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Newsletter Highlights of 2016

Sacramento Promise Zone

Highlight #001, August 2016

Mayor’s Promise Zone Executive Summary

August 2016 by Mayor Kevin Johnson

The positive impact that the Promise Zone has had on the City of Sacramento is a sight to behold. As I reflect on the activities and accomplishments of the first year, I see the transformational effects of this coveted designation reverberating across our city.

Since I took office in 2008 my vision has been to make Sacramento “a city that works for everyone.” My top priorities include improving public safety, creating jobs and economic development, launching green and sustainability initiatives, reforming public education and enhancing the quality of life for all Sacramentans. Last year I added a goal to create 10,000 units of housing Downtown over the next 10 years. Our housing plan includes the development and perseveration of 6,000 market rate units, 2,500 affordable units and 1,500 units for rapid rehousing the homeless. All of these priorities are perfectly aligned with the goals of the Sacramento Promise Zone.

Over the past year, more than $39 million in federal investments has been awarded to create jobs, provide job training and placement, increase access to healthy foods, and improve educational opportunities primarily in the Promise zone. We recognize that the Promise Zone designation has ripple effects that positively impact the entire city and as the Capitol city of California, our goal is to be a model city for the region and state.


The Sacramento Promise Zone encompasses some of the economically hardest-hit neighborhoods in the city – from Del Paso Heights in the North Area, Oak Park and The Avenues in the South County. It also includes portions of Downtown and Midtown and encompasses five City Council Districts. The Promise Zone is home to 127,893 residents, of whom 34.93% live in poverty. In the Promise Zone, 63% of children are reading below grade level and the unemployment rate is 19%. The life expectancy of the residents of the Promise Zone is 72 years versus 79 outside the zone.

The entire City Council along with over 50 committed and capable partners are perfectly aligned in our efforts to significantly improve the lives of residents in the Promise Zone neighborhoods. We have a demonstrated history of commitments to neighborhoods in the zone based on past federal funding of projects and activities. Our city leaders are committed to aligning and directing local, federal, state, corporate and philanthropic funds into the Promise Zone neighborhoods.


Sacramento is a diverse city that has a long and successful track record of organizations working together and using its diversity as an asset. During the first year, our list of Promise Zone partners has expanded from 30 to over 50 participating agencies and organizations. These capable and committed partners are working collaboratively to coordinate and attract financial resources, build capacity and create public-private partnerships to promote healthy behaviors, accelerate job creation, increase educational opportunities, promote a sustainable economic base, and facilitate neighborhood revitalization.


Our Promise Zone goals are clear, transformational and achievable.

Create jobs and accelerate job training and placement

Increase economic activity within the downtown and neighborhood business districts

Improve educational opportunities from cradle to career

Improve health and wellness by promoting healthy behaviors and increasing health interventions

Facilitate sustainable neighborhood revitalization activities that support safe and thriving communities

Job Training and Placement

Over the past year we have achieved some significant milestones and accomplishments that support our Promise Zone goals. The Housing Authority of the City of Sacramento received a $2.7 million Jobs Plus grant that supports our goal of accelerating job training and placement. Over 700 residents will receive assistance to connect them to training that leads to jobs and careers that provide economic self-sufficiency. Additionally, the Sacramento Conservation Corps is expanding job training opportunities through their YouthBuild program that serves young adults. This was made possible through a $1 million grant.

Economic Activity

We have also strengthened relationships with the SBA and the Department of Economic Development to provide technical assistance to local business and access both technical and financial resources to support the 7 business districts within the Promise Zone. We are currently developing an Economic Development Plan that will assist with the creation of several Promise Zone Innovation Districts. The city is committed to creating, attracting and retaining small businesses. An $8 million Innovation Fund has been established with city funds to attract, support and leverage resources that support business creation. We celebrated the opening of the first grocery store in the Del Paso Heights community in over 30 years. The store serves over 8,000 residents and provided 40 jobs to local residents.

