The Housing and Urban Development Dept. names the final nine Promise Zones across the country – high poverty areas in select urban, rural and tribal communities – that will be eligible for additional federal aid to help in revitalization efforts.
“Promise Zones bring the power of partnership to a whole new level as we seek to bring opportunity to neighborhoods long locked out of their area’s prosperity,” said HUD Secy. Castro.
The 2016 designees are: Atlanta, Nashville, Evansville, IN, South Los Angeles, San Diego, Southwest Florida, Spokane Tribe of Indians-Washington, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians-North Dakota, and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. The newly designated Promise Zones join 13 others that President Obama designated in 2014 and 2015.
Through the Promise Zone Initiative, the federal government gives priority to grants applicants who are working will to improve the neighborhood within the promise zone. Efforts focus on improving educational opportunities, reducing crime and leveraging private investment.
As part of the program, up to five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members each year will deploy to each of the Promise Zones to support community goals and recruit and manage volunteers. These AmeriCorps VISTA members will build the capacity of each Promise Zone to coordinate stakeholders and implement a plan to achieve positive outcomes.
Previous designees were already making progress. These include:
- In Los Angeles, CA, AmeriCorps VISTA members serving with the L.A. Promise Zone helped secure a $100,000 grant, developed an informational video, and conducted a public education campaign to build support for the grant. The grant will provide Promise Zone youth with summer jobs as youth ethnographers who will engage their neighbors in quality of life assessments
- In San Antonio, the Promise Zone to Work Initiative was launched and has since provided free job training certifications in nursing, construction, manufacturing, information technology, and heavy equipment for 106 residents.
- In Kentucky, a new educational framework and support from AmeriCorps VISTA members helped lift the graduation rate at Leslie County High School from 67% to 98%. Plus, $42 million in education funding allowed students to attend college and supported much-needed mental health services.
This year’s winners were selected from 82 applications from 38 states and Puerto Rico. Each urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zone applicant was asked to put together a clear description of how the Promise Zone designation would accelerate and strengthen revitalization. Each Promise Zone will be coordinated by a lead community based organization.