Back in December 2009, we reported on the status of President Obama's efforts to establish the "Promise Neighborhoods" program in high poverty areas with low student achievement. Modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, the program would "engage all resident children and their parents in an achievement program based on tangible goals, including college for every participating student, strong physical and mental health outcomes for children as well as retention of meaningful employment and parenting schools for parents."
At the time, we rated the promise In the Works, since the proposed 2010 budget included a $10 million appropriation for the Department of Education to launch the program. We wanted to see how much money Congress would end up giving the DOE before issuing a final ruling.
Since then, some key developments have taken place. Promise Neighborhoods is now an official grant fund overseen by the Office of Innovation and Improvement within the DOE. Congress ended up appropriating $10 million for the initiative during 2010. According to department website, "the program is intended to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of all children in our most distressed communities, including rural and tribal communities." It plans to do so by providing one-year grants to eligible entities such as nonprofits and institutions of higher education which develop a plan to implement a Promise Neighborhood. The plan must contain several core features, which include the capacity to collect, analyze, and evaluate data to judge ongoing progress as well a leader and an organization that engages the community and is accountable for the plan results.
According to the Education Department, "In subsequent years, contingent on the availability of funds, the Department intends to conduct competitions for implementation grants, as well as competitions for new planning grants." And just how much funding will the DOE have for Promise Neighborhoods in the future? It's hard to say for certain, but the 2011 budget proposal asks for a $210 million appropriation specifically for the program. According to a fact sheet prepared by the Office of Management and Budget, "The core principle behind this initiative is that combining both effective academic programs and strong health and social service systems can combat the effects of poverty and improve the education and life outcomes of children."
The Promise Neighborhoods program is now an official grant offered by the Department of Education. Congress allocated $10 million for the initiative in 2010, and will have the opportunity to provide substantial increases during the upcoming year.