Health and Wellness

We have made significant strides to improve the health and wellness of residents. Kaiser Permanente announced that they will be building a new hospital in the Promise Zone. The hospital will provide 3,000 jobs thereby expanding employment opportunities for residents in the zone. Work is also currently underway at new community health clinic serving the Alder Grove and Marina Vista residents. Vision Protective Services and Pacific Dental Services are providing free vision and dental services to 500 students within the zone. With funding from the USDA we expanded access to fresh fruit and vegetables using EBT cards at Farmer’s Markets in the zone. This funding has made it possible for more than 500 community residents to supplement their diets with fresh produce.

Our Faith-Based community has joined us in our efforts to support education, jobs and training, financial literacy and mentoring opportunities that support the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Over 40 congregations have formed the Fathering Coalition. The congregations are collaborating to identify and train mentors to connect with students in schools throughout the Promise Zone.

Neighborhood Revitalization

Our activities to facilitate sustainable neighborhood revitalization activities that support safe and thriving communities have also been successful. The Housing Authority of the City of Sacramento received a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant for the redevelopment of the Twin Rivers Public Housing Community and the surrounding River District. This transit oriented redevelopment project will provide over 500 mixed-income units and community amenities. I have established the Sacramento Community Police Commission and the Gang Prevention Intervention Task Force. We also established the Officer Next Door program which seeks to strengthen partnerships, foster trust and increase engagement between Sacramento police officers and the residents they serve.

In Sacramento, AmeriCorps VISTA members are working with the Sacramento Housing Redevelopment Agency and key partners to drive the implementation of key strategies, facilitate communication, coordinate the working groups and communities, and support community engagement activities. They are also assisting with outreach and communications to community partners and residents. The Promise Zone Resident Council was established and is supported by the Vistas. The Council members provide information and updates to members of the community about the activities of the Promise Zone committees. The Resident Council members also serve as information officers to their communities about resources that become available through the activities of the Promise Zone. This includes attending community meetings and providing updates and providing feedback to the Implementation Council.

Through our organizational capacity building activities, HUD’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the USDA conducted two free grant writing workshops to capacity audiences. Both of these activities support our goal of expanding the capacity of community organizations to apply for grants to support the work of the Promise Zone.

Educational Opportunities

As we enter our second year our focus will be to establish working committees that will develop specific strategies to address our five Promise Zone goals. Our activities will align with our education and job creation initiatives by creating partnerships to include Promise Zone schools in STEAM programs and workshops. This will include working to increase teacher training for STEAM curriculum for all grade levels. Additional activities will address employment disparities by expanding GED and high school completion opportunities for students within the Promise Zone and increasing occupational skills training and career pathways programs. Our health committee will identify community health interventions strategies to promote healthy behaviors that lead to longer life spans for residents in the Promise Zone.

The tide of momentum is rising across this city. There is contagious enthusiasm that is permeating residents of California’s capital city. Sacramento is a city where failure is not an option. We recognize that our Promise Zone goals are ambitious and we have an unwavering commitment to achieve them.


Jobs Plus Grant Awarded & Launched!

August 2016 by Patricia Colon, Education VISTA

The Housing Authority of the City of Sacramento received a Jobs Plus Grant in 2015 to work with the residents at Alder Grove and Marina Vista to become employed or to participate in activities leading to employment, such as education and/or job training. The Jobs Plus Center is located at 249 Seavey Circle.

On June 23, 2016 a soft launch event was held to celebrate the beginning of the five year grant program. It was a great opportunity for approximately 30 residents to begin to talk with the program resource providers about their goals of employment through job training and education. A Grand Opening will be held later this summer.

The Jobs Plus program features four tracks to assist the residents of Alder Grove and Marina Vista to reach their employment goals:

  •  Career Growth

  •  Job Ready

  •  Work Preparation

  •  Teen Hire

Residents living at Alder Grove or Marina Vista are encouraged to stop in to see what is happening, and learn how they can participate in the Jobs Plus program.


Grants Update – August 2016

August 2016 by Cindy Bui, Health VISTA

The Promise Zone designation itself does not provide funding, but it sets our community in a more competitive position for funding opportunities. At the beginning of every month, we will post updates on what grant applications the Promise Zone supported during the previous month. Because this is our first Grants Update, we will be extending the scope to cover all grants supported over the past three months: May, June and July 2016.

