Andrew Guinn is a graduate student in the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, and a CCP intern working in Caswell and Lenoir Counties.
Even though the Kinston Promise Neighborhood group has already successfully submitted its grant application to the Department of Education for a one-year planning grant, the organization and its partners have maintained forward momentum in the community. The Kinston Promise Neighborhood Program, which has targeted 80 square blocks in the East Kinston neighborhood and 18 square blocks in the Mitchelltown neighborhood for community development, is working to provide a programmatic network of social, educational and technical resources that will prepare local youth for success in their academic and, eventually, professional endeavors. The program, led by Project Coordinator Theresa Williams-Bethea, is based on the “cradle to college to career” approach pioneered by Geoffrey Canada’s organization, the Harlem Children’s Zone, in New York City. It currently boasts the diverse support of more than 25 public and private partner organizations in Kinston, including the Lenior-Greene County Partnership for Children, Lenoir County Public Schools, the local Chamber of Commerce, NC Cooperative Extension, La Voz ENC and the UNC Community-Campus Partnership.
The Promise Neighborhood grant application was submitted to the federal Department of Education on June 25. The Department of Education has received 339 applications total, though only 48 are in the same Priority 2 (rural) category as Kinston. It is by no means assured that the Kinston Promise Neighborhood will receive federal dollars for its planning or operational activities (funding decisions will be made in September); nevertheless, the Program and its partners have committed to continuing their work whether they receive the grant or not. In fact, they have already begun preparations for the planning year, during which multiple projects will be undertaken, including: conducting a comprehensive needs assessment; conducting a segmentation analysis in order to target support to particular children; developing a plan to deliver this support; and building community support. Already, the Program has received some good news: a grant for one Promise Partner, the Greater Kinston CDC, has been recommended for funding by the State of North Carolina. As the Program continues to expand its activities, the Kinston Promise Neighborhood will become a place that enables its children to learn, grow and succeed.
Currently, CCP interns are working to assist the Kinston Promise Neighborhood Program by developing marketing products and strategies in order to both garner community support and support fundraising activities. Widespread awareness of and support for the Promise Neighborhood among community members will be critical for the Program to meet its goals.