Local non-profit wins 25K from US Dept. of Ed

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A local non-profit became one of seven to win a new Federal Promise Neighborhood grant. The D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) has won a five-year, $25-million federal grant to continue offering education and social services to one of the city’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. The grant, which leverages over $30 million in donations and partner programming, will be used to help transform education, healthcare, and other services available to children and their parents living in this underserved neighborhood.

DCPNI provides a transformative continuum of cradle-to-career services to the children and parents of the Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood of Northeast Washington D.C. The organization will receive the $25M over 5 years to provide wraparound services and community support to families across 4 schools and their communities: Neval Thomas Elementary; Kenilworth Elementary; Chavez Parkside Middle School; and Chavez Parkside High School.

Executive Director of DCPNI, Ayris Scales, said “I am thrilled about the news!” Her organization was presented the award by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press conference, in December, at Neval Thomas Elementary in Northeast Washington, DC, where he announced all 17 winners of the 2012 Promise Neighborhoods $60 million grant fund. “I congratulate DCPNI and its partners for not only uniting the Kenilworth Parkside community around a common vision, but for doing so with a rigorous, research-based approach to bettering the lives of all young people in the community,” Duncan said. “This is not a gift, it is an investment.”

With strong backing from President Obama, Congress has allocated money each year since 2010 to support projects called “Promise Neighborhoods” across the country. The D.C. group received a $500,000 planning grant in 2010, then made its failed bid last year for a much bigger award to put its plans into effect. Scales said, “The DC Promise Neighborhood is dedicated to improving the lives of children in this community, and supporting their parents so that their children succeed. Our goal is to increase the number of children in our community who have access to a quality education, graduate from high school, obtain a college or vocational degree, and become successful in their careers and communities.”

Renowned educational advocate Alma J. Powell, wife of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, is the Chair of America’s Promise Alliance and Honorary Chair of the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, and participated in the event. “The DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative reminds us that the true power and potential of a community is revealed when it comes together for its children,” she said.

DCPNI is one of only seven U.S. communities, out of 60 applicants, to receive the U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood implementation grant. In 2010, the DCPNI was one of 21 national recipients of a federal Promise Neighborhood planning grant. As part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, Promise Neighborhoods seeks to align federal funding streams that invest in transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity. The vision of the program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college a career.

Established in 2008 by Mrs. Irasema Salcido, CEO and Founder of the Cezar Chavez Public Charter Schools, DCPNI has pioneered a collaborative partnership with the two DC public elementary schools in Kenilworth-Parkside to address the needs of students from kindergarten through high school. In addition, DCPNI’s Early Learning Network now supports children from birth so that they enter school, healthy, prepared and ready to learn. DCPNI’s partners currently operate programs serving over 1000 neighborhood children. These data- driven offerings span DCPNI’s education pipeline, ranging from early learning interventions and elementary school supports all the way up to college preparation assistance, career education, and family and community support services. DCPNI is supported by a broad coalition of partners, including the DC Public Schools, the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the DC Housing Authority, The Urban Institute, America’s Promise Alliance, DC LISC, Children’s National Medical Center, JP Morgan, DLA Piper, Georgetown University, and many local organizations that have a deep, long-term commitment to the children of Kenilworth-Parkside.

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