Boston – Dec. 12, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the Boston Housing Authority a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant to support the Whittier Neighborhood Transformation Plan, an initiative to revitalize the Whittier housing development and transform the surrounding Lower Roxbury neighborhood. As part of the grant, Boston-based nonprofit Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) will receive $3.1 million to extend its Mobility Mentoring program for a period of five years to 200 Whittier housing development residents.

The Whittier Neighborhood Transformation Plan is the result of three years of community and partner engagement to address longstanding challenges of poverty and lack of opportunity for residents of Whittier Street and their low-income neighbors. As a recipient of the HUD grant, the Boston Housing Authority will work with key housing, education, city and community groups to implement a five-year strategic plan to create new housing and educational opportunities for the community.

“The Whittier Neighborhood Transformation Plan will create opportunities for families to succeed within their own neighborhood, offering affordable housing choices close to employers,” said Judy Parks, Vice President of Mobility Mentoring Programs and Services at EMPath. “A housing-based approach can have a transformative effect on individual progress toward economic independence. When you start with the neighborhood as the foundation for economic mobility, you help individuals build vital social networks within their community.”

In collaboration with the Boston Housing Authority and other partners, EMPath developed a strategy to provide full coaching services to Whittier Street residents. A Mobility Mentor will lead a team working with each family before, during and after the revitalization of the housing development, working closely with Housing Opportunities Unlimited (HOU) to ensure all households understand their range of housing options and receive the necessary support, such as assistance with school transfers, to relocate successfully.

“We have relied on EMPath as a key strategic partner in helping us to secure funding that will catalyze opportunities for the Whittier community,” said Kate Bennett, deputy administrator for planning and sustainability at the BHA. “We were greatly impressed by EMPath’s track record for improving outcomes in earnings, educational attainment and family stability in extremely low-income families with its Mobility Mentoring approach. That’s why we made Mobility Mentoring the cornerstone of the Whittier income-generation and asset-building plan. Using this innovative coaching model, EMPath’s Mobility Mentors will work with residents to achieve greater economic mobility.

“Mobility Mentoring has shown dramatic results, with almost 80 percent of participating adults achieving upward mobility,” said EMPath President and CEO Elisabeth Babcock. “The partnership with BHA and our collaboration on the Whittier Neighborhood Transformation Plan allows us to support even more individuals and families on their path to self-sufficiency.”

Based on the success of its initial pilot program, EMPath began to expand Mobility Mentoring to all of its long- and short-term economic mobility programs in 2011, serving an average of 1,400 participants a year. To extend its Mobility Mentoring services to the 200 residents of Whittier Street, EMPath plans to create positions for five new mobility mentors, along with bolstering its Mobility Mentoring Center and research team.

Mobility Mentoring is also scaling across the country and beyond through EMPath’s Economic Mobility Exchange, a network of more than 50 member organizations committed to learning how they can use the coaching model to improve their practices. In the last year, member organizations across three countries and 21 states, including more than a dozen groups in Massachusetts, implemented programming serving more than 10,000 adults and 5,500 children using Mobility Mentoring inspired tools and approaches.

EMPath’s metric-based, mentor-led, incentivized program model offers a viable roadmap that is recalibrating the way governments, nonprofit organizations, and policy makers approach their work with low-income families. For almost a decade, the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency® and the Mobility Mentoring® service platform have been guiding low-income families toward economic independence. Participants have used EMPath’s tools to increase their incomes, secure permanent housing, attain education, and establish themselves in careers that help them break the cycle of poverty.