If your organization is aligned with the Promise Zone goals and is interested in applying for a grant that supports the Promise Zone community, please reach out to us! Check out our Grants & Support page for more information.


Sacramento Promise Zone & U.S. Department of HUD hosted Free Grant Writing Workshop for Sacramento Community

October 2016 by Cindy Bui, Health VISTA

On September 8 and 9, 2016, the Sacramento Promise Zone and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collaborated to bring a valuable free Grant Writing Workshop to our Sacramento community.

Pauline Zvonkovic, Senior Management Analyst from the Utah HUD office, gave an insightful presentation on how to write and prepare a competitive grant application. Engaging the audience along the way, Pauline prepared exercises for them to practice their new skills together and network. Community members gave positive feedback about how they appreciated that the daunting task of grant writing was broken down to seem more manageable while others were happy to learn about how much work goes behind writing a grant.

The workshop was open to the public. The purpose of the Grant Writing Workshop is to build sustainable capacity for individuals and organizations in the Sacramento community so that they can in turn bring more resources to their efforts and our community. This was the second Grant Writing Workshop the Sacramento Promise Zone helped host this year and we hope to continue providing this capacity-building resource in future years.

Thank you to our friends at the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services in Oak Park for allowing us to hold the 2-day workshop at their location.

Materials from the workshop can be found here. For more events, you can also visit


The Promise Zone Connects Sacramento to the National Endowment for the Arts

October 2016 by Katie Smet, Sustainably Built Communities VISTA

The Sacramento Promise Zone team is focusing efforts on the arts to build vibrant communities and improve quality of life for residents inside the Promise Zone. On August 9, 2016, the Promise Zone team brought together local leaders who support arts-based initiatives for a webinar presented by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the California Arts Council. The webinar provided an overview on creative placemaking and funding opportunities to advance arts-based initiatives.

Creative placemaking is an emerging placemaking approach that combines arts, culture, and creativity to drive revitalization and livability outcomes in economically disadvantaged communities. Livability outcomes encompass community identity, public safety, environmental quality, job opportunities, and affordable housing and transit options. Through cross-sector collaboration with public agencies, private businesses, and arts organizations, we can create opportunities within the Promise Zone for creative transformation and increased economic productivity.

Both the NEA and California Arts Council offer competitive grant programs for creative placemaking projects. The NEA offers three grant programs: Our Town, Art Works, and Challenge America. The California Arts Council offers 11 grant programs, including Local Impact and California Creative Communities.

On October 11, 2016 at SHRA, the Promise Zone team will be hosting the Arts Strategic Planning Committee’s first meeting to coordinate efforts in the Promise Zone. If any art groups would like to participate in this opportunity, please contact Katie Smet at


Sacramento Promise Zone: Spurring Economic Growth Forum

October 2016, Alphonse Wilfred, Jobs and Economic Development VISTA

The Sacramento Promise Zone Forum: “Spurring Economic Growth” convened on September 15th and had over 80 attendees representing financial institutions, business owners, community-based organizations, government agencies and other community stakeholders. We discussed and pursued actionable activities that will support small business retention and expansion and lead to job creation, increased incomes, and lower poverty rates for these low- to moderate-income communities. Local leaders participated in an interactive discussion to determine actionable opportunities to mobilize job creation in the Sacramento Promise Zone. In the forum we identified numerous key challenges and opportunities that the Promise Zone needs to address. From these challenges we formed three key working groups. The purpose of these working groups is to continue the momentum that was started at the forum.

The Workforce Development: Youth and Adult Pathways Training working group’s first meeting will be on Friday, October 21st (1:00pm-2:30pm) at SHRA- 801 12th Street. Also, the Small Business Development/ Support eco-systems first meeting will be on Friday, October 21st (3:30pm-5:00pm) at SHRA. Within these working groups we will strategize:

  • Key Employer and Industry Engagement

  • Outreach strategies for Community Engagement/Alignment

This is an exciting time as we collaboratively move forward promoting and accelerating job creation and small business development in the Promise Zone.


