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Berea awarded $500K grant to plan improvements for Appalachian communities

Berea College is among the 21 nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education that have been awarded planning grants as part of the Promise Neighborhoods initiative. During a press conference Monday, September 21, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan identified the grant recipients. With the one-year grants, the recipients will create plans to provide cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children.

The Promise Neighborhood grants address the challenges faced by students living in communities of concentrated poverty, Promise Neighborhoods grantees and their partner organizations will plan to provide services from early learning to college and career, including programs to improve the health, safety, and stability of neighborhoods, and boost family engagement in student learning.

Berea College, which was among more than 300 communities from 48 states and the District of Columbia that submitted applications for Promise Neighborhoods planning grants, is the only institution in Kentucky to receive a Promise Neighborhood grant. Winning Promise Neighborhoods applications reflect deep partnerships among community-based organizations, service providers, schools and districts, colleges and universities, cities, local leaders and others. Berea College was awarded a $500,000 grant (the maximum amount available) for this project.

Berea College has a long history and tradition of partnering with local schools in the region to effectively serve high-need students and their parents. Extending that tradition, the Berea College Promise Neighborhood proposal engages the community in planning for a continuum of education services to address the educational needs of students in three economically depressed rural Kentucky counties. The three school systems Berea College is partnering with includes: Clay County (3,577 students), Jackson County (2,553 students), and Owsley County (909 students).

Recognizing that the resident's voice is critical to planning, 64% of the members (seven of eleven members) of the Berea College Promise Neighborhood Management Board (MB) are residents of the area to be served. The MB contains representatives from Berea College and the following partner organizations:

    Collaborative for Teaching and Learning
    Kentucky Folklife Program
    Cumberland Valley District Health Department
    Jackson County Schools
    Clay County Schools
    Owsley County Schools.

In addition, the Management Board includes two parents of students attending public school in the Neighborhood and one community member with a background in local arts and culture.

In a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Arne Duncan stated, "Communities across the country recognize that education is the one true path out of poverty. These Promise Neighborhoods applicants are committed to putting schools at the center of their work to provide comprehensive services for young children and students."

Because of the great potential for Promise Neighborhoods to revitalize communities in need, it is closely linked to the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which seeks to align federal housing, education, justice, and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity.

"I applaud each of the Promise Neighborhood applicants for their leadership," President Barack Obama said. "They are galvanizing their communities to help offer our children a pathway out of poverty. The winners announced today will deliver a broad array of services to help all young people thrive academically, earn their high school diploma, go on to college, and reach for their dreams."

"As shown in Promise Neighborhoods and HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, transforming distressed neighborhoods into communities of opportunity means connecting housing and development resources to education and access to economic opportunity," said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stated, "Strong communities start with healthy children who have safe places to live and play and high quality educational opportunities that put them on the road to success. Creating these strong communities requires everyone, including the federal government, to work together."

The planning grants are designed to support the work in a diverse set of communities in major metropolitan areas, small and medium-size cities, rural areas, and one Indian reservation. The President has requested $210 million in his fiscal 2011 budget, including $200 million to support implementation of Promise Neighborhood projects and $10 million for planning grants for new communities.

The 21 Promise Neighborhood grantees are:
    Abyssinian Development Corporation ( New York)
    Amherst H. Wilder Foundation (St. Paul, Minn.)
    Athens Clarke County Family Connection, Inc. (Athens, Ga.)
    Berea College (Clay, Jackson, and Owsley Counties, Ky.)
    Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation (Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Mont.)
    California State University East Bay (Hayward, Calif.)
    Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter High School (Washington, D.C.)
    Community Day Care Center of Lawrence, Inc. (Lawrence, Mass.)
    Delta Health Alliance, Inc. (Indianola, Miss.)
    Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (Boston)
    The Guidance Center (River Rouge, Mich.)
    Lutheran Family Health Centers (New York)
    Morehouse School of Medicine, Inc. (Atlanta)
    Neighborhood Centers, Inc. (Houston)
    Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission (Los Angeles)
    United Way of Central Massachusetts, Inc. (Worcester, Mass.)
    United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, Inc. (San Antonio, Texas)
    Universal Community Homes (Philadelphia)
    University of Arkansas at Little Rock (Little Rock, Ark.)
    Westminster Foundation (Buffalo, N.Y.)
    Youth Policy Institute (Los Angeles)

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