Promise Zone Blog

How to: Requesting a Promise Zone Letter of Support, HUD form, and etc.

Are you thinking of applying for a funding opportunity? Let us know as soon as you can. We need 5 days to process your requests. Here is information about our grant and funding support process:

  1. Applicant contacts the Promise Zone at PZone@phila.govfor a Letter of Support (LOS) and fills out a Proposed Outcomes Form (POF) at least 5 days in advance.
  2. Applicant returns the POF, along with any additional information requested to Promise Zone staff.
  3. Promise Zone staff reviews and inputs the POF information into the Promise Zone grants database.
  4. Upon approval, a Promise Zone staff emails a signed LOS, HUD form, or etc. back to the applicant.
  5. Promise Zone staff will follow up with applicant after the expected notification date. The applicant will indicate grant status.

Click here to download a Proposed Outcomes Form (POF)

Examining Health and Housing Partnerships in the Promise Zone

By: John McLaughlin

The West Philadelphia Promise Zone contains both large hospitals and an aging housing stock that is deteriorating in condition. Many households struggle to make ends meet and are unable to make repairs on their own that will make their homes healthier. Many homes have mold, mildew, lead paint, and pests, which lead to one in four children in West Philadelphia having asthma. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), to address the high rates of childhood asthma, started the Community Asthma Prevention Program (CAPP) in 1997. CAPP, through grant funding and Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MMCO) partnerships, offers free in-home asthma education and provides supplies to mitigate environmental triggers for Philadelphia’s neediest families. In mid-December, an expansion of the program titled CAPP+ was announced where CHOP is partnering with the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC) to remediate West Philadelphia homes by professionally repairing areas of the home that cause asthma symptoms. A recent pilot study found that asthma remediation projects that cost, on average, $3,500 lowered children’s hospitalizations by seventy percent and school absences by fifty percent (Feyler, Nan, “The Impact of Housing Quality on Children’s Health.” Philadelphia Department of Public Health, 2015.)

In addition to the CAPP+ program, CHOP has joined Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP), Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Philadelphia, LISC, People’s Emergency Center (PEC), and Mount Vernon Manor (MVM) to build upon their already-existing Housing Preservation Initiative (HPI). Together, they partnered under an expanded umbrella called the Home Preservation Initiative for Healthy Living to apply for and receive funding through the BUILD Health Challenge, a grant awarded to multi-sector partnerships that seek to reduce health disparities caused by social inequities. During the years before CHOP’s inclusion, HPI had been identifying homes in the Promise Zone with adverse health triggers and remediating them along with completing other critical repair work. People’s Emergency Center (PEC)’s Community Connectors and the MVM Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) Coordinator do outreach and engage residents in the HPI program. Under BUILD, families in CHOP’s CAPP program are referred to the group for repairs that focus on reducing asthma triggers. CAPP also sends their Community Health Workers to simultaneously provide in-home asthma reduction education. The ultimate goal of both CAPP+ and the Home Preservation Initiative for Healthy Living is to drastically reduce the incidence of and Emergency Room Utilization due to asthma. The collaborative is hoping that health and repair providers can eventually seek reimbursement by managed care organizations (like Medicaid or other insurers) for home visits and repairs.

The Home Preservation for Healthy Living is always looking for eligible residents. Participants must be referred through CHOP’s CAPP program (participants have children with severe asthma). Households must own the home where they reside and make no more than eighty percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Children who are admitted to the hospital once in the past year (or in the Emergency Department twice in the past year) for asthma and are prescribed an asthma controller medicine are eligible for CAPP. CAPP will then determine if the family is eligible for the Home Preservation Initiative for Healthy Living and if so, connect them to the program.

