Policy Wins

Policy change and sustainable funding are key levers to ensuring that communities across the country can meaningfully change the systems that impact kids and families, from cradle to career. The Promise Neighborhoods Institute joins partners from across the country to advocate for legislation that supports local intermediaries and their civic, nonprofit, and private partners to build out coordinated systems of supports for kids and families. This includes federal advocacy to support the national Promise Neighborhoods movement as well as state-level efforts.

Federal Advocacy

In 2015, after more than a year of tireless advocacy from Promise Neighborhood communities, a coalition of civil rights organizations, The Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (PNI), and Promise Neighborhoods – along with a host of critical protections for students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students -- was included in the reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Since then, PNI has continued to advocate for support for the program and complementary initiatives in Congress, as well as coordinate cross-network opportunities to advocate for the program’s annual appropriation via Congressional-wide activities as well as tailored outreach to members.

In addition to direct federal advocacy, PNI also develops tools that local partners may consider using in their advocacy. These include:

  • Model Legislation to Support Cradle-to-Career Efforts: PNI introduced model legislation to be used at the state and local level to secure support for cradle-to-career efforts. The Cradle to Career Act of 201_ secures funding for innovative, results-based, and comprehensive continua of solutions that connect children and youth to high-quality education and key health and social services that prepare them to succeed in college and in their careers. The legislation was intentionally drafted in a manner that may be used to support various strategies that advance educational outcomes from cradle through college and career.
  • Promise Neighborhoods One-Pager: Each year, PNI produces an updated one-pager on the Federal Promise Neighborhoods Program, noting key information about the program’s funding as well as highlights of the initiative’s success across grantees
  • A Guide to Setting Up Congressional Visits: Many Promise Neighborhood communities are actively engaged with their Congressional representatives, and many are eager to engage more deeply. This guide offers guidance for setting up a visit with a Congressional member -- including helpful checklists, reminders, and strategies for maximizing time and communication with the member and their staff.

State-level Advocacy

Promise Neighborhood communities across the country- be they federally-funded grantees or not- are establishing important legislative precedents for state-level funding of cradle-to-career initiatives. Among them are:

In addition to direct federal advocacy, PNI also develops tools that local partners may consider using in their advocacy. These include:

  • Minnesota: In 2015, the Education Partnerships Coalition successfully advocated for funding from the governor and Minnesota state legislature, totaling $6 million over two years to support operation and pilot funding for the partnerships. The coalition, initially conceived by the Northside Achievement Zone and St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, was built upon a strong urban/rural partnership between the two Twin Cities initiatives and three others across the state, leveraging relationships amongst community organizers, national partners, politicians, and business leaders to set an important precedent for supporting cradle-to-career initiatives across the state of Minnesota.
  • Florida: In 2008, the state of Florida passed Statute 409.147, which established “a process for providing guidance for developing a new social service paradigm that systematically coordinates programs that address the critical needs of children and their families and for directing efforts to rebuild the basic infrastructure of the community.” Since then, funds have been used to fund initiatives across the state to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone Model, assisting localities with the development of community-based service networks that develop, coordinate, and provide quality wrap-around services for children and families living within their neighborhood boundaries.
  • California: Since 2017, six Promise Neighborhoods in California have been advocating as the California Promise Network for state-wide support of cradle-to-career initiatives. Most recently, the coalition has partnered with state Senator Ben Allen to introduce the California Promise Neighborhoods Act of 2019 (SB 686), which would award funding to 20 communities across the state to fund cradle-to-career efforts, including in the five communities already implementing federal Promise Neighborhoods initiatives. The legislation, which is based on PNI’s Model Legislation to Support Cradle-to-Career Efforts, would ensure that the considerations for equitable funding, data infrastructure, and continuous improvement developed to support federal Promise Neighborhoods would be mirrored in the state’s system.

PNI is proud to stand beside these and other Promise Neighborhood communities and add our voice to advocacy efforts as they build state-level coalitions to advance policy change.