School & District Management

Promise Neighborhood Hopefuls Get Planning Grants

By Alyson Klein — September 28, 2010 2 min read
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Twenty-one nonprofits and higher education institutions are receiving grants of up to $500,000 each to plan programs that offer a comprehensive range of services to help improve student outcomes, such as health care and prekindergarten.

The grants announced last week are part of the Promise Neighborhoods program, which grew out of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nationally recognized effort that pairs education programs with a range of supports, including classes for parents of infants and college counseling.

The planning-grant winners beat out more 330 applicants from 48 states. The grantees include a range of recipients, including medical facilities, non-profit organizations, and institutions of higher education.

Receipt of a planning grant doesn’t necessarily mean a recipient will get an implementation grant to create a Promise Neighborhood; the planning grants are aimed at helping applicants determine their communities’ needs and how to address them. Organizations that didn’t win one of the planning grants are still in the running to compete for broader grants aimed at actually implementing the program, once those grants are available.

“This is only the beginning of these important projects,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said on a conference call with reporters Sept. 21. “This is the type of business that we think our department should be doing every single year, and we’re in this for the long haul.”

Planning Money

Twenty-one nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions secured planning grants of up to $500,000 to help develop Promise Neighborhoods programs.
• ABYSSIAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (New York City)
• AMHERST H. WILDER DOUNDATION (St. Paul, Minn.)
• ATHENS CLARKE COUNTY FAMILY CONNECTION INC. (Athens, Ga.)
• BEREA COLLEGE (Clay, Jackson, and Owsley Counties, Ky.)
• BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF THE NORTHERN CHEYENNE NATION (Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Mont.)
• CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY-EAST BAY (Hayward, Calif.)
• CESAR CHAVEZ PUBLIC POLICY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL (District of Columbia)
• COMMUNITY DAY CARE CENTER OF LAWRENCE INC. (Lawrence, Mass.)
• DELTA HEALTH ALLIANCE INC. (Indianola, Miss.)
• DUDLEY STREET NEIGHBORHOOD INITIATIVE (Boston)
• THE GUIDANCE CENTER (River Rouge, Mich.)
• LUTHERAN FAMILY HEALTH CENTERS (New York City)
• MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE INC. (Atlanta)
• NEIGHBORHOOD CENTERS INC. (Houston)
• PROYECTO PATSTORAL AT DOLORES MISSION (Los Angeles)
• UNITED WAY OF CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS INC. (Worcester, Mass.)
• UNITED WAY OF SAN ANTONIO & BEXAR COUNTY INC. (San Antonio, Texas)
• UNIVERSAL COMMUNITY HOMES (Philadelphia)
• UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT LITTLE ROCK (Little Rock, Ark.)
• WESTMINSTER FOUNDATION (Buffalo, N.Y.)
• YOUTH POLICY INSTITUTE (Los Angeles)

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Hoping to Build

President Barack Obama asked for $210 million for the program in his fiscal year 2011 budget, including $200 million for implementation grants. Next year, the department is hoping to allocate another round of planning grants, plus distribute 10 to 20 implementation grants, said James H. Shelton, the department’s assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement.

But Congress isn’t on track to appropriate nearly as much as the administration sought. In a bill passed this summer, the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending included $60 million for the program in fiscal year 2011. The Senate Appropriations Committee included just $20 million.

“If we only get $60 million, a lot of communities will lose out,” Mr. Duncan said. “We’re going to push very, very hard on Congress to fund at that $200 million level.”

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, of St. Paul, Minn., received a grant to help pinpoint programs to serve two inner-city neighborhoods. The foundation hopes to use the funds to help launch a public outreach campaign and finance the work of six different committees, made up of people who live in the community and who will identify ways to serve its needs, said Teri Davids, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit organization.

The organization isn’t focused on the fact that more federal funding may not be forthcoming, she said.

“We’re going to pursue some level of the program with or without the [federal] implementation grant,” Ms. Davids said. “We’re proceeding like this will be implemented one way or another.”

A version of this article appeared in the September 29, 2010 edition of Education Week as Promise Neighborhoods Hopefuls Get First Round of Planning Grants

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