Federal Partner Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities

Promise Zone designations will have a term of ten years and may be extended as necessary to capture the full term of availability of the Promise Zones tax incentives if enacted by Congress.

On March 23, 2016, Representatives John Larson, Harold Rogers, Joe Wilson and Keith Ellison introduced H.R. 4870, the Promise Zone Job Creation Act of 2016. The bill would expand the number of designated Promises Zones by up to 20, with six of those designations located in rural areas. In addition, the bill would provide an employment tax credit to employers who employ a resident of the Promise Zone or who located their businesses with a Promise Zone. Expensing of certain business/industrial property located within a Promise Zone also are proposed in the bills.

During the term of the Promise Zone designation, the specific benefits made available to Promise Zones may vary due to changes in policy, appropriations and authorizations for relevant federal programs.

This page contains a current list of funding and technical assistance opportunities by Department. View the list of federal programs offering Promise Zone preferences as of July 7, 2016.

Please note that funding and technical assistance opportunities are open to all eligible communities. More information on each opportunity can be found at agency websites and www.grants.gov.

U.S. Department of Commerce  (DOC)

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U.S. Department of Commerce Website

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities

Economic Development Assistance Program

USDOC's Role

The U.S. Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation's workers. As part of President Obama's commitment to strengthening the middle class, fighting poverty and building ladders of opportunity for all, Commerce's 11 bureaus provide business-focused programming, grants, data and technical assistance that help create the conditions for a sustainable and robust 21st century economy.

President Obama's Promise Zones Initiative aligns with Commerce's mission by promoting targeted community and economic revitalization at the local level. Through its multitude of business and economic development resources, DOC is eager to join with 11 other agencies to help Promise Zone communities create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities and improve public safety.

The Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) – an official Promise Zone partner - plays a particularly critical role in fostering regional economic development efforts in communities across the nation. EDA's programs provide economically distressed communities and regions with comprehensive and flexible resources to address a wide variety of economic needs, and are designed to lead to the creation and retention of jobs and increased private investment. Because Commerce is a Promise Zone partner agency through EDA, communities designated as Promise Zones automatically meet EDA's economic distress eligibility criteria for specific economic development grants.

In addition to EDA's work, the Commerce Department is working on a number of fronts to support the Administration's efforts to expand economic mobility, fight poverty and build ladders of opportunity. Our Minority Business Development Agency runs a nationwide network of business development centers that work with local minority-owned businesses to help them grow and create jobs. The Census Bureau, also part of the Commerce Department, produces data that helps federal, local and private sector entities allocate critical resources in communities nationwide. In 2010, for example, Census developed a supplemental poverty measure to take into account the effect of government programs on poverty not included in the official poverty measure. Adding to this, the Commerce's recently released “Open for Business Agenda” makes skills training a key policy priority for the Department. We plan to partner with federal agencies to transform workforce development, ensuring that skills training programs are driven by industry needs. These efforts are crucial for helping the millions of underemployed or unemployed Americans get the skills needed to fill open jobs now and the millions more that will open in the future.

As the Promise Zones Initiative expands to more communities around the country, Commerce looks forward to continuing its engagement in and support of this important work to promote economic growth and job creation at the local, regional and national levels.

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

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Corporation for National and Community Service Website

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities

AmeriCorps VISTA

Operation AmeriCorps

Social Innovation Fund

CNCS' Role

As a member of the Promise Zones Initiative, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will deploy up to five AmeriCorps VISTA members to each of the first five zones participating in the program. In addition, another CNCS program, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), will host a grant competition to foster innovative solutions to challenges in these areas and foster economic opportunity.

The first five Zones -- located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma -- have each put forward a plan on how they will partner with local business and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.  In exchange, these designees will receive the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.

The AmeriCorps VISTA members will deploy to each of the Promise Zones to support each community' goals and recruit and manage volunteers. These AmeriCorps VISTA members will work to build the capacity of the Promise Zone to work with federal agencies, coordinating key stakeholders, and creating the community' project evaluation.

Our AmeriCorps VISTA members have been committed fighters in the "war on poverty" since its creation nearly 50 years ago. These AmeriCorps members focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities during their year-long term on each project.

The SIF has recognized the importance of the Promise Zones initiative in its funding competitions. During the latest SIF grant competition, the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) outlined the consideration of service to the Promise Zones Initiative as a factor in the scoring for the grants. The funding notice emphasized a priority for eligible grantmaking institutions with high-scoring applications that will contribute to Presidential priorities that expand access to opportunity for low-income individuals and distressed communities.

CNCS will continue to work with partner agencies as the Obama Administration names additional Promise Zones.

