Families National Issues

Incubating Change: LA Gets in on the Feds’ Promise Grants

Two LA Groups have just received $500,000 in federal grants
to help create programs modeled on Geoffrey Canada’s remarkable Harlem Children’s Zone.

The two groups are Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights. (Love, love, love these folks. They are such a great choice.)

And the Youth Policy Institute—another group with a very good reputation, and which is very well set up to implement a program like the Promise Grants hopes eventually to fund.

Of course, $500 grand is just about enough to complete the paperwork on something as ambitious as providing cradle to college help for entire neighborhoods of children, with the notion that if you change the whole ecology in which a kid lives, you can dramatically transform that kid’s chances for a good and productive future.

Here’s how Howard Blume of the LA Times explains the HCZ strategy:

The Harlem zone covers a 97-block area of Manhattan with a $48-million budget, or about $5,000 per child annually, not including government funding for schools that substantially surpasses education spending in California. Mothers can begin to participate in its programs when they are pregnant, and services follow their children throughout their education.

In addition, the HCZ features some hot shot charter schools right in the middle of its 97 blocks.

In other words, our two new LA “Promise Neighborhoods
—two among 21 in the nation—are just about….hmmm…. $47.5 million short of what they need to launch anything resembling what Geoffrey Canada is doing, and what the Obama administration hopes to create around the nation.

The good news is that this half-million dollar jump start puts both of these groups in the running to go for some much larger federal grants, say $10 or $20 million for each neighborhood.

In other words, the Obama administration wants the two groups to use their respective $500,000 grants to develop a plan.

Will it work? Hard to say. But it’s exactly the right chance for this administration to be taking.

The New York Times also reports on its two Promise Grant winners.

Here’s a clip:

“This represents a down payment for the future educational success of children in some of the most distressed and challenged communities around the country,” Arne Duncan, the federal education secretary, told reporters in Washington.

Mr. Duncan said President Obama had asked Congress for an additional $210 million for the project in next year’s budget. Most of that would go toward bringing the improvement plans to life, although organizations would have to reapply to receive the new money….

1 Comment

  • If the recipients of these grants were to pay their executives the same salaries as the notoriously greedy Geoffrey Canada makes, then the grants wouldn’t be enough. Canada is probably the highest paid charlatan in the lucrative charter-voucher sector, pulling down a half million dollar base salary. That doesn’t include film and commercial residuals, stock options, and a host of other profitable ventures he’s involved in.

    Yvette Carnell of atlantapost.com pegged Canada best: “…aided by Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone, one of charter school’s biggest advocates, who hustles American Express credit cards in television ads. The advertisement only highlights charter school’s connection to free market principles.”

    Carnell’s “Are Money and Profit Behind the Charter School Fever?” is a real “must read”


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