Promise Neighborhoods

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CONTEXT: Promise Neighborhoods is a new competitive grant program that will provide funds to eligible entities to design comprehensive approaches for addressing the needs of children in distressed, high-poverty communities. Evidence shows that children who are low-income and grow up in high-poverty neighborhoods face academic and life challenges above and beyond those faced by children who are low-income and grow up in neighborhoods with low levels of poverty.  President Obama, the Department, and Congress have responded to this challenge by introducing Promise Neighborhoods to support the transformation of high-poverty communities. For the first year of the program, Congress appropriated $10 million for Promise Neighborhoods. The Department will award up to twenty planning grants, which will support the development of a continuum of cradle-through-college-to-career solutions, with a strong school or schools at the center, that leads to positive academic and social outcomes for all children within some of our nation’s most distressed neighborhoods.

WHO: We are seeking peer reviewers from various backgrounds and professions, including: State or district education officials, PK-12 teachers and principals, college or university educators, researchers, evaluators, community development practitioners, social entrepreneurs, strategy consultants, and grant makers or managers. The selected reviewers should have expertise in at least one of the following areas: education reform and policy, community and youth development, strategy, and grant application review.

Education Reform and Policy:

  • Experience designing, evaluating, or working in effective educational programs (early learning through college) for underserved neighborhoods or students
  • Breadth of knowledge about the current strategies and research findings regarding neighborhood and educational improvement, and how to apply those strategies and research findings in a variety of settings
  • Policy implementation experience and/or legal expertise
  • Experience managing, conducting, or reviewing program evaluations

Community and Youth Development:

  • Experience working in effective community and  youth programs for underserved neighborhoods or students (from early learning through college), which may include (but not be limited to) initiatives in the areas of health, safety, housing, financial asset building, and community/family engagement
  • Breadth of knowledge about the current strategies and research findings regarding youth development, and how to apply those strategies and research findings in a variety of settings
  • Understanding of and experience with integrating effective youth and community development programs in schools and education programs
  • Policy implementation experience and/or legal expertise
  • Experience managing, conducting, or reviewing program evaluations


  • Knowledge of effective operational and organizational/management infrastructures (e.g. people, processes, accountability structures, technology systems, program and grant management)
  • Knowledge of, or experience with, building effective partnerships in a variety of sectors (education, legislative, private sectors, etc.) and successfully engaging diverse groups of stakeholders


  • Experience reviewing grant applications and making funding recommendations

WHAT: Peer reviewers will independently read, score, and provide written comments for planning grant applications submitted to the U.S. Department of Education under the Promise Neighborhoods program.  The purpose of this grant is to support eligible entities in the development of plans for a "continuum of cradle-through-college-to-career solutions" in distressed urban and rural communities, with strong schools at the center, so that all children will have the tools, resources, and supports to succeed academically. The application review will be conducted electronically from the reviewer’s location.

REQUIREMENTS: In addition to the skills, attributes and expertise highlighted above, peer reviewers must also meet the following requirements:

  • Availability: Reviewers will need to dedicate approximately 50 hours of time for reading, scoring, developing comments, and discussing assigned applications over a three-week period in July/August 2010.
  • Tools: Each reviewer must have access to the Internet, a phone, a printer and have the ability to interact within the web environment.
  • Quality of review: Each reviewer must provide detailed, objective, constructive, and timely written reviews for each assigned application. These reviews will be used to recommend applications for funding. They will also be shared with each applicant following the reviews

IF INTERESTED: If you would like to be considered as a peer reviewer:

  • Fill out the Peer Reviewer Checklist-[MS Word 91KB], and save it to your computer as a 1997-2003 Microsoft Word document (.doc, not .docx) with your full name/peer reviewer checklist as the title of the document (e.g. "John Smith peer reviewer checklist").
  • Attach your resume, a one-page cover letter summarizing your experience and interests, and this peer reviewer checklist-[MS Word 91KB], to an email, and send it to before Tuesday, June 15, 2010.

PROGRAM INFORMATION: For more information about the Promise Neighborhoods Program, go to

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Last Modified: 06/17/2010