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DC Project Wins Federal "Promise Neighborhood" Grant

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By Rebecca Blatt

A group of charter schools in the Parkside-Kenilworth community in Northeast D.C. will receive $500,000 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is to develop a so-called "Promise Neighborhood," where children and families receive support services to boost students' chances of succeeded in school.

The "Promise Neighborhood" concept is modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, which provides holistic support services for families including education, healthcare and social services. It began as a pilot project for one block and has expanded to nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem.

Now a network of four Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy is formulating a plan to take a similar approach in D.C.'s Ward 7. The group says it has developed partnerships with Children's National Medical Center and the D.C. Housing Authority and Georgetown University, among others.

The U.S. Department of Education has selected the group as one of 21 to receive a Promise Neighborhood planning grant. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says President Obama has requested $210 million to support Promise Neighborhood projects in the 2011 budget. Congress has not yet approved the request.

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