MIT @ Lawrence

MIT@Lawrence was 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 partnership was founded by then-professor Lorlene Hoyt and was most active from 1999-2012.

The MIT@Lawrence commitment included 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 promised 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.

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

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.


Between 2002-2012 the Department of Urban Studies and Planning 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.