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Working Cities Design Grant Winners Celebrate


If there’s one thing we’ve learned about big, long-term, collaborative initiatives, it’s that every success needs to be celebrated–because keeping everyone pulling together with their eyes on a distant prize is arduous work.

After months of planning, representatives of ten Connecticut cities had good reason to celebrate yesterday.  Each was selected to receive a $15,000 design grant under the Working Cities Challenge.

The planning teams gathered at Real Art Ways in Hartford, along with Governor Dannel Malloy and representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, for the official announcement of the grant awards.

There was a palpable energy in the room as the winning cities were recognized, with cheers breaking out as each team was called upon to stand. All of us at Liberty were thrilled to learn that five of the ten winning cities—Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, and Waterbury—were within our service area.  The other winners were Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, and Torrington.

“Not everybody wins the competition, but everybody wins by participating.”

Our hats are off to all of the teams who have spent months developing plans designed to boost employment, promote economic development, remove barriers to upward mobility, stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods, and create more opportunities for young people and immigrants.

The winning cities will now move forward to fully develop their projects, with each team attending four full-day technical assistance trainings to support the process of preparing applications for the final implementation grants. Four to six of these, each between $300-500,000 over three years, will be announced in early 2018.

Moving the needle on big problems is hard work. Getting people from different sectors—public, for-profit, non-profit, faith—to bring their diverse viewpoints and experience to the table and achieve consensus on common goals and strategies is beyond hard.

As the teams continue their journey, they are bound to face disagreements, disengagement, and discouragement as they build the pathways to their visions for their cities. And not all of them will ultimately receive implementation grants.

But as Governor Malloy pointed out yesterday, “Not everybody wins the competition, but everybody wins by participating. Let [Working Cities] be a blueprint to a new community and a new Connecticut.” Hear, hear!

A program of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Connecticut Working Cities Challenge is a grant competition designed to support cross-sector, collaborative leadership and ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in small and mid-sized cities in Connecticut.  Liberty Bank Foundation is proud to be a funder of Working Cities, and a participant on its statewide Advisory Board. 

You can learn more at https://www.bostonfed.org/workingcities/connecticut/index.htm.