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Cool Projects Planned in Del Norte, CA, including a Promise Neighborhood!

Del Norte county has lots of plans to use funds from the California Endowment strategically to fund early childhood programs, expand access to healthy, affordable food, and improve schools. One of their projects? A Promise Neighborhood in Klamath!

Read the news in the Daily Triplicate here.

We’re thrilled to see this kind of community action, and can’t wait to see how things turn out in the beautiful Redwoods in Northern CA.

Babe the Blue Ox, Klamath, CA

Categories: Uncategorized

White House Cites Promise Neighborhoods as Key to Winning the Future

In a press release yesterday on improving educational opportunities and outcomes for Latino students, the White House lists three Promise Neighborhoods as examples of excellence in President Obama’s agenda to win the future.

From the press release:

•The Eastside Promise Neighborhood project in San Antonio, where the United Way will enlist and engage partners to work with five schools and an early childhood center serving an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a Hispanic majority and a growing Mexican immigrant population.  This project will improve parent engagement, provide professional development to preschool and school staff, and deliver resources for economic redevelopment and housing.

• The Community Day Care Center in Lawrence, MA, which will work with several schools to develop sustainable educational supports and solutions in a community that is 68% Hispanic, and in which 40% of adults lack a high school diploma.

• Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission, which will work in the 30-block Boyle Heights area in Los Angeles, a community where more than 90% of residents are Hispanic and one-third of families are below the poverty line.

You can also read the press release in Spanish, courtesy of

Jimmy Fallon Thinks Geoffrey Canada is “So Cool”!

Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone Geoffrey Canada is cool, and not just because he was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night talking up Promise Neighborhoods! (He’s also just tweeted for the first time.)

Canada spoke about the importance of Promise Neighborhoods in helping to realize the potential of all kids in America. The audience responded with resounding applause, and Jimmy Fallon was visibly impressed and awed. Check it out for yourself!

Eyes on Atlanta: Choice and Promise Join Forces

Atlanta is getting a a full suite of federal resources to help revitalize the University Center neighborhood. Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, wrote a piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that clearly states the importance of Choice and Promise Neighborhood funding, as well as the need for interagency approaches. Neighborhood revitalization will not happen simply by working to improve housing, nor by solely addressing the needs of schools.

They write:

“We believe Atlanta represents one powerful example of how the administration’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative is helping government invest smarter and more effectively — so we do more of what works and stop doing what doesn’t. This approach recognizes that all of us — government, businesses, schools and communities — are responsible for preparing students in every neighborhood to compete in the 21st century.”

“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.” --Barack Obama

Why is “Race” Such a Difficult Word?

Lobbyist and historian John Thompson has a piece in the Huffington Post today that sums up an important issue raised by two other powerful thinkers on the impact of race and poverty on a child’s ability to succeed: we can’t leave race and class out of the education discussion just because they’re hard to talk about!

Paul Tough, author of Whatever It Takes, the story of Geoffrey Canada’s work in creating the Harlem Children’s Zone, has an article in the current New Yorker about a doctor in the most distressed neighborhood of San Francisco who sees firsthand the very real way that childhood traumas affect not only mental health, but physical health as well.

Deborah Meier, the founder of Central Park East I and Central Park East Secondary School, innovative schools in New York’s East Harlem, writes in a recent blog post on Education Week that a conversation about education reform cannot exclude a conversation about class.

Deborah Meier: "We are expected to believe that young people growing up in such intensely poor communities will not be damaged by it unless we have 'low school expectations'—plus lazy, overpaid, unionized teachers!

Are we using euphemisms at the expense of an honest discussion? Thompson notes that the Promise Neighborhoods program is changing the conversation about schooling for the better, because we’re looking at the realities of each community, rather than using blanket terms that don’t get to the heart of the problems.

“What if this post was written without mentioning race, class, family, alcohol, drugs, or depression?” Thompson wonders, and we echo his question: what if the conversation about education leaves out these important words? What kinds of neighborhoods would our children grow up in?

Mayor Chris Coleman: St. Paul Promise Neighborhood an Innovative Response to Economic Uncertainty

The Twin Cities Daily Planet interviewed St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman on his views on neighborhood challenges and improvement strategies. Mayor Coleman, a strong advocate for Promise Neighborhoods, knows that issues are interconnected at the neighborhood level, and it’s not always easy or productive to separate efforts into different departments. He also understands how education works in the mix of housing, jobs, and safety:

“If you’re going to talk about an economic development strategy, a public safety strategy, a housing strategy it begins with making sure that our children start off school ready to learn. If I can get somebody a job with a two or four year degree the chances that they’re going to need affordable housing are very significantly reduced. If they’re involved in an out-of-school-time program, it’s a lot less likely that they’ll be engaged in criminal activity. So neighborhood challenges start with education for me.”

Read the full interview here.

Black Expo Shows Love to Charleston Promise Neighborhood

The Charleston Promise Neighborhood is hard at work–and people are taking notice. Even though the community in South Carolina did not receive a planning grant from the Department of Education in 2010, they’re finding other sources of funding and ways to stay connected.

