What is a Promise Zone?
A “Promise Zone” is a specified area determined by city government in association with community partners. The area must have contiguous boundaries and have between 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants with a poverty rate equal to or above 32. 5%. In the poverty zone established by the City of Springfield and in cooperation with the Springfield City School District, the area covers the attendance zones of Perrin, Lincoln, Fulton, and Kenwood schools.
What are the benefits of a Promise Zone?
The Promise Zone designation is not attached to a grant award or other immediate monetary benefit. Rather the designation represents a partnership between agencies of the Federal Government with local leaders who are addressing the issues of community revitalization in a collaborative way. In addition, a Promise Zone designation has the following benefits:
- An opportunity to engage five AmeriCorps VISTA members in the Promise Zone’s work;
- A federal liaison assigned to help designee navigate federal programs;
- Preferences for certain competitive federal grant programs and technical assistance from participating federal agencies;
- Promise Zone tax incentives, if enacted by Congress.
Beyond the success or failure of the Promise Zone application, Springfield City is a giving community with an important story to tell and bring into focus. The application narrative relating that story should be of use to multiple neighborhood groups, local leaders, and community agencies. The application details steps taken toward neighborhood revitalization and connects that to economic activity and job creation.
What is required of a community with a Promise Zone?
The Promise Zone designation will require collaboration, planning, and an administrative structure that helps the community align efforts. The Promise Zone application tells the story of a community with existing strategies already in place and a willingness to apply those with the most effectiveness and benefit.
What are the next steps?
Once the application is completed the first step is communication. Implementing and Supporting Partners can consider immediate opportunities and existing strategies. Springfield Promise Neighborhood as the community partner will be considering this spring several grant opportunities to fund after school programming and provide an AmeriCorps group of volunteers to work in the schools.
The application was due Feb. 23. Our latest communication with HUD indicates that communities will be informed this spring 2016.