Lawrence received a $700,000 three-year implementation award for the Lawrence Working Families Initiative, which is creating a Family Resource Center designed to increase parent income by 15 percent in the Lawrence Public School System over a 10 year period. The Center is also providing families with access to resources and opportunities that facilitate economic security and progress over the next ten years. Additional services will include specialized adult education and certificate training, scholarships, employer internships, financial coaching, and expanded access to child care and healthcare. The initiative will also dramatically increase parent engagement in the schools.
The initiative is led by Lawrence Community Works and Lawrence Public Schools, with support from employers such as the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, New Balance, Solectria, Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union, and Lawrence General Hospital, among others.
City of Lawrence, Compass for Kids, Family Service Inc.,
Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Groundwork Lawrence, Lawrence Public Schools, Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union, Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, New Balance,
Northern Essex Community College, Stevens Foundation,
and The Community Group
Learn about Lawrence
In certain ways, 19th century Lawrence was like the industrial cities that have sprung up in China during the past 30 years. It did not start as a farming community or a transportation crossroads but rather as a manufacturing center, built from the ground up, designed to take full advantage of the water power generated by the nearby falls on the Merrimack River.
According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, unemployment in Lawrence was 15.7% as of June 2013,compared with 7.4% statewide. Health care, education, services, and light manufacturing are the mainstays of the city’s economy.
Clark University researchers have found that Lawrence’s five largest employers are:
Despite the recession, Lawrence gained nearly 3% in jobs in the last decade, including a 30% increase, (more than 1,500 jobs) in health care and social assistance.
Census data show that Lawrence’s population peaked at 94,270 and then dropped steadily to 63,175 in 1980 before eventually rebounding to 76,377 in 2010. Lawrence’s population has grown 7% in the last decade alone.
|Persons under 18 years||29.0%||21.7%|
|Persons 65 years and over||8.6%||13.8%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native||1.3%||0.3%|
|Black or African-American alone||7.6%||6.6%|
|Hispanic or Latino||73.8%||9.6%|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander||0.1%||0.0%|
|Two or more races||6.5%||2.6%|
|White alone (not Hispanic or Latino)||20.5%||76.1%|
“From the heights above the Merrimack at Andover the city sprawls, with its forest of chimneys and acres of red-brick factory buildings regimented along the river-bank. The striking uniformity of the city is the result of a made-to-order construction program. For Lawrence is Massachusetts’ only ‘made city.’ In 1845, the Essex Company was formed by a group Boston financiers to utilize the power of Bodwell’s Falls in the Merrimack.”
According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2007-2011, 36.1% of Lawrence residents are foreign born, compared with 14.7% statewide.
The American Community Survey also shows:
Lawrence schools are in receivership but have ambitious and promising plans for turning around, pulling from expert nonprofits locally and statewide.
Although educational attainment in Lawrence is low, the city has seen between 14% and 24% increases in the number of residents with associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate degrees. Young professionals who grew up in Lawrence are choosing to stay and invest in Lawrence. Northern Essex Community college is making major investments downtown, including new green space.
In 2012, a negative article in Boston Magazine sparked "We Are Lawrence," a homegrown effort to recast the city’s image, focusing on positive change in Lawrence. One of the success stories is the Spicket River Greenway, a big project of Groundwork Lawrence.