Friday, September 19, 2014

Applications for Second Round of Promise Zones Initiative now Available

In last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama announced the launch of the Promise Zones initiative, an initative that would create 20 Promise Zones in high-poverty areas nationwide in which the federal government would concentrate investments to improve economic conditions, work to reduce crime, improve educational opportunities, and expand job opportunities. 

Earlier this year, the President designated the first five Promise Zones. Early successes in these five communities have already been cited, including the following:

·    Graduation rates have climbed to nearly 90 percent in the San Antonio Promise Zone;

·    2,000 kids in Los Angeles were able to find a summer job through a youth employment initiative;

·    900 unemployed people in Southeastern Kentucky have been connected to a job; and

·    Over 700 households and 50 businesses in remote southeast Oklahoma will soon have access to clean, safe drinking water for the first time.

Today, the Obama Administration has announced that applications for a second round of Promise Zone designation are now available.  These applications are open to urban, rural, and tribal communities.  If selected, communities will benefit from partnerships with twelve federal agencies working in close collaboration to provide resources and expertise to help them develop economic opportunities and growth.  Five AmeriCorps VISTAs and a federal liaison will also be assigned to each community that is selected.
To apply, a letter of intent must be completed by October 17, 2014, with final applications due by November 21, 2014. 

For more information about the eligibility requirements for the newly available Promise Zone designation opportunity, see the Second Round Promise Zones Designation Fact Sheet.  You can also visit our Promise Zones Brief for additional background information on the purpose of Promise Zones and their linkages to other White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) Data Tells Us

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released the American Community Survey (ACS) data, which provides detailed information on demographic characteristics in cities and states. CSSP believes that place matters and strongly impacts the health, safety, educational and employment opportunities of children and families, so using the data released today, we looked closely into three places where our place-based initiatives are currently taking place in Washington, D.C., California, and Tennessee. 

What did we find? Read our statement for a detailed breakdown of the poverty rates and household incomes by race and ethnicity within these metropolitan areas. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2013 Poverty Data: New Data from the U.S. Census on Poverty, Income, and Health Insurance.

Earlier today, the U.S. Census Bureau released reports on the 2013 data on income, poverty and health insurance coverage. This year, the data showed promising improvements in the poverty rate. For the first time since 2006, the official poverty rate dropped to 14.5 percent (down from 15 percent in 2012). There was also a reduction in the child poverty rate, this is a significant change and the first time child poverty has been reduced in the past thirteen years. While huge disparities continue to exist for Black and Hispanic families, the rate of poverty experienced by Hispanics was reduced and income increased. The poverty rate for other racial and ethnic groups remained unchanged. The 2013 poverty rates among non-Hispanic Whites and Asians were 9.6 percent and 10.5 percent respectively, while the poverty rates for Blacks and Hispanics were 27.2 percent and 23.5 percent respectively.

Poverty and Income Data Highlights
  • Hispanics were the only group to experience a significant drop in their poverty rate down from 25.6 to 23.5 percent.
  • The poverty rate for children under 18 fell from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent- with 14.1 million children living in poverty.
  • The poverty rate for families fell to 11.2 percent from 11.8 percent.
  • The poverty rate for families with a female householder (no husband present) was 30.6 percent, while the poverty rate for families with a male householder (no wife present) was 15.9 percent.
  • The poverty rate for children in female-headed households was more than 5 times the rate for related children in married-couple families, 55.0 percent and 10.2 percent respectively.
  • The number of men and women working full time, year round with earnings increased by 1.8 million and 1.0 million respectively. The rate of fulltime year round workers went up from 71.1 percent to 72.7 percent for men and 59.4 percent up to 60.5 percent for women.
The Important Role of Public Policy in Supporting Children and Families. Refundable Tax Credits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program help families with basic needs and prevent some from living in worse circumstances than they would have otherwise. Their value is not calculated into the poverty rate. If it were, the number of people living in poverty would be reduced by 3 percent and 1.6 percent respectively. Social Security also has a significant impact on children and families reducing poverty by 8.5 percent.

Experts attribute the reduction in child poverty to the increase in full-time, year round workers, a number that increased by more than 1 million between 2012 and 2013. In order to support these families diverse, multi-generational, anti-poverty strategies are needed. These multi-generational approaches must be designed in a way that promotes economic stability for the entire family – including educational opportunities and work supports for parents and high quality early care and education opportunities for children, housing, transportation and tax credits, but also supports to build strong parent child relationships and prevent toxic stress.

