Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Friday morning a competition to designate a new round of Promise Zones.

These Promise Zones are part of the Obama Administration’s plan to create a new pathway to the middle class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime. 

“As a former mayor of an urban Promise Zone community, I have a unique appreciation for the talent, passion and the vision that local leaders offer when working to turn their communities around,” Castro said Friday.  “Promise Zones are about giving folks who have been underserved for far too long the opportunity to build stronger neighborhoods and more prosperous lives.  At HUD, we’re honored to give other communities the opportunity to transform their futures so this work can continue across the country.”

Promise Zones are similar to previous efforts for targeted, public-private partnerships like President Clinton’s empowerment zones, President George H.W. Bush’s enterprise zones and even President Roosevelt’s Tennessee Valley Authority.

Urban, rural, and tribal communities nationwide are being invited to put forward a plan to partner with local business and community leaders to make evidence-based investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity. 

In exchange, these designees 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.

Each Promise Zone selected will have demonstrated that local leaders, business leaders, state, tribal and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; children and parents are collaborating effectively to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American, in every community.

In January of this year, President Obama announced the first five Promise Zones: San Antonio, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Philadelphia, Penn.; Southeastern Kentucky Highlands, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

Any community meeting the qualifying criteria can apply for a designation, regardless of whether it has a previous federal grant. HUD and USDA will designate at least 8 Promise Zones across urban, rural and tribal communities. The deadline for submitting Promise Zone applications is Nov. 21, 2014.