October 20, 2010; Source: City Limits | Last year, philanthropist and mayor, Michael Bloomberg promised to launch two programs in Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone. That was during the Mayor’s reelection campaign, aiming to offer HCZ types of programs to neighborhoods in the “outer boroughs”. A year later, the question is, what happened to those HCZ replications?
According to City Limits, there’s no sign of these new initiatives, which might have been linked to the potential availability of Promise Neighborhoods planning money from the U.S. Department of Education, but the Mayor’s representatives were not aware of Promise Neighborhoods and had nothing to say about the Mayor’s 2009 campaign promises.
Other New York City neighborhoods did submit for Promise Neighborhoods, including the Central Harlem area served by Rev. Calvin Butts’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. In South Brooklyn, a Promise Neighborhoods application came from Lutheran Family Medical Center to serve a 50-block area of Sunset Park. Some think that groups—and perhaps the Mayor—shied away from bidding on a replication of the Harlem Children’s Zone from a city (NYC) where the HCZ was located.
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On the other hand, even if NYC neighborhoods didn’t get Promise Neighbohroods planning grants, they could submit for implementation funds in Promise Neighborhoods Round II, where the Mayor’s influence with the Obama Administration wouldn’t hurt. This is especially true considering DOE’s interest in charter schools, a commitment of the Mayor. Nonetheless, what happened to the campaign pledges to Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx? Nonprofits ought to inquire about electoral promises made in their (or their sector’s) name.—Rick Cohen