Earlier in December, housing and health professionals across the country gathered at Thomas Jefferson University for a Health and Housing Summit organized by the Pennsylvania Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC). The keynote speakers were Dr. Kelly Kelleher, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Sister Mary Scullion, a Philadelphia icon that co-founded Project HOME, a national model for reaching and serving the homeless. Ninety-five percent of people experiencing homelessness that fully participate in Project HOME’s programs never return to the streets. In 2008, Nationwide Children’s Hospital began collaborating with Community Development for All People, a local CDC, and several other community partners to develop the Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families (HNHF) initiative, which seeks to treat local neighborhoods as patients. HNHF is now becoming a shining example of what large-scale, sustained investment by a hospital in its surrounding communities could look like. You can learn more about HNHF here and read Nationwide’s “Community Update” on the project here. Key representatives of HPI and CAPP+ spoke about their programs at the summit, many of whom are members of or have spoken at Promise Zone committees. Considering the multi-sector nature of our work in the Promise Zone, we look forward to further developing partnerships between health institutions and local housing organizations in the future!

If you’re interested in receiving home repairs but are ineligible for the CAPP or CAPP+ programs, two HPI partners, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia are doing repairs in the Promise Zone. Homeowners interested in receiving repairs from Rebuilding Together Philadelphia can collect signatures from 10-15 homeowners on their block and submit a block application together. Rebuilding Together Philadelphia does not accept applications from individual homeowners. The block application can be found on the Rebuilding Together Philadelphia’s website ( and phone inquiries should be directed to 215-965-0777. If you want to apply individually for repairs you can go to Habitat for Humanity’s website ( or call Habitat directly at 215-765-6000 x 18 and leave your contact information.

Promise Zone Community Gardens

  1. Summer Winter Community Garden (3233 Race St): They have an active City Harvest program and welcome volunteers to work in garden on community areas. Stop by on weekends to learn more.
  2. West Powelton Concerned Community Council Garden (4027 Powelton Ave): Plots available!, 215-387-8951
  3. Holly Street Community Garden (320 N 41st St): Plots Available! Sheila Henry, 215-387-0507,,
  4. Walnut Hill (4615 Ludlow St): 215-895-4050
  5. Aspen Farms (4843 Aspen St):
  6. Mill Creek Farm (4905 Brown St): Volunteer opportunities available!
  7. Ogden Orchard (4033 Ogden St): A complete edible landscape was planted around Ogden Gardens, a newly built home for adults with autism. Preston’s Paradise and residents of Ogden help maintain the orchard and gardens and the harvest is distributed within the community.
  8. Preston’s Paradise Orchard (839 N Preston St): Cherries, figs, pawpaws, and more were planted as part of a new edible forest garden at this remarkable urban homestead. The produce enhances the efforts of Preston’s Paradise ( to expand food production and access in their neighborhood of West Philadelphia.
  9. Calvary Orchard (812 N 41st St): Calvary St. Augustine Church teamed up with POP and Preston’s Paradise to plant an orchard in the side yard of the church. Produce will be distributed within the Belmont community.
  10. CHOP Karabots Farm (4900 Market St): This new community farm operated by the Enterprise Center is located at the Karabots facility of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The farm features fruit trees and rows of berries and vines.
  11. University City Garden Club Garden (4400 Locust St): No vegetable plots, this is a flower garden. Twilight gardening from 6-9pm on Fridays during growing season. Volunteers welcomed!, Lauren Leatherbarrow 215-386-3905,
  12. Mantua Urban Peace Garden (3700 Brown St): 50 Plots Plots are $20 each for the season (April to November). If you’re interested in becoming a gardener, you can sign up for a plot until April 15 by contacting 215-475-9492 or emailing
  13. Wiota Street Community Garden (4022 Powelton Ave)
  14. Sloan St Community Garden (326 N Sloan St): Vegetable/Flower Garden Plots: 4 feet x 8 feet or 4’x4′ half plot. Common areas with both vegetable and flowers for sharing or growing food for community. Carolyn Smith, (215) 387-5852,


If none of these gardens are near you or if you know of a vacant lot you think would be perfect for a garden in the next planting season, get started on your own community garden today! There are many resources for starting your own Philadelphia garden, below are just a few.

