The Obama Administration has named the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and a large portion of the north side of Minneapolis as two of eight new Promise Zones. The designation refers to high-poverty areas where the federal government partners with local leaders to improve economic and community conditions. To help them further their development goals, Promise Zones receive priority access to federal investments, help from on-the-ground federal staff, and the services of five full-time Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members. The new Promise Zones were selected from a pool of 123 applicants representing 36 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
Pine Ridge and North Minneapolis are the first Promise Zones to be designated in the Ninth Federal Reserve District. The Pine Ridge Promise Zone covers the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s whole 3,500-square-mile reservation, which is home to approximately 35,000 people. Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit based in Porcupine, S.D., will serve as the zone’s local lead organization. Stated goals for the Pine Ridge Promise Zone include creating jobs, increasing economic activity and public safety, and developing infrastructure. The North Minneapolis Promise Zone covers 13 census tracts with nearly 40,000 total residents. The City of Minneapolis will serve as the local lead in pursuing goals there that include reducing racial inequities, improving educational outcomes, and reducing serious and violent crime.
The six additional communities designated as Promise Zones this year are Camden, N.J.; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Sacramento, Calif.; St. Louis; and the Low Country of South Carolina.