HUD Awards Nashville Communities with Promise Zone Designation
Designation allows for technical assistance and access to federal investment in six subzones
“I’m grateful for the leadership of HUD, MDHA, and the many community organizations who have stepped up to be partners in this program that will create opportunity for Nashville’s most vulnerable populations,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “By working together, by sharing data and by making resources available to community leaders, we have a chance to turn deserts of poverty into oases of hope.”
The mission of the Nashville Promise Zone is to foster intensive partnerships among Nashville’s organizations that serve high-poverty neighborhoods, improve the collective impact of their service, and address revitalization in a collaborative way.
The Promise Zone designation provides ten years of significant federal support including: priority access to federal investments that further communities’ strategic plans; a federal liaison to help local leaders navigate federal resources; and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to strengthen the capacity of Promise Zone initiatives.
“Nashville’s designation as a Promise Zone community by the Obama Administration and HUD speaks volumes to the commitment of Mayor Barry and the leadership of the city to continue to build on a strong commitment and momentum to help those confronted with the pain of poverty and unemployment,” said Ed Jennings, Jr, HUD SE Regional Administrator. “Through the Promise Zone program working closely with our federal government partners and local and business leaders serves as the real door opening opportunity for positive and enduring change especially for those hoping for a brighter future through job creation, improved educational opportunities, reduced violent crime in their communities.”
The Nashville Promise Zone partners will address six primary goals: 1) increase access to quality affordable housing; 2) create jobs; 3) increase economic activity; 4) improve educational opportunities; 5) improve community infrastructure, and 6) reduce violent crime.
“The Obama Administration is committed to providing local leaders with proven tools that advance their vision for change in their respective communities, helping to ensure a decent living for hard-working Americans,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “The U.S. Economic Development Administration is pleased to be working with our Federal partners through the President’s Promise Zones initiative to support local plans to create economic opportunity and jobs. We congratulate Nashville on their designation!”
The Nashville Promise Zones will operate with the combined efforts of 94 supporting partners from government, local institutions, nonprofits, and community organizations. The Promise Zones are broken into six subzones each with its own captain: Martha O’Bryan Center, Marsha Edwards, President and CEO; Edgehill Coalition, Austin Sauerbrei, Community Organizer; Woodbine Community Organization, Tony Woodham, Executive Director; Conexión Américas, Renata Soto, Co-Founder and Executive Director; Urban League of Middle Tennessee, Latrisha Jemison, Board Chair; St. Luke’s Community House, Corey Gephardt, Executive Director.
“This grant was a team effort,” said MDHA Executive Director Jim Harbison. “Special thanks to staff from MDHA and the Mayor’s Office for their leadership on this project. And to the 94 partners, organizations and elected officials who put their support behind the Nashville Promise Zone, thank you for your commitment to our city.”
Promise Zones have already shown great success in cities that have begun to implement them. The IndyEast Promise Zone in Indianapolis has secured nearly $10 million in grants from federal agencies. This has helped to create jobs, opportunity through workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals, and more energy efficient housing for low-income senior citizens.
Seventeen agencies are providing preferential access in 69 programs. Promise Zones' federal partners include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).
“This is an incredible opportunity for Nashville. Everyone deserves a chance to succeed in the It City,” said Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-5). “Promise Zones will bring a focus to jobs, schools and safety in communities that need it most.”