Reshaping the Federal Place-Based Agenda

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In January 2014, a year after vowing in his 2013 State of the Union address to focus the nation’s attention on high-poverty communities, President Barack Obama made good on that pledge with the unveiling of his signature place-based effort to fight poverty: the Promise Zones initiative.

The Promise Zones initiative is designed to revitalize high-poverty communities through comprehensive, evidence-based strategies and help local leaders navigate federal funding. Promise Zones designees—five in the first round announced in January—receive priority access to federal resources to support job creation, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, and improve public safety. Equally important, the initiative pulls together lessons from the administration’s previous efforts to improve struggling communities and is serving as an opportunity to rethink how the federal government can be a more effective partner to communities facing barriers to upward mobility.

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