Samantha Porter – Director of Place-based Initiatives,
Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity
There was a surge of activity in the Promise Zone during the final quarter of 2017!
In October, Lauren Parker and Cheryl Weiss represented the West Philadelphia Promise Zone at a convening of the National Coalition of Promise Zones (NCPZ) in Washington, DC. The purpose of this trip was to advocate for the continuation of Promise Zone “preference points” in federal funding opportunities under the new Administration. Together with 21 urban, rural and tribal Promise Zones, our team met with legislators, representatives from the primary federal agencies providing place-based funding opportunities, as well as officials from the Vice President’s office. The trip also provided an opportunity for us to learn and share best practices for doing this work. We are excited for continued participation with NCPZ in 2018.
The Promise Zone VISTAS have started to build a relationship with their peers across the river in the Camden Promise Zone. This resulted in the opportunity to observe a two-day summit for the Camden Promise Zone federal and non-profit partners, led by the Partnership for Public Service. The summit focused on building strong partnerships and improving coordination between federal and implementation partners.
One noteworthy highlight comes from our partner organization, Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), which has just received an Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (AFCS) Youth Entrepreneurship Fund grant. This grant will support Project U-Turn, a citywide initiative to reengage Opportunity Youth and increase overall graduation rates among. In the Promise Zone, this work supports the E3-West Power Center operated by The Bridge. This, along with other engagement strategies, have helped students from the Promise Zone to explore pathways to college and career training. Congratulations to PYN!
Lastly, as I reflect on Martin Luther King Day, I more fully understand the collective impact work we do in the Promise Zone as a shining example of Dr. King’s message. I am reminded that the Promise Zone designation is not a grant, rather a commitment by each of our partners to stand by our neighbors as we continue to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?‘”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.