House Companion Bill to Sen. Harkin’s Promise Neighborhoods Act Announced!

02 Jun 2011 |

Reps. Payne, Honda, and Scott Introduce Companion Bill to Make Promise Neighborhoods a Federally-Authorized Program

Washington, DC – June 2, 2011 – National advocates for the federal Promise Neighborhoods program praised Representative Donald Payne of New Jersey, Representative Michael Honda of California, and Representative Robert Scott of Virginia for their vision in proposing the Promise Neighborhoods Act to help ensure that Promise Neighborhoods will continue to spark sustainable change for communities and children across America. We applaud them for the introduction of this legislation, a companion to the Senate bill S. 1004 offered last month by Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“With this bill, Reps. Payne, Honda, and Scott bring hope to millions of children living in poverty in our country today,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity. “The bill is a crucial step toward supporting sustainable Promise Neighborhoods to meet the long-term needs of communities. This bill deserves speedy consideration and bipartisan support.”

Inspired by the successful Harlem Children’s Zone model, Reps. Payne, Honda, and Scott have introduced legislation that combines high-quality education with community- and family-based supports, and creates a continuum of services from cradle through college to career.

“Our experience in Harlem shows that working hard over the long term, holding ourselves accountable, and eliminating all the barriers to academic success is our best shot at saving poor children and forever changing the fortunes of neighborhoods,” said Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone. “This legislation is the right thing to do morally and the smart thing to do economically, and I am deeply grateful to Reps. Payne, Honda, and Scott for leading the House’s effort to break the cycle of generational poverty through Promise Neighborhoods.”

Currently, the Promise Neighborhoods program is funded through the annual appropriations process by Congress. In 2010, more than 330 communities applied for 21 planning grants, totaling $10 million. Even more communities are expected to apply for $30 million in Promise Neighborhoods funding authorized for FY 2011.

This bicameral  legislation would help make the Promise Neighborhoods program sustainable in the long term by including it as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and authorizing five-year, renewable grants to help communities scale up their services and sustain their programs.

“Reps. Payne, Honda, and Scott know that Promise Neighborhoods make a difference because they focus so strongly on positive outcomes for children and families.  This bill brings that critical focus on results to many more communities,” said Frank Farrow, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP).

PolicyLink, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and CSSP have created the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink to help support burgeoning Promise Neighborhoods. More than 500 organizations signed on to a PolicyLink letter of support for Sen. Harkin’s legislation.