Planned New Neighborhood Holds Promise for Saint Paul

Civic, community, educational and political leaders in Saint Paul want to create a long-term plan to revitalize the Frogtown and Summit-University neighborhoods.

Along with 339 other communities in the U.S., the Wilder Foundation of St. Paul has applied for a $500,000 grant to plan the Promise Neighborhood. This Saint Paul neighborhood would be designed to improve the lives of its residents by focusing on the health and well-being of children and families.

From making more fruit and veggie servings available to prekindergarten children to tracking students's progress through college, the Promise Neighborhood idea is sometimes referred to as a "cradle-to-career" approach. The Promise Neighborhood's proposed all-emcompassing philosophy is modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone. The Harlem Children's Zone Project is a unique, holistic approach to rebuilding a community so that its children can stay on track through college and go on to the job market.

Whether St. Paul gets the grant or not, officials plan to move forward with the vision anyway. Community meetings could start as soon as this summer. Actually, some of the ideas envisioned for the Promise Neighborhood are already in different stages of implementation in St. Paul. One of those programs is Achievement Plus, which brings additional learning opportunities and support to students at three St. Paul elementary schools: Dayton's Bluff, North End and John A. Johnson.

Officials have secured the equivalent of $250,000 in matching donations if the grant is awarded, which includes $160,000 from local foundations.

The U.S. Department of Education will award the grants this year. Afterwards, it will begin accepting applications for grants to pay for making the plans happen.

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