Andrew Guinn is a graduate student in the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning and a CCP intern in Lenoir and Caswell Counties.
A lot has happened in the Kinston Promise Neighborhood since the CED Blog last checked in with them in August. Notably, while the Kinston group did not receive federal dollars to fund its early-stage planning activities, the Promise Partners have agreed to push forward as a Promise Neighborhood. This entails carrying forward with the planning year, an important component of which is the creation and implementation of a community needs assessment, a project to which the Community Campus Partnership has pledged its support. The first step of this process will entail the creation of a survey instrument. I met yesterday with Theresa Williams, Tristan Bruner and Keith Sylvester in order to discuss what categories of needs the Promise Neighborhood ought to focus on through this survey. We agreed that important components will include health, educational opportunities, social support services and issues related to the housing stock. In addition, as we plan the construction of the survey instrument, we will make sure that the information that we gather is valuable to the future activities of the Promise Partners by, for example, incorporating indicators that inform the eligibility requirements of grants for which the Neighborhood will apply in the coming months. We expect to have a survey instrument and work plan in place by the beginning of 2011 so that we can begin collecting information during the winter and spring.
There are a number of other significant updates related to the Kinston Promise Neighborhood. Last month, the group initiated the Project Promise Mentoring Alliance, which provides bimonthly mentoring sessions on life skills, academic advancement and self-confidence at Rochelle Middle School. Importantly, this new program provides continuity for students who participated in the “little by little” mentoring program at Southeast Elementary. Related to this point, the Promise Partners are excited to announce that on November 10, the Lenoir-Greene County Partnership for Children (a Promise Partner) was awarded a competitive, $175,000 Dropout Prevention Grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This money will go to support the activities of the Project Promise Mentoring Alliance. Additionally, the Promise Partners have welcomed a new member to the fold: NCFIELD, an organization that seeks to provide opportunities for farm worker communities in North Carolina by providing training to farm workers as well as advocacy on issues related to food scarcity, child labor and the rights of migrant workers. Finally, Kinston Promise Neighborhood has revamped its website. I encourage readers interested in keeping up with the Promise Neighborhood’s activities to take a look.