Promise Zone

Promise Zone: St. Louis/St. Louis County, Missouri

A child’s zip code should never determine her destiny; but today, the community she grows up in impacts her odds of graduating high school, her health outcomes, and her lifetime economic opportunities. It will take a collaborative effort – between private business and federal, state, and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; and striving kids and parents – to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American in every community.

Building on those efforts, in his 2013 State of the Union Address, Former President Obama laid out an initiative to designate a number of urban, rural and tribal communities as Promise Zones. Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community. The 22 urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zones were selected through three rounds of national competition, in which applicants demonstrated a consensus vision for their community and its residents, the capacity to carry it out, and a shared commitment to specific, measurable results.

In 2015, portions of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County were awarded the designation of Promise Zone. This award encourages program partners and local leaders to collaboratively create tools to rebuild the designated communities and put people back to work. The selected areas have high unemployment, high crime and mortality rates; significant numbers of vacant lots and abandoned buildings; and homelessness. The Promise Zone designation lasts for 10 years, is a catalyst for ongoing collaborative change to grow, support and sustaining the region for an intentionally inclusive St. Louis.

Through this collaboration, the following results:

  • Five community-based workforce centers will help young adults with job training and placement services thanks to a $5 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awarded BioSTL, a St. Louis-based regional organization focusing on medical and plant biosciences, $500,000 to support entrepreneurs and small businesses in the region’s biosciences cluster.
  • In June 2015, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a three year grant to the Promise Zone lead organization to fund an economic development coordinator focused on the communities of Ferguson, Dellwood, Jennings, and a portion of unincorporated St. Louis County.

Click here, to learn more about the Promise Zone and all its progress.