SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Springfield business helping employers and residents navigate this new economic landscape has received a community empowerment and re-investment grant.

Springfield WORKS received their second community empowerment grant in January of 2023. The group partners with local agencies to remove systemic and racial barriers and creates pathways to economic opportunity. This grant will allow them to connect the community to local resources.

They work with agencies like Helix Human Services and Holyoke Community College to develop online platforms to identify different services and make referrals to partner organizations.

“Investments in collaborations that actually bring the voices of the community to the table are exactly what we need here,” said Springfield WORKS Executive Director Anne Kandilis.

In order to find ways to make these changes in the city, Springfield WORKS conducted an assessment with residents to learn how organizations can help them. From that, they learned that nearly half of people with criminal backgrounds are still jobless a year after leaving prison which impacts communities of color. Nearly 40 percent of people who were incarcerated did not know how to find local resources.

Now, clients will have a place to go to seek help with employment barriers and help connect them to community resources so that they can reach their employment goals.