1. Western Mass Economic Development Council & Springfield WORKS Announce Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant: Phase Two

    Western Mass Economic Development Council & Springfield WORKS Announce Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant: Phase Two

    Springfield WORKS, a community-wide initiative with the Western Mass Economic Development Council, announced in May that they received a $400,000 Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant that will help facilitate systemic socioeconomic changes in the city of Springfield. The goal is simply stated but will take hard work to achieve in order 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. We are pleased to announce that 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. 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, Mass Hire Springfield Career Center, and Holyoke Community College.

    As we analyze this data, we will provide more information in the weeks to come on the key takeaways and learnings. Media are invited to attend a press event and data walk on August 23rd from 1-2:30pm at the TD Bank Room located at 1441 Main Street in downtown Springfield. Please contact Meghan Rothschild at meghan@chikmedia.us for more information.

    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 our 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 a myriad of 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 the basic needs we take for granted. That is where Springfield WORKS and the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, along with our seven sub-grantees, 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.  Our 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 Massachusetts adapt to new circumstances and become economically resilient. For more information on this story, please contact Meghan Rothschild at meghan@chikmedia.us.

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    ABOUT WESTERN MASS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL:

    The Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts (EDC) is a private, not-for-profit corporation that provides resources and information to businesses operating in or entering the region by aiding in expansion, relocation and networking. The mission of the Western Mass EDC is to deliver the services and business resources that will enable companies to thrive in Western Massachusetts, while improving the region’s economy and lifestyle through the creation of quality jobs and enhanced public and private investment.

    ABOUT SPRINGFIELD WORKS:

    Springfield WORKS serves as a platform for Partners working together to remove barriers, eliminate the silos and disconnected programs and services that make it difficult for low-income residents to find and keep a job and employers to find qualified workers.

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