Promise Neighborhoods Act Introduced in Congress

07 Jul 2015 | PolicyLink
Promise Neighborhoods Act Introduced in Congress

This June, Congressman Donald M. Payne  Jr. (NJ-10) re-introduced legislation that would provide essential funding and support for Promise Neighborhoods — a highly successful program that seeks to improve outcomes for children in distressed communities by combining high-quality education with community and family-based supports.

The introduction of the Promise Neighborhoods Act of 2015 (H.R.2882) marks an important step toward ensuring the continued impact and national reach of this program by authorizing competitive grants to support its implementation throughout the country. The Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (PNI) and the entire PNI Network, which represents more than 60 communities nationwide, are thankful for the leadership and support of Rep. Payne and the bill’s co-sponsors in moving this legislation forward.

“We are thrilled that Rep. Payne Jr. and the bill’s co-sponsors recognize the importance of the Promise Neighborhoods program and are taking action to safeguard its longevity,” said Michael McAfee, Vice President of Programs at PolicyLink and Co-Director of PNI. “We at the Institute encourage others in Congress to support this vital legislation.”

Inspired by the model of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Neighborhoods seek to build communities of opportunity, centered on strong schools, where all children can learn, grow, and succeed.  A strong and vibrant America requires children who are educated, healthy, and ready to enter the workforce. Yet 16 million children live in poverty and less than a fifth of poor fourth graders are proficient in reading and math. By supporting the work of the Promise Neighborhoods program, this legislation seeks to combat educational disparities that exist in many low-income communities and communities of color by improving academic outcomes, such as school readiness, high school graduation, and college and career readiness.

Rep. Payne Jr. has been an avid champion of the Promise Neighborhoods program and his introduction of this legislation comes at a pivotal time, with both the House and Senate scheduled to discuss the long-awaited reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), more commonly known as “No Child Left Behind,” this week.

Since its establishment in 2010, the Promise Neighborhoods program has awarded nearly $277 million to over 50 urban, rural, and tribal communities representing more than 700 schools across the country. Unfortunately, limited resources have restricted the reach of this valuable program: Only 17 of the 242 cities, rural areas, American Indian communities, and other locales that applied to be part of the program during the last competition in 2012 were able to receive grant funding. The Promise Neighborhoods Act would directly address this need, authorizing the U.S. Secretary of Education to award competitive grants to eligible entities and to renew grants for existing grantees who have demonstrated significant success.

For more information on the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink, please visit


The Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink combines the leadership of PolicyLink, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy to provide resources and support to communities interested in the Promise Neighborhoods strategy.