The Hope of Promise Neighborhoods

About 1,400 individuals from around the country, representing community planning teams from well over 100 cities, have come to New York City this week to learn more about Promise Neighborhoods, a federal initiative based on the Harlem Children’s Zone.

The Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) is an anti-poverty program that has created amazing outcomes for children. The Promise Neighborhoods initiative has learned HCZ’s “secret weapon:” you’ve got to support children from the womb through college. President Obama is now calling on the formation of 20 Promise Neighborhoods. I traveled to New York to find out what this model could mean for Detroit.

Yesterday (Monday, Nov. 9) began with opening remarks from Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of Policy Link and Melody Barnes, director of President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council. Barnes described how departments are being aligned around urban and metropolitan agendas.

A series of four workshops surrounded inspirational talks by Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, and Geoffrey Canada, the driving force behind the Harlem Children’s Zone. We finished the day with an after-dinner speech by a true American treasure – Marian Wright Edelman, CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund and an icon in the historical fight for civil rights and children’s rights.

While the day was inspiring, my take away was the drumbeat around data, accountability, measurement, outcomes, results, metrics, etc. That’s what D-ACIS is all about: How can we measure the effectiveness of good ideas?

My favorite quote of the day came from an HCZ Board member – “This is a bad place to be average!”

I’m looking forward to sharing with you what I learn today.