Announcing the 2011 Promise Neighborhoods Competition

Today, the U.S. Department of Education launched the 2011 Promise Neighborhoods program. This second phase of Promise Neighborhoods includes new implementation grants and a second round of planning grants. Nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for the $30 million fund to develop or execute plans that will improve educational and developmental outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods.

In fiscal year 2010, the Department launched the first round of the Promise Neighborhoods competition, making available a total of $10 million for one-year planning grants. More than 300 communities from 48 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications. Currently, 21 communities across the country are developing plans to create Promise Neighborhoods. Information about last year’s applicants is available

In response to feedback from previous applicants and other stakeholders, the Department made changes to simplify and improve the 2011 planning competition, as well as conduct, for the first time, an implementation competition. The simplifications include reducing and streamlining the selection criteria.  In general, the criteria align with the priority requirements that applicants demonstrate need in the neighborhood, a strategy to build a cradle-to-career continuum, and the capacity to execute the strategy.

At the core of Promise Neighborhoods is a focus on improving education outcomes from cradle to career, as well and family and community support outcomes that include health, safety, community stability, family and community support of learning, and access to learning technology (see the overview of the Promise Neighborhoods competition). The Department also has included new competitive priorities in the 2011 competition.

Recognizing that a broad set of solutions is required to improve outcomes for children and youth and to transform communities, the competition includes competitive priorities related to comprehensive and high-quality local early learning networks, as well as strategies to increase internet connectivity, improve access to the arts and humanities, and increase the availability of quality affordable housing. Applicants for both planning and implementation grants may identify no more than two competitive priorities for the purpose of earning competitive preference points.

Because of the great potential for Promise Neighborhoods to catalyze the revitalization of communities in significant distress, it is closely linked to the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which seeks to align federal housing, education, justice, financial asset building and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity.

Applications for Promise Neighborhoods are due on September 6, 2011. Winners will be selected and awards will be made no later than Dec. 31, 2011. To support potential applicants, the Department will conduct several webinars for potential applicants. All webinars require participants to register in advance. Registration and additional information about the Promise Neighborhoods program will be available at in the coming days.