A zip code should never determine the destiny of any child in in America, but sadly that is often the case. We live in a country where opportunity for all should not be debated, but instead embraced as a core American principle. The Obama Administration knows that providing opportunity for all Americans requires an unprecedented level of cooperation across multiple departments and agencies within the federal government. It also requires strong partnerships with state, tribal, and local leaders, the faith-based and non-profit sector, and -- most importantly -- with the people that live in those communities, in order to revitalize struggling and distressed neighborhoods.
Earlier this week, I was proud to participate in a panel discussion moderated by PolicyLink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell to showcase the Administration’s interagency cooperation, and how that cooperation is translating into better partnerships at the state and local level. The panel also featured Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Our conversation focused on federal place-based programs that are currently being implemented as an effective means of expanding opportunity and lifting communities out of poverty, mainly through Administration initiatives such as Promise Zones, Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods, and StrikeForce.
Secretary Donovan emphasized how in the old days, Washington would swoop into communities and plan for them rather than with them. That’s why, last month, President Obama announced the first five Promise Zones. These communities put forward concrete plans about how they will work with local leaders, the philanthropic and private sectors, as well as government to help expand opportunity. The Administration will announce 15 more zones over the next three years, and through programs like this, we will pave new paths of progress so that families can get ahead and in doing so, strengthen our nation and its future.