06.22.17

Rep. Schiff Sends Letter Urging Department of Education to Continue Grant Preference for Promise Zones

The Promise Zone Program Gives Federal Grant Preference to 22 High Poverty Communities in the U.S., Including Los Angeles

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging the Department to continue giving competitive preference priority to Promise Zone communities in the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Promise Neighborhood competition, and other Department of Education programs where preference for Promise Zones is given.

“Thanks to its Promise Zone designation, the Los Angeles Promise Zone has been able to invest $290 million in federal funding from 15 federal agencies into place-based education, workforce and economic development, housing, health and wellness, and public safety programs, improving the quality of life for residents and helping to break the cycle of poverty,” Rep. Schiff said. “We are concerned that federal agencies, including the Department of Education, will no longer give this preference to Promise Zone areas that apply for federal grants. DOE must reaffirm that it will continue to give grant preference to Promise Zone communities, like the Los Angeles Promise Zone in my district, because they rely most heavily on these federal grants and would be most affected.”

The Los Angeles Promise Zone includes East Hollywood and Hollywood in Rep. Schiff’s district. It is one of 22 high-poverty communities in urban, rural, and tribal regions around the nation that received the Promise Zone designation under the previous administration. Under the program, Promise Zone areas can receive priority preference on competitive federal grant applications. The Promise Zone Community Program has helped high-poverty communities work with the Federal Government and local entities to attract private investment, improve affordable housing and educational opportunities, create jobs, reduce serious and violent crime, and assist local leaders in navigating federal programs and cutting through red tape.

The full text of his letter is below:

June 22, 2017

 

The Honorable Betsy DeVos

Secretary

U. S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Secretary DeVos:

 

I am writing to urge the Department of Education to continue to give competitive preference priority to Promise Zone communities in the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Promise Neighborhood competition, and other Department of Education programs where preference for Promise Zones is given. The Promise Zone program targets high poverty communities in urban, rural, and tribal communities for preference in grant programs, and has begun to make a difference in the 22 communities awarded the designation around the nation.

 

The Promise Zone Community program, begun in 2014, is an important initiative that allows high-poverty communities, including one located in my district, to work with the Federal Government and local entities to attract private investment, improve affordable housing and educational opportunities, create jobs, reduce serious and violent crime, and assist local leaders in navigating federal programs and cutting through red tape. The City of Los Angeles has worked tirelessly to develop innovative partnerships and best practices to support this model. Using its Promise Zone designation, the Los Angeles Promise Zone has been able to invest $290 million in federal funding from 15 federal agencies for place-based education, workforce and economic development, housing, health/wellness, and public safety programs, improving the quality of life for residents and helping to break the cycle of poverty.

 

Specifically, funding from the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhood program has helped transform 26 low-performing schools in the Los Angeles Promise Zone, while providing support for students and their families. In 2015-2016, graduation rates at 10 Promise Neighborhood high schools rose to 86.1%, up 5.6 percentage points from the previous year. For the first time, schools in the Los Angeles Promise Zone achieved a higher rate than California as a whole (83.2%).

 

Los Angeles as well as the 21 other Promise Zone communities in 19 states and territories are demonstrating the progress we can make if we concentrate our efforts. I strongly urge you to extend priority preference to any applications from Promise Zone areas that may apply to the Promise Neighborhood program and other programs for the FY17 and future fiscal years.

 

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions you may have regarding this issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

Adam B. Schiff

Member of Congress