Working Cities Challenge

The Working Cities Challenge (WCC) Initiative 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, the competition benefits many resurgent communities in Massachusetts and has also expanded to Rhode Island and Connecticut, with the eventual goal of spreading across the entire region.

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 entities, collaboration across/within networks, resources, and engaged residents.