The Need for a Focus on Equity. The poverty data released today indicate significant racial disparities. Black and Hispanic families have continued to have disproportionately higher poverty rates and lower incomes when compared to White families, which has been consistent for more than three decades. Child poverty rates fell for non-Hispanic whites, Asians and Hispanics between 2012 and 2013, but the poverty rates for Black children did not change during the same time period. White non-Hispanic children were responsible for about half of the reduction in the number of children in poverty. This inequity shows the need for innovative solutions and targeted public investments. Policy strategies should take into account the existence of disparate opportunities and outcomes—attention to equity creates solutions that best meet the needs of the entire community.

To read CSSP's Statement on the New Poverty Data and the Need for Multi-Generational Policy, click here.

For more strategies to Reduce child poverty read our related report or visit

Monday, September 15, 2014

CSSP Wins the 2014 When Work Works Award!

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is proud to announce it has been honored with the 2014 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success.

The Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced the 2014 winners of the When Work Works Awards, which recognize employers that have created effective workplaces based on six components: autonomy; work-life fit; supervisor support for work success; satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement; opportunities for learning; and a culture of trust.

The award is the result of a rigorous assessment. Worksites must first qualify in the top 20% of the country based on a nationally representative sample of employers. Two-thirds of the evaluation of applicants comes from an employee survey. Applicants are evaluated on six research-based ingredients of an effective workplace: opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work-life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement — all factors associated with employee health, well-being, and engagement.

A total of 284 workplaces won the award. Within the District of Columbia, CSSP joins KPMG, and USDA as the top three winners.

For more information about the award, read more here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Apply for Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance

Are you working to ensure students are safe when traveling to and from school? Are you trying to create more opportunities for young people to be active and healthy in your community? The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is now accepting applications to receive free technical assistance to help underserved communities on campaigns to obtain shared use agreements, Complete Streets policies, or other policies that support walking, bicycling and Safe Routes to School.

Examples of technical assistance include:
  • providing resources
  • assisting with the creation of campaign plans and platforms
  • developing communications strategies
  • coaching to ensure a successful campaign.
Applications are encouraged from communities that are at various stages of the policy process. Successful applicants will receive technical assistance for a period of eight months.

Applications are due by September 26, 2014 at 5pm ET.

For complete details on this opportunity, including a link to the application form, please visit the Safe Routes to School National Partnership's website here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Webinar: Placing School Improvement and Student Achievement at the Center of Revitalization in Seattle’s Yesler Choice Neighborhood

Choice Neighborhoods, a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative program operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is designed to not only revitalize distressed public or HUD assisted housing, but to also transform the entire community in which the housing is located.

Improving schools and the educational outcomes can be a key driver in creating desirable neighborhoods. Recognizing this, the Seattle Choice Neighborhoods grantees prioritized educational improvement in a high-needs neighborhood school by collaborating with multiple partners, including Seattle University, the school district and nonprofit organizations.  As a result, positive educational outcomes are emerging for students in Yesler’s local elementary school.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy,in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be hosting a webinar that will draw on the experience of Seattle’s Choice Neighborhood to allow participants to better understand:
  • Why focusing on improving schools and bettering education outcomes is important for broader neighborhood revitalization 
  • How creating services for children along a “cradle-to-career” pipeline can be useful in improving both education outcomes and neighborhood schools
  • Why the role of anchor institutions and other education partnerships are an integral part of implementing educational improvement strategies successfully
Featured speakers will include John Forsyth from the Seattle Housing Authority and Kent Koth from Seattle University.  Register here to attend this webinar, which will be held on September 24, from 1 – 2 PM EST. 

50 States for Good Competition Announced

Tom’s of Maine is inviting nominations for the 50 States for Good competition. Now it its sixth year, the competition recognizes nonprofit organizations and projects committed to addressing pressing community needs. This competition is a great opportunity for communities to recognize local and grassroots efforts that are driven by residents and local stakeholders. 

Chosen by a public vote, finalist organizations will receive $10,000 in support of a current or future project or event. In the past, the 50 States for Good has awarded funding for community playgrounds, sustainable nature trails and homeless shelters. A total of 51 organizations – one from each state and the District of Columbia – will be selected as finalists. Any person with a valid email address can register as a member of the Tom's of Maine online community and cast a vote.

To nominate a project, an official representative of a nonprofit organization must submit a brief essay that describes the organization’s work and the scope of the proposed project. Eligible finalists must be nonprofit organizations operating in the United States or the District of Columbia.

Click here to learn more about past projects and how to nominate an organization.