Boston Fed Tries Social Activism With 'Working Cities Challenge'

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The Federal Reserve Bank in Boston is shown in 2011. (AP)
The Federal Reserve Bank in Boston is shown in 2011. (AP)

The Federal Reserve Bank typically only gets headlines for its Delphic-like prognostications on the economy and periodic decisions about interest rates.

But this winter, the Boston branch of the Fed attracted attention when it made a rare move into social activism: it's administering $1.8 million in grants to six distressed cities in Massachusetts to try to help them get back on track: Chelsea ($225k), Fitchburg ($4ook), Holyoke ($250k), Lawrence ($700k), Salem ($100k) and Somerville ($100k).

The program is called the Working Cities Challenge, and WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer spoke about the effort with the head of the Boston Fed.


Eric Rosengren, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston


Boston Globe "The program is aimed at building civic leadership and encouraging collaboration among local governments, businesses, and nonprofits to improve their communities and come up with new ways to meet the needs of economically struggling residents."

New York Times "It represents a new, untested approach for the Fed, which has been widely criticized for bailing out Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis, but leaving Main Street to fend for itself."

This segment aired on February 10, 2014.

Headshot of Sacha Pfeiffer

Sacha Pfeiffer Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.



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