First Round Rural and Tribal Designees

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama announced the establishment of the Promise Zones Initiative to partner with high-poverty communities across the country to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, and improve public safety.

On January 9, 2014, President Obama announced the first rural and tribal designated Promise Zones in a ceremony at the White House. They are located in Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation in southeast Oklahoma.

Each designee 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, the Federal government is helping these Promise Zone designees secure the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.

View Promise Zones Designees, Finalists, and Applicants.

View Shapefiles for All Promise Zones First Round Designees.

Choctaw Nation Promise Zone

Choctaw Nation

Photo by: Deidre Elrod

Promise Zone Goals

Create Jobs

The Choctaw Nation fosters job creation by focusing on skill sets needed in today’s workforce. This is done through partnerships with area colleges, universities, and technical training schools. The Choctaw Nation is the largest employer in southeastern Oklahoma and works with institutions of higher education to train and develop professionals for the major industries in southeastern Oklahoma such as healthcare, manufacturing, education, and agriculture. Leveraging its role as the largest employer in southeastern Oklahoma to create a strong base for economic revitalization by working with partners, like Oklahoma State University, Eastern Oklahoma State College, and the Kiamichi Technology Center to improve workforce training for skilled trades and professionals, with a focus on providing nationally-recognized STEM certifications.

Increase Economic Activity

The Choctaw Nation increases economic activity by improving upon infrastructure in the treaty territory. This includes helping partners leverage federal grants and supporting investment in roads, water and sewer facilities, and technical infrastructure. This foundation helps existing businesses grow, and also creates a base for entrepreneurial development by tribal members. It also helps lay framework for increasing economic investment and growth in the area. 

Improve Educational Opportunities

The Choctaw Nation is working to improve educational advancement of all children in the Promise Zone.

The Partnership for Summer School Education program educates both Choctaw and non-Choctaw children. This intense summer program, in collaboration with local school districts and Oklahoma State University, helps students advance to their grade level during the summer. The program focuses on 4 year olds who have never been to school up to third graders. The program has seen huge success in pilot stages, and will eventually be rolled out to all 11 counties encompassing Choctaw Nation, partnering with all 85 independent school districts. The Choctaw Nation is also working all 85 schools to improve data collection to track students’ achievement and needs throughout the year.

Leverage Private Resources

The Choctaw Nation works with community partners like CDFIs, banks, and other to spur private investment in the Promise Zone. Partners like REI Oklahoma help train new business leaders, and also help to bring private investment into the Promise Zone via New Market Tax Credits.

Reduce Violent Crime

The Choctaw Nation Tribal Police work collaboratively with state, local, and county police forces to respond to and prevent violent crime in southeastern Oklahoma. Other programs focus on specific crimes that are most prevalent in the area. Choctaw Nation Outreach Services and other offices focus on mentoring youth as a means to crime prevention. Other programs assist victims of domestic violence, and bring awareness to communities on how to prevent and react to crimes.

Download Choctaw Nation Promise Zone Fact Sheet

Choctaw Nation Website

Choctaw Nation Promise Zone Map

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Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone

Promise Zone Goals

The Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone functions as a strategic plan compiled from sixteen different listening sessions held in each county with adults and youth residents. From these sessions, ten goals emerged. An abbreviated list of these goals follows.

  • Build a Sustainable Regional Economy
  • Collaborate to Increase Communications / Connectivity
  • Diversify Economic Base
  • Education: Enhance Pre-K and Assure Access to Post-Secondary Education and Workforce Training/Adult Education
  • Assure Access to Critical Health Services
  • Increase Access to Affordable Energy Efficient Housing
  • Expand Access to Transportation
  • Revitalize Downtowns
  • Increase Recreation, Arts, Community Engagement
  • Expand and Engage Pool of Community Leaders

These goals will take collaboration among partners. To support his work, six working committees have been formed. These working committees include:

  • Agriculture and Healthy Foods
  • Communication
  • Economic Development
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Housing

The purpose of these working committees is threefold. First, to plan collaboration among partners; second, to use the strategic plan as a roadmap for community-driven progress; and third, to focus efforts for securing funding and implementing ideas and programming. A lead partner has been identified for each working committee to coordinate the efforts of all applicable partners in addressing the ten goals.

Download Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone Fact Sheet

Kentucky Highlands Website

Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone Map

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