Working Cities Challenge kicks off search for collaborative leadership in Bay State

The competition phase of the Working Cities Challenge, which will award up to $700,00 to an anti-poverty program in Massachusetts, will be announced this morning at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, a lead partner in the initiative. Twenty cities, all smaller than Boston and with a higher-than-median poverty rate, are eligible for the grant, but only one proposal per city will be accepted. Each proposal must be a partnership among public agencies and other stakeholders in the community, making it an example of “collaborative leadership.”

Collaborative leadership aims to “break down silos,” or create partnerships among stakeholders with similar goals. That definition comes from the South Coast Urban Indicators Project, based in Fall River and New Bedford, which is already doing research on the concept. South Coast also points to the Washington, DC-based Living Cities, a philanthropic consortium of 22 major foundations and financial institutions, as an example of this “one table approach.”

Several of the goals of the Working Cities Challenge, adapted from the Living Cities program, include collaborative leadership concepts:

* Build resilient, cross-sector civic infrastructure that can tackle the complex challenges facing smaller industrial cities and achieve population-level results.
* Move beyond programs and projects to focus on transforming systems; promote integration across multiple systems and issues.
* Drive private markets to work on behalf of low-income people by blending public, private, and philanthropic capital and deploying it in catalytic investments.

A request for proposals (RFP), including evaluation criteria, will be issued at today’s launch. Applications must include participants from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The deadline for proposals will be in late July, and award decisions will be announced in January 2014.

                    – Robert David Sullivan

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