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Angela Glover Blackwell: “Race, Place, and Poverty Intersect in New Orleans”

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO of PolicyLink, wrote an article “Race, Place, and Poverty Intersect in New Orleans” for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  She writes that as a society we must craft solutions to policy questions “based on a clear understanding of the connections among race, place, and poverty” and highlights  Promise and Choice Neighborhoods as vehicles for that agenda.

On Promise Neighborhoods, Blackwell points out that:

“The Promise Neighborhoods and Choice Neighborhoods initiatives leverage and combine the resources of programs that have historically operated in distinct spheres – neighborhoods and education in the case of Promise, and housing, transportation, economic development, and education in Choice – to break the cycle of generational poverty.”

For the entire article, click here.

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Choice Neighborhoods NOFA Released

The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued the FY 2010 Choice Neighborhoods Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) yesterday. Approximately $65 million is available, $3 million for planning grants and $62 million for implementation grants. Applicants are public housing authorities (PHAs), local governments, nonprofits and for-profit developers that apply jointly with a public entity. The application deadline is October 26, 2010.

The NOFA specifically mentions Promise Neighborhoods (and other Agency programs) as having funding priority:

Promise Neighborhoods grantees. HUD will set aside four Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants for those that received a Planning Grants from the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program for the same target neighborhood. You are eligible for this category preference if either (1) you received the Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grant or (2) you provide an MOU with the Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grant recipient. The MOU must indicate your commitment to coordinate planning and align resources to the greatest extent practicable.”

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Terrific op-ed in NYT today!

Please read this visionary and insightful op-ed today in the New York Times by Paul Tough, a former NYT Magazine writer and the author of ” “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.”

From the piece:

Children who live in the 300-plus low-income neighborhoods that are pursuing Promise Neighborhoods support are, on the whole, stuck. Every year, their schools and Head Start centers receive more federal money, and every year, things in their neighborhoods get worse. Rather than stick with the same strategies and hope things somehow magically change, Congress should find more room in the budget to support the Obama administration’s declared approach: to try new strategies and abandon failed ones; to expand and test programs with strong evidence of success, even if that evidence is inconclusive; and to learn from mistakes and make adjustments as we go.

Please read the whole thing here…and send it to your networks. This voice is too crucial to miss.

Full Funding for Promise Neighborhoods! A Guide to Setting Up District Meetings

PolicyLink has just released its Guide to Setting Up District Meetings - a tool to support and encourage individuals and organizations to meet with Congressional members while they are home for the August recess to show strong support for full funding for Promise Neighborhoods.

The short guide will help schedule, prepare for, and follow-up on district meetings with Senators and Representatives.
Included in the guide are:
  • the step-by-step process for setting up , preparing, in-meeting, and follow-up suggestions for meeting with the Member,
  • a Congressional Members list,
  • sample “meeting request” and “support” letters, and
  • helpful talking points.
For assistance or more information on the Guide, contact Kisasi Brooks at or 510-663-4340.

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DOE Launches 2nd Data Site – Ed Data Express

The DOE has launched Ed Data Express,, a site “aimed at making accurate and timely education data available in a single place.” This comes on the heels of another site launched earlier this summer that helps the public better understand the DOE’s activities,  decisions, funding, and outcomes through data.

Ed Data Express has multiple functions for looking at state level data – and seems like a pretty interactive site.

Let us know what you think!

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Great Summary of Past Month’s PN Happenings

The New America Foundation’s Early Ed Watch blog posted this yesterday – helpfully outlining a few of the past month’s activities in Promise Neighborhoods news.  They’ve inserted links to their prior posts within the post that are useful as well.

Scroll down to read the full post:

Some Updates on Promise Neighborhoods
by Maggie Severns/Early Ed Watch, The New America Foundation
August 10, 2010

We’ve been keeping an eye on the federal government’s new Promise Neighborhoods competitive grant program, which was allocated $10 million for fiscal year 2010. There are a few recent developments worth sharing:
Last week, the Department of Education released information on the 339 applicants who applied this spring for one-year planning grants. A searchable database of application summaries is available on You can search through the summaries using various filters, such as by region, by how many rural and tribal communities are applying for grants (the application gives these communities some priority in obtaining planning grants), or by how many institutes of higher education applied. Jenny Cohen, our colleague at New America, wrote a high-level analysis over at Ed Money Watch.

At the end of July, the Brookings Institution released a new analysis questioning the origin of the gains made at the Harlem Children’s Zone, which is widely viewed as the inspiration for the Promise Neighborhoods program. The Brookings report kicked up a lot of dust between education reformers and proponents of the Promise Neighborhoods approach. Geoffrey Canada responded that, among other problems, the analysis did not include outcomes for HCZ’s second charter school. The Brookings authors — Russ Whitehurst and Michelle Croft — came back with an updated analysis that continued to feed their argument. When comparing the test scores from HCZ charter schools with scores from other charter schools in New York City, Whitehurst and Croft ask a crucial question: Do children at the Harlem Children’s Zone charter schools outperform similar children at other charter schools in New York City on measures of math and language arts? Their analysis finds no evidence that this is the case, begging the question of what value is added by the community services that the HCZ provides in addition to the charter school.

