Promise Neighborhoods provide a unique opportunity to address racial inequity

The Urban Institute’s latest research argues that Promise Neighborhoods – the U.S. Department of Education effort launched in 2010 and inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone—are a valuable vehicle for racial equity. Promise Neighborhoods aim at aligning systems from “cradle-to-career,” breaking down silos, and strengthening local resources and systems to provide high-quality education to youths in strong families and well-resourced communities. More than 30 grantees participated in the program, from urban communities a few miles wide to rural places spanning multiple counties. The brief argues that the initiative’s focus on deep, ongoing, and community-wide investment, delivered locally and flexibly, has serious promise for advancing racial equity. However, the author also notes that the programmatic focus of Promise Neighborhoods would benefit from a policy and systems-level lens, and suggests that strong and disaggregated data, wide partnership nets, and an explicit focus on the root causes of racial disparity can further enhance the promise.

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