The California Promise Network believes that every child in California deserves a Promise Neighborhood. To improve the lives of children, from cradle-to-college and career, all elements of collective impact must be put into action. By having a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and a backbone organization, all children and their families will be able to live in communities of opportunity.
There were five California-based Promise Neighborhoods created by the U.S. Department of Education in late 2012. Five years later, true results and impact have been shown, from increasing reading and math scores to bettering high school graduation and college-going rates.
This work must continue.
While great strides have been made, these are long-term, two-generational strategies that are redefining best practices in helping families and their children thrive. This is critical for Latino and immigrant communities. The tide can be turned if we all work together to better lives neighborhood by neighborhood, family by family and student by student.
The Mission Promise Neighborhood serves a mostly immigrant Latino community that is facing a crisis due to gentrification that has caused one of the widest income gaps in the nation. There are 2,500 children ages 0−5 living in the Mission, 1,600 of whom are Latino, with 47 percent attending formal center-based care and 42 percent receiving care in a formal home-based setting. There is a 30 percent poverty rate for our families, with a 14 percent unemployment rate as compared to San Francisco’s 3.4 percent rate. Fifty percent do not have a high school diploma, leading to a challenge of creating a college-going culture not just in our schools, but in our homes. Strategies to combat these issues include partners offering culturally relevant services, with family success coaches, acting as connectors to these services, at each of the four schools we serve.
The primary focus of Hayward Promise Neighborhood is on low income and/or “opportunity” children, from before birth through college and career. Jackson Triangle (JT) children and youth are predominately low income (i.e., 85.5 percent are eligible for free/reduced lunch). Racially/ethnically, the JT is 55 percent Latino, 15 percent African American, 14 percent Asian, 10 percent Caucasian, 1 percent Pacific Islander and 5 percent other. Trauma is a significant concern among our children and their families. The results of the biennial California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) indicate that 10 percent of HUSD seventh-graders feel unsafe in school and an additional 32 percent are ambivalent about safety at school. While many of these outcomes have improved during the past five years, moving the needle on population-level change is a long-term effort that will require at least a decade to fully bear fruit.
The L.A. Promise Neighborhood encompasses East Hollywood and Pacoima, targeting 18 schools with a total enrollment of over 14,000 students. Nearly 92,000 people live in these underserved communities. More than 63 percent are Latino, and more than 31 percent are foreign born. Nearly 67 percent of these children live in poverty, and 90 percent of students qualify for free/reduced price lunch. For residents age 25 and up, 37 percent have not obtained a high school diploma — a problematic statistic, but already a notable improvement from the 42 percent when these communities first received their Promise Neighborhood designation.
The Castle Park neighborhood is situated in south San Diego County and approximately 15 miles from the U.S./Mexico border. The community is made of 6,744 residents within a 33 census block. Over 85 percent of the community identifies as Latino. On housing, 71 percent of the community rents their home. In terms of employment, 53 percent are employed full time. On education, 30 percent of the adult population have high school as the highest grade completed. Overall, Castle Park is a family-based neighborhood that, once given the knowledge and opportunity, can create community leaders and make college and career an expectation for children.
Corning is located in the northern part of California. The Corning-Paskenta Tribal Community is one of the neediest areas in the United States: Residents are overwhelmingly poor, with a current unemployment rate significantly higher than state and national rates, per capita income ($15,598) half of the California average, and an overall poverty level rate of 37.1 percent — almost double the California and national averages. Over half of the children (0-5) in the target community come from homes where English is a second language. Nearly 80 percent of students entering college in the county have to take remedial math and English classes.