The federal government extended a helping hand to Camden yesterday, naming it one of eight new Urban Promise Zones in the United States. This means that Camden, selected from 125 “vulnerable” applicants, will receive priority status when courting federal grants and investment dollars. Each awardee is assigned one direct point of contact in the federal government to help navigate the application process for these programs. Plus, five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers will serve Camden exclusively — recruiting and overseeing local volunteers and applying for grants to support health services, economic development, and job growth.
President Obama announced the creation of the program for just 20 cities, rural areas, and tribal communities in his State of the Union address in 2013. Philadelphia was named as one of the first five zones. Yesterday marked the announcement of the second round of winners.
The program is administered through Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition to Camden, the new Promise Zones are Minneapolis, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Hartford, St. Louis, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and the Lowlands of South Carolina.