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Obama’s 2014 Budget Pushes for 20 New “Promise Zones”

The White House released its FY2014 budget proposal on April 10, 2013. Although different parts of the proposed budget have been lauded or criticized by different sectors, one thing that stood out was the President’s staunch commitment to neighborhood revitalization in the wake of the Great Recession.

The existing Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) integrated multiple place-based programs from multiple federal agencies in an attempt to bring coordinated change efforts to severely distressed communities and “tackle concentrated poverty.” Literature on NRI often references the Harlem Children’s Zone as a model practice of integrated, full-spectrum services helping to revitalize a lower-income community.

The budget proposal funds the creation of 20 new “Promise Zones” to be determined through a competitive application process. The proposed budget for the project is over $735 million, which is a significant expansion and more than double what was spent on NRI projects in 2012.

In the 2014 proposed budget, the White House goes on to describe these high need Promise Zones as, “high-poverty communities where the Federal Government will engage more directly with local leaders to break down barriers and help them access and coordinate the resources and expertise they need to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, reduce violence, and improve educational opportunities.”

It is unclear exactly how the 20 new Promise Zones will be determined, or even what the final funding allocation will be. A New York Times article on a recent speech by President Obama states, “communities would be selected over the next several years, from urban and rural applicants that show persistent woes like high joblessness and crime rates, low rates of high school graduation and college attendance and health concerns among residents.”

Interested communities are encouraged to follow the grant announcements from the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program, the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Department of Justice’s Byrne Justice Assistance program. Interested applicants can also look up 2012 grantees for each of these NRI programs at the links above for examples of successful projects. We will post more information on this blog as it becomes available.

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Blog | by Dr. Radut