Charlottesville's City of Promise initiative hosted a reception Saturday night at Venable Elementary School to celebrate a program that will provide resources to students in nearby neighborhoods. 

In 2011, Charlottesville received a $470,000 Promise Neighborhood federal grant to develop a cradle-to-college career path for students living in the Westhaven, 10th and Page, and Star Hill neighborhoods.

Zanetta Ford of City of Promise said, "Funding is to support provision of resources so that we can make sure that children can get the best that Charlottesville has to offer so that they can lead successful lives and go to college."      

The City of Promise is a neighborhood action team that emerged from Charlottesville's Dialogue on Race.  The team hopes these funds will refocus efforts around children's education.

City of Promise Press Release

City of Promise Reception 

City of Promise is hosting a Reception at Venable Elementary School on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.  The public is invited to celebrate with our team of parents, youth, neighbors, schools, service providers, and local government in an initiative to create a continuum of services comprised of the best resources for children and youth ages 0-22.  The event offers a great opportunity to meet and greet the City of Promise staff members as well as partners in the initiative. 

Partners include: Children Youth & Family Services, Charlottesville City Schools, City of Charlottesville, Charlottesville Dept. of Human Services, Youth Nex/Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville/Albemarle Commission on Children and Families, Safe Schools/Healthy Students, Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Smart Beginnings, United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area,  Computers 4 Kids, Boys & Girls Club, Jefferson Area Child Health Improvement Program (CHIP), Charlottesville-Albemarle Health Department, Region Ten Community Action Agency, and Virginia Organizing. 

In 2011, Charlottesville became one of just 15 cities out of an applicant pool of 200 nationwide to secure the Promise Neighborhood grant; a $470,000 federal grant to develop a cradle-to-college and career pathway for children in the Westhaven, 10th and Page, and Starr Hill neighborhoods.  By involving the community on multiple levels to refocus efforts around children's education, the neighborhoods' low academic statistics have the opportunity to be reversed.  But City of Promise, as the local initiative has been coined, was born years before. 

In fact, even before City Councilwoman and current Charlottesville Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos proposed the idea of applying for the grant to 24 community members in the spring of 2010, the seeds of City of Promise and its primary mission of community-driven academic success had been sown.  Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone, organized in 1990, proved the capability of a group of concerned community members in changing the course of their own neighborhood.  His success and active involvement with children in a 24-block section of Harlem inspired many to believe that similar efforts would lead to similar results, including Barack Obama.  In talks during his national campaign, the soon-to-be President spoke vibrantly about the need for communities to drive their own train to success, and once in office created the Promise Neighborhood Planning Grant.  It is from this system of values and beliefs that Charlottesville's Promise Neighborhood initiative, City of Promise, was born. 

Currently, City of Promise, led by Director, Mr. Sarad Davenport, is in the informational gathering stage as it formally gets underway.  Community organizers are surveying neighbors within the targeted districts to discover what dreams parents have for the future, what needs are not being met for their children, what concerns they have for their children, and what ways individual neighborhood members can get involved to become part of the solution.  City of Promise, an entity unto itself, is strategically working with more than a dozen non-profits to help these dreams become a reality.  By utilizing the Charlottesville non-profit community, the effort to help the neighbors of the targeted districts takes on a multidimensional perspective, as citizens get support from numerous and varied sources: schools, city services, financial services, UVa, and the city council are just some of the organizations working in support of City of Promise at this stage.    

Subsequent to initial months of organizing and information gathering is the implementation phase.  With an implementation grant from the federal government, the program will initiate community programs and support systems, such as mentoring and tutoring programs and parental support groups. This second grant promises a much longer opportunity to develop interventions and will enable City of Promise to begin to fully involve itself with the district's students, helping them transition from cradle to career.  Additionally, the ongoing success of the initial neighborhoods will allow for a city-wide program to be developed to enable other districts to reap the benefits of community-driven initiatives.  Because of these possibilities, the urgency of City of Promise's mission is something that should resonate with every resident of the city.  Communities that can create environments that will ensure the success of their children are a universal dream.  City of Promise, with the support of Charlottesville, its citizens, and its organizations, can make this dream a reality. 

For information, contact City of Promise Development Officer, Zanetta Ford at 296-4118(o) 434-227-6393(c)