A baseline and mid-point evaluation of the inaugural round of the Challenge was conducted by Mt. Auburn Associates.

May 4, 2016

Mt. Auburn Associates mid-point evaluation of the Working Cities Challenge first round in Massachusetts complete
Captures progress made by winning cities on core elements of WCC model

The Boston Fed partnered with the independent evaluation firm Mt. Auburn Associates to conduct a mid-point evaluation of the Working Cities Challenge's first round in Massachusetts. It captures progress made by winning cities on core elements of the WCC model in its first 18 months, from January 2014 through July 2015.

In short, based on Mt. Auburn Associates' assessment, the four multi-year winners of the Working Cities Challenge—Chelsea, Fitchburg, Holyoke, and Lawrence—are showing strong progress in forming and expanding cross-sector leadership groups to drive collective action toward shared goals. Additionally, community engagement is another area of notable progress. As highlighted in the evaluation, the city teams' efforts to involve residents and other stakeholders in authentic dialogues about issues and priorities for change offer new perspectives and opportunities in the targeted communities.

There are also areas for improvement. Cities must develop a data strategy to make progress over a long term in order to help drive change. Additionally, the Fed will make changes to the learning community gatherings, which convene teams (winning and non-winning) for capacity building and cross-site learning. The gatherings will be tailored to winning teams and tie directly to the work teams must complete for the Challenge.

Read the evaluation and an accompanying letter:

October 9, 2014

Mt. Auburn Associates baseline evaluation of Working Cities Challenge complete
Identifies gains in efforts impacting lives of low-income residents of smaller cities

The Boston Fed partnered with a professional evaluation firm, Mt. Auburn Associates in partnership with Abt. Associates, to evaluate the broad strengths and challenges of the inaugural round of the Working Cities Challenge to date.

The evaluation cites a number of strengths in the realm of cross-sector collaboration among the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. By requiring a single application from communities, the Working Cities Challenge helped stakeholders to reach consensus on a single community goal. Cities saw the request for one application per city as the most influential component of the application process on the working relationships among partners. The evaluation also observes additional strengths in areas such as government leadership and long-term commitment to achieving large-scale results, for cities that received funding as well as those that did not.

The report also notes that while the level of cross-sector collaboration is fairly strong in the Working Cities, there is room for growth, particularly in working with the immigrant and business communities. The report highlights additional challenges in the areas of shared ownership, better aligning the goals and interests of city initiatives with other community priorities, and the tensions related to resident mobility and gentrification.

Evaluation documents