BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced $2 million in Urban Agenda grant program funding to 23 projects, the largest award round since fiscal year 2016. The program is focused on promoting economic vitality in urban neighborhoods by fostering partnerships for growth that capitalize on unique local assets and community-driven responses to challenges.
The awards will fund projects supporting workforce development, small businesses, and entrepreneurship initiatives across 21 communities: Attleboro, Barnstable, Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Greenfield, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Revere, Salem, Springfield, and Worcester.
“Our administration is committed to partnering with local leaders and community organizations that are on the ground in urban neighborhoods to encourage collaborative, high-impact projects that directly impact the quality of life and access to opportunity of residents,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “The flexibility of the Urban Agenda program enables investments in a wide range of initiatives that train unemployed individuals for jobs, assist local entrepreneurs, and prepare small businesses for success.”
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito added that “Urban Agenda grants are one of the tools that allow our administration to tackle local challenges around workforce training and provide support to urban small businesses and entrepreneurs that have the potential to create strong and vibrant downtowns. Our administration has always emphasized collaboration and homegrown solutions, and today’s awards embrace innovative projects that will expand access to economic prosperity.”
Launched by the Baker-Polito administration in 2015, Urban Agenda program grants are competitive, one-year grants that offer flexible funding for local partnerships to implement programming and projects that are based on creative collaborative work models with the goal of urban communities achieving economic progress. These projects leverage existing economic assets to respond to and deliver on defined economic development and quality-of-life goals. Awards prioritize collaboration, shared accountability, and building leadership capacity at the local level.
In this round of the Urban Agenda program, the administration prioritized funding to applications that proposed the implementation of projects or initiatives that directly address any of the recommendations issued by the Black Advisory Commission and the Latino Advisory Commission, established by Baker in 2017. Applicants were encouraged to enhance partnerships from within the African-American and Latino communities and to prioritize changes that would enhance community partnerships, strengthen small businesses, increase workforce participation, and expand opportunity in ways that drive diversity and inclusiveness.
“Our new economic-development plan, Partnerships for Growth, aims to ensure that everyone has a chance to be on the playing field when it comes to economic success, and the Urban Agenda program is one way our administration can connect more residents to the prosperity that has been generated in Massachusetts,” Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said. “Over the next four years, our administration will continue our outreach to small businesses across the Commonwealth, including those in urban downtowns, to ensure we align programming with their needs for space, capital, employees, and technical assistance.”