Student Well-Being

Rural and Tribal Communities Among New Promise Zone Designees

By Jackie Mader — June 07, 2016 2 min read
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Rural communities in southwest Florida and eastern Puerto Rico and tribal communities in Washington state and North Dakota have been named four of the nine newest Promise Zone communities by the Obama Administration.

Organizations and agencies in the new Promise Zones, which also include urban areas like San Diego and Nashville, will partner with the government to tackle specific obstacles, like lack of access to quality affordable housing and a lack of educational opportunities. There are currently 13 other Promise Zones nationwide, including the South Carolina Low Country and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. All Promise Zones receive help from federal employees and grants, as well as from full-time AmeriCorps members to roll out each community’s plans.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that the federal Promise Zone Initiative aims to help “rural areas to thrive” by supporting jobs and economic opportunities. “Rural and Tribal areas face unique challenges and we are ready to take on those challenges with creative solutions that strengthen communities,” Vilsack said.

Here are some of the goals for the new rural and tribal Promise Zones:

  • The Spokane Tribe of Indians Promise Zone in Washington state will partner with six “anchor institutions,” such as a local school district and the Spokane Indian Housing Authority, to “break the cycle of persistent poverty in the Tribe,” according to a USDA fact sheet. The Zone’s five goals include increasing enrollment and degree opportunities for Spokane Tribal College and revising some of the Tribe’s “outdated laws” to reduce violent crime.
  • The Pride of the Great Plains Promise Zone, which encompasses two reservations and Rolette County, North Dakota, will work with more than 35 private and public sector partners to tackle six goals. Those goals include improving early childhood education and improving access to healthcare.
  • The Southwest Florida Promise Zone, which spans parts of three counties, aims to promote eco-tourism, improve education, and use the region’s young adult population to fill new jobs. The Zone will focus on career development and reading programs and will also educate at-risk youth about the dangers of human trafficking.
  • The Eastern Puerto Rico Promise Zone, a collaboration of more than 10 organizations, will work toward creating more jobs and improving educational opportunities, mainly by boosting math and science opportunities. The zone will also promote healthy eating and refurbish community facilities.

To read more about the new Promise Zone communities, check out the USDA fact sheets here.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.