Grants Update

October 2016 by Kendra Crater, VISTA Leader

Monthly, we will post updates on which grant applications the Promise Zone supported during the previous month. While the Promise Zone designation itself does not provide funding, but it sets our community in a more competitive position for funding opportunities.

If your organization is aligned with the Promise Zone goals and is interested in applying for a grant that supports the Promise Zone community, please reach out to us! Check out our Grants & Support page for more information.


The Sacramento Promise Zone Reaches $50 Million Dollar Milestone

October 2016 by Patricia Colon, Education VISTA

On September 28th, the Promise Zone reached a major milestone. Since receiving the coveted designation in April of 2015, more than $50 million dollars in federal and state funds have been awarded to organizations and agencies as a direct result of receiving bonus points or support from the Promise Zone.

Promise Zone Director, Tyrone Roderick Williams commented, “We are elated to reach this monumental milestone. The work of the Promise Zone team and its partners is providing tangible positive impacts within the Zone, the City, County, and region.” For details on the grants awarded, visit our Awarded Grants page.


The Promise Zone Hosts STEM Forum

October 2016 by Tyrone Roderick Williams, Promise Zone Director

The Promise Zone is leading an effort to identify current STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, and Math) programs offered by local partners, identify national partners and expand funding sources. This event focuses on creating an effective and broad pathway for students in the Promise Zone to engage in STEM related academic preparation. The pathway starts in elementary school and extends through college and career. This event brings Sacramento’s non-profit organizations, academic institutions, businesses, corporations, civic leaders and residents together as we chart a course for collectively moving forward.

The forum will feature a special presentation by Dr. Karl Reid, Executive Director of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Dr. Reid is leading a national coalition of STEM organizations that include the National Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Women Engineers. NSBE has a goal to graduate 10,000 Black engineers annually by 2025. They are national leaders in creating and supporting successful programs that target students of color and their parents in STEM programs and activities. Sacramento has a unique opportunity to connect with this immensely successful national partner to support STEM education in the Promise Zone. For more information on NSBE visit:

Sacramento has an unprecedented opportunity to be inclusive, innovative, and creative in our approach to STEM education and develop a diverse workforce. We look forward to your participation in the catalytic event.

Tuesday, November 15th 3:30 pm- 5:30 pm

Washington Elementary School

520 18th St, Sacramento, CA 95811


Grants Update

November 2016 by Kendra Crater, VISTA Leader

These are the grants the Promise Zone supported during the month of October.

These are the grants that were awarded during the month of October in the Promise Zone.

If your organization is aligned with the Promise Zone goals and is interested in applying for a grant that supports the Promise Zone community, please reach out to us! Check out our Grants & Support page for more information.


Sacramento Promise Zone: Jobs Plus Grand Opening

November, Alphonse Wilfred VISTA

The Sacramento Promise Zone: Jobs Plus Center held its grand opening on November 9th at the Marina Vista Public Housing! Over 40 residents attended the event which included representatives from workforce development agencies, the City Economic Development Team, Sacramento Employment& Training Agency (SETA), Valley Vision, the Greater Sacramento Urban League and other community stakeholders. Each resource provider gave brief presentations about the programs and opportunities that are available at the Jobs Plus Center, including Starbucks, Asian Resources Inc., Sacramento Works, GRID Alternatives, WEAVE, and others.

Two guest speakers shared their inspirational stories of unexpected tragedy and persistent setbacks that threatened their career aspirations. One speaker discussed how she had to endure challenges from her life while working for a construction trades program, but she overcame them. Thanks to the help of the Work Investment Board, she was able to get started in an apprenticeship program and make a livable wage. The other guest speaker shared how he persevered through a rigorous economics program at California State University. After suffering three rejections while trying to make a new start, he worked hard and graduated with a degree in economics. Now he works for Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency as a temp for the Finance Department.

The Jobs Plus Center is staffed by a phenomenal team including SHRA site coordinator Priscilla Del, and one representative from each of the three main partnering agencies: Patrick Hunter, Department of Health Assistance; Zachary Stevenson, SETA, and Jeanette McNeal, Asian Resources Inc. Two ambassadors who live in the community are responsible for keeping residents informed of the center’s activities and available assistance.

