Partnering with Local Communities: The First Five “Promise Zones”

Last year, in his State of the Union address, President Obama announced his plan to work with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing and improve public safety by creating 20 “Promise Zones” across the country.

Yesterday, as we reflected on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, the President reiterated this commitment; he reminded us of the frustrations that many American families face, and the need to build ladders of opportunity for those working to get into the middle class.

In a country as great as this one, a child’s zip code should never be what determines his or her opportunity. The government can’t fix this on its own, but it can be a much better partner in helping local leaders develop policies that improve education, protect the most vulnerable, and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. That’s what we’ll be doing in these Promise Zones, where the federal government will partner with local innovators, advancing their work to expand opportunity in their communities.

Today, in the East Room of the White House, the President will announce the first five “Promise Zones”, located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

These areas – urban, rural, and tribal – have all committed, in partnership with local business and community leaders, to use existing resources on proven strategies, and make new investments that reward hard work. They have developed strong plans to create jobs, provide quality, affordable housing and expand educational opportunity, which we’ll help them execute with access to on-the-ground federal partners, resources, and grant preferences. 

Each of these designees has a proven track record of working collaboratively; their officials work as a team with business, faith-based and non-profit organizations; and with the public to ensure that opportunity becomes real for every member of their communities. 

Over the next three years, we’ll announce 15 more Promise Zones around the country to help build on this Administration’s commitment to create better futures for the middle class and those striving to reach the middle class. The President called this the defining challenge of our time, and I’m proud that today’s announcement will take us one step closer to addressing that challenge. You can watch the President’s remarks here, starting at 2:20 pm ET, and visit our web site to learn more about our efforts to build ladders of opportunity. 

Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council
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