Leveling the playing field with Promise Neighborhoods

President Obama Announces First Five "Promise Zone
In 2014, President Obama announced his administration's first five "Promise Zones" to help local communities to combat poverty.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

In the fight against generational poverty, a new idea took hold a few years ago: Promise Neighborhoods.

Modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone, Promise Neighborhoods aim to provide kids in a particular area with a whole host of services — medical, social and educational — from birth through college or the start of their career.

The hope is that access to such a comprehensive group of services can improve educational performance and other outcomes in some of the nation's most impoverished neighborhoods.

Michael McAfee, a national leader in Promise Neighborhoods, and Sondra Samuels, who runs the Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis, joined MPR News host Tom Weber to talk about how Promise Neighborhoods work and what Minnesota needs to do to move the needle on racial inequality.

Samuels said the power of Promise Neighborhoods comes from collaboration: The Northside Achievement Zone works with 44 partners, including 10 schools, to offer a complete range of services.

These services existed before the Promise Neighborhood, but "they have been fractured and isolated. Everybody's doing their own thing," Samuels said. "It's really well meaning, but children and families don't come in pieces. They are whole."

To hear the full discussion with Michael McAfee and Sondra Samuels, use the audio player above.