Our Work

Springfield WORKS is an organizer.

Together, we are building a resilient, inclusive, and equitable economy in the Greater Springfield Region.

How Does Springfield WORKS Make a Difference?

Our team brings together over 40 organizations in multiple collaborations and Learning Communities to develop new frameworks, strategies, and practices that improve our workforce ecosystem. Together we target the right resources to address inequities resulting from historic patterns of divestment and bias on the lines of geography, race and ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status.

Our Strategies

We work to remove the obstacles that prevent employers from finding the workers they need, and job seekers from finding their way to secure employment with wages that pay. Our strategies encompass three categories: Community Empowerment, Economic Mobility, and Policy Improvements.

Community Empowerment

Improve the effectiveness of community resources.

Springfield is rich in programs, but poor in systems. Cross-sector resources can be well coordinated to identify gaps, leverage resources, increase communication, find opportunities to benefit the most marginalized in our community, and integrate community voices.

Economic Mobility

Influence employer hiring and worker advancement practices. 

Navigating the workforce ecosystem to find a better job or gain practical skills can be challenging. We work with our network partners to build inclusive pathways to sustainable careers through paid training, job matching, workforce reentry coaching tools, and wrap-around services.

Policy Improvement

Creating the conditions for economic mobility and success.

Economic mobility is not just an individual problem. Through legislative and policy advocacy, we aim to create the conditions for economic mobility. We advocate for policies that remove systemic barriers, and ensure policies are set up and implemented for success.

What Does That Look Like?

Below are our current initiatives and collaborations, organized by strategy. These are projects and grants we are currently engaged in, with a variety of community partners, centered on helping our communities thrive. Click on each strategy below to see our initiatives.

Community Empowerment (CERP)

Springfield WORKS received two state grants in 2022 and 2023 to investigate and mitigate the negative impacts of incarceration post-release on work outcomes. We created a focus group of justice-involved individuals and their families, to hear what they needed to be successful. Now, we're facilitating systems-level changes in response to their feedback.

Trauma Informed and Responsive Ready, Willing and Able (TIR-RWA) Assessment Tool

We developed this workforce assessment tool to focus on structural and social determinants of health and work, and utilizes a trauma-informed and responsive lens to support clients and their families. The tool is designed to help case managers, family engagement coordinators, mentors, and others identify clients who may be ready, willing, and able to take full advantage of training to enter the workforce, and identify a wider variety of barriers.

Human-Centered Design Framework

We are facilitating a learning collaborative for regional service providers to learn and adopt the human centered design model. This model ensures program development actively pulls in and involves affected communities, rather than a top-down approach.

Career Pathways

Through our Career Pathways coalitions we bring together all region workforce entities. By helping them coordinate, we simplify the process to move higher in a specific career field through training and certification, so more people can move into middle- and highly-skilled jobs with family-sustaining wages and benefits. This includes:

  • Education: Paraeducator to Teacher
  • Healthcare: CNA to Nurse
  • Emerging sector work in STEM

Whole Family / 2Gen Approach

With a long list of partners, this is a collaboration to provide comprehensive workforce development, coaching, financial wellness, wrap-around supports, and healthy relationships and parenting programming to Springfield families, so they can take open and needed jobs with a family-supporting wage and advancement opportunities.

Job Search Tool

Springfield WORKS received a state grant in 2021 to investigate and mitigate the negative impacts of incarceration post-release on work outcomes. We created a focus group of justice-involved individuals and their families, to hear what they needed to be successful. Then, we worked with employers and service providers to build a job search and matching tool.

Cliff Pilot Program

Springfield WORKS is the organizer for a groundbreaking new Cliff Effect Pilot Program, funded through the 2022 Massachusetts Economic Development Bill. Up to 100 families/residents will participate in a learning pilot to reduce dependency on public benefits while moving into higher-paying jobs, without experiencing the devastating impacts of the cliff effect. Our findings will inform future safety net policy in Massachusetts and beyond.

Cliff Effect Legislative Advocacy

Working alongside partners from the Economic Pathways Coalition, we are changing the social safety net system to better serve marginalized populations and encourage professional and personal development.

Collaborations & Partnerships

Economic Pathways Coalition of Massachusetts

The Economic Pathways MA Coalition is a collaboration of working families, federal, state, and city leaders, employers, and anti-hunger, education, training, community-based, and philanthropic organizations. The coalition was formed to work toward eliminating cliff effects, and was instrumental in the legislative advocacy that created the Cliff Effect Pilot.

Springfield Parent Connections

Nothing about us, without us! Springfield Parent Connections (SPC) is a community advisory council providing local guardians'/parents' perspectives to generate appropriate and accessible resources for families. The SPC works to create a culture of action for a vibrant community that embraces system change. They envision a community where families have appropriate information and immediate access to the resources they need to thrive in a respectful and empowering way.

Healthcare Anchor Collaborative

The Anchor Collaborative works to improve community health and well-being by building inclusive and sustainable local economies, as the Collaborative understands the importance of job creation and wealth-building for population health. Through the collaborative, anchor institutions commit to apply an institution’s long-term, place-based economic power and human capital in partnership with the community to mutually benefit the long-term well-being of both. The Collaborative incubates and scales strategies to proactively address economic and racial inequities in community conditions, establish this mission as a healthcare priority, and lead innovation in the implementation of this mission.

National Fund for Workforce Solutions

The National Fund invests in communities across the country taking a demand-driven, evidence-based approach to workforce development. The National Fund leverages the expertise of their national network to share learnings across the network and identify trends, opportunities, and best practices. Springfield WORKS is a member of the network.

Springfield WORKS is a workforce innovator, what we create is designed to be shared and scalable.