Posts Tagged ‘Promise Neighborhoods’
“Over the coming weeks and months, we will work with Geoffrey and the Harlem Children’s Zone to put in place a program in Paterson that will emulate the success of Harlem Children’s Zone and give the children of Paterson a renewed sense of hope and opportunity.”
In a blog post on the Wall Street Journal’s web site, one expert was quoted sounding a skeptical note about the Paterson replication:
“We have an absolutely brutal track record of trying to replicate these things,” said Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Hess said Canada’s personal ties allowed him to take advantage of existing social programs, tie them together and raise money. … “There’s no harm in trying, but I think much more skepticism is necessary than has been the case,” he said of New Jersey’s new effort in Paterson.
More cause for concern about the future of Promise Neighborhoods came in this article in the Washington Post, in which Jim Shelton, the education department official (and former Gates Foundation executive) overseeing the Promise Neighborhood program, commented on the administration’s request to Congress for $210 million for this coming fiscal year, which had been reduced last year to $60 million by a House subcommittee and then to $20 million by a Senate subcommittee. (I wrote an op-ed in the New York Times last summer about the proposed cuts.) At the time, administration officials I spoke to sounded optimistic that much if not all of the funding would be restored, but in the Post article, Shelton
said that this year the administration probably will have only an additional $10 million for the Promise Neighborhood program and will request more money for the program again in 2012. “At a minimum, we could have a small-scale implementation, not nearly what we had anticipated,” Shelton said.
Geoffrey Canada has been on the road more than usual this month, giving public talks to a variety of school and community groups. He spoke at the University of Dayton in Ohio where, according to a recent article in the Dayton Daily News, a local initiative called Taking Off to Success is modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Baby College. He also spoke at a Martin Luther King Day celebration at Wesleyan University and to a group in Columbia, South Carolina, that is trying to establish what they’re calling a Promise Zone, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, in the city’s Eau Claire neighborhood. (According to an article in the State, Geoffrey Canada’s older brother, Dan, a Columbia resident, is on the board of the Eau Claire zone.)
In the end, the success of Promise Neighborhoods will depend on how well individual communities like Athens implement the fundamentals of the Harlem Children’s Zone, he said.
“Whether these programs succeed or fail will not be decided in Washington D.C.,” Tough said. “It will be decided in communities like these. If we can use this moment to gather the right resources and people and spirit in places like Athens, I think we have a chance to make a real and lasting difference for the kids who need our help the most.”
In the Athens Banner-Herald, a report on my visit to Athens tomorrow, which will include a talk at the University of Georgia chapel. The visit is being organized in part by Whatever It Takes, the local non-profit group that recently received a Promise Neighborhood planning grant:
“It’s so exciting,” said Ryan Lewis, communications director for Whatever It Takes. “Paul has been talking on an international level about what we’re trying to do here. … Because we’ve done such great work, we’re able to bring somebody like that to the community, and bring even more information and have a dialogue here.”
From the Mail Tribune of southern Oregon, a report on an attempt to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone in Medford:
With the help of federal dollars and strong community partners, a four-block area surrounding the Family Nurturing Center could be developed so that it provides children of struggling families a multifaceted support system that would start with prenatal care and continue throughout the life of the child, said Mary-Curtis Gramley, president of the nonprofit center.
“Our wish is to provide support from cradle to college,” she said. “The goal is to make a thread that is woven throughout (a child’s) growing experience.”
And in the Times of Trenton, an editorial on a recent trip to Harlem by a state assemblywoman:
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman recently led a delegation of educational leaders and advocates from Trenton on a visit to New York to get a first-hand look at the program that encompasses 8,800 Harlem children — 1,400 in two charter schools and the others in traditional public schools. …Coleman said Canada has done “remarkable work” and now hopes to “find ways to replicate his dynamic efforts in communities in our state that confront some of the same challenges that exist in Harlem.”
Promise Neighborhoods program winners are counting their planning funds and hoping that there will be implementation funds to carry out their plans. Also-rans are staying geared up so that they will be able to compete for implementation funds despite having been bypassed for planning money.
Meanwhile, in the Springfield News-Sun, a report on how the local Promise Neighborhood initiative in Springfield, Ohio, which did not win a planning grant, is continuing its efforts. According to the local schools superintendent, David Estrop:
“I think it was very clear in our discussions as a group from the very beginning that we thought what we were planning and hoping to do at Lincoln (Elementary School), we would do with or without the federal grant and it was because we thought, very simply … it was such critical and important work.”
Tough’s knowledge of Canada’s work should be of great local interest. In recent months, a new local initiative patterned after Canada’s work called “Whatever It Takes” (www.witathens.org) was formed to address the poverty problem, by setting a goal that by July 1st, 2020 every child in Athens-Clarke County will be on track to graduate from some sort of post-secondary education.
There’s some anticipatory coverage of the talk in the Athens Banner-Herald. And on Beyond the Trestle, a local news and politics blog, there’s a pep talk from the good people at Avid Bookshop in Athens, who will be selling books at the event.
On December 2, at 5:30 pm, I’ll be giving a talk in Athens, Georgia, at the University of Georgia chapel. Details here. The talk is connected to the city’s Whatever It Takes initiative, which was recently awarded a Promise Neighborhood planning grant. (I wrote about the Athens initiative — and embedded a video featuring Michael Stipe — back in July.)
As I mentioned last month, I was in Oregon this week, giving talks to various audiences in Portland and Eugene. While I was there, I also appeared on two radio shows. On Tuesday, I was the guest on a weekly Internet radio show called “Parenting Unplugged.” I was interviewed by the hosts, Todd Mansfield and Laura Mansfield. Audio of our half-hour conversation is here.
On Wednesday, I talked about Promise Neighborhoods on “Think Out Loud,” the Oregon Public Broadcasting morning show hosted by Emily Harris. My fellow guests were Russ Whitehurst, a Brookings Institution analyst who wrote a report critical of Promise Neighborhood funding (I referred to his report in my New York Times op-ed last month), as well as two local leaders who had applied unsuccessfully for Promise Neighborhood funding.
This week, the education department announced the 21 recipients of Promise Neighborhood planning grants, from the Abyssinian Development Corporation in Harlem to Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission in Los Angeles. The department’s press release lists the other 19 winners, and more details are here. There was a good AP overview, and a story on the New York angle in the Times.
If the group doesn’t receive federal funds to implement the plan, Whatever it Takes volunteers will continue to seek donations of time or cash from foundations, individuals and other service agencies both near and far, according to Lewis Earnest, chairman of the board for Family Connection/Communities in Schools of Athens.
“We’ve got some investment capital and we believe that we can show other people, other foundations and individuals and state and local government that we’ve got a good plan,” Earnest said.