Published Online: October 11, 2011
Published in Print: October 12, 2011, as 'Promise' Aid Gets Big Crop of Applicants

Flood of Applicants for Promise Neighborhoods Grants

Promise Neighborhood grants are still a hot commodity.

The two-year-old federal program, which is meant to help schools and nonprofits work together to pair K-12 education with wraparound services such as pre-kindergarten and health, got 234 applications for the latest $30 million in grants, to be split between planning and implementation awards, the U.S. Department of Education said last week.

Last year, there were 339 applicants for one-year planning grants only, when the program was funded at $10 million. This time around, there were a total of 199 applications for planning grants, including 159 from nonprofits, 48 from institutions of higher education, and five from American Indian tribes.

And there were a total of 35 applications for implementation grants, including 32 from nonprofits and three from institutions of higher education.

The program includes four “competitive preferences,” which applicants can choose to address to give their proposals a leg up in the competition. Applicants can choose up to two preferences. Early learning was the top choice, with 140 proposals. The runner-up was arts and humanities, an area that 71 applicants want to bolster. Other designated areas include quality affordable housing, and Internet connectivity.

Last year, 21 nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education secured one-year planning grants for the program. Planning grants are intended to help communities perform a needs-assesment. Securing one does not necessarily mean the community will get money to put its plan into practice, and communities can apply for an implementation grant even if they did not receive a planning grant. ("Promise Neighborhoods Hopefuls Get First Round of Planning Grants," September 29, 2010.)

The Promise Neighborhood program has gotten a lot of attention recently, but not as much money as the Obama administration had hoped. And its future is uncertain. The administration proposed $150 million for the program in its fiscal year 2012 budget request, and the Senate Appropriations Committee is seeking $60 million in its fiscal 2012 budget bill.

But the House Appropriations Committee sought to scrap Promise Neighborhoods in its bill. Both bills are pending.

Vol. 31, Issue 07, Page 7

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