Working Cities Challenge applicants pledge to tackle education, health, economic development

The Federal Reserve Bank has released the letters of intent from applicants for a grant of up to $700,000 for an anti-poverty program in Massachusetts. The Working Cities Challenge (see previous post) is open to cities smaller than Boston with a higher-than-median poverty rate.

Earlier this month, the Working Cities Challenge also released the RFP (request for proposals) for the grants, which includes the criteria to be used in choosing recipients. Factors include the “breadth and depth of collaboration” among partners, resident engagement, and a plan for collecting data to measure the project’s impact — as well as the ability “to learn constructively from past mistakes.”

Below are descriptions, written by Federal Reserve Bank staff, of the proposals submitted to the Working Cities Challenge. Lead agencies and partners for each proposal can be found here. The deadline for formal proposals is July 26, and award decisions will be announced in January 2014.

Brockton United proposes a bottom-up civic engagement model for education and workforce development aimed at increasing income and wealth for Brockton residents.

Chelsea’s Shurtleff-Bellingham Initiative aims to move the dial on the basic building blocks of prosperity — like public safety, education, and resident engagement [by] targeting one strategic, low-income neighborhood.

Chicopee’s team will focus on improving the transition into high school and college, and creating better access to jobs for GED and ESL graduates.

Everett aims to set up a “cultural office” to leverage the strengths of the many organizations that work with newcomer populations and to provide an information hub that will help bring immigrants more squarely into the city’s civic, economic, and cultural life.

Fall River’s University-Assisted Community Schools Initiative will improve student success by creating a true community school that incorporates university resources.

Fitchburg’s “eCAREnomic Development” program aims to create a report card that measures the impact of traditional economic development activities on local residents, as well as tracking other indicators of community health and the local economy, in order to drive change.

Haverhill: Community Action Inc. will lead an initiative focusing on single mothers, which connects them to jobs and other supports for stable families.

Haverhill: A “second chance” vocational training academy will be created for disaffected youth, linked to employment opportunities in food and clothing production.

Holyoke’s Adult Learning Network initiative aims to better serve those wait-listed for “English for Speakers of Other Languages” classes or for workforce training classes, while maximizing the public library as a community and educational resource.

Holyoke’s “From Paper City to Food City” initiative is aimed at creating a healthier Holyoke through a network of projects, with a particular focus on healthy local food.

The Holyoke Innovation District, anchored by a super computer center and research institutions, will work to more fully incorporate entire community access to opportunities for personal prosperity associated with the district.

The Lawrence Initiative is putting together a broad partnership to increase the earning power of residents, promote better community health, and allow local and immigrant businesses to grow.

Lowell’s team wants to build more immigrant and 2nd-generation-owned small businesses, especially in the food cluster.

One Lynn wants to comprehensively address education and health and employment, building on on-going community engagement and assessment.

Malden will tackle its foreclosure problem by combating vacancy, buying occupied buildings facing foreclosure and providing affordable homeownership and rental opportunities.

New Bedford plans to use the major Cape Wind energy effort to connect and transform their approach [to] workforce training and economic development.

Pittsfield plans to tackle the jobs-skills mismatch to lower both unemployment and the job vacancy rate.

Revere Community Schools wants to design a community school that connects to and provides services to all of its residents.

Somerville’s Pocket Change Initiative aims to infuse technology and social networking into workforce development with an innovative effort aimed at youth 16-22.

Springfield wants to transform itself into a destination for healthy living, reduce chronic disease, and improve resident health as part of an overall city vision plan.

Taunton is focused on bringing back its downtown through its business improvement district.

Worcester: The Healthy Valley Initiative will promote health and health-focused economic development, but also housing, financial security and civic engagement.

Worcester: The “No Excuse – No Limits” project will focus on employment and civic engagement for the undereducated, as a quarter of this population over 25 lacks a high school degree.

The One Worcester team will create a plan to integrate adjoining neighborhoods, develop a sustainable food cluster with an emphasis on job creation in partnership with local efforts of the Regional Environmental Council and the Boys and Girls Club, and develop a mixed-use district in the South Worcester Industrial Park Area.

                    – Robert David Sullivan

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