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  3. Promise Neighborhoods: A Federal and Local Level Collaborative Effort

Promise Neighborhoods: A Federal and Local Level Collaborative Effort

Lessons Learned

Learn more about the lessons learned through the Promise Neighborhoods program at the local and federal level.

Recognition of complex and varied work is essential for managing multiple unique grantees

The Promise Neighborhoods initiative aims to address distressed neighborhoods facing a range of risk factors, and strives to take a comprehensive approach to finding supports to help children, youth, families, and communities.

As place-based programs, Promise Neighborhoods are unique and varied in their approaches. Promise Neighborhoods grantees include both rural and urban locations, and are led by established universities with already-developed strong infrastructures, and by smaller non-profit organizations that rely more heavily on strong partnerships and community involvement, among other entities. At the federal level, the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) recognizes the unique aspects of each Promise Neighborhood and uses a variety of approaches to support these programs. This includes establishing communities of practice so grantees can learn from each other and others in the field, supporting multiple technical assistance providers with a range of expertise to address challenges faced by grantees, and close ongoing communication between project officers and grantees to understand their unique needs. 

Learn more about the multiple mechanisms for communication and the technical assistance providers that the OII uses to support grantees.

Developing a longitudinal data system and sharing data can pose challenges

Establishing a data system and sharing data between partners to support youth, families, and communities from cradle to career is a central part of the Promise Neighborhoods project, but it can be challenging. To make data-based decisions and assess progress it is important to have individually identified student-level data, but federal privacy regulations can make this difficult. Developing longitudinal data-systems that have the ability to track these students over time also poses technical as well as practical challenges. While Promise Neighborhood grantees recognize these challenges, they also recognize the importance of data and are all actively making plans for and doing the work needed to advance this activity with the guidance and support of various technical assistance providers.  

One grantee, Northside Achievement Zone, was able to address the challenge of sharing data by having each family sign an agreement that allows its child’s data to be shared in a secure way across partners. Other grantees are working on ways to use technology to protect the identities of children in the program, while still capturing important information on the outcome indicators of interest.

Communities need support to create sustained financial resources, community engagement, and partnerships

While Promise Neighborhood programs have seen success with integrating multiple funding sources, establishing buy-in in their community, and establishing strong connections with partners, these efforts have also been challenging. To be sustainable and successful in planning and implementation, grantees must continuously work to establish financial resources, generate community engagement, and maintain partnerships. As they work through these challenges, grantees have been able to reach out to their project officers at ED and the network of technical assistance providers enlisted to support their efforts and ensure they have the ongoing capacity to carry out their work.

Learn more about the technical assistance providers available to support grantees.