The DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) has been focused on promoting cradle-to-career education and professional and personal development for residents in some of Washington, DC’s most distressed communities for over five years. DCPNI and its partners have the shared goal of ending poverty for children, families, and neighborhoods. DCPNI supports community members through various programming aimed at assisting them with improving their quality of life and inspiring positive change in their communities.
Since its inception, DCPNI has seen some excellent victories:
- Increased early learning slots;
- Decreased chronic absenteeism;
- Increased food access; and
- Increased the percentage of children, ages 0-5 that have access to a medical home.
DCPNI has created a path beyond the original seeding from the U.S. Department of Education, and is committed to addressing the continued gap in access to opportunities through programming. In addition to our legacy programming that is still very much valued in the community, data based insights from our first five years have resulted in three new platforms:
- Racial Equity Anti-Poverty Platform (REAP™)
- Global Promise Institute (GPI™)
- Promise Equity Fellowship
You may be wondering what we are referring to when we mention a “gap in opportunities” that serves as the foundation for our programming. We are referencing the gap in access to opportunities between the rich and the poor – opportunities for education, healthcare, food access, housing, and more. This opportunity gap perpetuates the income gap, which has kept this cycle of suffering in place in many communities for generations. Five years is not enough to close the gap but the insights we were able to gain as a result of our data and evaluation processes were enough to chart the course to a more equitable future.
DCPNI was 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 ranked easily amongst the highest performing Promise Neighborhoods in the country.
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.
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.