Twenty Mass. Cities Are Sharpening Their Bids for “Working Cities” Grant Money Twenty Mass. Cities Are Sharpening Their Bids for “Working Cities” Grant Money

June 11, 2013
Contact: Joel Werkema, 617-973-3510, or Denae Thibault, 617-973-3559,

Boston, MA - With grants as large as $700,000 on the line, the twenty cities competing in the Working Cities Challenge spent last Friday honing their plans.

While the cities are competing with each other for the grants, they are focusing on collaboration - not competition - within their city. The competition's main idea is that collaborative leadership is the crucial ingredient in revitalization efforts for the mid-sized former manufacturing cities.

So the Working Cities Challenge requires a single proposal per city - one that leaders from various sectors in the city rally around.

On Friday teams from all twenty Working Cities rolled up their sleeves at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to work on their plans that aim to solve a problem, change a system, or deliver a service. The teams were encouraged to lean on the untapped and under-appreciated assets in each of the twenty cities.

"There is power in gathering around the same table to share points of view about city conditions and revitalization opportunities," said Prabal Chakrabarti of the Boston Fed.

While the prize - the grant money - is important, the process is too. "The post-manufacturing cities that do best in the U.S. have some form of collaborative leadership," added Chakrabarti, "and that's not an easy thing to build." Working together on a Working Cities bid application (due July 26) can help create collaboration.

Each team had a lot to weigh - policy, politics, geography, infrastructure, culture, education, economy, and systems. "The teams are tackling a variety of challenges; some are focusing on increasing immigrant businesses, increasing graduation rates, and improving early learning," said Tamar Kotelchuck of the Federal Reserve. "Many teams focused on engaging the cities' populations and leaders. We're excited to support these teams as they further develop these concepts."

The CEOs of Partners Healthcare, CityFresh Foods, and TruCorporation offered the teams some insights and encouragement, and stressed engaging the private sector. Gary Gottelib, CEO of Partners Healthcare advised teams to "Try to get a sense of the local companies that are currently struggling in your city. Understand what their needs are. Identify the shared interest."

Final applications will be due on July 26. Based on last month's letters of intent the jury will have many fine efforts to evaluate.

For every team, regardless of award, collaboration among leaders like happened Friday will continue to be side benefits of the competition.

About the Working Cities Challenge

The Working Cites Challenge is an initiative to support leaders who are reaching across sectors to ensure that smaller cities in Massachusetts are places of opportunity and prosperity for all of their residents. The Challenge is led by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, in partnership with Living Cities, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who will provide multiyear grants to promising initiatives that exemplify and advance cross-sector collaboration. The initiative has a twofold goal: to advance collaborative leadership in Massachusetts smaller cities, and to support ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in those cities. The competition will be judged in November and December of 2013 by a group of volunteer jury members with expertise across a range of issues and topics relevant to small cities. The jury will not include the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The winners are expected to be announced in January 2014. For more information, visit, and follow @workingcities.

About the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

As part of the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston promotes sound growth and financial stability in New England and the nation. The Bank contributes to local communities, the region, and the nation through its high-quality research, regulatory oversight, and financial services, and through its commitment to leadership and innovation. The Boston Fed, the First District of the Federal Reserve System, serves the New England region - Connecticut [except Fairfield County], Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. For more information, visit and follow @BostonFed.