Meet 10 Cities in Massachusetts Aiming for Change

Meet 10 Cities in Massachusetts Aiming for Change

An introduction to the 10 Massachusetts cities that are working to change systems and improve the lives of low-income people through the design phase in the second round of the Working Cities Challenge.

Round two of the Working Cities Challenge is underway and this time it includes a six month design phase intended to better support cities in their effort to integrate core elements of the challenge (collaborative leadership, community engagement, evidence-based decision-making, and systems change) into their work upfront. Learn more about the ten cities that were selected for this design phase below. To read more about how the competition works, check-out the Round Two Overview.


The team will strive to address the adverse effects of poverty in the Acre neighborhood. Acre, one of Lowell’s most impoverished areas, hashigh unemployment and poverty rates, high levels of crime and poor physical conditions that impact the quality of life for residents, businesses and community members.The Lowell Working Cities team seeks to create an aspirational neighborhood where residents, local government, educational institutions and community organizations all work together to establish high expectations for quality of life improvements, driven by authentic enhancements of health-care access, educational opportunities, employment supports and economic self-sufficiency for all.

To do this, they seek to gain a deep, inclusive understanding of the most salient needs of the Acre neighborhood and uncover new approaches to meet those needs. During the design phase, the team seeks to build upon collective strengths, sharpen focus and set realistic and measurable goals that will have significant and replicable impacts on the neighborhood.

The Team

  • City of Lowell
  • Coalition for a Better Acre, Inc.
  • Northern Middlesex Council of Governments
  • Lowell Community Health Center
  • Career Center of Lowell
  • Lowell Housing Authority
  • Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc.
  • Greater Lowell Community Foundation
  • Teamwork, Inc.
  • Middlesex Community College
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union


The Lynn Working Cities team seeks to raise the standard and quality of living in targeted neighborhoods in Lynn. This includes the downtown area, whose residents experience high levels of poverty, low levels of educational attainment, high under- and unemployment, and need educational and social support programs.

Approximately 53% of Lynn residents live in higher-than-average Lynn poverty rate or very high poverty rate neighborhoods. The team will work to raise the level of household median income to meet the city average through strategies that enhance education levels, language skills, financial literacy, and workforce development opportunities leading to family self-sufficiency and a higher quality of life.

The team will work to narrow its focus to a specific neighborhood of Lynn in which to build a collaborative system of resources that support residents. The team will do this by reviewing current Lynn research, and seeking information where gaps exist, and refining goals, strategies and evaluation metrics.

The Team

  • North Shore Community College
  • City of Lynn
  • Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Lynn Community Health
  • Lynn Economic Opportunity
  • Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development
  • Lynn Public Schools
  • Operation Bootstrap
  • Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
  • North Shore Workforce Investment Board
  • Salem State University


The Salem Working Cities team seeks to leverage the quality programming of existing service providers to invest in The Point neighborhood though an innovative, inclusive, collaborative service model. This model is expected to result in an overall outcome of better economic opportunity, which combined with other capital investments, will transform The Point to a neighborhood of choice and opportunity.

The persistence of poverty in The Point is a clear indicator that anti-poverty programs available in the community and region are not reaching the intended audience. The team recognizes a deep disconnection between availability of quality programs and access to programs for those in need of investment and economic opportunity.

The team plans to expand upon a Family Resource Center concept with a clear depiction of what the program would look like if fully implemented in terms of design, functionality, budget and staffing. The team will do so by identifying resources for creating successful collaborative service program models and engaging stakeholders in the process of building out the concept.

The Team

  • North Shore Community Development Corporation
  • City of Salem
  • Point Neighborhood Association
  • Salem State University
  • Salem Partnership


The Revere Working Cities team seeks to establish cross sector policies, systems and programs that reduce the city’s inventory of at-risk and problem properties by half. At the same time, the team seeks to leverage private investment in housing rehab and new construction to increase Revere’s supply of safe, healthy and affordable housing. Revere was heavily impacted by the home foreclosure crisis that further stressed housing conditions and reduced the ability of owners to properly maintain their properties. An estimated 4,000 of Revere’s 24,000 residential properties (16%) are rated as either problem properties or at-risk problem properties, affecting a large portion of the city’s low-income and rent-burdened residents.

The team will establish a concrete set of housing-related strategies and implementation steps to activate them. The team seeks to identify policies, programs, incentives and partners that have the potential to improve housing conditions and affordability.

The Team

  • City of Revere
  • The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. (TND)
  • Stonehurst Real Estate Group
  • Revere Public Schools
  • Revere CARES
  • D’Ambrosio Brown, LLP


Brockton’s Working Cities Challenge initiative targets workforce and housing solutions for homeless Brockton families with school-age children and inherently requires multi-disciplinary coordinated actions among core partners and other key stakeholders. The team will analyze and strategize to build upon Brockton’s coordinated and successful programs to help the homeless.

With stronger, more coordinated initiatives that build from existing assets, the city of Brockton’s “Champions United in Ending Family Homelessness,” plans to target workforce development and housing efforts to the families of 600 homeless children enrolled in the Brockton Public Schools to help them move into affordable, sustainable housing.

