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Norwich Awarded Working Cities Challenge Grant

Increasing the number of financially stable households in the City of Norwich is the purpose of new funding awarded by the Boston Federal Reserve. Called the Working Cities Challenge Grant, a core team, led by United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, has set a goal to increase the number of low-income and diverse households in Norwich who become financially stable by 20% over the next ten years. This would be achieved by investing in economic development and cross-sector initiatives that will create a workforce that aligns with local industry needs.

The Working Cities Challenge design grant of $15,000 will help the core team create a plan that will make it eligible for a much larger grant of up to $500,000. Ten of sixteen eligible cities in the state were awarded the grant. The funding is part of a broader initiative by the Boston Federal Reserve to promote economic growth throughout cities in Connecticut and New England. The ten winning design cities are: Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, Torrington, and Waterbury.

"This has been a truly collaborative effort among the core team comprising people from all sectors who care deeply about the City of Norwich," said Dina Sears-Graves, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way. "While details will be determined during this upcoming design phase, engaging residents and organizations will be critical to its success."

According to the latest ALICE Report Update, 47% of Norwich residents cannot afford basic needs. Additionally, the cost of living continues to increase faster than workers’ wages. But through collaborations and the expansion of existing programs, the city can create innovative ways to increase the earning potential of its residents and create an economically viable community.

The core team brought together people from many fields including social services, government, business and industry, education, and the clergy. Core partners moving forward include the City of Norwich, Southeastern CT Enterprise Region, Chelsea Groton Bank, Norwich Public Schools, St. Vincent DePaul Place, Southeastern Employment Services, Norwich Area Clergy Association, United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, the CT Department of Children and Families, and Freeport-McMoRan, Inc.

Other stakeholders outside of the City of Norwich will also be valuable resources to the team, including the area’s large employers.

The collaborative plans to provide residents with numerous opportunities to participate in the plan design including community conversations, serving on working groups, and leadership training. This and other input will guide the team in designing and aligning community services and promote community asset building critical in making impactful systems-level change.

Anyone interested in participating should contact Dina Sears-Graves at (860) 464-3322 or dina.sears-graves@uwsect.org.