Promise Neighborhoods: A Federal and Local Level Collaborative Effort
The Promise Neighborhoods grant program was established in 2010 under the legislative authority of the Fund for the Improvement of Education Program (FIE) and is administered through the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) within the Department of Education (ED). The program builds on the experience of initiatives such as the Harlem Children’s Zone and is the realization of President Obama’s vision for taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing generational family and community poverty.
There are two types of Promise Neighborhood grants—planning and implementation.
The Promise Neighborhoods planning grants focus on understanding the needs in a targeted geographic area and developing a sound structure and plan to implement a continuum of supports that address the identified needs in that neighborhood. The planning phase includes the following components:
- Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and segmentation of children and youth in the neighborhood.
- Develop a plan to deliver a continuum of solutions with the potential to drive results. This includes building community support for, and involvement in, the development of the plan.
- Establish effective partnerships both to provide solutions along the continuum and to commit resources to sustain and scale up what works.
- Plan, build, adapt, or expand a longitudinal data system that will provide information that the grantee will use for learning, continuous improvement, and accountability.
- Participate in a community of practice.1
The Promise Neighborhoods implementation grants support eligible organizations in carrying out plans to create a continuum of solutions that will significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in a target neighborhood. The implementation phase includes the following components:
- Implement a continuum of solutions that addresses neighborhood challenges, as identified through a needs assessment and segmentation analysis, and that will improve results for children and youth in the neighborhood.
- Continue to build and strengthen partnerships that will provide solutions along the continuum of solutions and that will commit resources to sustain and scale up what works.
- Collect data on indicators at least annually, and use and improve a longitudinal data system for learning, continuous improvement, and accountability.
- Demonstrate progress on goals for improving systems, such as making changes in policies and organizations, and by leveraging resources to sustain and scale up what works.
- Participate in a community of practice.2
Organizations that are eligible for Promise Neighborhood grants include nonprofit organizations (this may include faith-based nonprofit organizations);3 institutions of higher education4; and Indian tribes. Learn more about eligibility for Promise Neighborhood grants on ED’s website.
For both planning and implementation grants, a Promise Neighborhood is defined as both a place and a strategy. Promise Neighborhoods are places or distressed neighborhoods that are characterized by
- inadequate access to high-quality early learning programs and services;
- struggling schools;
- low high-school and college graduation rates;
- high rates of unemployment;
- high rates of crime; and
- indicators of poor health.
The program is also a strategy for addressing the issues that these communities face through a continuum of cradle-to-career solutions. Great schools are at the center of this effort. Other essential components of this effort include
- a focus on identifying and building the capacity of eligible organizations;
- high-quality early learning programs;
- interventions and services that support multiple domains of early learning for children from birth through third grade; and
- ambitious, rigorous, and comprehensive education reforms that are linked to improved educational outcomes for children and youth in preschool through the 12th grade.
While not requirements, Promise Neighborhoods also aim to contribute to broader neighborhood revitalization strategies by breaking down public agency silos, addressing regulatory and policy barriers, and leveraging and integrating existing investments in the community.
In 2010, the Promise Neighborhoods program awarded one-year grants to eligible entities in 21 communities across the country. In 2011, the Department of Education awarded a second round of planning grants and a first round of implementation grants. The five implementation grants and 15 planning grants will reach an additional 16 communities throughout the United States. As of the spring of 2012, the Promise Neighborhoods program is in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
1 ,2 U.S. Department of Education (2012). Applications for new awards; Promise Neighborhoods program—planning grant competition. Federal Register, 77(77), 23690-23704. Retrieved from http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-04-20/pdf/2012-9595.pdf
3 Nonprofit organizations that meet the definition of a nonprofit under 34 CFR 77.1(c).
4 Institutions of higher education as defined by section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.