UE Receives $30 Million Promise Neighborhood Grant to Support Students ‘From Cradle to Career’
The Promise Neighborhood includes six schools near Evansville’s downtown, which will also receive housing and job-creation support orchestrated in part by UE
The University of Evansville has become one of three recipients in the nation to be awarded a special grant through the US Department of Education which promises to make a sizable impact in the community.
“I am delighted to announce the University of Evansville received a $30 million US Department of Education Promise Neighborhood grant,” said UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz to robust applause at the packed news conference on campus Thursday.
He said this means that young people and their families in the designated Evansville Promise Neighborhood will have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support.
“…to help them achieve academic excellence. Make the transition to college, and ultimately embark on a successful career. So in short, support services are from cradle to career, and we are delighted to be a part of it.”
The Promise Neighborhood includes six schools — Evans and Delaware Elementary Schools, Lincoln School, Bosse High School, Lodge Community School and Glenwood Leadership Academy.
This is a five-year program totaling $62 million. Twenty-three Evansville Promise Neighborhood partner agencies accounted for a match totaling $32.5 million dollars. These funds will support wraparound services for neighborhood families to assist and serve the whole person.
“It's not just what happens inside of the classroom, but what happens outside of the classroom,” Pietruszkiewicz said.
Emotions ran high at the news conference where years of effort by UE, Evansville Vanderburg School Corporation (EVSC) and partners came to fruition.
“I don't know how you think about more than $60 million of investment in your community and not get emotional,” said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.
This promise neighborhood will not only provide educational and family support for children and their families, said Pietruszkiewicz.
“It will include workforce training, affordable housing and infrastructure development, all aimed at boosting economic growth and creating jobs in the Promise Neighborhood.” He said this will likely lead to business investment in the community.
Major partners also include Evansville Promise zone and Evansville Regional Economic Partnership.
The exact plan for the grant is not fleshed out but is in development at UE. Pietruszkiewicz said they’ll need to hire more staff and will house them at Evansville Center for Innovation and Change. “And then they will help us establish a roadmap for how we go forward as a community,” he said.
Also speaking at the event were EVSC Superintendent David Smith, City Council Member Alex Burton, Director of the Evansville Promise Zone Silas Matchem and CEO of Evansville Regional Economic Partnership, Tara Barney.
UE was the lead applicant for this grant, filing the submission in October of 2022. The groundwork began in 2016 by establishing a 10-year Promise Zone “to support its most at-risk, yet most promising neighborhoods within its urban core,” according to UE.
This is the fourth Neighborhood Promise grant application submitted for the city.
In June of 2016, the City of Evansville received a federal 10-year Promise Zone designation to support its most at-risk, yet most promising neighborhoods within its urban core. Schools and census tracts were selected after a careful review of school and neighborhood data based on areas of most concentrated need within the Promise Zone.
This effort was led by Diehl Consulting, widely respected local program evaluation experts, in close partnership with EVSC to analyze the data. Leadership Everyone and UE's Center for Innovation & Change conducted neighborhood vision and design thinking sessions with EVSC students and families to help guide the interventions selected.
Dr. Timothy A. (Tad) Dickel of the T.A. Dickel Group, LLC helped facilitate the process of budget development with partners, and Amy Bolek (UE alumna) of Bolek Grant Writing and Consulting Services led the grant process. UE, as lead applicant, would house the staff leading the Promise Neighborhood, through its Center for Innovation & Change.
Evansville has applied for Promise Neighborhoods four times, including in 2021, the first year in which UE was a partner and is now the lead partner. Evansville's selection as a Promise Zone was seen as a necessary precursor to eventually receiving the Promise Neighborhoods grant.
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