CITY OF PHILADELPHIA RECEIVES FEDERAL GRANT TO SUPPORT WEST PHILADELPHIA PROMISE ZONE

The grant will support a new college and career readiness program in the Mantua neighborhood

Philadelphia, July 6, 2015 – The City of Philadelphia, on behalf of the federal Promise Zone in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia, and the Promise Zone in the City of Los Angeles have together been awarded nearly $650,000 in federal grants for a college and career readiness program designed to help disadvantaged high school students graduate ready to take their next steps into higher education or the workforce.

“Promise Zones are communities with deep-seated challenges.  Mantua faces persistent, high poverty – nearly double the poverty rate of the entire city – low educational attainment, high crime, low rates of employment and high rates of long-term housing vacancy,” said Mayor Nutter.  “But, Mantua also has strong neighborhood assets, like transit, new developments, a strong anchor in Drexel University, high-quality early learning opportunities, access to skills development and employment opportunities, and more, supporting its transformation.  This grant will further help Mantua create lasting change by preparing young adults to enter the economy as educated, productive citizens.”

 Using the new grant funds, which were awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, both cities will train AmeriCorps members who will run the college and career readiness program.  This is the first partnership in the Nation between two Promise Zone communities.  Philadelphia’s portion of the grant is about $290,000 and will be awarded annually for three years with the possibility for renewal.  It is the latest in a series of investments in West Philadelphia that are the result of the neighborhood’s Promise Zone designation, which now total more than $30 million.

“College and career readiness for all students is the overarching goal of The School District of Philadelphia,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent. “Students at West Philadelphia, Overbrook, Paul Robeson and Parkway West high schools will greatly benefit from these additional investments as they make plans for the future. We are grateful to AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National Community Service for supporting these Promise Zone schools.”

In Philadelphia, 25 AmeriCorps members will serve about 2,500 students across four Promise Zone High Schools: Overbrook High School, West Philadelphia High School, Paul Robeson High School, and Parkway West.  In three of these schools, 100 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged.  All four schools have student populations that are 94 to 97 percent African American.

AmeriCorps members will get two weeks intensive training prior to service, and be supported throughout the year with 260 hours of training on an on-going basis. The AmeriCorps members will learn how to help their students explore what they want to do after high school and how to support the students in taking the steps needed to get there – whether it’s college, military service, national service, and internship, an apprenticeship, or a job training program.  Promise Zone partner EducationWorks will recruit, develop and supervise Americorps members as well as measure and document results.

Philadelphia will need to raise private funds to match the Federal award. Program leaders will be work with the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia and the Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia to pursue this funding.

President Obama created the Promise Zone initiative to address the challenges of areas with deep and persistent poverty. In January 2014, Philadelphia was chosen as one of the first three cities to get the designation, which brings federal investment and attention to the targeted neighborhoods in West Philadelphia.

 There are more than 100 partners in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. They include the lead agency, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, as well as Philadelphia School District, Drexel University, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC, Philadelphia LISC, People’s Emergency Center, Philadelphia Redevelopment

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