WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that communities may now apply to be designated a Promise Zone under the third and final round competition. Read the new notice seeking Promise Zone applications.
Promise Zones are high-poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community. Through the Promise Zone designation, communities will work directly with federal, state and local agencies to give local leaders proven tools to improve the quality of life in some of the country's most vulnerable areas. Read more about the Promise Zones Initiative.
"Promise Zones are transforming communities through targeted investments and the breaking down of government siloes to make a real difference in people's lives," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. "We believe where you live shouldn't determine what you can achieve. This initiative will be part of the lasting legacy from the Obama Administration and we look forward to witnessing these neighborhoods of opportunity grow in the years and decades ahead."
"This initiative is bringing much-needed, targeted investments and creating ladders of economic opportunity in impoverished rural and tribal areas that have the greatest needs," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The success of our work in these Promise Zones is predicated upon public-private partnerships that will lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future for children and families in rural areas."
Any community meeting the eligibility criteria which includes having a contiguous boundary, a high poverty rate and a population within the area not exceeding 200,000 residents, can apply for a designation. HUD and USDA will designate 7 Promise Zones across urban, rural and tribal communities for the final round. The deadline for submitting Promise Zone applications is Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 5:00PM Eastern Time. Announcements will be made in the Spring of 2016.
Each urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zone applicant will be asked 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. Once designated, each Promise Zone will be coordinated by a lead community based organization in partnership with the Obama Administration. HUD will be the federal lead for the urban designees, while USDA will serve as the lead federal partner to the tribal and rural Promise Zones.
All Promise Zones 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.
Communities with an existing Promise Zone designation are: San Antonio, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA; Southeastern Kentucky Highlands; The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; Minneapolis, MN; Sacramento, CA, Indianapolis, IN; Camden, NJ; Hartford, CT; St Louis, MO; Pine Ridge, SD; and Low Country of South Carolina.
To provide additional details and answer questions from communities interested in applying, HUD and USDA will host three separate webcasts for urban, rural, and tribal communities in January and February. The schedule for the webcasts is as follows:
January 13, 2016, 1:30p.m. Eastern Standard Time
January 13, 2016, 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
January 13, 2016, 11:00a.m Eastern Standard Time
February 1, 2016, 2:30p.m. Eastern Standard Time
The third round application guides, updated frequently asked questions, upcoming informational webcasts and webinars has been posted on the Promise Zones website.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).