Massachusetts Massachusetts

Competition 2

The Working Cities Challenge is a grant competition that is designed to support cross-sector, collaborative leadership and ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in small and mid-size cities in Massachusetts. The second round of the Boston Fed's Working Cities Challenge was launched in 2015 after promising early progress in the first round spurred additional funding commitments from the Massachusetts Legislature, the private sector, and national and local philanthropy.

Based on lessons from the first round, the second round was preceded by a design phase that awarded 10 cities grants of $15,000 to develop teams and initiatives that aligned with the WCC model. In July 2016, four Massachusetts cities—Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, and Springfield—were then awarded $475,000 implementation grants to support three years of implementation. The communities put forward initiatives focused on neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, civic engagement, and improving access to economic opportunity. The implementation period concluded in the fall of 2019, with each team receiving a follow-on sustainability planning grant to develop a pathway for their initiatives to persist and beyond 2020.

Worcester was originally awarded an implementation grant in 2016. However, as the initiative evolved, it became clear that the team’s vision for an inclusive food economy in Worcester would benefit from a focused, programmatic approach rather than a collaborative, systems-change effort. Accordingly, they transitioned away from the Working Cities Challenge.

What makes a community eligible?

Median family income below the median level

Poverty rate above the median level

Population exceeding 35,000 (excluding Boston)

Implementation Grant Winners

Design Grant Winners

  • Brockton
  • Lynn
  • New Bedford
  • Worcester

Eligible Communities

  • Barnstable
  • Brockton
  • Chelsea
  • Chicopee
  • Everett
  • Fall River
  • Haverhill
  • Holyoke
  • Lowell
  • Lynn
  • Malden
  • New Bedford
  • Pittsfield
  • Revere
  • Springfield
  • Taunton
  • Worcester

Selection Committee

  • Brittany DeBarros, Living Cities
  • Danielle Duplin, Freewind Productions
  • Tom Pappas, Move the World Foundation
  • Robin Hacke, Kresge Foundation
  • Kelsey Cintolo, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership
  • Katie Stebbins, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Marty Jones, MassDevelopment
  • Ben Forman, MassINC
  • Celina Miranda, Smith Family Foundation


  • Monique Baptiste-Good, Project Director, Safe, Healthy Communities Initiative
  • Dan O'Connell, President and CEO, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership
  • Mary Brolin, Ph.D., Scientist and Lecturer, Heller School for Social Policy & Management at Brandeis University
  • Tom Pappas, Founder, Move the World Foundation
  • April Capone, Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs, State of Connecticut
  • Brittany DeBarros, Collective Impact Associate, Living Cities
  • Danielle Duplin, President, Freewind Productions
  • Ariel Simon, Vice President, Chief Program and Strategy Officer, Kresge Foundation
  • Marty Jones, President and CEO, MassDevelopment
  • Neil Steinberg, President and CEO, Rhode Island Foundation

Funding Partners

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Competitive Partnership
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
  • Kresge Foundation
  • Living Cities
  • NeighborWorks
  • Barr Foundation
  • Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation