What is Working Cities Lowell?

The Working Cities Lowell Initiative is a partnership led by the Coalition for a Better Acre and the City of Lowell, and includes 13 high impact organizations in Lowell. Our goal is to alleviate the effects of poverty on the residents and businesses of the Acre neighborhood. The Acre is one of the Lowell’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods and includes the largest concentration of subsidized housing units in the city (an estimated 1,100 out of a total of 1,400 units in the neighborhood). This combined makes the Acre one of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

Working Cities Lowell is funded through the Working Cities Challenge grant program administered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Learn more about the Initiative and what other cities from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut are doing.

CBA's "Acre High" apartments on Merrimack Street

CBA's "Acre High" apartments on Merrimack Street

Shared Vision

The shared vision for the Working Cities Lowell Initiative is that in 10 years, Lowell maintains a culturally diverse and economically thriving community, where poverty is reduced, income and wealth is increased; with a special focus on low income families and people of color from the Acre neighborhood. To achieve this vision WCC Lowell has identified the following long-term goals:

  • Increase in positive employment, economic development, and educational outcomes for residents

  • Increase in civic & resident leadership engagement for low income individuals and people of color

  • Changes to Public policies/city conditions that reflect the needs of diverse residents

Operating Values

Our core partners and extended partners all provide amazing services to residents and business owners in the city. Our residents and business owners offer tremendous value and talent. The WCC Lowell Initiative understands that social change comes from the leadership of many.  This is why our approach and strategies are imprinted with the following operating values:

Asset-Based: We work with the community rather than for the community. The asset-based approach activates the skills and knowledge of the residents and the business owners of the neighborhood.

Diversity & Inclusion: When you change who is at the table, you change the table itself. Inclusion and Racial Equity work is at the heart of our initiative. We use an equity lens to call out and address disparities in civic engagement and access to economic opportunities.

Collaboration: Collaboration is about building TRUST. We collaborate between organizations and also between residents and business owners. To do this we create spaces for conversations and learning that build relationships and connections across sectors for organizational partners; and to the systems for residents and business owners in the Acre.

Continuous Learning: We build continuous learning opportunities for testing strategies and actions to make progress on our outcomes, and how we deliver services to our residents.


Collective Impact: By convening the core partners as well as the extended partners through our action work groups, we are able to bring cross-sector resources to the Acre neighborhood, working towards solving complex problems to alleviate the effects of poverty.

Shared Vision: For collective impact to be successful with cross sector partners, there must be a share vision or results.

Evidence-Based Decision Making: We use an evidence based approach to not only help define our strategies but also course correct when challenges arise. This also helps us track our progress towards our goals.

Network Engagement: We offer new and place-based opportunities for residents to connect with each other and with the resource providers outside of the bricks and mortar of their offices. This also provides us with the opportunity to redefine the power dynamics and equity of any room we create.

Closing the Loop: We view our neighborhood residents and business owners as partners and it is important to keep people informed, involved, and empowered. We close the loop on all interactions and data collections because we want to residents to understand their role and engage in our partnership.