Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Obama Speaks

This week, in two separate addresses, President Obama spoke about his plans for Promise Neighborhoods. On Monday, the White House Office of Urban Affairs hosted a daylong conference on urban issues that the Washington Post described as “the first indication that the White House could back its urban policy office with the kind of muscle that Obama suggested during his campaign.” President Obama addressed the gathering, saying,

We’re going to put an end to throwing money at what doesn’t work — and we’re going to start investing in what does work and make sure that we’re encouraging that. Now, we began to do just that with my budget proposal, which included two investments in innovative and proven strategies. I just want to mention these briefly. The first, Promise Neighborhoods, is modeled on Geoffrey Canada’s successful Harlem Children’s Zone. It’s an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck effort that’s turning around the lives of New York City’s children, block by block. And what we want to do is to make grants available for communities in other cities to jumpstart their own neighborhood-level interventions that change the odds for our kids.

And then in his address at the NAACP centennial last night, he said,

We also know that prejudice and discrimination are not even the steepest barriers to opportunity today. The most difficult barriers include structural inequalities that our nation’s legacy of discrimination has left behind; inequalities still plaguing too many communities and too often the object of national neglect. … These are barriers that we are targeting through our White House Office on Urban Affairs, and through Promise Neighborhoods that build on Geoffrey Canada’s success with the Harlem Children’s Zone; and that foster a comprehensive approach to ending poverty by putting all children on a pathway to college, and giving them the schooling and support to get there.

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