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Accomplishments and Initiatives

staff looking over basketball court

Change for the Good

Through the University Park Partnership and Main South Community Development Corporation, neighbors work with Clark to develop and implement initiatives that result in significant changes in the community surrounding the campus.

Below, explore our accomplishments over more than three decades.

In the 1990s, Clark University and the Main South Community Development Corporation (CDC) recognized that home ownership was critical to neighborhood stability. Poorly managed, multi-unit housing was the cause of many problems for residents and a major contributor to blight in Main South.

To overcome this challenge, the Main South CDC bought dilapidated housing, converted it into clean, safe, affordable units, and then helped residents buy or rent. Clark supported this effort by offering a line of credit to the Main South CDC in the early years of development.

In addition, Clark offers one of the most aggressive home-buying incentive programs in the country to encourage faculty and staff to move into the neighborhood.

Among the results:

  • Main South CDC has renovated more than 200 units of housing, sold 30 homes to first-time homeowners, and used more than $18 million in grants and housing tax credits.
  • The Main South CDC manages these units, which currently have a 90 percent occupancy rate and a waiting list of families.
  • Eighteen properties were renovated and sold to first-time homebuyers.
  • Approximately 22 Clark faculty and staff have bought homes in the neighborhood through the University’s incentive program.
  • Clark’s president lives in the Francis A. Harrington House, located on Main South’s historic Woodland Street, reflecting the University’s commitment to the University Park Partnership.
  • Clark also purchased and rehabilitated several other properties on the perimeter of campus. These buildings have been integrated architecturally and aesthetically into the Clark campus and are used for the University’s educational purposes.
  • A Center for Community Revitalization was established in a rehabilitated office building in Main South. The center houses the Main South CDC offices, community meeting rooms, economic and business development services, computer training for neighborhood residents, and affordable day care for neighborhood residents and Clark faculty, staff, and graduate students.

Educational excellence is key to long-term, sustainable change, and is essential to the success of any community. Top-quality public education, coupled with access to the vibrant intellectual life of Clark University, is a powerful incentive for homeownership.

Among the benefits:

  • Clark offers free tuition to residents who meet the University’s admissions requirements and who have lived in the University Park Partnership’s targeted Main South neighborhood for at least five years.
  • Clark faculty teach seminars for UPCS students, and UPCS juniors and seniors earn college credit by taking courses at Clark.
  • Neighborhood residents attend UPP-sponsored adult education, including GED, English as a Second Language I and II, and computer training.
  • Public school teachers in Main South and throughout Worcester receive professional development through Clark.

Stimulating economic growth and opportunity is also a focus of the UPP. Financing and technical assistance have helped open businesses in Main South, while training and other services help neighborhood residents seeking better jobs.

Among the initiatives:

  • Small-business loans from a revolving loan pool administered by the Main South CDC are a resource for new business owners.
  • The Main South CDC works with Clark’s Graduate School of Management and the Small Business Development Center, a state-funded center based at Clark, to provide technical assistance to small-business owners.
  • The Main South Workforce Development Training Center, located in the Center for Community Revitalization at the Main South CDC, helps neighborhood residents and area businesses with employment needs.

One of the University Park Partnership’s most ambitious initiatives was the Gardner-Kilby-Hammond Street Revitalization Project, which transformed one of the most distressed areas of the neighborhood back into a thriving community.

A unique collaboration among the Main South Community Development Corporation, Clark University, the Boys and Girls Club, and the city of Worcester, this project involved extensive land acquisition, remediation of industrial brownfield sites, and demolition of old facilities.

This $40-million initiative included:

  • Approximately 60 new homeownership opportunities and affordable rental properties managed and/or offered by the Main South CDC.
  • A new $8 million Boys and Girls Club to serve children in Main South. The new building, which accommodates 400 children and serves up to 5,000 young people, includes a gymnasium, learning center, and Olympic-size swimming pool.
  • New athletic fields, which are used by Clark’s intercollegiate and intramural teams, the Boys and Girls Club, and the community.
  • A Center for Community Revitalization that serves the area.

The partnership between Clark and the Boys and Girls Club has provided opportunities to bring together Clark students and neighborhood children as part of the University Park Partnership’s goal to keep children and teens active in educational and recreational activities throughout the year.

Clark welcomes neighborhood residents and their children onto the University campus. Residents attend a wide variety of events at Clark and enjoy the University’s facilities and quiet, green spaces.

Examples include:

  • A free summer recreation program, serving more than 150 neighborhood children, is held on the Clark campus every year. Clark staff coordinate the program, Clark students serve as counselors, and University Park Campus School students serve as junior counselors.
  • A free music program offered through Clark and run by a Clark faculty member offers instrument lessons to neighborhood children. Clark students also help with this program.
  • In addition to attending campus events, most of which are free, neighborhood residents use the Goddard Library and Kneller Athletic Center.
  • A church basketball league, supported by Clark, serves more than 500 area children, including approximately 200 from the Main South neighborhood.

Clark’s involvement with the University Park Partnership (UPP) is a natural outgrowth of the University’s tradition of social activism and its reputation for finding creative, unconventional solutions to real-world problems. Clark students, faculty, and alumni are involved with community organizations and neighborhood initiatives. UPP has inspired even more of these activities and created new opportunities for community involvement at Clark.

Among these are:

  • Clark’s Community Engagement and Volunteering Center serves as a central hub on campus for the University’s long-standing volunteer efforts.
  • Urban Development and Social Change (UDSC), an academic concentration for Clark undergraduates, is a direct result of the University’s involvement with UPP.
  • Clark students are regular fixtures at the University Park Campus School (UPCS). They complete teaching internships there, staff the homework center, and serve as mentors to UPCS students.
  • Clark athletes tutor UPCS students in math and read to children at the nearby Goddard School.
  • All Kinds of Girls, a student-run program, matches Worcester girls, ages 9 to 12, with Clark students for mentorship.