Payne, Jr. Introduces Bill to Strengthen Education for Low-Income Children

June 25, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) re-introduced legislation to improve outcomes for children in distressed communities by combining high-quality education with community and family-based supports to establish a continuum of services for youth from birth through college, to career.

The Promise Neighborhoods Act of 2015 (H.R.2882) authorizes competitive grants to support neighborhood-based, cradle-to-career “continuums of care” for children in distressed neighborhoods across the country.

“The Promise Neighborhoods program makes the education of our children a collaborative effort among community partners who best how to address the challenges children in distressed neighborhoods face in receiving a quality education,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “My legislation will strengthen this program, helping level the playing field for low-income children and narrow educational disparities that exist in many of our communities.”

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, at age 4, children who live below the poverty line are 18 months below normal learning and achievement for their age group, and by age 10 that gap is still present. Furthermore, a recent study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma.

Promise Neighborhoods encourages communities and schools to leverage partnerships and evidence-based practices to improve schools, student academic achievement, and social development. These partnerships ensure that children have access to education reforms, community services, and family supports that improve academic, developmental, and career outcomes.

Promise Neighborhoods was funded at $60 million in FY2012, a sum that held level in FY2013, FY2014, and FY2015 but was subject to a 5 percent cut because of sequestration. Due to limited resources, only 17 of the 242 cities, rural areas, American Indian communities, and other locales that applied for the program during the last competition in 2012 were chosen as part of the grant process. That is why, in March, Congressman Payne, Jr. sent a letter urging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to provide at least $150 million, the total amount requested in the President’s FY2016 budget, to Promise Neighborhoods.

The Promise Neighborhoods Act directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to award competitive grants to eligible entities and authorizes the Secretary to renew grants if the grantees demonstrate significant success in a number of areas, including ensuring school readiness; improving academic outcomes; increasing college and career readiness; and improving the health, mental health, and social and emotional well-being of children.