Evansville has received a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a Promise Neighborhood, the most recent development in the city’s Promise Zone designation. The program aims to prepare youth for an upward trajectory toward academic excellence and, ultimately, a successful career.
The University of Evansville led the grant application in conjunction with the Evansville Promise Zone. Twenty-three local partner agencies have matched federal funds to the tune of $32.5 million, making the total Promise Neighborhood investment more than $62 million. Federal funds will be disbursed over five years.
Evansville’s Promise Neighborhood will include Evans Elementary School, Delaware Elementary School, Lincoln School, Benjamin Bosse High School, Lodge Community School, and Glenwood Leadership Academy. UE’s Center for Innovation & Change will house the staff leading the Promise Neighborhood.
Evansville had applied for Promise Neighborhoods four times, most recently in 2022. Ninety-one grants have been disbursed around the country since 2010. Only three applications, including Evansville’s, were awarded Promise Neighborhood funds in 2023.
“This grant we received is a result of this community coming together and collaborating for the common good of Evansville,” Evansville Promise Zone Director Silas Matchem says. “This really solidifies all the work we have been doing since the culmination of the Promise Zone designation. I can’t emphasize enough how big of an impact this will truly have for not only the neighborhoods it serves but for our Promise Zone and the City of Evansville as a whole.”
What is the Promise Zone?
A Promise Zone is a federal designation to identify and support at-risk yet promising urban neighborhoods around the country. Each 10-year designation provides access to federal funding for initiatives related to education, crime reduction, housing, health care, poverty, transportation, and more.
Evansville was designated a Promise Zone in 2016. More than 20,000 people live in the designated area, which is bordered by Veterans Memorial Parkway to the south and west, Diamond Avenue to the north, and Green River Road to the east.
Results of local Promise Zone initiatives include:
• Installing five free public Wi-Fi beacons for residential internet access
• Securing a Dollar General fresh food market for a former food desert
• Establishing the Promise Kids mentoring program at Lincoln School and McGary Middle School in early 2023. Young & Established and the Southern Indiana Mentoring Academy will provide mentors