Working Cities Grant Opens New Era of Collaboration in Lawrence

Lawrence, Mass. (Jan. 15, 2013) – Recognizing a pioneering community-wide plan to engage Lawrence families in the Schools Turnaround, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston today awarded $700,000 to the team of Lawrence CommunityWorks, the Lawrence Public Schools, and a coalition of public and private sector partners.

It was the highest award given to any of the 20 applicants in the Boston Fed’s Working Cities Challenge and will help launch the Lawrence Working Families Initiative, an unprecedented pairing of LPS and community partners to address the direct connection between families’ economic challenges and student success.

“This award is a clear recognition that momentum is building from within to create the Lawrence we all want,” said Jessica Andors, Executive Director of Lawrence CommunityWorks, a nonprofit community development corporation. “All of us – parents, schools, nonprofits, employers, the City – will co-invest in this critical project of transformation.”

A total of 30 nonprofits, businesses and public agencies will come together in coordinated support of the Lawrence Public Schools turnaround effort, making city schools the cornerstone of a new way to connect entire families both with each other, and the organizations and resources to help them realize their aspirations.

The Initiative will be headquartered in a new LPS Family Resource Center and managed by Lawrence CommunityWorks, with close support from LPS. Its primary goals will be increasing stable employment — with equal focus on job skills and placement through a network of employer relationships — and parental engagement, both long-term keys to closing the achievement gap and improving outcomes for Lawrence children.

“We’ve known from the outset that turning around the Lawrence Public Schools would mean engaging the entire community,” said Lawrence Public Schools Receiver Jeffrey C. Riley. “That’s what makes the Working Cities Challenge a perfect fit for the work we’re doing, and why we’ve committed as a school system to supporting the Lawrence Working Families Initiative for years beyond the grant.”

“This is the real story of Lawrence – the story that doesn’t get told,” said Mayor Daniel Rivera. “It’s a story of partnership and tenacity that will overcome tough challenges. The City is delighted by this recognition, and we are ready to get to work.”

In addition to Lawrence CommunityWorks and LPS, Lawrence Working Families Initiative partners include: Greater Lawrence Family Health Center; Greater Lawrence Community Action Council; Groundwork Lawrence; YWCA of Greater Lawrence; Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc.; Lawrence History Center; COMPASS for Kids; Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board and Valleyworks Career Center; City of Lawrence Community Development Department; Northern Essex Community College; The Community Group; Neighborhood Legal Services; Lawrence Training School; Cambridge College; Merrimack Valley YMCA; Lawrence History Center; Solectria Renewables; Eastern Bank; Imajine That; Little Sprouts; Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union; New Balance; TD Bank; The Stevens Foundations; the City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force; Everett Mills; Greater Lawrence Technical School; and Lawrence General Hospital.

The Working Cities Challenge is a groundbreaking effort to support leaders who are reaching across sectors to ensure that smaller cities in Massachusetts are places of opportunity and prosperity for all their residents. This competition is led by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, in partnership with key leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors, including the Living Cities funder collaborative and the Mass Competitive Partnership and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which are contributing prize funds.

Over the past six months, 20 smaller cities submitted proposals with the goal of strengthening civic leadership infrastructure and improving the lives of low-income people through impressive cross-sector community development efforts. Funding award winners were chosen by a jury made up of representatives from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

For more information on the Working Cities Challenge, visit or contact Matt Campion (617-973–1476) or Denae Thibault (617-973-3559) at the Boston Fed.