Institute for Economic and Racial Equity

Pierrce Holmes, MPP'22, Summer Fellow

Pierrce Holmes, MPP'22

A second-year MPP student with a concentration in Economic and Racial Equity, Pierrce Holmes has a drive for equity. Already a Segal Fellow and a Graduate Research Assistant for the Heller Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Office, this summer Pierrce is working at the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy as a Racial Equity Fellow.

A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Pierrce enrolled in law school after graduating with his bachelor’s in 2019. It only took him 8 weeks to realize that it wasn’t serving the purpose that he envisioned, so he became a teacher. “I was teaching 6th-grade math from December of 2019 until June of 2020 which as you can imagine was an interesting experience for any number of reasons. But it was at home in Springfield, so I appreciated that and getting to really serve my own community.

Growing up in Springfield had a big impact on why Pierrce pursued policy research and advocacy. “I come from Springfield, which is one of the more diverse cities in Massachusetts. It’s always had its problems, and that’s come with a lot of people casting aspersions on it. But, I think it’s a great place and it’s really shaped the way that I came up in my interests... I grew up with a lot of people who weren’t as fortunate, but I also grew up around people and places that had more resources than we did in Springfield, and I think seeing all sides really impacted me. I think that that colored my perspective before I even realized it did... It just made me want to do something positive... I really want to use policy to help the community help itself.”

In terms of fields of study Pierrce considers himself a generalist, “with everything that I’m doing, racial equity is my goal... I’m interested in pursuing any number of angles that achieve those kinds of racial equity goals through education, health increasingly the economic side, that’s probably a byproduct of this project I’ve been on for RAND... all of it. Just trying to see people thrive rather than survive.”

Pierrce connected withRAND through a partnership with IERE Director Dr. Maria Madison, the Segal Program, and RAND. “We [Pierrce and Dr. Madison] were discussing things I might want to do, and she sent me some organizations and things to look into. I saw that RAND had their new racial equity policy center, and that’s always been my focus for everything that I’m doing, so my eyes lit up... I mentioned that to her, and I think within a day she had already set up a meeting with the person running the center.”

Day-to-day, Pierrce has been assisting the development of documents and working papers, sitting in on cross-team meetings to engage with his project in both a quantitative and qualitative sense, and engaging in career and professional development. He has also been able to develop ideas for and work on some projects derived from his time at RAND.

“One thing that’s directly related to the project has been, essentially, an op-ed explaining this one key aspect of the project that was drawing a link between the calls for reparations and the way that the U.S. Government handled the Love Canal environmental disaster back when...I’ve [also] been developing a policy report on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to outline what it is and consider some key insights and questions that I’m thinking of in the process of analyzing it... Both things are helpful to me in getting my own experience with this kind of writing, but also very practical.”

Pierrce is still fleshing out what the future holds for him as an MPP graduate. “Being in this sort of think-tank and research space is definitely an area I could see myself in... Anything that’s advancing racial equity - if the research is serving that end, then I’m probably all for it. At the same time I think about it and there are probably other places where I could explore more - direct advocacy organizations that are still pushing and developing policy. I just want to make sure that whatever space I’m in, I’m in a role where I’m helping to fuel the future policies that can hopefully make a really positive impact.”

Pierrce will graduate with his Master of Public Policy in the Spring of 2022.