Friday, April 30, 2010

Focusing on Results in Promise Neighborhoods

In the Promise Neighborhoods Notice Inviting Applications, the Department of Education puts considerable emphasis on the results it expects applicants to target in their planning process and the capacities needed to achieve these results. As stated, the purpose of Promise Neighborhoods is to improve educational and development outcomes for children in the most distressed communities by:

1) supporting efforts to improve child outcomes and ensuring data on those outcomes are communicated and analyzed on an ongoing basis by the community

2) identifying and increasing the capacity of eligible entities that are focused on achieving results and building a culture in the community that expects college or other post-secondary educational attainment of all children

3) building a complete continuum of cradle through college to career solutions that has both academic programs and family and community supports with a strong school(s) at the center

We believe that focusing on results and building capacity in communities is necessary to ensure that this initiative produces the change we want for children and families. In Focusing on Results, we asserted that pursuing results allows for collaboration amongst multiple stakeholders that is focused on common goals, enables us to target communities in need, ensures data driven assessments of programs, and drives a commitment to achieving positive outcomes. The Promise Neighborhoods program is now positioned to help communities do just that.

During the planning year, grantees will be required to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of children along their cradle through college to career continuum. Applicants for the Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grant will be required to describe the academic and family/community support results and indicators that will drive this needs assessment. The Notice provides specific academic and family/community support results and indicators for which all grantees will be required to collect data. This list of required results and indicators can be found in the official notice as well as here. They focus largely on early learning, health, attendance, assessments, graduation, attainment of post secondary education, safety, stability, family involvement, and access to technology.

Further, the Notice emphasizes the importance of capacity building by requiring applicants to describe their organization capacity to plan and implement a Promise Neighborhood. Applicants must describe their experience and lessons learned with the following capacities:

 Building Strong Alliances and Partnerships : Working with the school(s); the LEA in which those schools are located; Federal, State, and local government leaders; and other service providers. Applicants must also demonstrate that they can create formal and informal relationships and generate community support to achieve results

 Developing and Implementing Effective Strategies: Serving the neighborhood and its residents, including the applicant’s and its partners’ historical commitment and service to the neighborhood.

 Using Data for Learning and Accountability: Collecting, analyzing, and using data for decision-making and ongoing improvement.

 Results-based Financing: Securing and integrating funding streams from multiple public and private sources.

In addition, applicants are asked to address other kinds of community capacity and infrastructure:

• Resident Leadership and Engagement: Partners in the planning and implementation of Promise Neighborhoods need to create a preliminary Memorandum Of Understanding that that specifies how the lead applicant’s governing or advisory board id representative of the neighborhood served and how residents will have an active role in decision making.

• Policy Advocacy to Assure Success, Sustainability and Greater Scale: Applicants need to describe how they will work with local, state and the federal government to develop policies that support heir work and how they will identify changes that need to be made in order to assure scale and sustainability.

We will continue to provide updates and further analysis on the specific Promise Neighborhoods requirements in the upcoming days and weeks! For more information, please visit the Department of Education’s website.

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