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Promise Zones: Renewed Hope for the American Dream in PA

January 16, 2014- Tom Joseph
PHILADELPHIA - Hard-hit communities across the nation, including one in Pennsylvania, are getting the opportunity to fulfill the vision of a brighter future. President Obama has named Mantua, in West Philadelphia, as one of five Promise Zones. The approach, said Judith Bell, president of the social equity advocacy group PolicyLink, is not about Washington cutting a big check to make Mantua's problems go away.

"This is the federal government saying, 'Look, we're looking to places that already have lots of leadership around the table - community leadership, elected leadership, business leadership - that have already begun not just to identify problems, but identify assets and identify approaches,'" Bell said.

The methodology used with Promise Zones gives those who live in struggling communities more of a stake in their future, Bell added.

"Yes, this is the aim of the Promise Zone. This is the plan for getting there. These are the resources that are going to be used to help this, and then this is the way the place is going to be held accountable for making sure that real results are seen," she explained.

The President said one key to making Promise Zones successful is for Congress to act to offer tax credits to businesses that create jobs.

With Promise Zones, the federal government will work alongside municipalities and neighborhood groups with conditions and clear-cut goals in mind. The announcement of the designations came on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's declaration of the "War on Poverty."

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