The Working Communities Challenge advances local collaborative efforts that build strong, healthy economies and communities in northern New England’s rural towns, regions, and smaller cities. With a focus on economic opportunity for communities and residents with low incomes, this unique three-year grant competition is supported by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the State of Vermont, national and local philanthropy, and private sector employers.

The partnership in Vermont is informed by Boston Fed research that examined smaller cities in New England that had not fared well over the past half-century. Boston Fed economists asked themselves, “Why had these communities not been successful?” They began by looking at data, but quickly found that success was dependent on how well leaders were able to collaborate across the private business, public, and nonprofit sectors around a common, long-term vision for the community.

As a result, the Boston Fed launched a competition with New England states to support diverse, local collaborative leadership teams tackle complex challenges facing their communities. Included in the Challenge is funding to accelerate promising local work with a focus on sustainable development and increased economic opportunities for residents.

The Boston Fed and Vermont leaders are adapting the competition model, first started in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, to the unique needs of rural towns, regions, and smaller cities in northern New England.