The Obama Administration announced the eight new Promise Zone communities in the country that now have a special tie with the government to work to improve the quality of life, and housing, in some of the country’s most vulnerable areas.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the following eight communities, including six cities, one rural area and one tribal community:
- Camden, New Jersey
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Sacramento, California
- St. Louis/St. Louis County, Missouri
- Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota
- South Carolina Low County
These eight special Promise Zones were selected from over 120 applications in 36 states, including Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
In order to be successful, applicants had 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.
As a result, the fortunate communities will have priority access to federal investments, federal staff on the ground to help them and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers. VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America.
“Promise Zones bring multiple federal agencies together with local leaders to breathe new life into underserved neighborhoods,” said HUD Secretary Castro. “A zip code should never limit the opportunities and hopes parents have for their children. Helping these communities build stronger neighborhoods will help unlock those doors that have been closed for far too long.”
These eight communities join five others that President Obama designated in January 2014: San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky Highlands and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
For example, in San Antonio, the George Gervin Youth Center was awarded a $1.1 million YouthBuild grant from the Department of Labor to establish an education and training program for at-risk young people.
In addition, the Gervin Center received a $2 million Training-to-Work grant from the Department of Labor to help young men and women participating in work-release programs gain the job skills necessary to launch them on a path to high-demand jobs.
The government has plans for a third round of Promise Zones later this year.