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Welcoming the Challenge to CT’s Working Cities

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

David Radcliffe is director of the Connecticut Working Cities Challenge at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 

In a move to help communities improve economic outcomes, Governor Malloy’s office and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston officially announced in March that Connecticut will be the latest New England state participating in the Boston Fed’s Working Cities Challenge competition, an economic development effort that builds cross-sector collaboration and leadership to solve challenges affecting Connecticut’s smaller urban communities.

What is the Working Cities Challenge?
The Working Cities Challenge (WCC), launched in 2013, builds cross-sector collaboration to solve issues impacting the lives of these cities’ lower-income residents. Grounded in Boston Fed research, the WCC encourages leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to advance proposals that tackle complex challenges facing smaller post-industrial cities and achieve large scale impact across communities.

Collaboration is Key
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston believes that smaller cities have important resources and great potential to drive regional economies, and views the WCC as an opportunity to demonstrate excellence and change perceptions of such communities. The WCC itself is collaborative: the Bank provides leadership and staff support for the initiative, while grant funding is provided by public, private, and philanthropic organizations.

About the Awards
Funding for the competition prize awards will be provided by the State of Connecticut, which has committed $1 million. An additional $2 million comes from private partners, including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, United Illuminating, and Stanley Black and Decker. Following a design and learning phase for cross-sector teams from 10 Connecticut cities, four to five winning initiatives will be selected based on merit by an independent jury. Awards will be in the range of $300,000–$500,000, funding efforts over a three year period. Winning cities also receive coaching and capacity-building and opportunities to connect with funders interested in related issues.

Challenge Impact
The Boston Fed and its partners are helping to provide a new model for transformational change in community development initiatives driven by cross-sector collaborative leadership. State leaders, the private sector and philanthropy have funded competitions in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts (now in its second round of competition).

Next steps
A steering committee composed of local and national partners has been formed and recently determined the cities in Connecticut that will be eligible to apply. RFPs will be invited late fall 2016 to early 2017, with design grants awarded by the end of spring 2017. Winners of design grants will conduct six months of planning and design work, which will include several in-person gatherings. Implementa¬tion grants will be awarded in early 2018. 

For more information, please contact David Radcliffe at, or sign up here for email updates on the Working Cities Challenge.

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