Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What's New in the 2011 Promise Competition

Last week the Department of Education released the much anticipated 2011 Promise Neighborhoods Program Notice. The program described is very similar to that in last year’s competition in terms of situating the Promise Neighborhoods Program as both a program and a strategy for revitalizing communities. The basic components of the program -- a needs assessment, continuum of solutions, a longitudinal database to track progress, partnerships and a system for tracking policy barriers and leveraging multiple resources -- remain. However, the 2011 Notice streamlines the requirements for the Planning Grants into five categories, includes a competition for Implementation Grants and contains some clarifications and additions to the overall requirements (many of which respond to public comments received by DOE to the draft notice released earlier this year).

Key differences in the 2011 Promise Neighborhoods Program are:

Matching Requirements: Implementation Grant applicants must demonstrate a commitment of 100% match at time of application and Planning Grant applicants must demonstrate a matching commitment of 50%. However, applicants are allowed to count federal funds towards the match as long as applicants demonstrate that these funds will be reallocated specifically to support the proposed PN activities and the funds are used during the specified grant period. For Implementation Grants, 10% of matching funds must come from private sources. Applications applying under Absolute Priority 2 and 3 must meet a 25% match for planning grant proposals and 50% for implementation grants.

Competitive Preference Priorities (CPPs): Applicants for both Planning and Implementation grants may identify up to two CPPs to be reviewed for additional points in the competition. These priorities are:

  •  Comprehensive Local Early Learning Network (2 points)
  •  Quality Internet Connectivity (1 point)
  •  Arts and Humanities (1 point)
  •  Quality Affordable Housing (1 point): To meet this priority, an applicant must propose to serve geographic areas that are undergoing revitalization through a Choice Neighborhoods or HOPE VI grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during FY 2009 or later years. The applicant must have either received the Choice Neighborhoods or HOPE VI grant or provide in its application a memorandum of understanding between it and a partner that is the recipient of one of those grants.

Family and Community Support Indicators: For the Result, Families and community members support learning in Promise Neighborhood School, DOE requests the following program indicators be used:

  • For children birth to kindergarten entry, the # and % of parents or family members who report that they read to their child three or more times a week;
  •  For children in kindergarten through the eighth grade, the # and % of parents or family members who report encouraging their child to read books outside of school; and
  • For children in the ninth through twelfth grades, the # and % of parents or family members who report talking with their child about the importance of college and career; or
  • Possible fourth indicator TBD by applicant.

Governance and Accountability: DOE specifically requests that the applicant describe in its proposed governance structure the specific mechanisms and systems that will be used to hold partners accountable.

Work with a National Evaluator: In this year’s competition, DOE provides more details as to what working with the DOE and a national evaluator would entail. This includes ensuring that the evaluator and DOE have access to relevant data and developing in evaluation strategy with the evaluator and DOE that would include a comparison and control group.

Data Accessibility: In the requirements around data, DOE now specifically mentions that data should be accessible to parents, families, and residents in addition other program partners and evaluators.

Other additions to the competition that are worth noting include: 
  • In response to concerns raised about barriers faced by students with disabilities and limited English proficiency, the language in the notice is strengthened to encourage applicants to consider how they will ensure equitable that children and families in the community have equitable access to and can participate in proposed programs and activities.
  • The notice also contains an Invitational Priority (with no extra points allocated) for those applicants that include in their proposal plans to coordinate with adult education providers that serve residents in the neighborhood.
  •  The Implementation Grant notice states that the Department of Justice intends to provide optional, supplemental funding to grantees whose plan includes public safety strategies to address violence, gangs and illegal drugs.

 The 2011 Notice and application package can be found on the DOE Promise Neighborhoods website as well as other background and overview materials.

Other Resources:

CSSP's Guide to Successfully Preparing for Federal Grants
Promise Neighborhoods Institute

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