Achieving Today. Sustaining for the Future.
The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

Grants Made in 2016

Grants Made in 2016$2,435,666
A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 4 $400,480
Partnership for Refugee Wellness - Pilot Grant$456,695
ReImagine North of Main - Implementation, Year 1$450,000
Wiser Women$50,435
Worcester HEARS - Implementation, Year 1$401,050
Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry - Implementation, Year 4$123,771
Worcester Regional Food Hub - Pilot $423,235
Title:A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 4 Amount:$400,480
Recipient:Worcester Housing Authority
Grant Type: Synergy Initiative - A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way
ABL is moving into its fourth year of full implementation. In 2015, ABL began serving residents in their state properties and had 40 families enrolled. Effective September 1, 2015, all families living in state-supported public housing are required to work or go to school. This mandate impacts about 500 families in Worcester, though families are not required to enroll in ABL. The WHA is encouraging them to enroll so they can receive the support and assistance that will enable them to comply with this requirement and avoid possible loss of their housing. WHA has received funding from the Department of Housing and Community Development for additional family life coaches to work with families in the state properties.

ABL is continuing to work with families from the first two cohorts of participants. One is the voluntary group that was started in 2013 which has six participants remaining. The second cohort was started in 2014, and their participation was mandated as a condition of their lease. About 25 families remain in this cohort.

Outcomes through December 1, 2015 indicate that ABL is effectively helping residents move to self-sufficiency. More than 70 percent of participants were employed as of that date up from 42 percent at enrollment in the program; Almost 60 percent of participants were employed full time vs. only 22 percent at enrollment; Average annual wages increased to $25,625 from $17,505 and more than 45 percent of participants were enrolled in an educational program vs. about 12 percent at enrollment.

Project Director: Mr. Alex Corrales
Fiscal Agent: The Worcester Housing Authority
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Title:Partnership for Refugee Wellness - Pilot GrantAmount:$456,695
Recipient:Ascentria Community Services
Grant Type: Synergy Initiative - Partnership for Refugee Wellness
Ascentria Care Alliance (ACA) will pilot a new model for 20 refugee families to enable better integration into the community. Each family will work with a case manager to define their resettlement needs as well as their goals and objectives and a service plan will be developed. The outcomes will be compared to a similar group of refugee families being resettled in Westfield.

ACA will partner with Family Health and the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, the other two resettlement agencies (Catholic Charities and RIAC), as well as Community Legal Aid, the Worcester Public Schools and Workforce Central to provide services to these families in a collaborative and coordinated way.

ACA will also work with select Mutual Assistance Associations to explore and share best practices currently being used by these various organizations with the objective of validating and replicating them across the community. This will help all of the organizations working with refugees to do a better job of integrating them into the community.

Project Director: Mr. Tim Johnstone
Fiscal Agent: Ascentria Care Alliance
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Title:ReImagine North of Main - Implementation, Year 1Amount:$450,000
Recipient:Montachusett Opportunity Council
Grant Type: Synergy Initiative - ReImagine North of Main
ReImagine North of Main is moving into its first full year of implementation. This project has developed a strong leadership team that includes the City of Fitchburg, Fitchburg State University, the Fitchburg Public Schools, the Montachusett Opportunity Council and NewVue Communities. This team spent the pilot year developing goals and strategies in six domains (listed below). The signature project(s) in each domain are:

- Economic Development: support the City’s creation of a business-friendly economic development plan that will highlight Main Street;
- Education: provide software and at-home support to increase youth literacy rates;
- Housing: support for the creation of artist housing/work space in the B.F. Brown building and for a housing plan for the neighborhood;
- Quality of Life: creation of a communications campaign to improve the way people feel about the neighborhood;
- Resident Engagement: build a network of engaged neighborhood residents through leadership training and neighborhood circle events, and
- Resident Self-Sufficiency: design of a cross-sector universal referral system for the various social service organizations that serve the neighborhood residents.

This project has also been funded by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston through their Working Cities program.

Project Director: Ms. Patricia A. Pistone
Fiscal Agent: Montachusett Opportunity Council
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Title:Wiser WomenAmount:$50,435
Recipient:Advocates, Inc.
Grant Type: Synergy Initiative - Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry (WISR)
Advocates is conducting a six-month pilot of the Wiser Women model. This pilot will be based on the successful WISR model and adapted to meet the unique needs of women. Wiser Women will build upon current programming that is available to the women at MCI-Framingham, the South Middlesex Correctional Center and the Women's Correctional Center (Chicopee).

