Building Community Wealth

North Central Mass Anchor Collaborative

A region's largest employers can use their purchasing power, their employment practices, and their investment in community services to impact the economic and social wellbeing of the community both inside and outside the institutions' walls. The North Central Massachusetts Anchor Collaborative is doing just that.

In 2021, the Health Equity Partnership (CHNA9) launched the North Central Mass Anchor Collaborative, with seed funding from a Determination of Need (DON) grant from UMass Memorial Health - Health Alliance-Clinton Hospital and guidance from the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN), the national thought leader behind the anchor mission framework.

An Anchor Collaborative is a long-term partnership of anchor institutions - large, place-based institutions for which the vitality of the local economy is integral to their institutional wellbeing. Anchor institutions thrive when the community in which they are rooted is thriving. Sometimes referred to as "eds and meds," they are often education and healthcare institutions along with other human service organizations. They are distinctive in that they both employ and serve large numbers of people in their local communities.

The Healthcare Anchor Network was formed in 2017, with UMass Memorial Health as one of its founding members. The North Central Mass Anchor Collaborative became an early adopter and is one of the first Anchor Collaboratives to include institutions other than healthcare and higher ed. Founding partners are Community Health Connections, Fitchburg State University, Gardner Public Schools, Heywood Healthcare, LUK, and UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital.

Our Mission

The Anchor Collaborative envisions a mutually beneficial partnership between community-based organizations and the anchor institutions in the region that will catalyze a culture of social and economic equity and growth in our neighborhoods and institutions.

Anchor Institutions have the power to stabilize and rebuild local communities through:

  • Local skill development, hiring, retention, and advancement strategies
  • Local purchasing and investment
  • Being thought leaders, building shared values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the local community

Anchor Collaboratives

Anchor Collaboratives align anchor institutions to:North Central Mass Anchor Collaborative

  • Create jobs
  • Increase incomes
  • Invest in communities
  • Spur communities to invest in themselves

Anchor Collaboratives have the power to tackle systems that shape access to housing, health, education, public infrastructure, and other life essentials and to shift local cultural norms.


An anchor mission seeks to…

  • Develop local human assets: Shifting the focus from attracting talent to developing it locally through education, employment, and training opportunities.
  • Support community leadership: Lowering barriers to civic engagement and opening doors to community leadership positions. People stay where they feel supported, engaged, and welcomed.
  • Support local business: Supporting employee-owned businesses, buying local, partnering with local businesses, and working to be good neighbors to local businesses. 
  • Support community assets: Promoting and increasing access to local resources and affinity groups. Creating new resources in response to community needs.

Resources for the North Central Massachusetts Anchor Collaborative

  • A Primer for Multi-Sector Health Partnerships in Rural Areas and Small Cities
  • The Role of Business in Supporting a Thriving Natural World In this time of great changes to our climate, businesses CAN work to help enrich the lives of people, enhance community well-being, and ensure a healthy natural environment. It is vital to ensure that operations, products, and services protect our natural world and lift up people with low incomes and communities of color.
  • Open for Business Hub - The Open for Business Hub is the landing zone for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs interested in this program. This hub is constantly updated with resources and a list of upcoming webinars, which are typically held weekly.