Promise Neighborhoods and Harlem Child Zone… to be or not to be? That is the question for these communities.

promis kids

To be or not to be?  Communities that applied for Obama’s Promise Neighborhood grants in the past have asked this question.  They wanted their communities to be more conducive to learning in order to help their students achieve in their schools.  The Harlem Child Zone was the picture of what Promise Neighborhoods wanted to achieve. Many critics have felt like the cost is not worth the product that Harlem Child Zone has created.  The Harlem Child Zone leader, Mr. Canada said, “We are attempting to save a community and its kids at the same time…” The intent of these programs make sense, and are its strengths.  The critics say that there is not enough evidence that “its approach to linking social services to promote student achievement… justified the investment of federal education dollars.”

If I had to choose a side… I feel like it’s worth it.  The sad thing is… the Promise Neighborhoods program has only been around since 2010… and here we are in 2013 and “due to the amount of funding available” there are no new Promise Neighborhoods grants to apply for.  Here is the statement from the department of education from May:

http://www.ed.gov/oii-news/update-oiis-2013-grant-competitions

If we don’t have these services around long enough to be able to show a difference, how can we judge them accordingly?  Do you think that investing money into the community truly makes a difference in the lives of those students?  Is the difference worth the money?

-Sasha Doyel

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5 thoughts on “Promise Neighborhoods and Harlem Child Zone… to be or not to be? That is the question for these communities.

  1. Sasha,

    Thank you for the update about the Promise schools, I am sad to hear the funding has been cut. However, I feel that the success of promise schools has shown how effective it is to work at the community level to being to address education issues. It frustrates me when it is brought up that some potential solutions “cost too much” because I feel like the “cost” we should all be worried about is the future of our children with our current failing school system. I think the government needs to seriously reevaluate how they label and divide funds and acknowledge that communities and education are not isolated and that they truly go hand in hand.

    Alisha

    • Thanks Alisha! I agree with you on government seriously needing to reevaluate how they label and divide funds. In the link from the Dep. of Education, it shows the other grants they are still funding, and it was really interesting for me to see that they are still offering different sorts of grants for “magnet schools” and “charter schools” but nothing at all that seems like help involving the community along with the schools… Promise Neighborhoods was a unique opportunity. If the argument against Promise Neighborhoods was against the use of Federal education dollars to fund it… maybe it could have been a 2 part grant that came from 2 different sources. I don’t know… just a thought… -Sasha

      • Sasha, I think something along the lines of a 2 part grant sounds like a really great idea! It could provide a way to utilize “education money” and “community money” with still keeping them separate.
        Alisha

  2. Hello Sasha,

    I agree that the grants should be available. When I was reading about the opportunity gap, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Some schools cannot afford to supply text books for their kids to read, let alone take home for homework while other schools have auditoriums. That is not how equality works. The grants are a way to level out the playing field. If we cannot find a way to distribute funds equally, then the schools with out, should be accommodated accordingly. In all honestly grants are not enough as they only provide assistance for a select few. ALL public schools should be accommodated until the promise of equality is met.

    Best,
    Alicia

  3. Hi Sasha,

    One thing that I tend to wonder when funding is cut due to lack of data around a program is: what information are they looking for? In this case, I can’t imagine what evidence they are looking for that will really solidify that this program is working for kids. While I understand the desire for data in the form of numbers, I’m not sure that that is appropriate (or valid) in this case.

    One thing to keep in mind, though, is that any time money is given, there is an expected “result”. I wonder if there were parameters or goals put in place when this program originated or if this kind of thinking happened after the check was written.

    Megan

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