Congress Passes the Every Student Succeeds Act, Includes Promise Neighborhoods

09 Dec 2015 |
Congress Passes the Every Student Succeeds Act, Includes Promise Neighborhoods

Congress’ reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) earlier today is both cause for celebration and a call to action for continued advocacy on behalf of the millions of students of color and low-income students facing discrimination, poverty, and other conditions that may limit their educational opportunity.

For the better part of this year, PolicyLink has worked tirelessly with a coalition of civil rights organizations to ensure that the long-overdue reauthorization of ESEA included critical protections for students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students.  

“ESEA has been our nation’s most important civil rights law for promoting equity within education,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, President and CEO of PolicyLink.  “Though the bill passed by Congress today, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is not what we would have written, it contains significant improvements over earlier drafts and we are grateful for the hard work of Congressional champions and their staff.  PolicyLink will continue its efforts to ensure that all students receive an equitable and excellent education.” 

PolicyLink also pushed for and is grateful for the inclusion of the Promise Neighborhoods program in this legislation. Housed under Title IV, the legislation authorizes Promise Neighborhoods, a program inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone, which wraps children in high-quality, coordinated health, social, community, and educational supports from cradle to college and career.

"I am delighted to see the inclusion of Promise Neighborhoods to the ESEA. It’s a historic addition recognizing the need for a comprehensive approach to educating our most-vulnerable children," said Geoffrey Canada, President of the Harlem Children’s Zone.

“By incorporating the Promise Neighborhoods program into the ESSA, Congress is recognizing the importance and impact of this program for improving the health, education, family, financial, and workforce outcomes for children and families living in distressed communities,” said Frank Farrow, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy. 

The Promise Neighborhoods program, which began in 2010, is producing early outcomes that range from: increased kindergarten readiness, parent engagement, and reading proficiency levels; to decreased summer learning loss and school absences.

“PolicyLink is excited to see the benefits of the Promise Neighborhoods program extended more broadly,” said Michael McAfee, Vice President Programs and Co-Director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink.

Please join PolicyLink, the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (PNI) and the entire PNI Network in thanking those within Congress that made this win possible, particularly, Senator Patty Murray (WA), Senator Chris Murphy (CT), Senators Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sherrod Brown (OH), Al Franken (MN); and Representatives Bobby Scott (VA), and Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ).

Find more information on the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink.


The Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (PNI), a partnership between PolicyLink, the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Center for the Study of Social Policy, was established to support communities throughout the country who are advancing the Promise Neighborhoods strategy.  The PNI Network currently boasts more than 60 communities nationwide.