State awards $800K in community empowerment grants to four Holyoke organizations

Holyoke City Hall

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STAFF REPORT

Published: 01-14-2024 2:13 PM

HOLYOKE — Four Holyoke organizations are among 67 across the state sharing part of more than $15 million from the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Program, which aims to bring positive economic outcomes to communities adversely impacted by the criminal justice system and poverty.

Gov. Maura Healey announced the grants to support economic opportunity last week.

“The Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Program is reshaping our communities by providing resources for programs that strengthen our communities through job training, small business support, housing stability, and more,” Healey said in a statement.

Enlace de Familias Holyoke/ Holyoke Family Network Inc. is the largest of the grant recipients in the city, getting $400,000 to support the Community Empowerment Lab, which will engage people in developing leadership and organizing skills and improving conditions for them, their families and their community.

As part of this, 30 adults will earn a 25-credit Community Leadership Certificate through Holyoke Community College and 30 Junior Youth Leaders will complete the nine-week Youth Empowering Youth leadership curriculum, complete the 12-week Generator entrepreneurship curriculum and complete a five-week internship in a nonprofit

Another grant went to the Hampden County Career Center Inc., doing business as MassHire Holyoke, which is getting $225,000 to build on the Pillars of the Community Workforce initiative that it launched with similar funding last year.

Using mobile lab equipment, MassHire Holyoke will offer employment and training services on site to agencies working within the court system, substance use disorder treatment centers, homeless shelters and other agencies in the poorest communities in Holyoke, as well as in Springfield and Chicopee.

Another grant is going to New North Citizens’ Council, which will get $100,000 for its New Life/NuevaVida program that will provide culturally and linguistically competent workforce development services to formerly incarcerated Black and Latino men in Holyoke and Springfield. The program will work with the Hampden County Correctional Center, workforce development organizations, community- and faith-based organizations, business associations, behavioral health care partners and business sponsors.

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Finally, Pa’lante Transformative Justice is receiving $75,000 that will formalize its long-term partnership with LightHouse Holyoke, an accredited nonprofit alternative secondary school that provides a transformative educational experience to youth at the highest risk for drop out from Holyoke and the surrounding areas. Pa’lante will place a full-time, experienced restorative justice coordinator at LightHouse.

Others receiving grants are Franklin County Community Development Corporation in Greenfield, getting $155,000 to help break the cycle of recidivism, and partnering with the Hampshire County House of Correction in Northampton, as well as Community Action Pioneer Valley, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office’s Kimball House Program, staffing agency Working Fields, the “pay-what-you-can” Stone Soup Café and community farm Just Roots to reduce barriers to employment and entrepreneurship for incarcerated people.

In Orange, LaunchSpace Inc is getting $75,000 for The Creative Sector Pathway Program transformative initiative designed to empower and uplift youth between the ages of 13 and 24.

“In Massachusetts, we are building an equitable economy that benefits everyone,” Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao said in a statement. “This program serves as a crucial mechanism for our administration to strategically invest in the fundamentals that enable economic growth. In collaboration with local leaders, we’re aiming to enhance the livelihood of residents and businesses for years to come.”