USDA and HUD have open a comment period to accept the public input on ways to improve the Promise Zone Initiative selection process. Designated zones have a better shot at federal funding and support partnerships with schools, school districts and community-based nonprofit organizations.
Public Comment Deadline: Sept. 28.
The third and final round of the Promise Zones competition will open in the fall. The agency is looking feedback and suggestions on how the administration can better support communities to jumpstart education, economic development, job creation and public safety.
Although there is no monetary value in the designation, 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.
President Obama recently named eight new “Promise Zones” across the country, including six urban centers. The communities were selected from 123 applications from 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. A range of federal funding has been directed at past designees. School districts within the new 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.
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%.