And you certainly know that unemployment is a HUGE issue for lots of communities building Promise Neighborhoods across the country. In order for children to learn, grow, and succeed, they need families who can help them with homework, who can buy notebooks and pencils, who have job stability. In this economy, that’s not so easy.
Check out the video below from Green for All, and let us know what you think! How can we incorporate more green job opportunities into our communities that need the environmental health boost as well as more jobs for residents?
Already a strong, civically-engaged state with two burgeoning Promise Neighborhoods (the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, which received a planning grant last year, and the Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis, which did not), Minnesota is directing even more energy to important Promise Neighborhood elements.
The residents of St. Paul’s Frogtown and Summit-University neighborhoods–part of the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood–are taking stock of what they have, and what they don’t. What do they have?
“Forty-five percent of the households with children earn less than $18,000 per year,” Wilder Foundation researcher Muneer Karcher-Ramos told MPR. What else? One thousand vacant houses that folks can’t afford to move into.
MPR reported on the data collection and discussion, showing the community getting ready to make the most use of their circumstances, and preparing to move forward with or without federal funding. Congress has approved $30 million for Promise Neighborhoods this year, but the word is still not out on how that money will be distributed.
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.”
Unemployed residents of St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood are getting a lift from city officials–in a truck. Qualified unemployed community members are receiving financial assistance to attend classes and testing for Class B licenses to become drivers for the City Works Department.
With support from the city’s Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department, City Council Member Melvin Carter III, and Mayor Chris Coleman, the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood is kicking into gear to help all of its residents succeed. They know that focusing solely on children is not enough if adults in the neighborhood are struggling to find work.
City Council Member Melvin Carter III said the idea is to find people who are "willing to work, trying to work and the economy's not allowing it."
As the Star Tribune reported, “for Coleman, the program fits the goal of expanding economic opportunities. ‘It will work,’ he said.”
No, it wasn’t settled by the French. Its residents are not amphibians waiting for princess kisses. It’s not a swamp–well, not anymore. This Twin Cities community, home to the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, is thought to be called Frogtown because of the swampy nature of the land (Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, after all) when it was first settled by Germans, who named it Froschburg–Frog City.
The once entirely-German Frogtown is now home to over 17,000 ethnically diverse residents. It’s the only neighborhood in the city whose largest ethnic group is not white, and over 60% of students report that English is not the primary language spoken in the home. More than one-third of the residents live below the poverty line, and many are “doubling up” in houses because they can no longer afford to own or rent their own homes.
Frogtown is poised to address many of these issues of poverty and education as the community plans its Promise Neighborhood. They’ve got tons of support from their neighbors, and a rail line is being built through the area, which will affect housing and business development.
Check out this document for more info on Frogtown, and come back to our website to keep track of how they’re doing!