The Challenge

The Working Cities Challenge is a groundbreaking effort to support leaders who are reaching across sectors to ensure that smaller cities in Massachusetts are places of opportunity and prosperity for all their residents. The competition is led by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, with funding and strategic partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors.

The Challenge provides grants to promising efforts that exemplify and advance cross-sector collaboration and create deep and lasting change in their communities. The competition is bolstered by networking and training opportunities for participating cities, and offers important insights about what works that may be scalable to larger metropolitan areas. The Working Cities Challenge is a multi-year effort that can be expanded across New England and potentially adopted by other regions.

For more information, please contact a member of the Working Cities Challenge team.


The goals for the Working Cities Challenge, adapted from the Living Cities Integration Initiative, are as follows:

  1. Support bold, promising approaches that have the potential to transform the lives of low-income people and the communities in which they live.
  2. Build resilient, cross-sector civic infrastructure that can tackle the complex challenges facing smaller industrial cities and achieve population-level results.
  3. Move beyond programs and projects to focus on transforming systems; promote integration across multiple systems and issues.
  4. Drive private markets to work on behalf of low-income people by blending public, private, and philanthropic capital and deploying it in catalytic investments.
  5. Accelerate and learn from promising work already underway.
  6. Create a successful model for New England and beyond.

What is a Working City?

Of the 43 Massachusetts cities and towns with a population exceeding 35,000 (excluding Boston), 20 cities with median family income below the median level and a poverty rate above the median level are eligible for the Working Cities Challenge (see eligibility data for all cities excel)

map of massachusetts working cities