|West Philadelphia: Obama's "Promise Zone" economic initiative gives "the selected areas preferential treatment when applying for federal grants to boost early education, reduce crime and spur economic growth.|
TODAY, a day after the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty," President Obama will announce that a section of West Philadelphia has been selected as one of the first five federal "Promise Zones," a new program aimed at turning around some of the country's poorest neighborhoods.
Mayor Nutter will join Obama in the White House to announce the program, which gives the selected areas preferential treatment when applying for federal grants to boost early education, reduce crime and spur economic growth.
The Philadelphia "Promise Zone," which encompasses Mantua and surrounding areas, has about 35,000 residents, 51 percent of whom live in poverty and 13.6 percent of whom are unemployed.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, whose district includes the area, called the program "a comprehensive and accelerated effort to renew investment in the area, spur economic development and create local jobs."
The Mayor's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity will manage the program.
At more than 26 percent, Philadelphia's poverty rate is higher than that of any major U.S. city.
The other "Promise Zones" are in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Kentucky and Oklahoma's Choctaw Nation.
Aside from the leg up on federal grants, Obama will also push Congress for tax incentives to spur business and employment in those areas.
A child’s zip code should never determine her destiny; but today, the neighborhood she grows up in impacts her odds of graduating high school, her health outcomes, and her lifetime economic opportunities. For kids who don’t get an equal start in life, the President is committed to partnering with local leaders to give them proven tools to rebuild and put people back to work. It will take a collaborative effort—between private business and federal, state, and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; striving kids and parents—to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American and in every community.
Since 2009, the President has provided proven tools to combat poverty, investing more than $350 million in 100 of the nation's persistent pockets of poverty.
Building on those efforts, in his State of the Union Address earlier this year, the President laid out an initiative to designate a number of high-poverty communities as Promise Zones, where the federal government will partner with and invest in communities to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and improve public safety.
Communities will compete in a transparent process, and be required to demonstrate the strength and effectiveness of their local commitment, to become Promise Zones. Each designated Promise Zone will be asked to identify a set of outcomes they will pursue to revitalize their communities, develop a strategy supporting those outcomes, and realign resources accordingly. For communities selected, the federal government will partner to help the Promise Zones access the resources and expertise they need.
The Obama Administration will designate 20 communities over the next four years – including up to five this year – with an intensive and layered approach to revitalizing communities.
This approach includes working with local leadership, and bringing to bear the resources of a number of the President’s signature revitalization initiatives from the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Agriculture to ensure that federal programs and resources support the efforts to turn around 20 of the highest poverty urban, rural and tribal communities across the country.
Please email questions about Promise Zones and the process for designating them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.