Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Promise Zones Stakeholder Webinars & Public Comment Period

Next week, representatives from a number of federal agencies will be hosting webinars for communities interested in the Promise Zones Initiative, which provides communities that receive this designation with an opportunity to accelerate revitalization efforts through increased access to federal supports and programs. A public comment period related to the second round of applications is currently underway, with a solicitation expected later this year. At least five, and up to 15, new Promise Zone designations will be made in the second round. The first five Promise Zones designations were made at the beginning of this year.

These Promise Zone Stakeholder webinars are intended to address topics including: the public comment period for the application process and criteria for the second round of the Promise Zone Initiative, the timeline and eligibility to apply, and best practices from the first round. Three webinars will be held, with each one focusing on a different category of applicants:

  • Promise Zone Initiative Stakeholder Webinar (Tribal)
    • April 29, 2014 - 2:00 - 3:00pm EST
  • Promise Zone Initiative Stakeholder Webinar (Urban)
    • April 29, 2014 - 3:30 - 4:30pm EST
  • Promise Zone Initiative Stakeholder Webinar (Rural)
    • April 30, 2014 - 3:00 - 4:00pm EST

You must register for each webinar by 5:00pm on Friday, April 25 in order to participate. (Links to the webinar will be shared with registered participants on Monday, April 28.)

The public comment period on the proposed selection process and criteria opened on April 17, 2014 and will conclude on June 16, 2014.

To learn more about the Promise Zones Initiative, how to register for these webinars, or how to comment on the proposed selection process and criteria, please visit here. (Links to the proposed selection criteria and webinar registration pages are along the right side of the webpage.)

For past coverage of the Promise Zones Initiative, please check out our collection of blog posts here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Department of Education Releases New Parent and Community Engagement Framework

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has recently released the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family School Partnerships, which will support families, schools, districts and states in building capacity for student achievement and school improvement. The model framework can help schools to develop partnerships and increase family and community engagement.

The framework consists of four key components:
  1. The Challenge;
  2. Opportunity and Conditions;
  3. Policy and Program Goals; and
  4. Family and Partnership Outcomes

The Dual Capacity-Building Framework provides a guide for schools and districts to use to build the type of effective community engagement that will make schools the center of the communities.

For more information, watch Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announce the release of the framework.

Annie E. Casey Foundation Launches Community Change Webinar Series

Register for the Annie E. Casey Foundation's new webinar series on community change. Community Matters will provide a forum for the foundation to share lessons learned during more than two decades of place-based work focused on “strengthening low-income communities to transform them into places where children and families can thrive."

The first webinar, "Partnering With Residents in Community Change: Strategies for Engagement and Community Building," will take place on Thursday, May 8 at 2:00 pm (EST). The webinar will focus on community building and the role place-based funders can play in supporting and encouraging resident-led community change. Panelists include:
  • Ryan Chao, Vice President for Civic Sites and Community Change, The Annie E. Casey Foundation (moderator)
  • Reginald Jones, president and CEO, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation
  • Moki Macías, Director of Community Building in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site
To register for the webinar, click here (registration password: communi).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Report from CSSP - Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Reducing Child Poverty

The Center for the Study of Social Policy is proud to announce a new section on and a corresponding report, Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Reducing Child Poverty, which highlight important strategies states can utilize to improve the economic strains for families and children living in poverty. The report discusses the implications of poverty on every aspect of a child and family’s life that can hinder positive adolescent and adult outcomes. Children growing up in poverty are exposed to a variety of risk factors, including inadequate nutrition, substandard housing and untreated illness that can affect their cognitive, social and emotional development.

In the report, CSSP focuses on four primary policy areas for reducing child poverty with detailed policy strategies within each primary area of focus. The four areas of focus include recommendations to support policymakers to:
  1. improve supports for families and their children by strengthening the safety net
  2. promote family financial success through supportive work/family policies
  3. provide supports for families with multiple barriers
  4. invest in young children
In addition to the report, CSSP is excited to share this resource as an interactive tool that presents data and trends. Through this tool, information is readily available to be viewed for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Concrete strategies and useful background information related to the importance of reducing child poverty are also available

The information in this section is designed to inform policymakers in their efforts to ensure that all families have access to a strong safety net and supports and services that can minimize hardships.

