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President Obama Announces First Five "Promise Zones" To Battle Poverty

Yesterday President Obama announced the first five of 20 "Promise Zones" to battle poverty that the administration plans to announce over the next three years. The five zones are San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The “Promise Zone” initiative was announced at last year’s State of the Union Address and expected to be a focal point of this year’s Address on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as he is joined by representatives and community members from San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma during an East Room event January 9, 2014 at the White House
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Promise Zone initiative is the President’s plan to partner businesses with local communities for job creation, affordable housing, educational opportunities, economic security and public safety for the middle class. The tax cuts for hiring and investing for only these areas designated as Promise Zones has been proposed to Congress by the President cited as Empowerment Zone tax credits. On a national level, Barack Obama is optimistic on the extension of federal unemployment benefits and reports that Senate negotiations to approve the extension are advancing while the House is preparing to convene.

According to the Fact Sheet released by the White House on Promise Zone: “The first five Zones, located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, have each put forward a plan on how they will partner with local business and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity. In exchange, these designees will receive the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.”



Accountability for Clear Goals: Each Promise Zone has identified clear outcomes they will pursue to revitalize their community, with a focus on creating jobs, increasing economic activity, improving educational opportunities, increasing access to quality, affordable housing and reducing violent crime. All Promise Zones will continuously track those outcomes, and have committed to sharing data across their community partners (private-sector, non-profits, federal, state, and local agencies, etc.) so that each partner can work towards improvement and accountability. The Administration will work with the Promise Zones and third party experts to track progress and evaluate results.

Intensive Federal Partnership: Modeled after the Administration’s successful Strong Cities Strong Communities and Strike Force for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiatives, which have created unique partnerships between local stakeholders and the federal government, these first five Promise Zones will benefit from intensive federal support at the local level to help them implement their economic and community development goals.

Help Accessing Resources: Where necessary to achieve their goals, Promise Zones will get priority and be able to access federal investments that further the goals of job creation, additional private investment, increased economic activity, improved educational opportunity, and reduction in violent crime.

National Service: Each Promise Zone will be provided five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to support their strategic plan. These VISTAs will recruit and manage volunteers, and strengthen the capacity of Promise Zones to expand economic opportunity.

Investing in What Works: In order to be designated as a Promise Zone, these five communities have already demonstrated that they are pursuing strategies that have data proving their effectiveness. This same data will also help direct future federal investments to these Zones.

Check out Obama's remarks in the attached video.

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