As a community, Springfield is rich in programs, but poor in systems. While there are an array of social service organizations across the city, the community lacks sufficient cross sector coordination to identify gaps, leverage resources, increase communication, and find opportunities to benefit those most marginalized in our community.
Stories from our Community Empowerment Project: Melissa and India
Our Work with the Community Empowerment Grant
The goal of this initiative is to create the conditions that expand equitable opportunities for residents impacted by conviction histories, poverty, and social and economic inequity.
2023: Community Empowerment Grant Program
Bridging the gap between justice-involved individuals and their families, and community services
After analyzing the results of the survey in 2022, we focused on closing the gap between justice-involved individuals and their access to services and employment. We brought together eight local agencies and 170 of their clients to discuss barriers to employment, systemic challenges faced by people with a criminal record, and led training in trauma-informed practices. This program shifted the burden of navigating services and training onto the agencies, rather than the individual, built trust between clients and providers, and changed the way agency staff viewed barriers to employment.
Impact and Outcomes
- Virtually all clients reported they now know where to go to get help addressing a barrier to employment
- All clients reported a positive experience
- Agency staff learned skills to provide better services: developing connection and trust with clients, understanding and asking about barriers to employment that they previously would not, and seeking more appropriate resources to support readiness for employment
- Clients described a sense of safety, connection, and trust to discuss difficult and personal issues that had been barriers to success
- 413Cares Online platform facilitated connections between social services programs across Western Mass, making navigating and connecting to resources easier
- Designed to create lasting change in the ways current systems approach barriers to employment
- Began to shift the burden of navigating these systems to the service providers rather than program recipients
- Partner agencies and staff indicated the intention to continue to use the assessment tool and online platform