Somerville

Overview

The Pocket Change: Creating a Somerville that Works for All Initiative

Somerville received a $100,000 seed award for its Pocket Change: Creating a Somerville that Works for All Initiative, which aims to reduce high unemployment among low-income youth. The model will blend micro-jobs, soft skill training, internships, and hard skill training into a seamless system to build work experience and information about job candidates. These opportunities will be publicized and coordinated via a mobile or online application that will also track participant progress and feedback from participating employers. The initiative is being led by the City of Somerville, in partnership with several cross-sector task forces.

The Pocket Change Initiative provides participating youth with an opportunity for job progression based on performance. The initiative aims to reduce unemployment for low-income youth in Somerville by 10 percent over 10 years, and is planned and implemented under the guidance of both employers and youth from Somerville's community. The initiative is a pilot for the citywide "Jobs Trust" proposed by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, which will create a permanent system for funding job training through linkage funds from developers of large commercial spaces.

Implementation Progress

Implementation

Initiative Partners

Bent Electrical Contractors, Cambridge Health Alliance, Century Bank, Greentown Labs, Massachusetts Workforce Alliance (MWA), Somerville Center for Adult Learning Experiences, Somerville Chamber of Commerce, Taza Chocolate, The Career Place (TCP), The Holiday Inn – Somerville, The Somerville Community Corporation (SCC), Tufts University, and Wedgewood-Crane & Connolly

Learn about Somerville

At roughly the same time, two external factors boosted the efforts of city officials and residents to spur Somerville's resurgence: 1) the subway line extension from Harvard Square through Somerville to the Fresh Pond area, and 2) rapid increases in Harvard Square real estate prices. The city has also benefited from proximity to Harvard University and Tufts University. Although the city has faced challenges such as assimilating its high percentage of foreign-born residents and making aging infrastructure compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Somerville has tackled numerous obstacles with innovative initiatives.

Census data show that Somerville experienced rapid population growth during the 50-year period between 1880 and 1930 when it went from 24,933 to a peak of 103,908. The 2010 census put the population at 75,754. Somerville has the greatest density of any city in New England.

More than one-half of Somerville adults have at least a bachelor's degree (52%), and nearly a quarter of households have incomes of $100,000 or more. Nevertheless, the city's median income ($59,000) is substantially lower than the 2011 state median household income ($62,859)β€”or the median income for Massachusetts smaller cities ($71,522). The city's over-65 population declined by more than 2,000 people (nearly 25%) over the past decade.

According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2007-2011, 26.0% of Somerville residents are foreign born, compared with 14.7% statewide.

Although high compared with the state, the percentage of foreign-born residents is dropping. It went down 11.9% between 2000 and 2011. Also, the percentage of people who speak English less than "very well" dropped from 16.8% to 12.7%, a drop of 24.4% between 2000 and 2011. TheAmerican Community Survey also shows that:

According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, as of June 2013, Somerville's unemployment rate was 5.4%, compared with 7.4% statewide. Nearly 30% of Somerville's working residents commute to jobs in Boston, and just over 20% work in Cambridge. Clark University researchers found that Somerville's five largest employers are:

There are a number of promising economic and community development initiatives that are either in the works or recently completed:

Implementation Progress

Progress

Progress update as of December 2015

Goal: Reduce unemployment for low-income youth by 10 percent over 10 years.

Strategy: Craft a new, youth-oriented system to provide training and build work experience, connecting youth to new employers in Somerville.

Progress to date:

Progress update as of June 2015

Goal: Reduce unemployment for low-income youth by 10 percent over 10 years.

Strategy: Craft a new, youth-oriented system to provide training and build work experience, connecting youth to new employers in Somerville.

Progress to date: