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Cross-Department Initiative Could Factor Into Future Federal Grants

The U.S. Department of Education wants to know what you think about a new proposal to give applicants a leg-up in competitive grant programs if their proposals fit with the goals of the Obama administration's interdepartmental "Promise Zone" initiative, which is aimed at helping revitalize high-poverty communities.

But the notice in the Federal Register, published today, doesn't make clear to which competitive programs the department would decide to apply the extra credit (or "priority" in bureaucratic Federal-Registerese). But presumably, Promise Neighborhoods, which offers grants to help schools partner with wraparound services (such as health, or arts programs) would be in the mix. "The Secretary recognizes that this priority will not be appropriate for all discretionary grant programs," according to the notice.

More on Promise Zones: They're essentially an interdepartmental initiative, lead by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with coordination from the Education Department, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The initiative is still in nascent stages. 

But the long-term plan is that eventually, this cross-agency group will designate official "promise zones." The Education Department would have some role in the launch of the initiative, according to Cameron French, a spokesman. More here.

Much of the initiative—which was first introduced in the State of the Union address earlier this year—will have to get congressional approval, including offering these communities tax incentives to spur economic development. 

Have some thoughts on all this? Comments are due on or before Nov. 25. 

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