Visit to learn more.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Summer Food Service Program

The USDA is hosting a webinar highlighting the Summer Food Service Program to help end summertime hunger for children and teenagers. Millions of children and teenagers rely on free or reduced-cost school lunches during the school year, but during the summer, these students are at increased risk of going hungry because they no longer have access to the free and reduced-price meals they received while they were in school. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to cover the summer meal gap by providing nutritious meals to students when school is not in session. Free meals that meet Federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children 18 years old and younger at approved SFSP sites in areas of significant concentrations of low-income children. Most sites provide one or two meals each day, while places serving migrant children may serve up to three meals per child, each day.
State approve SFSP meal sites as open, enrolled, or camp sites:

  • Open – These sites are operated in low-income areas where at least half of the children come from families with incomes at or below 185% of the federal poverty level, making them eligible for free and reduced-cost school meals. Meals are served free to any child. 
  • Enrollment – Enrollment sites provide free meals to children enrolled in an activity program at the site. At least half of the children enrolled at the site must eligible for free and reduced-cost meals. 
  • Camp – These sites receive payments only for meals served to children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

Though this program is intended to help the majority of children that receive free or reduced-cost school lunches, only 16 percent of eligible kids are participating. Want to learn more about how kids in your community can benefit from SFSP? As part of their webinar series, the USDA will be hosting a webinar, Make your Summer Meals Site the Talk of the Town, to learn how to get more involved. The webinar will be hosted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM EST. To register for the webinar, click here

Choice Neighborhoods: Critical Community Improvements Promising Practice Guide

The goals of Choice Neighborhoods, the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative program operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, go beyond simply revitalizing distressed public housing. The program is aimed at transforming entire communities by bringing together stakeholders such as residents, local leaders, schools, private developers, nonprofits and cities to create and execute a vision for the entire neighborhood surrounding public housing or HUD-assisted housing. To this end, Choice grants provide Implementation grantees with up to 15% of their total award to create critical community improvements, projects that will improve community assets and transform blighted conditions.

The city of Boston’s innovative use of their critical community improvement funds is the topic of a recently released Choice Neighborhoods Promising Practice Guide. Boston’s grant award totaled $20.5 million, giving the city $3,075,000 to spend on neighborhood improvements in the Quincy Corridor community. The consensus-driven process Boston used to select the projects funded with these dollars goes beyond Choice Neighborhoods and is an inspiring example of city leadership and collaboration.

After receiving one of the five initial Choice grants in 2011, Boston’s mayor created an advisory committee comprised of city officials and community based organizations to determine how to use the critical community improvement dollars. The mayor encouraged the committee’s collaboration and required the group to fund projects that were transformational, had a physical presence in the neighborhood and did not replace money the city would have otherwise invested in the community.

Ultimately, the city funded a diverse group of projects that represented the interests of each community partner. Boston’s critical community improvement funds supported the following projects:
  • Bornstein and Pearl Food Production Small Business Center (aka Pearl Meats) – A former meat packing plant, Pearl Meats is being transformed into a community kitchen that will support over 50 food production businesses and create 150 jobs in its first five years.
  • Façade Improvement Projects/Main Street Revitalization – The city is expanding its existing Community Development Block grant resources to improve the store fronts of local businesses along the city’s main corridor.
  • Facilities Improvements for Nonprofits – A portion of the funds will be used to rehabilitate facilities that serve neighborhood residents.
  • Community wi-fi – Free wireless internet service will be expanded with a stronger signal.
  • Playgrounds – Two playgrounds are being renovated and expanded to address the neighborhood’s limited play space for children.
Boston’s neighborhood improvements are helping to transform Quincy Corridor into a thriving community. Their diverse group of projects demonstrates how innovative ideas can emerge when a variety of stakeholders are given the opportunity for genuine collaboration.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Changing Course: Improving Outcomes for African American Males Involved with Child Welfare Systems

As the Obama Administration joins with philanthropic and business leaders to launch a national initiative designed to provide opportunities for boys and young men of color, a new Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) brief begins to examine the disparate experiences of African American males involved with the nation’s child welfare systems.

The brief - Changing Course: Improving Outcomes for African American Males Involved with Child Welfare Systems - is designed to spur dialogue and action by examining what we know and identifying promising policy and practice strategies that can help to improve experiences and outcomes among this highly vulnerable group.

“The child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems can, at their best, offer the pivotal opportunities that help young men move along the pathway to education, employment and healthy family relationships,” said Frank Farrow, director of CSSP. “Conversely, if these systems are not effective, they can be way stations on the cradle-to-prison pipeline that blights too many futures.”

With a greater spotlight on the needs of this often misunderstood population, the paper outlines a framework for action – now and in the longer-term. Specifically it includes:
  • A summary about what is known about the situation of African American males involved with the child welfare system.
  • An outline of a more effective approach for improved outcomes for African American males.
  • Specific steps that system leaders, policymakers and funders can take now to make a difference in the outcomes for African America males in state and local child welfare systems.
Published by CSSP as part of the broader work of the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, the paper was produced with support from The California Endowment and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Ultimately, we want optimal outcomes for African American males who are involved with child welfare and juvenile justice systems in the same way we do for all children. And we are absolutely confident that this is achievable,” said Oronde Miller, senior associate at CSSP. “This paper offers perspective and guidance informed directly by young African American males, as well as some of the professionals who have been most effective in supporting them. We hope this work inspires the urgent course change we envision.”

Read the report: Changing Course: Improving Outcomes for African American Males Involved with Child Welfare Systems by Oronde Miller, Frank Farrow, Judith Meltzer and Susan Notkin.