In January 2014, the Obama Administration announced the Promise Zone initiative as a new effort to support neighborhoods that lack resources and face challenges associated with persistent poverty. This federal initiative targets a small geographic area in select urban, rural, and tribal communities, giving local partners the support and resources they need to work together toward revitalization. Drexel was proud to partner with the City of Philadelphia and committed nonprofit agencies to apply for — and receive — a Promise Zone designation on behalf of West Philadelphia. Philadelphia was one of only three U.S. cities to receive a Promise Zone designation during the first round of designations in 2014.
The neighborhoods in which today’s youth grow up have a lasting impact on their future. More than ever, a child’s neighborhood can dictate lifelong economic opportunities, the likelihood that the child will graduate high school, and vulnerability to chronic diseases. That’s why Drexel is committed to supporting neighborhood development that supports economic stability and opportunity.
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Although the Promise Zone designation does not entail financial support for West Philadelphia, the benefits include support from federal agencies, technical assistance, preference for future funding opportunities, potential tax incentives for businesses, and Americorps VISTA members. Together, these supports are designed to attract private investment, improve affordable housing, improve educational opportunities, create jobs, reduce serious and violent crime, and assist local leaders in navigating federal programs and cutting through red tape.
In addition to Drexel University, the key partners in the implementation of this effort are the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, Mt. Vernon Manor, Philadelphia LISC, People’s Emergency Center, School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, the City’s Commerce Department, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Office of Housing and Community Development, the Philadelphia Zoo, PHS, Philadelphia Works, Inc., and University City District. Several nonprofit organizations within the Promise Zone provide essential support on the ground in the areas of education, public safety, housing, economic opportunity, and health and wellness. For a full list of organizations involved, click here.