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Promise Neighborhoods

Promise Neighborhoods Competition to Open in 2-4 Weeks

The U.S. Department of Education today announced that its current goal is "to have applications for Promise Neighborhoods available within 2-4 weeks." Applications will be "due within 60 days of application release."

This would place the application release date some time in early to mid-July, with applications due in September. The Department must make awards by December 31.

Want to get a head start? Check out what it took last year to win a Promise Nieghborhoods grant in this report:

Promise Neighborhoods Bill Introduced in the Senate

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over education issues, yesterday (May 16) introduced legislation that would authorize the Promise Neighborhoods program.

The bill, introduced as the Promise Neighborhoods Act of 2011 (S. 1004), would authorize five-year, renewable grants for local Promise Neighborhood initiatives. The bill has five cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats: Sens. Robert Casey (D-PA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

The bill is eventually expected to be included in legislation reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. The fate of the larger bill will depend on cooperation between the two parties in a challenging and polarized legislative environment. Despite this environment, however, there have been signs of bipartisan cooperation on the overall bill.

United Neighborhood Centers of America has joined with several hundred other organizations in supporting congressional authorization of the Promise Neighborhoods program. We may post an analysis of the Senate bill in the days ahead. The text of the bill is here.

Promise Neighborhoods Newsletter, Issue #2

Okay, so I was a little late on this one ... the Promise Neighborhoods team at the Department of Education have quietly released the second in their series of newsletters.

I won't quote the whole newsletter, but here was something that I thought was particularly interesting:

Federal Council Offers Resources, Strategies to Improve Housing Stability, Prevent Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in partnership with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), would like to host a conference call for Promise Neighborhood grantees and community schools to discuss strategies for building housing stability and homelessness prevention into their local design. The purpose of the call would be to share information and give more organizations ideas about how to attack the problem of student mobility by dealing with the root cause of housing instability. USICH would open the call with a brief summary of the role of Promise Neighborhoods and schools in Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. USICH and ED would identify a couple of model programs or agencies that are doing a lot of work in this area. It would be open for all grantees or schools to ask questions or share ideas. If you are interested, contact Jennifer Ho, Deputy Director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, Jennifer.Ho@usich.gov.

Postscript: Are these newsletters collectible? If so, you don't want to miss Issue #1!

Promise Neighborhoods Legislation to be Considered By Congress

Congress may consider legislative language authorizing the Promise Neighborhoods program as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) later this year. The legislation is currently being hammered out in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions  (HELP) Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over education issues in the Senate. It may include language covering Promise Neighborhoods.

UNCA is joining with PolicyLink, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), the Harlem Children's Zone, and many other organizations in a letter to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) supporting the proposed legislation. Harkin is the chairman of the committee.

While the language is not yet final, it would authorize 5-year grants for local Promise Neighborhoods efforts. According to the joint letter to Sen. Harkin:

We are pleased to see that your legislation focuses on high-quality early learning programs, effective family and community engagement, and better services for special populations, such as children with disabilities and English language learners.  Additionally, we are pleased that it asks grantees to leverage public and private sector support, and coordinate the services and resources of local nonprofits, schools, health centers, universities, and foundations.  By authorizing five year, renewable, grants, your legislation will help communities scale up their services and support a new generation of educated workers.

The committee could act on the proposal later this spring. This work follows the recent appropriation of $30 million for Promise Neighborhoods for the current fiscal year.

We strongly urge every organization that supports Promise Neighborhoods to sign the letter. Please contact Kisasi Brooks at kbrooks@policylink.org  or 510.663.4340 to find out how you can get more involved.

$30 Million for Promise Neighborhoods

Details of the budget deal just struck in Congress for the rest of the year are now trickling out. The measure includes $30 million for Promise Neighborhoods, an amount available through December 31, 2011. This would appear to provide enough funds for implementation grants and a second round of planning grants later this year. The official grant notice was expected within 60 days, though this timeline might conceivably be adjusted.

No further negotiating is expected. This is expected to be the final number for the year. Congress is expected to enact the underlying bill, HR 1473, by the end of this week.

My best guess is that the $30 million will include $10 million for another round of about 20 planning grants, $18 million or so for six 3-year implementation grants worth $3 million each, and about $2 million for technical assistance and the national program evaluation. That's complete speculation based on what was in the budget justifications earlier this year. We'll see.

It is not yet clear what the status is for Choice Neighborhoods and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program. HOPE VI was cut from $200 million to $100 million. The Weed and Seed program at DOJ, which was to be replaced by Byrne, was eliminated.

The position of urban affairs policy czar at the White House Office of Urban Affairs was eliminated. It has been vacant since Adolfo Carrion left for a position at HUD last year.

Postscript: Stay tuned for additional announcements on the NRI Conference in Washington DC, July 21-22.


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by Dr. Radut