General Instructions from the American Community Gardening Association:

Resources for starting your own garden in Philadelphi9a from Grounded in Philly:

Instructions for starting a garden on Philadelphia

PWD instructions on how to get water access:

Health and Homes

By: Elizabeth Cohen

Across the country there is renewed awareness of the importance of mitigating home health hazards. Some of the most common home health hazards include lead, mold, radiation and asbestos. Often these hazards are expensive to alleviate, yet we know that the effects not only exacerbate problems with peoples’ health, there are also significant economic impacts. Both the health and economic impacts are even greater for low income families. The graphic below shows housing hazards, the resulting health effects and the economic impacts. MORE

Modern-Day Redlining in Philadelphia and the Promise Zone


Photo Credit: Ian Freimuth/ via Creative Commons

By: Elizabeth Cohen

In February 2018, Reveal published a story on the large racial differences in home lending (also known as modern-day redlining) across the United States. Reveal did a national analysis of lending patterns using conventional mortgage records in 2015 and 2016.

Although the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made redlining illegal, Reveal’s analysis showed that there were differences by race in who were offered conventional loans. They found that Philadelphia has one of the largest racial gaps in home lending among large cities.  Read the full story here.

Redlining in Philadelphia

  • Black applicants in Philadelphia were almost three times more likely to be denied a conventional home purchase loan than white applicants.
  • White applicants were ten times more likely to receive conventional mortgages loans than black applicants.
  • Banks focused on serving the white parts of town, placing nearly three-quarters of their branches in white-majority neighborhoods.
  • Wells Fargo Bank denied 27 percent of conventional home purchase applications from black applicants and 9 percent from white applicants.
  • Santander Bank denied 37 percent of black applicants and 13 percent of white ones.
  • PNC Bank denied 44 percent of black applicants and 15 percent of white applicants.


The Promise Zone Research Connection Takes First Place!

The Promise Zone Research Connection Takes First Place!

On Friday April 27, 2018, Penn’s Community Scholars Program had its Spring Symposium that brought together leaders of academic and philanthropic communities to serve on the panel for the Scholar’s Pitch Competition. Dennis Boroughs (Baring Street Community) and Amanda Hallock (Promise Zone VISTA) represented the Promise Zone Research Connection (PZRC). After deliberation, the panel gave first place honors to the PZRC which includes a bit of funding to get the group started! Below we’ve written up the speech for those who couldn’t make it.


Promise Neighborhood Surveyor Interview

By: Amanda Hallock

Surveyors: Sherra Dunn, Jeffrey Jordan, Rita Nelson, Kevin D. Young, Hyden Terrell                            Project Manager: Kelly Traister

The Promise Neighborhood grant is well underway! The grant is $30 million over 5 years and the Department of Education requires Drexel University, the lead applicant, to have rigorous data collection and evaluation. One of the components of this is a biennial neighborhood survey.

To conduct the survey, Drexel has prioritized hiring Promise Zone residents (the Zone and Neighborhood share the same boundaries) and in doing so has seemed to have more success in survey collection. The Promise Zone resident surveyors know their neighborhood culture and have the important ability to gain trust more easily than a non-resident would. And don’t forget about their fantastic orange jackets! Besides being residents and dressed in orange, the surveyors are just all around fantastic. They have great energies and are passionate about the project. I discovered this and so much more when I sat down to talk with five of the surveyors in February. MORE

Philadelphia Promise Zone Awarded 2016 Promise Neighborhoods Grant

A five-year, $30 million grant will support local initiatives to:

  • Expand early literacy and early science efforts in local child care and pre-K programs;
  • Enhance K-12 instruction in these seven schools;
  • Empower parents to advocate for their children’s learning; and
  • Improve access to education and job training for young adults and all residents in the Promise Neighborhood.

More on Promise Neighborhoods

10th Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival

Lancaster Ave Jazz Fest 7-20-2013 128The 10th Annual Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival will be hosted by People’s Emergency Center (PEC) on Saturday, July 16th from noon to 7pm in Penn Presbyterian Saunders Park Greene, at 39th and Powelton Avenue. This year’s festival will showcase the female artists who have shaped jazz and are solidifying its future. Pianist and composer Sumi Tonooka will headline the event, which is free and open to the public. The free Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival will offer activities for the whole family: a mix of exemplary musicians, a diverse gathering of people, a view of the city and a chance to enjoy a neighborhood that is rich in arts and culture. The event has grown over its 10 years from having a few hundred attendees to more than 3,000. Read the People’s Emergency Center’s press release for more information.

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