New Capacities: Norwich is a collective impact initiative convened and funded by United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. It began with a request from the City of Norwich in November 2016 asking United Way to take the lead on an opportunity to promote economic growth. United Way secured funding, convened a team of cross-sector partners, and designed a project to achieve systems-level change that would increase the number of financially-stable households.
What began as a meeting between United Way and the City of Norwich is now an initiative comprised of numerous organizations, including nonprofits, city departments, businesses, residents, and funders. The plan is the culmination of a year of training, learning, meetings, one-on-one discussions, and community conversations with input from over 450 people all committed to seeing Norwich thrive.
IMPACT: In ten years, the number of financially stable households will increase to 66%.
Norwich was ready. The city was a champion for the cause, resources were available, and the team recognized the urgency for system-change. Forty-four percent of Norwich households cannot afford basic needs. The cost of living in Norwich for a family of four is $77,832 yet the median household income in Norwich is significantly less, $51,758.
Rapid industrial growth transformed Norwich into a modern urban center by the early 20th century. What was once known as the Millionaire’s Triangle, Norwich has had economic challenges since the end of World War II. These challenges, compounded by the recession of 2008 explain why economic recovery and a skills gap are at the forefront of issues that need to be addressed. Since the recession, the job market has shifted in favor of the job seeker. For example, Electric Boat alone expects to hire between 15,000-18,000 employees by 2030. While jobs are available in high-growth sectors, employers are struggling to fill these jobs.
The post-industrial challenges of Norwich and a growing skills gap are a microcosm of a national issue. However, what sets Norwich apart is not its challenges but its unique assets. Norwich is a diverse, multi-cultural city with a small town feel. Norwich offers a unique mix of history, educational choices, economic opportunities, and social support. With dedicated community partners committed to its success, Norwich has the pieces needed and this project is assembling the puzzle.
The Project Partners designed a community-driven plan incorporating the key components of collective impact: combining of resources, continuous communication, data-sharing, and improving systems.
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