Evansville was awarded the Promise Zone designation in June 2016 in the third and final round, and joins only 21 other urban, rural and tribal communities across the nation with a Promise Zone.

We as a community have made great progress to improve our neighborhoods, but we know there is still work to be done. Promise Zone is an honor that Evansville received because of our commitment to work together to keep moving forward.

If you have additional questions that are not answered here, need more information, or would like to be included in future Promise Zone email notifications, please contact Chris Metz, interim Promise Zone Program Director, at (812) 423-8422 or chris.metz@echohousing.org .

A Promise Zone is a specifically defined community neighborhood designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Promise Zone program. The Promise Zone initiative brings assistance, resources and opportunities to improve neighborhoods, crime and safety, health and financial security.

No. Promise Zone is a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and does not include actual grant funding. In contrast, Promise Neighborhood is a grant-funding program of the U.S. Department of Education that is designed to fund collaborative, cradle-to-career programs for children in distressed neighborhoods.

No. The Promise Zone brings new support and opportunity potential, but is not actual funding. Community fundraising and support are integral to ensure the success and implementation of the Promise Zone plan.

ECHO Housing Corporation serves as the lead organization for the Promise Zone with the City of Evansville working as the lead partner. Additionally, 20 Implementation Partners have committed to supporting the goals and activities of the Promise Zone plan.

The goals of the Evansville Promise Zone are:

  • Increase economic activity
  • Create jobs
  • Improve educational opportunities
  • Reduce violent crime
  • Promote health & access to healthcare
  • Increase access to quality, affordable housing

The six goals represent four required goal areas and two optional goal areas provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Goals and activities support existing improvement plans and progress that residents and stakeholders agree are important to our community.

The Evansville Promise Zone is managed by a Governance Committee, Goal Area Work Groups, and a Program Director. The roles are defined as follows:

Governance Committee – The Governance Committee meets regularly to help guide all aspects of Evansville Promise Zone. The committee is a diverse representation of the Evansville Promise Zone community and has representatives from six Promise Zone Goal Area Work Groups as well as Promise Zone residents.

Goal Area Work Groups – Goal Area Work Groups guide activities and progress within each goal area and provide a liaison to serve on the Governance Committee. Work groups consist of community members with interest, experience and/or expertise in the specific goal area.

Program Director – The Program Director is employed by ECHO Housing Corporation and oversees all Evansville Promise Zone activities, including working with the Governance Committee, coordinating work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, evaluating and sharing progress, and creating involvement opportunities for residents and neighborhoods.

Promise Zone schools include McGary, Caze, Cedar Hall, Delaware, Fairlawn, Lincoln, Lodge and Glenwood.

The Promise Zone Designation will last for 10 years (2016-2026).

Funding is not guaranteed; however, designees receive priority access to federal grants, which gives them an advantage over other communities in the grant application process.

Priority access means that participating federal agencies will award priority preference points to application scores of Promise Zone grant seekers. The purpose is to strengthen overall competitiveness for funding and increase the likelihood of increased investments in Promise Zone communities. Organizations seeking priority access certification must be approved by the Promise Zone Governance Committee through an application process that is reviews the program to ensure it supports Evansville Promise Zone goals. If approved, organizations are provided a certification form to be submitted with their federal grant application.

No, your organization does not need to be an Implementation Partner to be eligible for federal funding preference points. However, the proposed program does need to support one or more of the Evansville Promise Zone goal areas, and be approved for priority access certification by the Promise Zone Governance Committee.

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Labor
  • Small Business Administration
  • Department of the Treasury

Promise Zones receive a federal liaison to help community partners access federal resources. In addition, Promise Zone designees receive five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to assist with program development, and private businesses may receive tax incentives to hire and invest in Promise Zones (if approved by Congress).

To qualify to become a Promise Zone, the following criteria must be met:

  • Zone must encompass one or more census tract(s) or portions of census tract(s) across a contiguous geography.
  • The rate of overall poverty or Extremely Low Income rate (whichever is greater) must be at or above 33 percent.
  • Population of at least 10,000 residents.
  • Local leadership must demonstrate commitment to the Promise Zone effort.
  • Proposed Promise Zones must identify one Lead Applicant.

To qualify to become a Promise Zone, the following criteria must be met:

The first round of Promise Zones were selected in 2014 and includes Choctaw Nation, Kentucky Highlands, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Antonio.

The second round (2015) includes Camden, North Hartford, IndyEast, Minneapolis, Sacramento, St. Louis, South Carolina and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (South Dakota).

The third round (2016) includes Evansville, Indiana as well as Nashville, TN, South Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Diego, Spokane Tribe of Indians, WA, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, North Dakota, Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council and Puerto Rico’s Ceiba, Fajardo and Naguado Municipalities/Eastern Puerto Rico.

2016 was the third and final round for the Promise Zone competition. No additional designations will be awarded.

  • Become an Implementation Partner. Organizations may become an Implementation Partner by developing a formal agreement with the lead organization, ECHO Housing Corporation. Implementation Partners commit to implementing activities that support Promise Zone goals.
  • Attend quarterly Promise Zone network meetings. Network meetings are an opportunity for community members and organizations to meet, share interests and plans, and explore ways to work together.
  • Participate on a Goal Area Working Group. Six Goal Area Work Groups meet regularly to coordinate programs and discuss progress of on-going initiatives that guide the Evansville Promise Zone. Each group consists of community members with interest, experience and/or expertise in the specific goal area.
  • Join or become active in your Promise Zone neighborhood association, and assist AmeriCorps VISTA members with coordinating activities in your neighborhood.

These are just a few ways to get involved with the Evansville Promise Zone. For additional opportunities or to learn more, contact Silas Matchem,  Promise Zone Program Director, at (812) 549-5021 or silas.matchem@echohousing.org.

A communication plan is being developed to make sure everyone in the community can stay informed about Promise Zone activities and opportunities to get involved. Communication methods will include website, e-mail notifications, Facebook, Twitter, media stories and information shared through United Neighborhoods of Evansville (UNOE) and Promise Zone neighborhood associations.

The Promise Zone designation is not a grant or funding. Therefore, the lead organization, ECHO Housing Corporation needs community funding to help with the costs of managing Evansville Promise Zone through the 10-year designation. Costs include office expenses, salary support for the Program Director, marketing/communications, travel and program evaluation. For more information on how you or your organization can financially support the Evansville Promise Zone, please contact Silas Matchem at (812) 549-5021 or silas.matchem@echohousing.org.