Dear Mr. President, If Promise Zones Work Please Promise Us More!

These Promise Zones are great, Mr. President, but 5 zones per year?  Where is the scale in your promise?  Too many kids are left behind to grow up poor in poor neighborhoods, suffering harm to their cognitive development and health, with the odds stacked against them.  Let’s be honest with ourselves — at this rate, the benefits of Promise Zones will never reach most of these children.

Promise Zones Locations. Image Courtesy of

As you said in your speech, Mr. President, you were like these kids except you grew up in a more “forgiving environment” where “[i]f I screwed up, the consequences weren’t quite as great.”   If we are serious about changing the odds for these kids we all need to stop pretending that help is coming, and give families the opportunity and choice to live in a more “forgiving environment.” Right now, before another generation of kids is damaged.

Lets all move beyond these tiny efforts and roll out Promise Zones on a large scale, with the resources to support them.  Let’s extend it to five distressed neighborhoods in each large city each year — not five neighborhoods in the entire United States. While we’re at it, why don’t we include a commitment to housing mobility for low income families in these neighborhoods, so that they make their own choice about where to live – including safe neighborhoods with high performing, low poverty schools?

If promise zones work Mr. President then please promise us more.


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