“There is a role for every one of us to play. There is no ‘they.’ It is us. We want to make this an example of what can be done,” said Alma Powell, Co-Chair of America’s Promise, yesterday at a town hall meeting highlighting the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative. Joined by Secretary Duncan, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, and other guests, Powell’s comments highlight the importance of the Promising Neighborhood grants, and how they can bring individuals and groups together to transform neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity.
During the town hall meeting, Secretary Duncan announced that the Department of Education has an additional $30 million to make a second round of Promise Neighborhoods grants, and explained how important community is to the success of the Promise Neighborhoods Program:
This work is a triumph of common sense. To see this community come together systemically can be a model for the nation. Schools cannot do this by themselves. The community must come together.
The DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative located in northeast Washington is one of the 21 grantees awarded a Promise Neighborhood planning grant last fall. Grants of up to $500,000 were awarded to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education working in a diverse set of communities, including major metropolitan areas, small and medium-size cities, rural areas, and one Indian reservation.
The Promise Neighborhoods program is part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a cross-agency effort that includes the White House Domestic Policy Council, and the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Treasury. “Our commitment is broad and deep, and it begins in the White House,” added White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes.
In the coming weeks, the Education Department plans to announce the Promise Neighborhoods application process for the next round of grants. Nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian tribes will be eligible to apply. Winners will be selected no later than Dec. 31.
James Guitard is an Education Program Specialist on the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods Team.