What are Camden’s Promise Zone goals?

Camden’s goals are to create a sustainable economy, reduce crime and prevent violence, ensure safe and affordable housing, provide high-quality educational options, and improve the health and overall well-being of residents.

What communities within Camden will be affected by the initiative?

 All neighborhoods of Camden will be included, as it is a citywide effort in which the entire Camden community will benefit. The Promise Zone is different from the Promise Neighborhood initiative. Promise Neigborhood is a block by block model focused on a specific footprint within Camden City. 

How long will the Promise Zone designation last?

Promise Zone is a ten-year initiative, but the term may be extended as necessary based on availability of tax incentives provided by the Congress.

Do Promise Zone designees receive guaranteed funding?

Funding is not guaranteed; however, designees receive priority access to federal grants, thus giving them an advantage over other cities in the grant application process.

Besides priority access, are there any other benefits that designees receive?

Promise Zones receive a federal liaison that will help them navigate the federal grant system. In addition, designees receive five full-time AmeriCorps VISTAs to assist in recruitment and volunteer efforts; private businesses are encouraged to hire and invest in Promise Zones through tax incentives; and Promise Zones are given the ability to access preference points for other grant programs.

What are “preference points”?

Participating federal agencies such as HUD, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, and other federal agencies provide grant opportunities that allow for preferential access from Promise Zone communities. These communities therefore receive access to preference points which essentially serve as extra credit to strengthen their grant proposals and overall competiveness in the application process. Preference points are to help Promise Zones in selected federal grant programs, technical assistance, and other opportunities that will further the community’s revitalization efforts. In addition, organizations applying for funding for work within the Promise Zone are also able to receive special consideration in proposals and project requests, with the lead organization certifying any and all applications for preference points, consideration, and funding that fall within the Promise Zone goals.

Who serves as the lead organization for the Camden Promise Zone?

The Office of the Mayor is the lead agency of the Promise Zone initiative, having demonstrated a strong capacity to plan and implement citywide and neighborhood-based activities/programs dedicated to the revitalization of Camden. The Mayor’s Office, along with Center for Family Services who serves as the convening partner, will preside over a team of five implementation partners, those of which have been tasked with implementing strategies that will address Camden’s Promise Zone goals.

Who selects the Promise Zones? 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development decides which applicants receive the designation.

How does a community qualify for Promise Zone designation?

Camden was selected as an Urban Promise Zone. To be chosen, Camden had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must encompass one or more census tracts across one contiguous geography
  • Overall poverty rate must be over 33 percent
  • Must encompass a population of at least 10,000 but no more than 200,000 residents
  • Other qualifying selection criteria includes: Extreme poverty, under-education and joblessness, several public safety issues, and inadequate housing.

How many applicants were included in this round?

There were a total of 123 applicants in the second round; a highly competitive process in which communities must submit applications that include a needs assessment and the innovative strategies that will solve the listed needs.

What other communities were chosen as Promise Zones? Will there be any additional designees?

The first round of Promise Zones selected in 2014 were: Choctaw Nation, Kentucky Highlands, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Antonio

Second round (2015) included: Camden, North Hartford, IndyEast, Minneapolis, Sacramento, St. Louis, South Carolina, and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (South Dakota)

Third and final round (2016) included: Nashville, Atlanta, San Diego, Roosevelt Roads (Puerto Rico), and Spokane Tribe of Indians (Washington). 

There are a total of 22 places with the Promise Zone designation.