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Foundation Center

National Teleconference:
Keeping Our Promise: How Can Funders Support Promise Neighborhoods to
Increase Educational Opportunity in Distressed Communities?

August 4, 2010

The U.S. Department of Education's Promise Neighborhoods Program aims to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of all children living in the most distressed communities across the country. The Department's vision is that children growing up in Promise Neighborhoods will have access to effective schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and career. Close to 400 nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education have applied for the Department's planning grants to lay the groundwork for this important national agenda. Funders active in the field of education can play a critical role in advancing these communities of opportunity by contributing their knowledge, on-the-ground expertise, and financial resources, leveraging their own place-based community investments with federal matching funds.

In this interactive teleconference, representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and from two of the nation's most prominent foundations update education grantmakers on guidelines, goals, and a variety of peer activities currently underway to fulfill the promise of investing in children — from cradle-to-career — through this large-scale social innovation.


  • Jim Shelton, the Department's Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement is joined by Larkin Tackett, Deputy Director of Promise Neighborhoods, to discuss the guidelines and goals of the Promise Neighborhoods Program, how the Department is working across a wide range of agencies to advance program objectives, and how foundations can play a supportive and transformational role in this effort.
  • Donna Lawrence, Director, Children & Youth, The Atlantic Philanthropies, talks about how her foundation is supporting "Elev8" sites to help disadvantaged middle school students in five Chicago schools achieve educational and life goals.
  • Jeannie Oakes, Director of Education and Scholarship, the Ford Foundation, discusses Ford's work to transform urban schools in Los Angeles and other cities in the U.S.

Donna and Jeannie also talk about the Promise Neighborhoods Institute which Atlantic, Ford, and a number of other foundations are supporting to provide tools, information, and strategies to assist any community interested in participating in the Department's Promise Neighborhoods program.

This teleconference is presented as part of the Foundation Center's Foundations for Education Excellence initiative, made possible through generous support by the C.S. Mott Foundation. We also thank the Council on Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, Grantmakers for Education, and the Philanthropy Roundtable for their assistance with this effort.

Listen to the teleconference:

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Total running time: 56 minutes, 37 seconds

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