Lawrence received a three-year, $700,000 grant to implement the Lawrence Working Families Initiative. This multi-generational effort unites regional employers, service providers, and the public school system to transform local workforce supports for parents of students and engage families in the public schools.
Lawrence is one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts. Its population of 79,000 is mostly minority and largely Hispanic. Historically, Lawrence’s public sector has been troubled, and its problems with city administrations and underperforming school districts have been well-publicized and documented. However, a new administration elected in 2014 created a sense of optimism.
The Lawrence Working Families Initiative directly engages parents in most of its activities. It’s developed a system of parental coaching, job search support, referral to services and training, and English for Speakers of Other Language classes. The locus of activity is the Family Resource Center, a hub within the central administrative offices of the Lawrence Public School.
From the outset, Lawrence Working Families Initiative reached out to businesses by holding employer panels and building individual relationships. But as the initiative evolved, Lawrence Working Families Initiative recognized it needed to more intentionally engage local employers. So in the latter part of the initiative, Lawrence Working Families Initiative increased its outreach by capitalizing on a competitive state grant to collaborate with the Lawrence Partnership, an economic development agency. It also supported local hiring efforts and designed and piloted employer-driven workforce development efforts.
The Lawrence Working Families Initiative seeks to increase employment and stability for public school families.
- Lawrence Community Works (Backbone)
- Lawrence Public Schools (Co-lead)
- Great Lawrence Family Health Center
- New Balance
- Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union
- Lawrence General Hospital
- City of Lawrence
- Compass for Kids
- Family Service Inc.
- Groundwork Lawrence
- Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board
- Northern Essex Community College
- Stevens Foundation
- The Community Group