The reentry navigators will work to help these women bridge the gap in services and supports that exists for women as they come back into the community. The planning effort for Wiser Women indicated that women are likely to need more intensive services, so the case load of the staff will be lower than that for Wiser Men. Advocates anticipates recruiting 15 women returning to Worcester for this pilot and plans to evaluate it based on predictive factors that have been shown to reduce recidivism rates among men.

Project Director: Ms. Opal R. Stone
Fiscal Agent: Advocates, Inc.
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Title:Worcester HEARS - Implementation, Year 1Amount:$401,050
Recipient:Worcester Public Schools
Grant Type: Synergy Initiative - Worcester HEARS
The Worcester Public Schools (WPS) is planning to implement a research-based set of interventions related to trauma-sensitive education and resiliency. WPS will work with community partners and parents to create more effective, supportive and safe school environments and improve student performance.

All of the staff at five schools -- Rice Square elementary, Grafton Street elementary, Roosevelt elementary, City View elementary and Worcester East Middle School -- will participate in Worcester HEARS (Worcester's Healthy Environments and Resilience in Schools Initiative). In addition, school leaders (principals, adjustment counselors) and teachers who are interested will be able to participate in a series of courses in trauma-sensitive education offered through Lesley University. The Worcester Education Collaborative (WEC) will lead the efforts to involve parents and to partner with various community organizations including Clark University, Community Heathlink, You Inc., and Family Health Center in effective ways to support children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Outcomes that will be monitored include attendance, academic performance and teacher turnover. In addition, a school climate assessment will be completed at baseline and again as the project is implemented.

Project Director: Dr. Marco C. Rodrigues
Fiscal Agent: Worcester Public Schools
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Title:Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry - Implementation, Year 4Amount:$123,771
Recipient:Advocates, Inc.
Grant Type: Synergy Initiative - Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry (WISR)
In this final implementation year, Advocates will continue the Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry (WISR) and the Wiser Men projects as well as plan for a Wiser Women program. In addition to their ongoing programming efforts, Advocates has been doing extensive advocacy work with state officials to ensure the sustainability of reentry programming.

This year, Advocates will monitor the outcomes for the WISR participants, a total of 166 men returning to the Worcester area from jail or prison. They will continue their partnership with the Worcester County Sheriff's Office to implement a region-wide reentry program -- Wiser Men. The goal of Wiser Men is to develop and implement a collaborative and comprehensive system of reentry strategies to reduce recidivism by 50 percent. Finally, Advocates will complete the planning for Wiser Women. This will allow Advocates to develop a program for women that can be piloted locally and implemented statewide.

WISR's education and advocacy efforts have been successful in reaching a number of area legislators and administration officials. WISR has provided information for the Senate's proposed criminal justice reform agenda and has worked with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to change the work done through the Community Corrections Centers and increase the focus on reentry.

Project Director: Ms. Diane E. Gould
Fiscal Agent: Advocates, Inc.
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Title:Worcester Regional Food Hub - Pilot Amount:$423,235
Recipient:Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts
Grant Type: Synergy Initiative - Worcester Regional Food Hub
The Regional Environmental Council (REC) and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce (WRCC) will pilot a virtual food hub in 2016 that will encompass services in three broad areas: workforce development, support for farmers and food access.

The workforce development activities will include partnering with Quinsigamond Community College to set up a culinary training program to offer a variety of food service certifications for those seeking work in the food service industry, especially those unemployed or underemployed. It will also include the establishment of a food service business incubator using the certified commercial kitchen space available at the Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB) for local entrepreneurs interested in starting a food related business.

The support for farmers will include the ability to do some product processing and storage using the WCFB kitchen. The hub will work with a small number of farmers to assist with aggregation and distribution of their crops for larger institutional purchasers such as area colleges and hospitals. The hub will also aggregate produce from a few farms that will be frozen for sale in the off-season by using the flash freezing equipment available at the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center in Greenfield.

With regard to access to healthy foods by those who are currently underserved, the food hub will continue to work with the Worcester DPH on their ongoing corner store initiative and will expand REC's mobile market.

Co-Project Director: Mr. Steven D. Fischer, Regional Environmental Counci
Co-Project Director: Mr. Timothy P. Murray, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Fiscal Agent: Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts
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