White House Picks Choctaw Nation To Fight Poverty In Oklahoma | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

White House Picks Choctaw Nation To Fight Poverty In Oklahoma

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared his "War on Poverty," President Obama issued his own plan to combat poverty Thursday with the nation's first five "Promise Zones."

All "Promise Zones" will receive a competitive advantage when applying for federal grants, on-site support from federal officials, and, pending congressional approval, tax incentives for businesses hiring and investing in the community.

The Obama administration plans to select a total of 20 communities over the next three years, beginning with chronically impoverished areas in Los Angeles, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, Philadelphia, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

"We will help them succeed not with a handout but as partners with them every step of the way," Obama told reporters at a press conference.

The Choctaw Nation first learned of the designation on Tuesday in a phone call from the White House, according to John Jackson, the tribe's executive director of grants and program development, who helped submit the tribe's application for the program.

Their "Promise Zone" includes a mix of tribal land and property owned by local municipalities and private citizens. Jackson describes the area as "extremely rural," with an average poverty rate of about 22.6 percent — more than seven percentage points higher than the national average.

"There's extreme isolationism. There's an abundance of social issues that need to be addressed," Jackson says.

The tribe plans to focus on improving early education and job training programs, investing in local water and sewer infrastructure, and encouraging small business development, specifically among farmers, ranchers and women. The benefits would directly impact both Choctaw Nation citizens and non-tribal members living in the southeastern Oklahoma community.

"We do not see ourselves as a segregated group. We're intertwined and intermeshed [with the local community]," explains Jackson, who adds the tribe will work with local community groups on the various initiatives.

No checks from the federal government have been cut yet, according to Jackson. And it's not clear when they will be. The "Promise Zones" will still have to apply for existing federal grants to receive financial support.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Mia Wasikowska On The Sounds Of Camels And The Lure Of Travel

Melissa Block talks with actress Mia Wasikowska about her new film, Tracks, which follows a woman on a long journey with only camels and a dog for company.
NPR

Giving Chickens Bacteria ... To Keep Them Antibiotic-Free

What does it take to get chickens off antibiotics? According to Perdue Farms, an added dose of the "good bacteria" known as probiotics can help crowd out the harmful microbes that make a chicken sick.
NPR

Why Did Congress Kick The Can On Funding Islamic State Mission?

The president got approval for his plan to train and equip Syrian opposition fighters, but lawmakers didn't approve funds to pay for it or the broader air campaign.
NPR

Some Tech Firms Capitalize On Privacy

Steve Henn of NPR's Planet Money team profiles some entrepreneurs who are working on a novel business model to start up a new tech company. It's pay for service. What a concept.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.