Community Development | Strategic Focus

Working Cities Challenge Working Cities Challenge

The Working Cities Challenge (WCC) is a grant competition designed to advance collaborative leadership in smaller, postindustrial cities to transform the lives of their low-income residents. Launched in 2013 in Massachusetts, the competition has expanded to additional states within the First District including Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Research from the Boston Fed found economic resurgence in smaller cities results from the ability of leaders to collaborate across sectors around a long-term vision for success. This ultimately led to the launch of WCC, modeled after Living Cities’ Integration Initiative.

The resulting competition employs an independent jury of experts who evaluate teams’ applications against criteria that reflect the core elements of WCC: leading collaboratively across sectors, engaging community members, using evidence to track progress toward a shared goal, and working to improve the lives of low-income residents by changing systems.

The research that underpins WCC also suggests that leadership and collaboration are core elements of a city’s civic infrastructure and can provide keys to resurgence for these working cities. Therefore, the Boston Fed is undertaking a study that aims to develop and test a theoretical framework for conceptualizing civic infrastructure by evaluating its key dimensions—leadership, organizational entitites, collaboration across/within networks, resources, and engaged residents.