The creation of “Promise Zones” is an effort,with support from several U.S. government agencies,to improve living and economic conditions by partnering with communities and businesses.
“We have to make sure that this recovery,which is real,isn’t leaving anyone behind,” President Barack Obama said as he unveiled of the initiative Thursday in an East Room speech at the White House.
The zones will be created in San Antonio,Philadelphia,Los Angeles,southeast Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The five regions will receive federal money and tax credits and swift assistance with federal grant applications.
Community leaders from the five areas were in the audience.
“Anybody in this country who works hard should have a fair shot at success,period,” Obama said.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said on its website the Obama administration intends to create more jobs,increase economic security,expand access to educational opportunities,offer more affordable housing and improve public safety.
In Philadelphia,where 40 percent of children live in poverty,high schools and colleges will provide mentors for younger children.
The Choctaw Nation plans to build new water and sewer systems to attract businesses.
Obama said the new initiative will make certain that a child’s success will be determined “not by the ZIP code she’s born in,but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams.”
With several students on the stage behind him,Obama referred to the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy as evidence of success. The school provides programs from birth to high-school graduation.
Obama acknowledged 2013 was a rough political year,but he said,“I genuinely believe this is not a partisan issue. … This could be a challenge that unites us all. I don’t care that the ideas are Democratic or Republican,but I do care that they work.”
“This is going to be a year of action,” Obama said. “That’s what the American people expect,and they’re ready and willing to pitch in and help. This is not just a job for government; this is a job for everybody.”
The administration plans to add 15 more regions to the initiative in the next three years.
Reach reporter Cathryn Walker at [email protected] or (202) 326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.