The Promise of Promise Neighborhoods


Promise Neighborhoods have attracted much attention in recent years due to the highly publicized work of the Harlem Children’s Zone (“HCZ”, or the “Zone”) in the once dilapidated community in New York City.  The purpose of this paper is to show how expansion of all-encompassing community efforts like the HCZ would reduce poverty in neighborhoods similar to Harlem throughout the country.  I will begin by describing in detail the model upon which HCZ was built, before exploring the concept of Promise Neighborhoods more generally.  I will then move to discuss a number of policy recommendations for the implementation of Promise Neighborhoods nationwide, and then address possible criticisms and unintended consequences of the neighborhood model.  I will use the HCZ model of what Promise Neighborhoods should look like in the future, given the widely available data on its effectiveness.  As one of the main challenges facing Promise Neighborhoods is the funding required to bring the program to-scale nationwide, I will also present an improvement plan whereby corporations could sponsor Promise Neighborhoods throughout America.  I will conclude with an analysis of how Charles Murray, a prominent welfare program critic, may actually look favorably upon the expansion of Promise Neighborhoods.