass-Amherst that raised almost $5,000.
2005: Despite a strong push by the oil industry and their allies in Congress, MASSPIRG and the State PIRGs were part of a successful campaign to beat back the latest effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. The fight was the latest in a 25-year effort to combat drilling in this pristine wilderness.
2004: MASSPIRG help register 9700 college students to vote in the Fall 2004 election, through the national, non-partisan New Voters Project. The state effort combined with the national campaign resulted in a 10% increase in turnout for 18 to 24 year old voters from the 2000 to the 2004 election.
2004: MASSPIRG chapters gathered hundreds of public comments from hunters and fishermen at sportsmen shows across the state to the EPA in order to keep strong clean air laws in place at the national level, and sends 500 letters to the state DEP to ensure strict regulation of mercury emissions from the state’s Filthy Five power plants.
2003: MASSPIRG gathers 10,000 signatures and holds a dozen press events across Massachusetts to Governor Romney for the Stopping Global Warming Starts Here campaign. In May 2004, the Governor announced his Climate Change Action Plan, one of only a few plans of its kind in the nation.
2003: MASSPIRG was among the leading organizations that persuaded the U.S. Senate in March 2003 to protect one of the nation's most important wilderness areas, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
2002: MASSPIRG helped convince the EPA to set tough new limits to reduce levels of toxic arsenic in drinking water and strong new standards to reduce air pollution from diesel trucks and buses.
2002: MASSPIRG students from across the state mobilized 1,000 volunteers to help at local homeless shelters and raised $15,000 for poverty refief.
2002: MASSPIRG chapters across the state collected 3,500 student signatures in favor of protecting public lands from development.
2002: MASSPIRG's ecopledge campaign convinced Staples to stop selling products made from old-growth wood, and convinced Coke and Pepsi to start using recycled plastic in their bottles.
2001: Over 1,000 volunteers turn out to the largest Charles River Cleanup ever, organized by MASSPIRG and Mass. Community Water Watch.
2001: Over $10,000 is raised and hundreds of volunteers come out to the 17th Annual Hunger Cleanup. The Cleanup donates the funds to local shelters and hunger programming, and sends volunteers to soup kitchens and shelters all across the state to volunteer for the day.
2000: The Legislature passes the Children's Protection Act, banning the most dangerous pesticides from day care centers and schools.
2000: After a statewide campaign built support for its passage, the Legislature approves the Beaches Bill, establishing statewide water testing and directing local officials to notify swimmers when pollution reaches dangerous levels.
2000: MASSPIRG and other state PIRGs are a driving force behind President Clinton's decision to protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forests, including 260,000 acres in New England, from road building and most logging.
2000: After MASSPIRG and GE Food Alert found genetically engineered StarLink corn not approved for humans in taco shells, producers issue a massive recall.
2000: The Youth Vote coalition helps register 10,000 young voters across the state in under eight weeks. 1999:
Following negotiations with MASSPIRG, the Southern Company agrees to cut emissions from its Cape Cod Power Plant by 50%.
1999: MASSPIRG students and volunteers collect 106,000 signatures to get the Children's Protection Act on the ballot for 2000.
1998: The Legislature passes the MASSPIRG backed Brownfields Bill, which speeds up the cleanup and redevelopment of the state's 7700 hazardous waste sites.
1997: More than 500 volunteers perform community service and raise $10,000 for hunger relief through the 12th Annual Hunger Clean-Up. 1996: Volunteers pull over 20 tons of trash from Massachusetts rivers and streams in 25 separate waterway cleanups.
1996: MASSPIRG helps to protect 9,000 miles of Massachusetts' waterways with the passage of our top legislative priority, the Rivers Protection Act.
1996: 12,000 new students are registered to vote as part of the Campus Youth Vote Program.
1995: President Clinton invites MASSPIRG Student Board Chair Alliea Groupp, a Clark University junior, to the White House for a meeting on Higher Education Policy with Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and several other Cabinet members.
1994: As a result of pressure from MASSPIRG, among other groups, Governor Weld signs the MASSPIRG-backed Motor Voter Law, making it more convenient for citizens to register to vote.
1993: The American Lung Association of Massachusetts recognizes MASSPIRG's Solid Waste Program Director with its annual Environmental Health Award. 1992: Special interests spend over $6 million to defeat Question 3, the Recycling Initiative, on the state ballot. Oil and chemical companies outspend proponents of the Polluter Pay Initiative by an 8-to-1 margin. The initiative also loses.
1991: MASSPIRG students gather signatures to place the Recycling Initiative on the ballot. A similar effort gathers 120,000 signatures for the Polluter Pay initiative. 1990: The MASSPIRG backed Clean Air law is adopted by the legislature, mandating the Northeast's toughest anti-smog actions.
1989: MASSPIRG spearheads an effort that wins passage of the landmark Toxics Use Reduction Act. The new law promises to cut toxic waste and toxic chemical use in Massachusetts.
1988: A MASSPIRG study, "Taking Consumers for a Ride," reveals that collision damage waivers offered by rental car agents are overpriced and often unnecessary. State and federal lawmakers enact reforms within a few years of the report's release.
1987: MASSPIRG lobbying wins a truth in advertising law for the credit card industry, requiring ads and promotional literature to detail interest rates, annual fees, and grace periods.
1986: MASSPIRG helps to win the Appliance Energy Efficiency Bill, requiring washers, dryers and other appliances to meet energy-efficiency standards and saving state consumers money.
1985: We help win a Pollution Penalties Law, empowering state officials to levy fines of up to $25,000 a day against violators of anti-pollution laws.
1984: Over 1600 student leaders from around the country gather at Harvard University for the MASSPIRG-sponsored National Student Conference on Voter Registration.
1983: MASSPIRG investigators find elementary schools unwittingly ordering art supplies containing toxic ingredients for use by young children. Five years later, Congress passes a national Truth in Labeling Law for toxic art supplies.
1982: The national beverage industry spends $1.4 million attempting to repeal the Bottle Bill before it takes effect. However, voters back the Bottle Bill by a 59% margin, after MASSPIRG and our allies conduct a statewide campaign.
1981: After a nine year battle, MASSPIRG wins passage of the Bottle Bill.
1981: MASSPIRG students at Clark University tally 125 calls per month to their Small Claims Court Advisory Service. The hotline is staffed by trained volunteers and open to the entire Worcester Community. 1
980: Students and volunteers bring over 10,000 cans signed by citizens to the State House in support of the Bottle Bill.
1979: MASSPIRG wins passage of a Solar Tax Credit, giving homeowners an incentive to use solar energy.
1978: We help win a law limiting security deposits to one month's rent, and requiring landlords to place those deposits in interest-bearing escrow accounts.
1977: A MASSPIRG report exposes serious flaws in emergency evacuation plans for communities surrounding nuclear power plants.
1976: We help win the Generic Drug Law, letting consumers buy prescription drugs without the brand-name markup.
1975: MASSPIRG spotlights paper mill pollution of the Millers River watershed. The Erving Paper Mill later pays a $30,000 civil fine, the largest to date under the federal Clean Water Act.
1974: Utilities cancel construction of a nuclear energy plant in Montague after voters oppose the plant in a first-in-the-nation, MASSPIRG-supported referendum.
1973: Our intervention helps block five hydroelectric facilities that threatened the Connecticut River Valley.
1972: Students vote to start the first PIRG chapter in Massachusetts at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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