National Community Needs Assessment Initiative

Nine new Promise Zones join 13 others to expand economic opportunity in distressed areas.

Memphis was not selected for the final round of Promise Zone communities. The city was among the finalist for U.S. President Barack Obama’s Promise Zone program but was not designated a Promise Zone by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Memphis will have the opportunity to participate in the Community Needs Assessment (CNA) Initiative. The initiative consists of technical assistance over the next year with federal coordination from HUD to focus on priorities in the Memphis Promise Zone application to help Memphis be successful during the next round of federal funding initiatives from HUD.  The Memphis Promise Zone focused on reducing high poverty, low education levels, high unemployment and crime rates, inadequate transportation options, and barriers to quality affordable housing.

The Administration named the final nine Promise Zones across the country – high poverty areas in select urban, rural and tribal communities. Through the Promise Zone Initiative, the Federal government will work strategically with local leaders to boost economic activity and job growth, improve educational opportunities, reduce crime and leverage private investment to improve the quality of life in these vulnerable areas. The nine final select cities include: Atlanta, Ga.; Nashville, Tenn.; Evansville, Ind.; South Los Angeles, Ca.; San Diego, Ca.; Southwest Florida Regional Planning Commission; Spokane Tribe of Indians, Wash.; Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Rolette County, N.D.; and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro traveled to Atlanta to make the announcement while U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new Promise Zone in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico on Friday.  In addition, a host of other senior Administration officials made individual announcements in the other Promise Zones.

“Promise Zones bring the power of partnership to a whole new level as we seek to bring opportunity to neighborhoods long locked out of their area’s prosperity,” said HUD Secretary Castro. “As a former mayor from a city that includes a Promise Zone, I know just how powerful these collaborations are when it comes to building stronger, economically vital neighborhoods.”

“Rural and Tribal areas face unique challenges and we are ready to take on those challenges with creative solutions that strengthen communities,” said USDA Secretary Vilsack. “The Promise Zone initiative delivers proven results by encouraging collaboration between the federal government, community organizations, the private sector and state and local governments. Through these partnerships, we are supporting jobs and economic opportunities that enable rural areas to thrive.”

The newly designated Promise Zones join 13 others that President Obama designated in 2014 and 2015. These Promise Zones include targeted neighborhoods in: San Antonio, Tex.; Los Angeles, Ca.; Philadelphia, Penn.; Southeastern Kentucky Highlands; the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; Camden, N.J.; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Sacramento, Ca.; St. Louis/St. Louis County, Miss.; Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, S.D.; The South Carolina Low Country;

The Promise Zone communities were selected from 82 applications from 38 states and Puerto Rico. Each urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zone applicant was asked to put together a clear description of how the Promise Zone designation would accelerate and strengthen the community’s own efforts at comprehensive community revitalization. Each Promise Zone will be coordinated by a lead community based organization in partnership with the Obama Administration. HUD will be the federal lead for the 14 urban designees, while USDA will serve as the lead federal partner to the tribal and rural Promise Zones.

All Promise Zones will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them navigate federal resources, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone initiatives.

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