DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) is a data-driven community development organization that advances human development and economic freedom, resulting in equitable, self-determined communities. DCPNI is one of 18 Promise Neighborhoods nationally that have been funded by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to pursue place-based solutions that promote cradle-to-career achievement in some of the country’s most distressed communities. Based on public data released by the Department of Education, DCPNI ranks easily amongst the higher-performing Promise Neighborhoods in the country. ED and the Urban Institute have highlighted DCPNI for innovation in community-rooted data and evaluation and for our positive outcomes in the Kenilworth-Parkside community (A New Day for Data: How Promise Neighborhoods are transforming lives, Urban Institute 2016). Our collective impact, place-based approach has drawn both interest and credibility both nationally and globally. DCPNI has hosted site visits for and provided technical assistance to delegations, agencies, and influential leaders from as nearby as Community of Hope in Washington, DC; to Baltimore, Maryland; to as far as Los Angeles, California; Toronto, Canada; and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
DCPNI was founded in 2008 under the leadership of Irasema Salcido, who also founded the first of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy (a Chavez School is located in Ward 7’s Parkside community). Soon afterward, Alma Powell, chair of America’s Promise Alliance, became DCPNI’s honorary chair. DCPNI developed its mission and goals through a year-long planning process in the community that reached across traditional barriers to involve residents, charter schools, traditional public schools, city agencies, local funders, nonprofits, and service providers in the elimination of pervasive poverty within the community. By early 2009, this effort had drawn national attention, and a planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods Program was received in 2010. In 2012, DCPNI received its IRS designation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and became one of 18 organizations nationwide to receive a $25 million five-year Promise Neighborhood implementation grant. The local mission in Kenilworth-Parkside is to support all members of the community in improving the quality of their lives and inspiring positive change in their neighborhood, within a shared vision of ending intergenerational poverty for K-P’s children, families, and neighborhoods.
DCPNI’s place-conscious approach to holistic human development mobilizes indigenous leaders, nonprofits, and local government to align supports and services across the developmental continuum, while removing barriers to access experienced in disjointed systems. DCPNI’s vision and strategic priorities are driven by the voices, values, needs and aspirations of the residents living in the Kenilworth-Parkside community. Together we have forged a powerful blueprint for lasting and sustainable change that will support children to succeed, parents and families to succeed, the building of a thriving community, and the development of healthy and safe places in which to live, learn, and grow.