Western Mass Economic Development Council & Springfield WORKS Community Empowerment & Reinvestment Grant Event

As part of the$400,000 Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant, Springfield WORKS, a community-wide initiative with the Western Mass Economic Development Council recently administered surveys to Springfield residents who are justice-system involved. The intention was to gather a needs assessment to serve as a resource for the community, as well as to support the ongoing efforts of the seven sub-grantee organizations, which will help facilitate the systemic socioeconomic changes needed in the city of Springfield that open up pathways to opportunity. The results of the assessment have been analyzed and below are some of those key takeaways.

As we have mentioned, the goal is to mitigate the negative impact of incarceration. This is why:

–          Nearly half of people with criminal backgrounds, nationally, are still jobless a year after leaving prison.

–          Black adults are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated than their White counterparts, and Latino adults are more than three times more likely.

–          The unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated people in the U.S. (27%), is higher than at any other point in U.S. history.

Those numbers alone are staggering. And when we focused in on our local community:

–          51.7% of local adult respondents were formerly incarcerated, while 90.8% have family members who have been incarcerated (justice-system involved respondents was intentional).

–          17.4% were White, 35.4% were Black, 42.1% were Hispanic/Latino, and 5.1% belonged to other racial groups.

–          32.2% of formerly incarcerated respondents were less likely to have stable housing and 22% more likely to live in a shelter, their car, or the streets.

–          Housing and employment are the most highly sought after supports.

There is much more to share with you. But what we find to be the most troubling is this:

–          40% of respondents did not know how or where to connect to local resources for assistance.

That statistic demonstrates how Springfield is a city rich in programs, but poor in systems. There is a lot of great work that has been done by community partners and much that needs continued support and development. That is why we received this grant; to expand collaborations that can begin implementing the changes our city needs.

“Springfield has a long history of innovation, and we believe that working together in new ways is the only way to help our region’s residents all have opportunities to thrive.” Anne Kandilis, Director of Springfield WORKS

To learn more about our efforts, and to see the full survey results, please visit springfieldworks.net.



The Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts is a private, not-for-profit corporation that provides resources and information to businesses operating in or entering the region by aiding in expansion, relocation and networking. The mission of the Western Mass EDC is to deliver the services and business resources that will enable companies to thrive in Western Massachusetts, while improving the region’s economy and lifestyle through the creation of quality jobs and enhanced public and private investment.


Springfield WORKS serves as a platform for Partners working together to remove barriers, eliminate the silos and disconnected programs and services that make it difficult for low-income residents to find and keep a job and employers to find qualified workers.