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Promise Grants Send $1.3 Million To Rural School Districts

Three of 21 Promise Neighborhood Grants for 2010 rolled out this week by the U.S. Department of Education target primarily rural communities and will be used to plan development of cradle-to-career services in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Wyoming that strengthen learning and children's health.

Those three grants total $1.3 million, compared with $7.7 million that will go to grantees in metropolitan areas and small cities.

The 21 Promise Neighborhoods grantees are located in 19 cities and 12 states, and the District of Columbia. Three grantees are institutions of higher education, and the other 18 are nonprofit organizations.

Two grantees focus on heavily rural communities.

  • Berea College, in Kentucky, received $500,000 to engage the community in planning an array of education services in Clay, Jackson, and Owsley counties, three counties with poverty rates among the highest in the nation, according to the Rural School and Community Trust. Read the grant application here.
  • The Delta Health Alliance, in Sunflower County, received $332,531 to target Indianola, Miss., in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. The participating school system is currently under state supervision after ongoing failure to meet state standards. Read the grant application here.

Another grantee serves a rural tribal community.

  • The Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation received $499,679 to target a neighborhood within the territorial boundaries of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and the bordering towns of Colstrip and Ashland, Mont. The "neighborhood" has high rates of substance abuse, mobility, illness and unemployment. It will use the money to conduct a needs assessment and analysis of residents up to age 25. Read the grant application here.

"We're hoping we can bring families back together," Geri Small, chief professional officer for the non-profit, told the Associated Press.

The Promise Neighborhoods program aims at distressed communities and focuses on grantees and partner organizations who will plan to provide services for early learning to college and career, including programs to improve the health, safety, and stability of neighborhoods, and boost family engagement in student learning.

President Barack Obama has requested $210 million for the program in his fiscal 2011 budget, including $200 million to support implementation of Promise Neighborhood projects and $10 million for planning grants for new communities.

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