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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield WORKS, a community-wide initiative with the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC) announced in May they had received a $400,000 Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant that will help facilitate systemic socioeconomic changes in the city of Springfield. The goal is to mitigate the negative impacts of incarceration.

Part of the process of implementing the program was administering surveys, collecting that data, and determining how the seven subgrantees will become better situated to aid in the necessary changes. The results from those surveys are in. “As we continue to examine the data collected, we want you to know that the information gathered from local community members is truly staggering,” Springfield WORKS announced. “It shows the work that needs to be done, and more importantly, it emphasizes the need to help the families of those who are justice-involved.”

The seven subgrantees include Children’s Study Home, Home City Development, HCS Head Start, Springfield School Volunteers, Square One, MassHire Springfield Career Center, and Holyoke Community College.

As the data is analyzed, more information will be provided in the weeks to come on the key takeaways and learnings. The purpose of this effort is to hear directly from the community about barriers and obstacles that are experienced due to the negative impacts of incarceration and identify effective, sustainable, and long-term solutions to support neighbors who are most at risk.

Close to three-quarters of Springfield residents identify as Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, and other people of color. Communities of color are disproportionately affected by incarceration due to systemic inequalities rooted in policies and practices that affect the likelihood of being arrested, convicted, and incarcerated. The majority of racially diverse residents live in communities with historic patterns of segregation and disinvestment in Springfield, which have effectively blocked opportunities for many residents.

“Over half of the survey respondents were previously jailed or incarcerated, and more than 90% had at least one family member justice-involved,” said Anne Kandilis, director of Springfield WORKS. “They reported myriad financial, employment, housing, and mental-health challenges suffered. Our goal is to work together with families, connecting resources to support economic and family well-being.”

When someone is incarcerated, their family suffers, and they lose out on basic needs others take for granted. That’s where Springfield WORKS and the Western Massachusetts EDC, along with the seven subgrantees, will come together.

After the data is analyzed, Springfield WORKS will lead the design of an action plan in collaboration with the subgrantees and other partners to begin impacting real change to promote a holistic approach to working with families. The focus will be on increasing cross-sector collaboration to break down barriers to program engagement, financial stability, and quality jobs. Springfield has a long history of innovation, and solving old problems in new ways is critical to helping Western Mass. adapt to new circumstances and become economically resilient.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A $100,000 Urban Agenda Grant was recently awarded to Springfield WORKS, the lead applicant in a team including Home City Development Inc. as the primary partner. The funds will be used to facilitate a community-wide collaboration, with the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council to manage, coordinate, and support the work of numerous participating program partner organizations, in efforts to help families in Springfield achieve economic stability.

The funds will go toward the 2Generation/Whole Family Approach to Pathways to Careers and Home Ownership Program, which is a holistic, creative, and collaborative approach that helps low-income families access career-development tools and training to successfully position individuals on a positive career trajectory. This program will focus on adults and children, addressing the gaps and barriers within multiple systems, including the ‘cliff effect,’ which makes transitioning out of state assistance programs challenging. This project also brings a gender- and racial-equity lens to workforce strategies.

“This is an important partnership that helps families achieve economic gains without fear of losing an important safety net like housing,” said Tom Kegelman, executive director of Home City Development Inc.

Home City Development is the main partner in this project, which means all program participants are Home City Development residents. The program will incorporate the Springfield WORKS’ 2Generation/Whole Family Approach with Home City Development’s HUD Family Self Sufficiency program. Other partners include Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts, HCS Head Start, EforAll, Families First, Springfield Partners for Community Action, and MassHire Springfield.

Springfield WORKS leverages employer partners including Baystate Health, MGM Springfield, United Personnel/Masis, Springfield Public Schools, and others for career pathway opportunities.

“Collaborative partnerships that include wraparound supports, employers, and training partners help remove barriers to ensure that pathways to quality jobs are open and accessible,” said Anne Kandilis, director of Springfield WORKS.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Since 2016, the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC), through its Springfield WORKS initiative, has brought together employers, educators, community leaders, the city, and residents to address how to meet the economic needs of both Springfield residents and local businesses. As a result of this collaboration, it became clear that there was a need to increase employer engagement to hire locally and invest in upskilling for worker advancement.

To that end, a partnership developed between the EDC and Baystate Medical Center (BMC), the largest employer in the region, to bring such strategies to fruition in Springfield. The BMC/EDC team was awarded $125,000 from the Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community for a project that seeks to engage more employers in identifying and addressing institutional practices and policies that will support their growth and development of low-wage, entry-level employees and better access to career pathways, and simultaneously provide ready access to employment for residents from surrounding limited-opportunity neighborhoods.

The funding will support Baystate Health’s ‘anchor institution mission’ to support and revitalize low-income communities though inclusive local hiring through deliberate action and meaningful collaboration with community workforce-development and training organizations affiliated with Springfield WORKS. ‘Anchor institutions’ have traditionally been nonprofit, place-based entities, such as universities and hospitals, that are able to leverage their resources for the benefit of the local community in hiring, investment, purchasing, and more.

What is unique about what is happening in Springfield is that a traditional anchor, Baystate Medical Center, is joining with the EDC’s Springfield WORKS and Parent Villages, a community-based parent organization, to establish a network of organizations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security. Springfield’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community initiative is an innovative, two-generation approach focusing on employees, their families, and children together with a gender- and racial-equity lens.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew we needed innovative economic-development models to meet the needs of employers and job seekers in our region. That is even more true today,” said Rick Sullivan, thre EDC’s president and CEO. “This anchor strategy is an effort to more strategically and effectively harness the power of local institutions to become the social and economic engines of our communities.”

Springfield’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community initiative will engage all employers in committing to develop and set measurable goals around local hiring, internal workforce advancement and pathways to living-wage jobs, and diversity and inclusion.

“Baystate’s participation in the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Family Prosperity Innovation Community is a strategic investment that promotes economic dignity for low- and moderate-income workers and equitably strengthens their families,” said Frank Robinson, vice president of Public Health at Baystate Health. “Simply put, economic dignity means changing how we support workers to have a financially stable family life that brings with it fair access to opportunities and makes it easy for their children to live healthy lives.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield WORKS leads local employers, educators, community leaders, and job seekers in developing innovative solutions to meet the economic needs of area residents and local businesses. A founding member in the Springfield WORKS collaboration, Springfield Partners for Community Action, recently received a second $50,000 award from the Baker-Polito Community Services Block Grant Special Projects Fund to support Springfield WORKS financial-wellness strategies.

“We are grateful to Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox for this award, which will provide financial training and one-on-one coaching to low-income working families who are impacted by the cliff effect,” said Springfield Partners for Community Action Executive Director Paul Bailey. Cliff effects occur when wages do not make up for a family’s loss of public benefits, putting the family in a worse financial situation.   

This award comes on the heels of a recent $100,000 Baker-Polito Urban Agenda Grant to Springfield WORKS and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. The funds will enable families to achieve economic stability as they navigate workforce-development training into a career pathway.

Springfield WORKS project partners include HCS Head Start, Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts, Springfield Partners for Community Action, EforAll, Educare Springfield, Springfield Public Schools, Holyoke Community College, Springfielf Technical Community College, Springfield College, Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and United Way of Pioneer Valley.