This is an exciting time as we collaboratively move forward promoting and accelerating job creation in the Promise Zone.


Promise Zone Hosts Historic Federal Convening

November 2016 by Tyrone Roderick Williams, Director of the Promise Zone

In a historic event of its kind for Sacramento, on Thursday, October 27th, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with over 30 representatives from 11 federal agencies came together to discuss coordinated interagency support for the Sacramento Promise Zone. The Promise Zone is a federal designation that addresses multiple community improvement challenges and provides resources to assist in meeting Sacramento’s goals. Leaders from Federal agencies met with local partners to discuss how they can provide assistance and resources to expand the work to enhance the lives of residents in the Promise Zone.

The federal convening was hosted by Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) which is the lead entity for the Promise Zone initiative. The delegation also toured the Promise Zone starting in Del Paso Heights and concluding at the Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative on 44th street. They also met with local partners to discuss current projects and strategies for improving opportunities in education, health, job training and placement, economic development, transportation, housing, and reducing crime.

Promise Zone federal partners represented at the convening included the Department of Labor, Small Business Administration, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Corporation for National & Community Service, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, National Park Service, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


Sacramento Promise Zone STEM Forum

November 2016 by Patricia Colon, Education VISTA

The Sacramento Promise Zone STEM Forum was held November, 15, 2016 at Washington Elementary School. This event focused on STEM related academic preparation for students that would be a continuous pathway starting in elementary school and would extend through college and career. The forum brought over 30 members of the Sacramento community together; representing non-profit organizations, academic institutions, businesses, corporations, civic leaders and residents to continue the conversation around education. Dr. Karl Reid, Executive Director of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) gave a powerful presentation on how partners and stakeholders can collaborate to bring new resources to the region and create local opportunities for students.

For more information about NSBE visit their website:


Sac State Establishes a satellite campus in the Promise Zone

December2016 by Dixie Reid

Sacramento State, strengthening its role as California’s capital university, made a historic move into the Promise Zone in downtown Sacramento. The University purchase of a three-story building at 304 S St. It will house Sacramento State’s planned School of Public Affairs and other campus units. The purchase is about more than just brick and mortar. Expanding the University into the Promise Zone downtown will allow more students to get the classes they need to graduate on time and to succeed in their careers.

“The establishment of a downtown School of Public Affairs is exciting for both Sac State and the city of Sacramento,” says President Robert S. Nelsen. “The dream of a downtown campus was born during the presidency of Don Gerth, developed during the tenure of former President Alexander Gonzalez, and is now a reality.

“The city, the mayor, our public policy alumni group, and the citizens of Sacramento have been asking for Sac State to establish a presence downtown, and we are now #MakingItHappenAtSacState. We are the capital’s university and, with this new building, we are delivering on the promise to offer programs and courses near the State Capitol and City Hall.”

The School of Public Affairs would be home to several signature policy-related programs, including the Center for Collaborative Policy, the Institute for Social Research (ISR), and the Capital Fellows Programs, along with the master’s-level courses in urban land development, and public policy and administration.

Until now, the University’s downtown presence was largely limited to the Center for Collaborative Policy. Potentially joining the center, ISR, and Capital Fellows Programs at the new school are: the Project for an Informed Electorate (PIE), the Sacramento Semester Program, and the Government Department Internship Program. The Center for California Studies, which administers the Capital Fellows Programs, will remain on the University’s main campus.

Also expected to have a presence at the new school are the College of Continuing Education, the Masters of Business Administration for Executives program, the Center for Small Business, and the Education Insights Center. Some undergraduate government classes related to California politics also may move downtown. “I view the School of Public Affairs project as Sac State’s pathway to living into its mission to truly be the capital university,” says Örn Bodvarsson, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies (SSIS).

UEI provides programs and services that enrich the Sacramento State experience and support the University community’s evolving needs. In addition to property services, such as the Julia Morgan House Event and Conference Center, UEI oversees research grants and contracts, the California Intern Network, the Hornet Bookstore, the Upper Eastside Lofts, and campus food services.


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