Sen. Harkin Bill Announced!

17 May 2011 |

It’s official: Senator Tom Harkin announced the Promise Neighborhoods Act this morning. Press release from the office of the Senator below, including statements from Geoffrey Canada and Angela Glover Blackwell!


May 17, 2011

Contact: Justine Sessions / Kate Cyrul (202) 224-3254

Harkin Introduces Bill to Support Community-Based, Cradle-to-Career Education

WASHINGTON – Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Tom Harkin (D-IA) today introduced legislation to ensure that kids in America’s neediest neighborhoods have the tools they need to enter school ready to learn, succeed in elementary school, and graduate from high school college- and career-ready.  The Promise Neighborhoods Act, modeled on the successful Harlem Children’s Zone, would authorize competitive grants to support neighborhood-based, cradle-to-career “continuums of care” for children in distressed neighborhoods across the country. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Al Franken (D-MN) joined Harkin in sponsoring the Promise Neighborhoods Act.

“As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Raising kids can be particularly difficult in distressed communities, where schools struggle and parents lack support and resources.  This bill would help communities across the country to follow the lead of the Harlem Children’s Zone, taking a holistic approach to improving not only children’s academic success , but also their lives by starting at birth and offering them high-quality learning and support every step of the way. It’s about engaging families and building great schools,  while also giving kids opportunities in every aspect of their lives to help them grow and succeed,” Harkin said.

“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,” 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 Senator Harkin for leading the Senate effort to break the cycle of generational poverty through Promise Neighborhoods.

“Sen. Harkin’s bill has the potential to 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 ensuring Promise Neighborhoods are sustainable and can fill the long-term needs of communities, and I hope Sen. Harkin’s colleagues will follow his lead.”

The Promise Neighborhoods Act would fund competitive grants for partnerships between schools and community-based organizations to provide, among other things:

  • Prenatal education and support for expecting parents
  • High-quality early care and education opportunities
  • High quality schools that  successfully leverage great teaching, out-of-school time and community engagement
  • Support for the transition to elementary school, between elementary school and middle school, and from middle school to high school;
  • Meaningful family engagement and support;
  • College and career readiness activities, such as college prep curriculum, college admissions counseling, subsidized employment opportunities and early college programs; and
  • Support for college-age students from the neighborhood.