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Promise Neighborhoods Project Directors Meeting: Event Recap
November 8, 2010

Last month, more than 100 representatives of the 21 planning grantees met in Washington, D.C. for the Promise Neighborhoods Project Directors meeting. Each grantee sent a CEO or authorizing representative, project director, school leader, community representative, and funding supporter from their Promise Neighborhood to attend the meeting. This recap summarizes the day-long meeting and shares resources made available to grantees. Please click on the links throughout this post for additional information and presentations from each part of the meeting.

Welcome and Introductions. The meeting began with a presentation to all attendees by Larkin Tackett, Deputy Director of Promise Neighborhoods. Tackett welcomed grantees and lead introductions of meeting participants; addressed performance expectations of grantees, which includes 10 activities outlined in the Notice Inviting Applications; and introduced the Promise Neighborhoods Communities of Practice.

U.S. Department of Education Policy Series. Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), spoke to a broader audience of Promise Neighborhoods grantees, Department of Education employees, and other Federal and non-Federal participants about how the principles of his work in Harlem can be applied in neighborhoods around the country. Canada was introduced at the event by Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, who described the initial development of the Promise Neighborhoods program during 2008. Following remarks by Higginbottom and Canada, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton presented the Federal framework for Promise Neighborhoods and the first cohort of grantees [MS PowerPoint, 1.14MB]. San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, addressed the role of local government in building the infrastructure to support the Promise Neighborhoods strategy, and Dreama Gentry Director of the External Programs at Berea College in Berea, KY, discussed Promise Neighborhoods in rural communities and with institutions of higher education as the lead organization. Videos and photos from the policy series are available here.

A Federal View of the Continuum. Within the context of family, school, and community partnerships, senior staff from the U.S. Department of Education presented frameworks for developing a continuum of services that begins with our youngest learners, transitions into effective K-12 schools, and supports successful student entry into college and career. Jacquelyn Jones, Senior Advisor to Secretary Arne Duncan for Early Learning, discussed the components of a high-quality and comprehensive local early learning system. Carl Harris, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, shared information about School Improvement Grants and the important role of communities in supporting school turnaround efforts. Ed Pacchetti, Deputy Director of the Department's College Access Initiative, presented information about several Federal programs that support the transition of students from high school to college.

Communities of Practice. Promise Neighborhoods grantees are required to participate in communities of practice, which are groups of practitioners that interact regularly to solve a persistent problem or improve practice in an area that is important to them and the success of their project. Establishing communities of practice under Promise Neighborhoods enables the grantees, as well as organizations across the country interested in the program and strategy, to meet, discuss, and collaborate with each other regarding their projects. In this spirit, the Project Directors meeting included four breakout sessions attended by representatives from each Promise Neighborhood.

  • Leading the Call for Change attended by the CEOs and authorized representative from each organization. Assistant Deputy Secretary Shelton hosted a discussion about the important role of leadership, and the challenges of balancing organizational priorities to improve outcomes in the Promise Neighborhoods.

  • School and Neighborhood Representatives: Why, What and How of School, Family and Community Partnerships that Support Student Achievement attended by the school and community representatives from each organization. Dr. Karen Mapp, a lecturer at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, lead a discussion about strategies to create and sustain systemic school, family, and community partnerships that support student learning and achievement. Additional information about the topic is available here from the Department's recent National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement.

  • Breaking Down Silos in the Public and Private Sectors attended by a funding supporter of each organization. Representatives of Federal agencies that are a part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative [PDF, 418KB] facilitated a discussion among private, non-profit, and other funders about the role of breaking down silos in the public and private sectors to support neighborhood change with great schools at the center. Federal staff participants included Derek Douglass, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs; Tricia Kerney-Willis, Manager, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Funds, US Department of Treasury; Larkin Tackett, Deputy Director, Promise Neighborhoods, US Department of Education; and Luke Tate, Special Assistant to the Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Grants Administration attended by the project director from each organization. Federal staff provided an overview of the technical aspects of the Department's discretionary grants' administration process, including fiscal responsibility, grant monitoring, and grantee flexibilities. Grantees received information on grants policy documents and other grants administration resources, which are available on the Department's web site.

Grantee Information Sharing. To conclude the Project Directors meeting, each of the 21 grantees summarized the need, strategy, and capacity of their Promise Neighborhood. Additional information on each of the sites, including the project narrative and Memorandum of Understanding from each grantee's application, are available on the Promise Neighborhood program website.

Following the Project Directors meeting, the 21 grantees met for a day-long convening by the Promise Neighborhoods Institute, an independent, foundation-supported nonprofit resource, that offers tools, information, and strategies to assist any community interested in participating in the Promise Neighborhoods program. The Institute provides technical support for planning, identifying quality approaches, building partnerships, assessing needs, and many more essentials for successfully building a Promise Neighborhood.

For additional information about Promise Neighborhoods or the Project Directors meeting, or for contact information of the presenters or participants, please email or call 202.453.6615.

Promise Neighborhoods Team

Last Modified: 04/12/2013