Sacramento State is partnering with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) and other local organizations in the Promise Zone program, a White House and HUD initiative that aims to improve the quality of life for people living in high-poverty neighborhoods.
“It’s all about community revitalization,” says Jana Noel, Sac State’s director of Educational and Community Research Partnerships. “We will do all that we can to serve the residents in the Promise Zone.
“Community engagement is something we already do, and now we will identify and strengthen and build new partnerships. The Promise Zone provides us with a focus, and now we will get priority federal funding for our projects,” she says.
In April, President Barack Obama announced Sacramento’s designation as one of eight new urban, rural, or tribal Promise Zones in the country. Sacramento’s “zone” includes parts of midtown, downtown, south Sacramento, Del Paso Heights and North Sacramento. Those economically hard-hit areas suffer from high unemployment and mortality rates. More than 30 percent of the adult residents in the zone did not finish high school, and nearly a quarter are foreign-born with limited English proficiency.
The initiative’s goal is to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, improve health and wellness, and expedite neighborhood revitalization.
“Sacramento State is especially well-positioned to make a difference in all of these areas,” Noel says. “Engaging with the community is a part of the University’s mission, across the entire campus.”
Examples of ways that Sacramento State already serves residents of the Promise Zone include summer programs that bring youths and adults to campus (such as City Councilmember Jay Schenirer’s Way Up Sacramento), and the College of Arts and Letters’ U-Create! street fair, which will be held for the second time in downtown Sacramento on April 14, 2016.
In addition, the University's Department of Criminal Justice partners with Project Ascend, which works to reduce recidivism rates in the Sacramento area, and serves as a lead partner in the Sacramento Family Justice Center. Members of the Sac State faculty, administration, and staff serve as board members and advisers to community organizations such as Asian Resources Inc. and the Sacramento Urban League. Students and faculty in the College of Business Administration assist about 100 small businesses a year through the Center for Small Business. Many of those businesses serve residents of Sacramento’s Promise Zone.
And, through the University's Community Engagement Center, Sac State students engage in service learning in dozens of schools and community-based organizations throughout the Promise Zone.
SHRA is the lead organization for the Sacramento Promise Zone. In addition to Sac State, the key partners are the city and county of Sacramento, the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, the Sierra Health Foundation, UC Davis, United Way California Capital Region, Sacramento ACT, Twin Rivers Unified School District, and the California Capital Financial Development Corp.
To ask questions about Sac State’s participation in the Promise Zone initiative or to share ideas for collaborations and partnerships, please contact Jana Noel at email@example.com, (916) 278-5514 or (916) 813-7554. – Dixie Reid