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October 5, 2010 > Cal State East Bay receives "Promise Neighborhoods" planning grant

Cal State East Bay receives "Promise Neighborhoods" planning grant

By Robin Michel

More than 300 neighborhoods across the nation submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Education for the highly competitive "Promise Neighborhoods" planning grants. With only 21 grants awarded, California State University East Bay's Promise Neighborhood planning partnership deserves kudos for demonstrating a strong collaboration committed to the vision of the federal program, which is to create and provide "cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children."

With California State University East Bay (CSUEB) taking the lead, the Hayward Promise Neighborhoods Partnership (HPNP) will use the $499,406 planning grant to focus on a neighborhood in South Hayward. In addition to CSUEB, the partnership's management team is comprised of representatives from Chabot College, Hayward Unified School District (HUSD), the City of Hayward, Community Child Care Council (4 C's) of Alameda County, and the Eden Area Regional Occupational Program. As part of the planning process, the partnership will form an advisory board that will include public safety officials, government groups, non-profit community based organizations, and local residents.

South Hayward's population is estimated at 73,259 with a diverse ethnic makeup, and more than half of households at low to extremely low income levels. Thirty-six percent of children under the age of six live below the poverty line. Children in the community have elevated rates of obesity, asthma, and diabetes.

The neighborhood schools, which are part of the HUSD, have performed below county and state averages in academic achievement, and graduation and dropout rates are high.

According to Nan Maxwell, executive director of CSUEB's Human Investment Research and Education (HIRE) Center, CSUEB has been using a hands-on, data-driven approach to address the imbalances in education of poor and minority students for some time.

Maxwell prepared the proposal. "This is our neighborhood," she said, "and we are eager to tackle the challenges with our partners to improve the outcomes for South Hayward's children and revitalize a promising area."

The Promise Neighborhood Initiative is modeled after programs such as the Harlem Children's Zone, which serves a nearly 100-block area in New York City with parenting classes, early learning centers, and health and social service programs. As part of the funding criteria, each project awarded must focus its efforts on neighborhood schools and build services for students from birth through college to career.

Maxwell said that the Hayward partnership will also look specifically at ways to emphasize improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and develop pathways to college. These are two priorities identified as key to regional workforce development.

Of the 21 projects funded through the $10 million program, CSUEB was one of just three projects funded in California. The other two are in Los Angeles. (All but two states applied for the planning grants.) Following the planning period, the university will apply for a second phase implementation grant.

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