Massachusetts Competition 2


Implementation Grant Winner

The Springfield team was awarded a three-year, $475,000 grant to implement their Springfield WORKS initiative, which focuses on engaging, aligning, and transforming Springfield’s workforce system to improve results for residents and employers.

Problem Problem

Poverty rates are rising in Springfield, which has one of the lowest labor participation rates in Massachusetts, even though city employers have an acute need for qualified candidates to support operations and growth. Springfield WORKS teamed with more than 40 partners in the local workforce development system and identified several essential ways to address the city’s challenges and improve outcomes for workers and employers, including encouraging new thinking and better alignment and collaboration within the system.

Strategy Strategy

Springfield WORKS has pursued several strategies aimed at removing employment barriers for both workers and employers, including:

  • Using pilots that help residents find and succeed in career pathways while informing and improving the ways training programs are delivered and aligned
  • Working with employers to test and share the results of new practices aimed at supporting recruitment, retention, and advancement. Participating employers have become more aware of and responsive to challenges facing low-income families, including childcare, transportation, and scheduling.
  • Partnering with the early childhood sector to increase its positive impacts on both parents and children
  • Pushing for changes that can mitigate “benefit cliffs,” when increases in income are offset by larger decreases in public assistance, due to the worker exceeding income thresholds for the benefit
  • Using common language and measures to engage and connect workforce system partners as an ecosystem, rather than a set of fragmented programs

Vision Vision

Springfield WORKS envisions a city where any resident who wants a job can find and succeed in one and employers can hire and retain all the qualified workers they need.

The Team The Team

  • Baystate Health
  • Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts
  • Dress for Success of Western MA
  • HCS Head Start
  • Holyoke Community College
  • Home City Development
  • Irene E & George A Davis Foundation
  • MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board
  • Mass Hire Springfield Career Center
  • Mass Mentoring
  • MGM Springfield
  • SkillSmart
  • Springfield Public Schools
  • Tech Foundry
  • City of Springfield
  • United Personnel
  • United Way of Pioneer Valley
  • Way Finders
  • Western Mass Economic Development Council