The Charleston Black Expo showcased a Charleston Promise Neighborhood booth and banner, and made the Promise Neighborhood the charitable beneficiary of the Annual Black Expo Golf Tournament–to the tune of $1500!

Members of the Charleston Promise Neighborhood presented at the Expo, and Promise Neighborhood CEO Dwayne Green has been speaking at a number of community events since.

It’s inspiring to see so much action, so keep it up, Charleston!

CPN Community Engagement Council member Yvette Lambright staffs booth at Black Expo

It’s Funding Friday! Choice Neighborhood Grants Announced

There’s a lot of good news to report on both the state and federal levels. $4 million in Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants were awarded by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to 17 neighborhoods, including some of our own! Atlanta and San Antonio Promise Neighborhoods received Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants, as did neighborhoods near the Promise Neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Buffalo. Tulsa, a non-grantee in our Promise Neighborhood Network, also received a Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant. Additionally, neighborhoods in Seattle and Boston were two of six communities to be short-listed for Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants.

Yesler Terrace garden, Seattle WA

This is an important show of commitment at the federal level to revitalize distressed communities through coordinated, strategic community partnerships and funding. The federal government’s interest has inspired proposed legislation in California, as well as planning grants in Massachusetts.

The HUD awards, generally in the amount of $250,000, are similar to Promise Neighborhood planning grants in that they support coordinated efforts to improve communities, but Choice Neighborhoods develop with a focus on housing, whereas Promise Neighborhoods develop with a focus on youth. Since there is a great deal of overlap in the two approaches and their ultimate goals, it is encouraging to see the Federal Government provide Choice Neighborhood grants to Promise Neighborhood grantees (and Tulsa, which scored high but did not receive a Promise Neighborhood grant).

Click on the publication below for information on the Choice Neighborhood grantees, and read on for the HUD press release.


17 communities awarded Planning Grants; six others named finalists for Implementation Grants


WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced today that 17 communities will be the first recipients of Planning Grant funding through the Department’s new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.  These communities will share a total of $4 million in Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants while six other communities are selected as finalists to compete for approximately $61 million in Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants (see attached lists and project summaries here).

HUD’s new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CN) will promote a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods.  Building on the successes of HUD’s HOPE VI Program, Choice Neighborhoods will link housing improvements with a wider variety of public services including schools, public transit and employment opportunities.

“Today, we turn a new page in the way we tackle intergenerational poverty,” said Donovan, in a White House announcement with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  “President Obama has said that there is no greater economic policy than one that invests in our children’s future and helps America out-educate the world. But that’s not possible if we leave a whole generation of children behind in our poorest neighborhoods. The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative expands on the bipartisan success of the HOPE VI program by recognizing that we must link affordable housing with a mix of incomes and uses with quality education, public transportation, good jobs and safe streets.”

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s interagency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative – a collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Justice, Treasury and Health and Human Services to support the ability of local leaders from the public and private sectors and attract the private investment needed to transform distressed neighborhoods into sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods with the affordable housing, safe streets and good schools every family needs.

HUD received 119 submissions for CN Planning Grants and 42 submissions from communities seeking CN Implementation Grants.  Successful Planning Grant applicants demonstrated their intent to transform neighborhoods by revitalizing severely distressed public and/or assisted housing while leveraging investments to create high-quality public schools, outstanding education and early learning programs, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs and well-functioning services.  HUD focused on directing resources to address three core goals – housing, people and neighborhoods.

The 17 communities awarded CN Planning Grants will use the funding to build the capacity they need to get them ready to undertake a successful neighborhood transformation to create a choice neighborhood.  These grants will enable these communities create a comprehensive “Transformation Plan,” or road map, to transforming distressed public and/or assisted housing within a distressed community.  This Federal support provides a significant incentive for the local community to take critical steps to create viable neighborhood transformation.

The six finalists for CN Implementation Grants have already undertaken the comprehensive local planning process and are ready to move forward with their Transformation Plan to redevelop their target neighborhoods.  HUD will publish a second Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) shortly to give these finalists the opportunity to assemble and submit a more detailed application for the approximately $61 million in available funding.  HUD will award these grants by the end of September.

Congress approved the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative with the passage of HUD’s FY 2010 budget, allowing HUD to use $65 million in funding to provide competitive grants to assist in the transformation, rehabilitation and preservation of public housing and privately owned HUD-assisted housing.  CN builds on the successes and lessons of HUD’s HOPE VI program and widened the traditional pool of eligible applicants by allowing, in addition to public housing authorities, local governments, nonprofit organizations and for-profit developers (who apply jointly with a public entity) to apply.

Congratulations, Parent University Class of 2011!

The Eau Claire Promise Zone in Columbia, South Carolina, knows that the first step to helping kids succeed is educating parents. Their inaugural class of Parent University graduated recently from a course that demonstrates their commitment to making a better life for their children. See the full article about Parent University here.

This is a neighborhood to watch!

“It is the community’s responsibility to nurture children so that they may reach their full potential.”

Got Plans for Summer? The Delta’s Got a Good Idea

With spring on the horizon, why not dive in and make plans for summer?

Here’s a great idea from the Delta Promise Neighborhood Project in Indianola, Mississippi: their community built a playground last summer, and had a lot of fun in the process.

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