WHAT IS A PROMISE ZONE?
In 2013, President Barack Obama launched an initiative to devote federal resources to urban and rural areas with a high incidence of poverty. Through the initiative known as Promise Zone, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and 19 other federal agencies have made alliances and invested in communities by providing technical assistance based on the specific needs of each community.
Promise Zones are communities of very low income, where the federal government acts as a partner with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, increase housing affordable income, boost private investment, reduce violent crime, improve public health and address other priorities identified by the community. Through this initiative, communities will work strategically with federal, state and local agencies to combat high rates of poverty and unemployment through job creation and increased economic activity tools, and to improve the quality of life of its residents.
On June 6, 2016, the Obama Administration named the final nine Promise Zones across the country – high poverty areas in select urban, rural and tribal communities.
The following communities now include Promise Zones:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro traveled to Atlanta to make the announcement while U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new Promise Zone in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. In addition, a host of other senior Administration officials made individual announcements in the other Promise Zones.
“Promise Zones bring the power of partnership to a whole new level as we seek to bring opportunity to neighborhoods long locked out of their area’s prosperity,” said HUD Secretary Castro. “As a former mayor from a city that includes a Promise Zone, I know just how powerful these collaborations are when it comes to building stronger, economically vital neighborhoods.”
“Rural and Tribal areas face unique challenges and we are ready to take on those challenges with creative solutions that strengthen communities,” said USDA Secretary Vilsack. “The Promise Zone initiative delivers proven results by encouraging collaboration between the federal government, community organizations, the private sector and state and local governments. Through these partnerships, we are supporting jobs and economic opportunities that enable rural areas to thrive.”
Background on Promise Zones:
Today’s newly designated Promise Zones join 13 others that President Obama designated in 2014 and 2015. These Promise Zones include targeted neighborhoods in the following communities:
Additional information on rural and Tribal Promise Zones is available at www.usda.gov/promisezones.
Today’s Promise Zone communities were selected from 82 applications from 38 states and Puerto Rico. Each urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zone applicant was asked to put together a clear description of how the Promise Zone designation would accelerate and strengthen the community’s own efforts at comprehensive community revitalization. Each Promise Zone will be coordinated by a lead community based organization in partnership with the Obama Administration. HUD will be the federal lead for the five urban designees, while USDA will serve as the lead federal partner to the tribal and rural Promise Zones.
All Promise Zones will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone initiatives. Promise Zone designation is for ten years.