Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Promise Neighborhoods on ABC News

Geoff Canada speaks to ABC News reporter Teddy Davis about the Obama administration’s plans to create Promise Neighborhoods, based on the Harlem Children’s Zone:

An Education Department official working on Promise Neighborhoods for Obama has told me that the federal government will begin taking grant applications in 2010 with the goal of giving out implementation grants in 2011. What should the Obama administration look for in someone who wants to start a Promise Neighborhood?

“There are a couple principles that we think are very important. The first is that the entity that applies ought to have some demonstrated capacity to do a very complex kind of planning. The second is that there has to be the ability to raise private dollars over a sustained period of time because in the end you are doing something that is going to take years to really deliver the kind of results that I think the president wants and you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the capacity to continue to support the federal dollars. The third thing is that the programs have to be committed to data and evaluation. Fourth, there has to be a really committed board or management structure to ensure that the dollars are appropriated and accounted for accurately.”

8 comments on “Promise Neighborhoods on ABC News

  1. We have an active group in Durham, North Carolina working on the East Durham Children’s Initiative, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone. Many of us were inspired after reading your book, Whatever It Takes. (In fact, we probably contributed to a surge in book sales.)
    Please see the attached newspaper article.

  2. Paul Tough says:


    Thanks for letting me know about the East Durham Children’s Initiative. It sounds very interesting. I blogged the story from the Herald Sun here. Please keep me posted!


  3. We just released a report on Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods initiative, placing it in both the context of HCZ but also the longer history of the settlement house movement. Paul, we are actively involved in the federal efforts around this issue and I would love to speak with you and share what is happening.

    The new report quotes significantly from your book, and it can be found here.

    Tipping Neighborhoods to Success
    To Succeed, Promise Neighborhoods Must Address People and Communities As A Whole
    United Neighborhood Centers of America

  4. Lisa Holland says:

    I am very interested after reading your book I am a Preschool Mental Health Consultant and would love to visit your early childhood program to help Springfield Ma institute some of the same programs here. I agreed with most of your philosophies while i read the book. I am committed to Urban Children but am not political so I probably will not get on any Panels or committees but my energy is here. I have dome nothing but tell people about the Harlem Project in the last few weeks. So exciting to see change. Do we know what 20 cities were picked from Pres. Obama?

  5. I am so very interested in Promise Neighborhood. Presently, I am waiting for delivery of the book Whatever It Takes. My involvement with the Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative leads me to believe that we are certainly in line for such a grant program. Our commitment to urban children is outstanding. Is Philadelphia a targeted area for this grant?

  6. Paul Tough says:

    Hi Loretta. Thanks for ordering the book, and I’m glad to hear of your work in Philadelphia. I know there have been some people from the city interested in applying for a Promise Neighborhood grant. You might check out this post and the comments on it for leads.

    Good luck,

  7. KVirshelle says:

    Greetings Paul, loved your writing…I have searching online for grants, funding etc. for a school/community based program for the St. Louis area, much of what HCZ has been doing reflects my business plan and not knowing anything about the Zone until today and looking at the news…it only excited me more to learn more and connect with the right people to bring the school/programs to life here in St. louis. One of my programs consist of gardening and we were selected to meet First Lady and tour and work in her garden at the White House (Aug. 09), the overall learning experience for the youth and their families in my program has been overwhemling and I want to give that to as many youth here in STL as I can. Can you give me any insight to others if any here in St. Louis who are seeking are interested in HCZ and the lst of 20 cities/states inline for the Promise Neighborhood Int.

    • Paul Tough says:

      Hi K. Thanks for those kind words. I’m glad to hear you’re interested in plans to bring a Promise Neighborhood to St. Louis. If you go to this page on the Harlem Children’s Zone web site and click on “Attendees Organization List,” you’ll get a PDF that lists all the institutions from around the country that sent representatives to the conference in November. As you’ll see, there are several organizations from St. Louis on the list, including St. Louis 4 Kids and the Northside Community Center. I’d suggest that you get in touch with one of those organizations and see if you can combine forces with them. Good luck.

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