U.S. Department of Education (ED)

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U.S. Department of Education Website

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities

Charter Schools Program Replication & Expansion Grant

Native Youth Community Projects Grant

Performance Partnership for Disconnected Youth Grant

Promise Neighborhoods Implementation Grants

ED's Role

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is a federal agency that establishes policy for, administers, and coordinates federal assistance in public education. ED's mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

Early in the Obama Administration, ED adopted a "place-based" approach in a few of its signature programs and initiatives, including its Promise Neighborhoods program. This approach recognizes that the federal government can better support strategies to achieve improved outcomes for students and families by taking into account where investments are made and how those investments interact with out-of-school conditions for learning. In 2012, ED released Impact in Place: A Progress Report on the Department of Education's Place-Based Strategy to report on these efforts. It speaks to ED's early efforts to explicitly use "place"; as a mechanism for combating the causes of low student achievement.

In 2013, ED became one of the core partners in the Promise Zones initiative. ED's efforts with the Promise Zones initiative help ensure that comprehensive, community-led revitalization strategies in high-need areas have strong schools in their center. This approach reflects the Administration's acknowledgement that strong schools are fundamental to strong communities. ED has directly supported the first five Promise Zones by prioritizing select new grants to organizations that focus on Promise Zone communities, and offering Promise Zone designees technical assistance and feedback regarding their revitalization approaches.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Website

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities

Local Foods, Local Places

National Endowment for the Arts

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National Endowment for the Arts Website

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities

Our Town Grant Program

NEA's Role

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives all Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Since its inception, the NEA has awarded more than 145,000 grants totaling $5 billion.

As a grant maker, convener, and national thought-leader, the NEA supports a network of practitioners and communities that are positioning the arts as a driving force for creating opportunity and building stronger communities. Since creating the Our Town grant program in 2011 – the only dedicated arts and community development program in the federal government – the NEA has made 256 grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to support arts-based community development work. This work ranges from asset mapping and transportation planning, to housing development and cultural district planning, to vocational training and public space design, among others. In 2014 the NEA launched Exploring Our Town, an online resource featuring case studies of more than 70 previous Our Town projects complete with an insights section of lessons learned.

The NEA's Challenge America program supports small and mid-sized organizations to extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations – those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Challenge America funds have has been a flexible resource for communities linking arts stakeholders and other community development practitioners.

Under the Art Works category, the NEA supports projects which strengthen communities through the arts, such as the development of community-wide planning and design activities that promote economic and cultural vitality or the enhancement of public spaces through commissioning and/or installation of art works.

In addition, the NEA is a partner on two programs dedicated to providing leadership with the tools needed to transform communities through design—Mayor's Institute on City Design and the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design.

Collectively, this community-driven work has demonstrated that arts stakeholders are fundamental players in a community's transformation. Arts based community development can be done in a way that is uniquely authentic, equitable, and supportive of existing community assets.

As a member of the Promise Zone Initiative, the NEA will provide targeted technical assistance and staff support for communities seeking to leverage their arts and cultural assets in building great community opportunity. This support will take four forms:

  • Technical assistance for designees seeking to link their NEA Our Town grant to their housing, public safety, economic development, transportation, land-use and other systems efforts;
  • Assistance in creating new partnerships among arts stakeholders and other community development leaders pursuing more opportunity-rich communities;
  • Through webinars, convenings and other forums, share best practices and innovative strategies that have provided critical support for long-term community transformation, including current research on how arts stakeholders can drive improved neighborhood social and economic capital;
  • Consideration of a Promise Zone designation in reviewing applications for Our Town grants.

NEA stands ready to support Promise Zone designees that seek to identify and foster more effective ways of engaging with their arts stakeholders and leveraging their arts and cultural assets.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

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U.S. Department of Transportation Website


USDOT's Role

The U.S. Department of Transportation strongly supports nationwide efforts to ensure a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system, designed to meets our vital national interests, while enhancing the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.  By working to increase connectivity and accessibility across all modes of transportation, USDOT is able to shape and enhance the quality of life for Americans.  As local, regional and nationally significant transportation projects and programs continue to come online, the Department aims to complement programs providing ladders of opportunity, including efforts to promote demand-driven training, support good jobs, expand affordable housing, provide access to jobs and services or connect Americans with quality education.

Transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity.  The choices that are made regarding transportation infrastructure at the Federal, State and local levels are able to significantly strengthen communities and improve the quality of life of the people in those communities.  It is USDOT’s job to ensure that we are helping to build a network that provides new and greater opportunities for all Americans. 

As a member of the Promise Zones Initiative, USDOT will bring resources to bear to assist communities across the country to meet their transportation challenges, particularly where opportunities to integrate projects and programs well with those of our interagency partners.  Across the country, the Department has invested significant resources into the Nation’s transportation system—including in this program’s first five designated Promise Zones: San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

While all federal resources are subject to statutory requirements, where the Department is able to maximize the return on investments made in these and future Promise Zone communities— through increased communications, program and technical assistance, peer exchanges, or enhanced coordination– USDOT will make every effort to help communities carry out their strategic plans.

View information on Federal Highway Administration programs available in your state.

View information on Federal Transit Administration programs (scroll down to program fact sheets).

View information on the TIGER program.

U.S. Department of the Treasury

U.S. Department of the Treasury Website

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities

New Market Tax Credit Program