Competition Opens for Promise Neighborhood Planning Grants

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The U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced the long-awaited $10 million planning grants competition for the Promise Neighborhood program – an initiative meant to support comprehensive, community-based efforts to prepare youths from economically distressed neighborhoods for college and careers.

The competition is open to nonprofits and institutions of higher learning. The initiative will support up to 20 organizations with one year of funding to plan for implementing “cradle-to-career” services.

The Promise Neighborhood program, a hallmark of the Obama administration’s domestic agenda, is inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone, a foundation-funded initiative in a nearly 100-block area in New York City that offers an array of services , including parenting classes, early learning centers and  health and social service programs.

The U.S. Department of Education says prospective Promise Neighborhood programs “must have the specific goal of preparing students for success in college and careers.” Also, as part of the planning process, applicants should focus their efforts on schools in the neighborhood and build services for youths in those schools from birth through college to career.

The 20 planning grants to be awarded will range from between $400,000 and $500,000. Applications are due by June 25.

The planning grant phase of the Promise Zone program represents the first step of what the Obama administration envisions as a multiyear process. President Barack Obama’s proposed 2011 budget includes $210 million to support five-year grants to implement Promise Neighborhood plans and support additional planning grants.

Several webinars for prospective Promise Neighborhood program applicants are scheduled by the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. Advance registration is required.


  • June Sullivan