President Obama names eight additional “Promise Zones” across the country, including six urban centers, which will give them a better shot at federal funding and support partnerships with schools, school districts and community-based nonprofit organizations.
The communities were selected from 123 applications from 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The Promise Zones will be coordinated by a lead community-based organization in partnership with HUD and DoEd. Promise Zones receive priority access to federal investments and federal project officers. They also qualify for five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of Promise Zone initiatives.
A range of federal funding has been directed at the designees. School districts within the new DoEd Promise Zones last year won $4.7 million through the Full-Service Community Schools grants competition (CFDA Number: 84.215J). Funding helps improve the quality of elementary and secondary education and bolster community-wide, comprehensive services for students, families and their communities. A new round of those grants is to open later this year.
The new Promise Zone designees are: Sacramento, Hartford, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Camden, the South Carolina Low Country and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
They join five others that Obama designated in January 2014 — Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Much of the work has been education focused. In the Los Angeles Promise Zone, for instance, work that began with the Promise Neighborhoods educational initiative has increased college preparedness among high school graduates by 63%, now exceeding the city school district average. In the San Antonio Promise Zone, efforts launched through Promise Neighborhoods and Choice Neighborhoods helped to increase the local high school’s graduation rates from 46% to 84%.
Additional Detail: A competition to select a third round of Promise Zones will open later this year.