MIT @ Lawrence

MIT@Lawrence is a long-term commitment to support dynamic and mutually beneficial relationships between faculty, students, and staff at MIT, together with civic leaders, residents, and community-based organizations in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The MIT@Lawrence commitment includes service learning, technical assistance, and community-based service projects in three program areas: affordable housing, community asset-building, and youth pathways to career and education. These areas promise opportunities for action-oriented scholarship through university-community engagement for the purpose of contributing to an equitable and sustainable future in the City of Lawrence. MIT@Lawrence aims to establish a self-sustaining network for reciprocal knowledge transfer and innovation amongst scholars, practitioners, and residents in the MIT and Lawrence communities.

Knowledge gained from this research is incorporated into teaching and shared with students in seminars, discussions, and classes. Students - undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. degree candidates - are encouraged to join faculty in this broad research agenda.


The partnership was founded by then-professor Lorlene Hoyt.  The program's Interim Program Director is Ezra Glenn.

Lawrence is home to a burgeoning network of civic leaders and organizations dedicated to building the city's capacity and effecting long-term change. Their commitment is both the inspiration for and the force behind MIT@Lawrence.


Lawrence is a small, ethnically diverse city 30 miles north of Boston. It lies along the Merrimack River, which has strong currents that prompted investors to plan and build an industrial city there in the early 1800s. The large, brick textile mills are the central physical feature of Lawrence to this day.

Lawrence and its residents face challenging economic and political conditions, stemming from this industrial legacy and subsequent economic and demographic upheavals. There are many small cities like Lawrence throughout the Northeast and Midwest; cities that were industrial powerhouses but now face uncertain futures.


Since 2002, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) has offered a service-learning course in partnership with community organizations, residents, and youth in Lawrence. In 2005, MIT and its community partners secured financial and in-kind commitments from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to build on these relationships and support the creation of additional connections between MIT and Lawrence. A growing network of MIT alumni living and working in Lawrence provides additional community support for this project.