The Promise Zone is President Obama’s signature anti-poverty initiative, first announced at his 2013 State of the Union Address. Mayor Eric Garcetti led a coalition of non-profit and public-sector organizations on an aggressive bid to win Promise Zone designation for Los Angeles. In January 2014, Mayor Garcetti joined President Obama at the White House as it was announced that our city was chosen as one of the first five Promise Zone locations in the nation, giving our applicant partners preference points and technical assistance to earn federal grants. Los Angeles’ Promise Zone serves a larger population than the other federal Promise Zones cities combined.
The Promise Zone is located within Central Los Angeles and includes the neighborhoods of Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Pico Union and Westlake. The Zone is home to approximately 165,000 residents, of whom 35% live in poverty (compared to 20% city-wide). Nearly one-quarter of Promise Zone households earn less than $15,000 each year, and educational attainment for adults is weak with 35% of the population 25 years of age and older having obtained less than a high school diploma. The Promise Zone also has alarming high school dropout rates, high unemployment, and a shortage of affordable housing. The Promise Zone is home to large immigrant populations from Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe.
The LA Promise Zone is a collective impact project involving leaders from government, local institutions, non-profits and community organizations that targets resources to create jobs, boost public safety, improve public education and stimulate better housing opportunities for our residents and neighborhoods. We do this by engaging Promise Zone stakeholders in transparent decision-making processes that identify and implement innovative solutions to problems that affect their neighborhoods.
The City of Los Angeles is the lead agency that oversees the Promise Zone initiative, with the Youth Policy Institute as co-applicant and lead implementation partner. Almost 50 local organizations have agreed to join us and work together to meet our goals and 40 more have signed on as supporters of the initiative.
Promise Zone Goals
Foster Good Jobs and Healthy Businesses: We believe that a thriving economy is one where people have the opportunity and resources to move up the economic ladder. We aim to accomplish this by:
- Promoting good jobs for residents through job training programs that provide high-demand, high wage sectors with a skilled workforce.
- Maintaining each neighborhoods' competitive edge by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
- Building upon neighborhood assets such as parks and public spaces, institutions and landmarks, and transportation networks.
Improve Educational Opportunities: We believe that education is a catalytic agent for improving not only a child’s future, but a whole neighborhood. We aim to accomplish this by:
- Improving school readiness for pre-school aged children so they enter kindergarten healthy and ready to learn.
- Increasing before-, during- and after-school programs to support timely grade level promotion and academic success for K-12 students, as well as increased high school graduation rates.
- Improving school attendance through parent engagement and wrap around services.
- Increasing college readiness, enrollment, and graduation through early intervention and counseling services.
Make Our Neighborhoods Safe: We envision neighborhoods where everyone feels safe at all times. We believe that this vision is possible by developing community partnerships based on trust and cooperation between safety officials and the public. We aim to accomplish this by:
- Addressing community concerns of public safety and quality of life.
- Providing gang prevention and intervention services for families living in areas of high need.
- Promoting safe routes to school for all children and parents.
- Supporting homelessness prevention programs.
Promote More Sustainable and Livable Communities: We believe that all residents should enjoy livable communities where they have access to affordable housing, diverse transportation options, and improved streets, sidewalks and public spaces. We aim to accomplish this by:
- Preserving current affordable and rent controlled housing.
- Ensuring equitable and high quality transportation access for all.
- Focusing resources on our neighborhood commercial districts, parks, and other public spaces.
- Celebrating and supporting our diversity through the arts and cultural traditions, programs and institutions.
The chart below shows how our federal and local partnerships are structured to facilitate the Promise Zone initiative and see the work of the collective impact project through.
You can read a more detailed description of the LAPZ Leadership Council and working groups here.