South Los Angeles Awarded Promise Zone Designation

L.A. becomes first city to receive two of the anti-poverty designations, bringing greater access to federal grants and other resources.

LOS ANGELES — Tens of thousands of South L.A. residents stand to benefit from programs to reduce poverty and expand opportunity now that their neighborhoods have been designated as a federal Promise Zone, Mayor Eric Garcetti and elected leaders from across the region announced Monday.

With today’s announcement, South L.A. will have greater access to federal grants and resources. There are now 13 urban Promise Zones across the nation. Los Angeles is the only city with two designations within its boundaries.

“A phenomenal coalition of community partners worked tirelessly to get us to this day. The Promise Zone designation will help build on the incredible things already happening in South Los Angeles,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This will bring new resources, energy, and urgency into our movement to expand opportunity in all of L.A.’s neighborhoods. When you look at all that we’re achieving — from our historic minimum wage increase, to our promise of a free year in community college for hardworking LAUSD graduates — it is clear that our city is committed to ensuring that all Angelenos have the tools to reach their full potential. Washington is taking notice, and we’re grateful for the support.”

The South Los Angeles Promise Zone is home to nearly 200,000 people and includes the Vernon-Central, South Park, Florence, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, and Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw neighborhoods. The area has an aggregated poverty rate of 45 percent — three times the national average — an unemployment rate of 12 percent, and high school dropout rates of nearly 50 percent.

In Fall 2014, a coalition of community leaders formed the South L.A. Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z) to develop a common vision and set of strategies that builds on ongoing anti-poverty work in the area. The coalition includes more than 50 partners, including Brotherhood Crusade; the City of Los Angeles; Coalition for Responsible Community Development; Community Coalition, CD Tech; LA Chamber of Commerce; LA Urban League, LA’s Promise, Los Angeles Unified School District, Move LA, Cal State Dominguez Hills, UCLA, and University of Southern California — among others.

“This isn’t just an incredible victory for South Los Angeles, it shows that when our community leadership works together, we can accomplish great things for our neighborhoods,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass. “I am thrilled that this coalition, led by Los Angeles Trade Technical College President Larry Frank, organized representatives at all levels of government to push for this important Promise Zone designation and I look forward to continuing to work in Washington with my South L.A. congressional partner Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.”

“This designation will bring substantial economic benefits to our area, and Representative Bass and I are appreciative that HUD heard our concerns about prior applications requirements and gave our application serious consideration,” added Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (40th District). “We look forward to continuing to work with this partnership, which represents South L.A. at its best, to ensure that our community gets the resources that it needs.”

"This is defining moment for South Los Angeles," said Los Angeles City Councilman Curren D. Price, Jr. representative of the Ninth Council District which spans a large portion of the Promise Zone area. "Now, we have another tool to rewrite the South L.A. story, create the future we want for our children. The kind where one's ZIP code or skin color does not determine the benefits or burden we bear."

In 2014, Los Angeles was one of five cities selected to participate in President Obama’s national Promise Zone initiative. The Promise Zone in Central Los Angeles is already making significant improvements in student performance, including an average increase in graduation rates of 6.6% at targeted high schools last year.

Since the first designation in January 2014, the Promise Zone in Central L.A. has secured nearly 30 grant awards, totaling more than $100 million in federal investments to support programs in education, workforce development, healthy food access, and economic opportunity in the L.A. Promise Zone and across the L.A. region.

“We are thrilled about this announcement and honored Deputy Secretary Coloretti personally came to deliver the news,” said Larry Frank, president of LA Trade Tech College and convener of the SLATE-Z coalition. “It is now South L.A.’s chance to step up. Our coalition is committed to our residents and each other to align our work and collectively pursue funding to advance our goals.”