Five Massachusetts Cities awarded a total of $2.8 million in the Boston Fed's Working Cities Challenge Five Massachusetts Cities awarded a total of $2.8 million in the Boston Fed's Working Cities Challenge

Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester each receive $475,000 in second round of competition focused on cross-sector collaboration Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester each receive $475,000 in second round of competition focused on cross-sector collaboration

June 1, 2016

Boston, Mass. – The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston today announced that Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester will each receive $475,000 in the second round of the Working Cities Challenge, a competition for smaller cities in New England focused on building collaborative leadership, which is shown to be a critical element in economic growth for struggling postindustrial cities.

The five communities put forward initiatives focused on neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, and improving access to economic opportunity. The cities will work on these initiatives over a three-year period, accompanied by technical assistance and a learning community for best-practice sharing.

"I want to congratulate the winners of the Working Cities Challenge. Collaborative leadership is at the heart of this competition, and these five cities demonstrated significant capacity to reach across sectors and advance efforts on behalf of low-income residents in their communities," said Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren. "I look forward to following the progress in the communities in the coming months and years."

"Together with our partners in the private, philanthropic, and non-profit sectors, we are proud to leverage greater resources to support and prepare communities for success," said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. "The Working Cities Challenge elevates local leadership, amplifying solutions from the community level to increase cross-sector collaboration and improve economic outcomes for low-income residents."

Last fall, ten Massachusetts communities were each awarded $15,000 design grants through the Working Cities Challenge to strengthen their bids to the competition. The five winning cities were selected after a six-month design-grant period, which saw the cities refining proposals and adding partners from across their community. The winning initiatives are:

  • Haverhill: A cross-sector partnership called Mt. Washington Alliance will work to close the social and economic "opportunity gap" between the Mt. Washington neighborhood and the rest of the Haverhill community, with initiatives to improve employment, education, and an array of neighborhood conditions including housing, health, and safety. Residents will play a prominent role in shaping and evaluating the work of this Alliance. The Alliance's core team includes: residents of Mt. Washington, the Mayor's office, Haverhill Public Schools, Rehoboth Lighthouse Full Gospel Church, Northern Essex Community College, Fantini Baking Company, CAI, Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, Merrimack Valley Music & Arts, Inc., Team Haverhill, Mann Consulting, Haverhill Bank, Pentucket Bank, POSE, Inc., Urban Kindness, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Emmaus, Inc., Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, St. James Church, Jaffarian Toyota, Tilton Elementary School, Haverhill YMCA, Girls Inc., Haverhill City Council, and Massachusetts 2020.
  • Lowell: The Acre Initiative will focus on three high-level factors that can alleviate the multi-generational poverty entrenched in the Acre, Lowell’s poorest neighborhood: low educational attainment, lack of employment opportunities and family-sustaining wages, and the complex issues of diversity and inclusion. The Acre Initiative’s team represents a mix of partners from the public, private, and non-profit sectors including the City of Lowell, Coalition for a Better Acre, Northern Middlesex Council of Governments, Lowell Community Health Center, Career Center of Lowell, The Lowell Housing Authority, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc., Greater Lowell Community Foundation, Community Teamwork, Middlesex Community College, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, and the Acre Coalition to Improve our Neighborhood (ACTION).
  • Pittsfield: Pittsfield Bridges: Transformative Movement (PBTM) will support the journey from poverty to sustainability by collaboratively building community resources and removing barriers. The effort’s vision is for all people in Pittsfield to experience a just, thriving, and safe community. PBTM’s goal is to improve individual, institutional, and social fairness and respect in the community and thus to support individuals moving out of poverty. The PBTM’s core team includes: Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, the City of Pittsfield, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Berkshire Community College, BerkshireWorks Career Center, Berkshire United Way, Goodwill Industries, Berkshire Children and Families, Berkshire Health Systems, Berkshire Community Action Council, Downtown Pittsfield, Inc., Pittsfield Public Schools, Local chapter NAACP, Pittsfield Community Connection, West Side Neighborhood Initiative, First United Methodist Church, Heart 2 Heart Ministry, Manos Unidas, Brien Center for Mental Health, Multi-Cultural Bridge, and Girls Inc.
  • Springfield: The Springfield Works Initiative will advance the city's economy by enhancing and strengthening the connectivity between employers who need qualified workers and low-income Springfield residents who need meaningful employment. We envision achieving this goal through an innovative collaboration between employers, educational institutions, service providers, community leaders, community-based organizations, government, and residents. The Springfield Works Initiative core team includes: Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, Springfield Planning and Economic Development, Regional Employment Board of Hampden, MGM Springfield, Partners for Community Action, HAP Housing, Springfield Technical Community College, Western MA National Machine and Tooling Association, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Tech Foundry, United Personnel Services, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Develop Springfield, and the Springfield Public Schools.
  • Worcester: Working Cities Worcester (WCW) will convene and inspire workers, employers, government, universities, nonprofits, and communities to create equitable short- and long-term employment opportunities in the local food service economy to uplift individuals and communities from poverty, with livable wages. The initiative will provide workforce training and career paths for disadvantaged workers in cooperation with local employers, increase career opportunities and operational support for ethnic food vendors and retailers in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and create a learning community to ensure workforce development is a strategic priority in the local food service economy as well as a key item on the economic policy agenda for the City of Worcester. The WCW core team includes: Worcester Community Action Council, Inc., Clark University, Regional Environmental Council, Sodexo, Chartwells, City of Worcester, Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, and the Latino Education Institute of Worcester State University.

Funding for the competition is not provided by the Boston Fed, but by a consortium of partners including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Barr Foundation, the Smith Family Foundation, and Living Cities. The winners of the competition were selected by an independent jury that does not include the Boston Fed.

A celebration of these five cities' initiatives will be held at the Boston Fed on July 18.

For more information on the Working Cities Challenge, visit