The Team

  • Brockton 21st Century Corporation
  • United Way of Greater Plymouth County
  • Father Bill’s & MainSpring
  • City of Brockton
  • Brockton Public Schools
  • Brockton Area Workforce Investment Board (BAWIB)
  • CareerWorks of Brockton (part of UMass Donahue Institute)
  • HarborOne Bank


The Pittsfield Working Cities team views Pittsfield as a community of hope and opportunity where all residents are actively engaged in shaping their city by informing systems, policies, services and creating new avenues for capital development so that all individuals living here can work and thrive equitably.

Low-income Pittsfield residents face persistent structural barriers (e.g. inadequate access to education, transportation, jobs, and opportunities) combined with obstinate social barriers that result in limited economic mobility, a lack of hope, opportunity and thwarted aspiration, which have led to generational poverty.

Pittsfield is committed to using the evidence-based Bridges Out of Poverty model, which has proven to effectively bring people from all sectors and economic classes together in communities around the country. The team will embed this model into their agencies and integrate a common language, which will help them identify policies, competencies and procedures within their organizations that must be changed to better work with our neighbors.

The Team

  • City of Pittsfield Department of Community Development
  • Pittsfield Public Schools
  • Downtown Pittsfield, Inc.
  • Berkshire Health Systems
  • Berkshire Community College
  • Berkshire United Way
  • Berkshire Children & Families
  • Berkshire Chapter of the NAACP
  • Berkshire Community Action Council
  • BerkshireWorks Career Center
  • Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity
  • Berkshire Regional Planning Commission


The Haverhill Working Cities team envisions a stronger, more unified Haverhill, with significantly improved economic growth, family incomes and educational outcomes in the impoverished, isolated Mt. Washington neighborhood.

While Haverhill shows marked economic and educational improvement, the isolated Mt. Washington neighborhood lacks direct access to services needed to address high unemployment; homelessness; addiction; low-performing schools; literacy and skills barriers; limited access to jobs, transportation, and childcare; social instability; and significant poverty.

The team seeks to engage residents of the Mt. Washington neighborhood and members of the business community to determine strategies to match employers with Mt. Washington residents. The team will work with employers to determine skills sets and training opportunities for potential employees, and will identify barriers that unemployed and underemployed individuals face.

The Team

  • Community Action, Inc.
  • Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce
  • City of Haverhill
  • Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board
  • Team Haverhill
  • Northern Essex Community College Center for Corporate and Community Education
  • Haverhill Public Schools
  • Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion
  • Fantini Bakery
  • Urban Kindness
  • Emmaus, Inc.
  • Rehoboth Lighthouse Full Gospel Church, Inc.


Springfield is committed to advancing the city’s economy by eliminating the disconnect between employers who need qualified workers and low-income Springfield residents who need meaningful employment. The city’s Working Cities Challenge is an innovative collaboration between employers, public schools, colleges, social service providers and residents.

Currently, 49 out of every 100 Springfield residents who are of working age are unemployed, and this number has increased since 2012.The Springfield Working Cities team seeks a better understanding of the disconnect between low-income residents, community-based organizations, training programs and meaningful employment. The team will engage key stakeholder groups in a series of place-based “dream sessions,” inventory all existing programs, share information about the process publicly, and map assets to determine alignment and gaps in employment supports.

The Team

  • Regional Employment Board of Hampden County Inc.
  • Economic Development Council of Western MA
  • City of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development
  • Tech Foundry
  • Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts
  • Springfield Public Schools
  • Springfield Partners for Community Action, Inc.
  • Western Massachusetts Chapter of National Tooling and Machining Association
  • MGM Springfield
  • United Way of Pioneer Valley
  • United Personnel Services
  • Springfield Technical Community College


The Worcester Working Cities team seeks to spawn economic growth and employment prospects of emerging food entrepreneurs, small food retailers, and businesses through job training, skill enhancement, and workforce development networking.

During the design phase, the Worcester team seeks to form a multi-sector governance advisory team to steer the initiative. The team will work to create multilingual communications to engage and educate their target audience, involve a variety of partners and stakeholders to map strategic avenues of job creation, enhancement and preservation, and take stock of physical and programmatic assets for the creation of a workforce development network for the food-driven economy.

The team

  • Worcester Community Action Council
  • Clark University
  • Regional Environmental Council, Inc.
  • Sodexo
  • City of Worcester
  • Worcester Community Action Council

New Bedford

The New Bedford Working Cities team seeks to provide residents in New Bedford’s South End with access to resources and opportunities to be educated, safe and financially stable through the empowerment of individuals, families and neighborhoods within the area.

For decades, persistently high levels of poverty and low levels of educational attainment have plagued New Bedford’s South End. These issues have conspired to create severe social and economic disadvantages for neighborhood residents, which have significantly limited their well-being and prosperity.

This effort is part of a larger initiative facilitated by the United Way of Greater New Bedford and is complementary to the Working Cities Challenge. The effort serves to design a neighborhood plan in collaboration with residents and partners within the South End community. The team is particularly interested in advancing educational attainment as an avenue for reducing poverty.

The Team

  • United Way of Greater New Bedford
  • Old Bedford Village Development, Inc.
  • New Bedford Housing Authority
  • Public Policy Center at UMass Dartmouth
  • New Bedford Public Schools
  • TRI-The Resource, Inc.
  • Immigrants Assistance Center, Inc.
  • Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board
  • Southcoast Health
  • PACE, Inc.
  • BankFive
  • Southcoast Youth Alliance

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