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Promise Zones

Houses in a Promise Zone

A child's zip code should never determine her destiny; but today, the community she grows up in impacts her odds of graduating high school, her health outcomes, and her lifetime economic opportunities. For kids who don't get an equal start in life, the President is committed to partnering with local leaders to give them proven tools to rebuild and put people back to work. It will take a collaborative effort - between private business and federal, state, and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; and striving kids and parents - to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American in every community.

Building on those efforts, in his 2013 State of the Union Address, the President laid out an initiative to designate a number of high-poverty urban, rural and tribal communities as Promise Zones, where the federal government will partner with and invest in communities to accomplish the following goals: Create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.

Communities must compete in a transparent application process and demonstrate the strength and effectiveness of their local partners' commitment in order to become Promise Zones. Each designated Promise Zone will be asked to identify a set of outcomes they will pursue to revitalize their communities, develop a strategy supporting those outcomes, and realign resources accordingly.

Promise Zone Benefits

The Promise Zone designation partners the Federal government with local leaders who are addressing multiple community revitalization challenges in a collaborative way and have demonstrated a commitment to results.  Promise Zone Designees will receive:

  • An opportunity to engage five AmeriCorps VISTA members in the Promise Zone's work
  • A federal liaison assigned to help designees navigate federal programs
  • Preferences for certain competitive federal grant programs and technical assistance from participating federal agencies
  • Promise Zone tax incentives, if enacted by Congress

Altogether, this package of assistance will help local leaders accelerate efforts to revitalize their communities. The Promise Zone designation will be for a term of 10 years and may be extended as necessary to capture the full term of availability of the Promise Zones tax incentives, pending the enactment of tax incentives by Congress. During this term, the specific benefits made available to Promise Zones will vary from year to year, and sometimes more often than annually, due to changes in the agency policies and changes in appropriations and authorizations for relevant programs. 

Promise Zone Designations

On January 9, 2014, President Obama announced the first urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zones in a ceremony at the White House. They are located in: San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Learn about the first round Promise Zones designees.

On April 28, 2015, eight Second Round Promise Zone designations were announced:

Promise Zone

Lead Organization



South Carolina Promise Zone

Southern Carolina
Regional Development Alliance



Camden City Promise Zone

Office of the Mayor of the
City of Camden



North Hartford Promise Zone

Hartford Mayor's Office



IndyEast Promise Zone

John H. Boner Community Center



Minneapolis Promise Zone

City of Minneapolis



South Dakota Promise Zone

Thunder Valley
Community Development Corporation



Sacramento Promise Zone

Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency



St. Louis Promise Zone

St. Louis Economic
Development Partnership

St. Louis & St. Louis County


Learn about the second round Promise Zone designees.

The final round of competition will commence in 2015. By the end of 2016, 20 communities will receive a Promise Zone designation.

Federal Government Partners

For the communities selected, the federal government will partner to help the Promise Zones access resources and expertise to help communities thrive. In 2015, 12 agencies are providing preferential access in 37 programs. Promise Zones' federal partners include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, Corporation for National and Community Service, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Labor, National Endowment for the Arts, Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. To view the list of programs by Department, please visit the Federal Partner Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities.

The information made available on the Promise Zone website about programs, technical assistance and other supports is also useful to non-designated communities working on community revitalization efforts. All of the programs that provide preferential access to Promise Zones are also available to communities that do not have a Promise Zone designation.

For further updates, please subscribe to the Promise Zone mailing list.