Washington, D.C. – Today, the Delta Health Alliance in Mississippi, Mission Economic Development Agency in San Francisco, Partners for Rural Impact in Kentucky, and SBCS (formerly South Bay Community Services) in San Diego, leading place-based organizations announced the launch of the National Promise Neighborhoods Coalition. A national, nonpartisan coordinating body, the new coalition will advocate for the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative and the program’s imperative work in increasing positive outcomes for children and families in high poverty communities across the United States.
The Coalition, which is composed of representatives of nearly a dozen Promise Neighborhoods, will aim to build awareness of place-based, cradle-to-career strategies and bring together supporters around a common advocacy agenda to ultimately secure public funding and grants that ensure long term sustainability, scaling, and increased impact of the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative. The Promise Neighborhoods Initiative is a place-based U.S. Department of Education program, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), to ensure children growing up in distressed communities have access to great schools and strong family and community support systems that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career.
The founding members of the Coalition have outlined four key strategies that will guide the work of the Coalition:
- Build strong nonpartisan relationships in Congress, the Department of Education, and the White House.
- Increase federal funding for Promise Neighborhood programs.
- Improve federal policies impacting Promise Neighborhood programs.
- Create a community of practice for Promise Neighborhood providers.
“At MEDA, we have seen the power of Promise Neighborhoods to positively impact children, families and whole communities not just here in the Mission District of San Francisco, but all over the country. We are thrilled to be launching this initiative with our partners to advocate to expand the program and ensure this transformative work can continue long term,” said Jillian Spindle, COO at MEDA and co-chair of NCPN.
“Thanks to the Promise Neighborhood initiative, we have been able to bring community leaders together to address the conditions that limit our young folks access to opportunity. Through a process of partnership building, the communities have created pathways to upward mobility,” said Dreama Gentry, Partners for Rural Impact.
“The Mississippi Delta is being transformed by the Promise Neighborhoods initiative as we provide life-changing community services for both students and families,” said Dr. Karen Matthews, President & CEO of Delta Health Alliance. “In the counties we serve, some of the poorest in the country, we have seen kindergarten readiness go from a ranking of 99th best in Mississippi to 8th-best after becoming a Promise Community- highlighting that with the right support for a child, we can make generational change.”
“Save the Children works in rural communities across America that suffer from multigenerational concentrated poverty. We have seen the incredible impact that Promise Neighborhoods bring to the communities we work in,” said Trevor Moe, Save the Children. “The continuum of services that the Promise Neighborhood program drives into these U.S. communities is unparalleled in scope and impact. We must increase funding to this incredible program. All children deserve the opportunity to have a healthy, strong foundation to thrive as learners and in life.”
Created by the United States Department of Education and authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Promise Neighborhoods programs work to improve educational and economic outcomes for students in underserved urban and rural areas. Promise Neighborhoods provide funding to support eligible entities that build access to great schools, strong systems of family and community support, and impactful programs to help more young individuals transition to higher education and employment while achieving sustainable and scalable neighborhood-wide results.
Founding members of the Coalition have strong records of generating incredible outcomes in their communities through Promise Neighborhoods grants. Since its founding, the Mission Promise Neighborhood in San Francisco, CA, has seen graduation rates among students attending MPN schools increase by nearly 20 percentage points to 86 percent. Also in California, San Diego’s Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood saw the percentage of children living in the neighborhood who test kindergarten-ready increase from 77 percent to 100 percent, more than double the national average of 48 percent. In Kentucky, Partners for Rural Impact’s Perry Promise Neighborhood schools rebounded post COVID in 3rd grade reading proficiency from 29% in 2020-21 to 47% in 2021-22. During the implementation of Perry Promise, the graduation rate improved from 86% to 94% and college going rates improved from 63% to 74%.
There are even more impressive examples: the Delta Health Alliance (Mississippi). In Mississippi, students enrolled in three or more PN programs were 41 percent more likely to be ready for Kindergarten and 85 percent of students scoring 530 or higher at the beginning of Kindergarten are proficient in reading at the end of third grade.
A major funder and advisory member of the Coalition is the William Julius Wilson Institute at Harlem Children’s Zone. The William Julius Wilson Institute is a national resource for place-based, people-focused solutions that open pathways to social and economic mobility.
“Every child, no matter where they are from, should be placed on a pathway to social and economic mobility, which include access to healthy early development, attending quality schools, receiving targeted academic supports, participating in enriching after-school activities, graduating from college, and pursuing meaningful careers,” said Christian Rhodes, Deputy Executive Director of the William Julius Wilson Institute at Harlem Children’s Zone. “The National Promise Neighborhoods Coalition will serve as an important resource for place-based communities across the country and will be a leading nonpartisan voice advocating for federal investments to lift children out of poverty.”