Finally, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month that the Center for Family Services in Camden, New Jersey and La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark, New Jersey, will undergo a year-long planning mission with the Harlem Children’s Zone on how to implement the HCZ’s strategy in two local neighborhoods. This will be the most intensive training that the Harlem Children’s Zone has attempted so far.

We’ve been tracking whether Promise Neighborhoods and other early learning initiatives will get a boost in the fiscal year 2011 budget. And this fall, Early Ed Watch will be taking a longer look at community schools, such as those proposed in Promise Neighborhoods. Be sure to take a look at our in-depth analysis of these programs then.

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Department of Ed Releases List of i3 Winners!

The DOE has released its list of “highest-rated applicants” for the i3 (Investing in Innovation) federal grant program totalling $648.5 million.

The i3 grants are to “provide competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement and attainment in order to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.”

The Department has also created a summary document of the highest-rated applications and a 5-page FAQ on the highest rated applications.

The 49 winners will receive a their grants once they secure matching funds, and so far, 20 winners have secure the funds.

For more, check out the DOE site, or this post on the Ed Money Watch Blog – a part of the New America Foundation.

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Departments blog on Developing a National Urban Policy Agenda

Three White House officials, Thomas Abt, Chief of Staff to the Office of Justice ProgramsLarkin Tackett, the Deputy Director of Promise Neighborhoods at the Department of Education, and Luke Tate, Special Assistant to the Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development wrote a short blog post yesterday on the Office Of Urban Affairs website.  Their post is “part of a series of blogs that detail the work of developing a national urban policy agenda” including Promise Neighborhoods.

Check out the full text below:

Urban Update: Neighborhood Revitalization

Posted by Thomas Abt, Larkin Tackett and Luke Tate on August 03, 2010 at 04:37 PM EDT

In July 2007, then-Candidate Obama said “if poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence; failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works.”

For too long, structural inequalities compacted by federal, state, and local policies have isolated fragile neighborhoods from sources of capital and economic growth, leading to long-term, localized recessions that pre-date the current economic downturn.

In these neighborhoods, high unemployment rates, rampant crime, health disparities, high prevalence of substance abuse and mental health disorders, struggling schools and other ineffective institutions work in tandem to intensify the negative outcomes of growing up in poverty.  Conditions that would be challenging in isolation become overwhelming when interwoven throughout our most distressed neighborhoods.

To solve these interconnected problems, neighborhoods need interconnected solutions. And given the national scale of the problem, and the significant resources the Federal government already directs to distressed communities – albeit too often in inconsistent and uncoordinated manners – Federal leadership in neighborhood revitalization is necessary.

This is the charge of the Neighborhood Revitalization Working Group, led by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Treasury. This group is integrating housing, education, justice and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity – neighborhoods that provide the opportunities, resources, and environment for children, youth, and adults to maximize their life outcomes.

But that doesn’t mean we have all the answers. Our strategy reflects an awareness of the limits of Federal programs; indeed, the difficult process of solving interconnected problems in distressed neighborhoods has always happened at the local level, with dedicated, inventive leaders and practitioners adapting their tactics to changing conditions, rewriting rigorous community plans to target their efforts, and diligently managing those plans to achieve their vision. The Working Group is pursuing a new approach to Federal engagement with neighborhoods of concentrated poverty that is more interdisciplinary, coordinated, place-based, data- and results-driven, and flexible.

This new approach is reflected in our effort to coordinate several key programs:

(1) Choice Neighborhoods, a HUD program to transform distressed public and assisted housing into sustainable mixed-income housing that is physically and financially viable over the long-term;
(2) Promise Neighborhoods, an ED program that creates a comprehensive continuum of academic programs and family and community supports, with great schools at the center, that will significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children in the nation’s most distressed communities;
(3) Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation, a DOJ program with a community-based strategy that aims to control and prevent violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in designated high crime neighborhoods across the country;
(4) Community Health Centers, an HHS program that has for more than four decades provided comprehensive high-quality preventive and primary health care to America’s most medically underserved communities.

While federal programs alone cannot address the challenges faced in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, our hope is that the comprehensive integration of Neighborhood Revitalization programs at the Federal level will ultimately reflect the collaborative planning necessary at the local level.

Failing to address economic distress at the neighborhood level not only limits our pool of human capital and diminishes regional and national economic capacity, it also compounds harms to low-income families in ways that exacerbate disparities in our society.  To tap the full potential of these neighborhoods and their residents, revitalization efforts must connect neighborhoods to surrounding communities, local institutions, and regional economies in ways that make both local and regional economic growth and prosperity sustainable and equitable over the long term.

Thomas Abt is Chief of Staff to the Office of Justice Programs at Justice
Larkin Tackett is Deputy Director of Promise Neighborhoods at the Department of Education
Luke Tate is Special Assistant to the Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development”

Categories: Uncategorized Posts Abstracts for Each PN Applicant! has now hyperlinked each applicant to an abstract about their proposed Promise Neighborhood.  Scroll down past the map to the alphabetical listing of the applicants and click on the name of the applicant for more information.

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Mapping the Promise Neighborhoods Applicants

The Promise Neighborhoods movement can be seen nowhere more clearly than on this map. Look at the breadth and depth of the engagement, the interest, the passion.

All told, 339 communities applied for a total of $10 million in planning grants (270 urban communities, 48 rural, 21 tribal)

Did your community apply? Check out this interactive map to see.

View Promise Neighborhood Applicants in a larger map

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