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Meeting Community Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Successes in the Promise Zones Webinar Series

February 23, 2021 Print ShareThis

Dear HUD Community Partner,

HUD is co-hosting a free webinar series, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (USDA-RD) and the National Coalition of Promise Zones, on March 2, 16, and 30, 2021.

Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health, and address other priorities identified by the community.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic tragically affected our nation, which has since resulted in 500,000 deaths, 28.1 million total cases, and a disastrous impact upon small businesses and many sectors of employment. Like many communities, Promise Zones had to pivot their strategies and respond to the immediate needs affecting their residents. This webinar series will highlight these efforts, especially as it relates to COVID-19 testing, responding to food shortages and shelter response, promoting job opportunities and small business support, and solving the digital divide – all of which have been exacerbated by the closures of schools and many work-from-home requirements by employers.

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Webinar #1: COVID-19 Testing, Food, and Shelter Response

Featured panelists and brief highlight:

  • Choctaw Nation Promise Zone (OK): Established drive up COVID-19 testing services for the public
  • Evansville Promise Zone (IN): Utilized newly launched Promise Zone platform/app to coordinate community resources such as openings at homeless shelters, food banks, and other vital resources to those in need, and operated the Evansville Promise Zone Express for transporting the Promise Zone’s most vulnerable people to access food
  • Pride of the Great Plains – Nations (ND): Saw success in securing relief funding by building on the existing ‘no kid hungry’ program and opened two soup kitchens
  • Sacramento Promise Zone (CA): Supported coordination of food access, homelessness efforts, economic development, and online education efforts

Webinar #2: Promoting COVID-19 Business Relief and Job Opportunities

Featured panelists and brief highlight:

  • South Carolina – Low Country Promise Zone (SC): Implemented a microloan program via a USDA grant, which offered loans to existing small business and startups, and assisted businesses in getting available federal assistance through social media platforms
  • St. Louis Promise Zone (MO): Operated a small business resource hotline and disseminated vital relief resources for those people and businesses most challenged by the pandemic
  • IndyEast Promise Zone (IN): Disseminated information on public-private partnership and SBA disaster loans for Promise Zone businesses
  • San Antonio Eastside Promise Zone (TX): Addressed the inequitable distribution of aid to small businesses and how to support them in addition to conducting a small and micro-business outreach campaign and survey

Webinar #3: Virtual Engagements and Responding to the Digital Divide

Michele Perez, Assistant Deputy Secretary for HUD’s Office of Field Policy and Management and Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant Administrator for USDA’s Rural Utilities Service will provide opening remarks on this webinar.

Featured panelists and brief highlight:

  • San Diego Promise Zone (CA): Connected community members and partners to resources through virtual meetings and information distribution, worked with the City of San Diego and local philanthropy to plan for the immediate and long-term economic recovery, and began shifting priorities of working groups to meet the challenges of right now and the near future
  • North Hartford Promise Zone (CT): Adapted to provide access to programs and services during COVID
  • Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone (KY): Supported the deployment of a statewide middle mile, encouraged local government to create Fiber Boards, and has increased the awareness of the benefits of education, jobs, telehealth, and aging in place

Schedule Information

Webinar Date and Time
COVID-19 Testing, Food, and Shelter Response March 2, 2021
3:00 – 4:00 PM EST
Promoting COVID-19 Business Relief and Job Opportunities March 16, 2021
3:00 – 4:00 PM EDT
Virtual Engagements and Responding to the Digital Divide March 30, 2021
3:00 – 4:00 PM EDT

For more COVID-19 webinars and resources, please visit the Place-Based Initiatives COVID-19 related Recovery Webinars page.

Tags: COVID-19 Promise Zones Initiative