Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

A Palm Beach Zone?

In the Palm Beach Post, an editorial urging civic leaders to create a Promise Neighborhood in West Palm Beach:

The Obama administration wants to help 20 cities adopt anti-poverty programs modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. Founder/Director Geoffrey Canada may work with programs in four communities, including one in Florida.

For two years, City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell has laid the groundwork for that community to be West Palm Beach. Last week, she unveiled the West Palm Beach Family Zone, a nonprofit corporation that has state Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, among its supporters. The kickoff meeting, held at The Palm Beach Post, included Democrats and Republicans, potential donors from Palm Beach and residents of inner-city neighborhoods.

The current approach of independent and at times overlapping programs – a midnight basketball game here, a family counseling session there – has been playing out without success in Palm Beach County’s poorest communities. The Dunbar Village case reveals how low things can go. “We know what works,” Commissioner Mitchell said. “We have seen what works. Anything short of that is unacceptable.”

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