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UE Secures $30 Million Grant to Create Evansville Promise Neighborhood

The University of Evansville (UE) has announced the receipt of a $30 million federal grant program through the United States Department of Education (DOE) that will establish the Evansville’s Promise Neighborhood (EPN). UE is part of a new cohort funded in 2023. Only three Neighborhoods in the nation were awarded in 2023.

The aim of the funding is to assist children and youth who are growing up in Promise Neighborhoods, providing them with access to outstanding schools as well as robust family and community support systems. These resources will help prepare them to achieve academic excellence, make the transition to college, and, ultimately, embark on a successful career.

The University of Evansville, as lead applicant, submitted the 2022 grant application to the DOE for an Evansville Promise Neighborhood on October 7, 2022, with a total request of $30 million over five years. Twenty-three Evansville Promise Neighborhood partner agencies accounted for a match totaling $32,497,295.55, for a total of more than $62 million to be invested in the community. This figure comes from the cost invested in providing wraparound care services to the schools and neighborhoods designated as the Evansville Promise Neighborhood. The Promise Neighborhood includes six schools: Evans Elementary School, Delaware Elementary School, Lincoln School, Bosse High School, Lodge Community School, and Glenwood Leadership Academy. The major partners for the EPN are UE, EVSC, E-REP, and the Evansville Promise Zone.

“The significance of this investment by our University for numerous families who require assistance is critical and extraordinarily impactful for the well-being of our entire Evansville community,” said UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “UE has been the leader of this initiative from day one, and we eagerly anticipate the positive outcomes it will bring. This is what being a Changemaker campus is all about and it emphasizes the strong partnership we have with our community.”

“This Evansville’s Promise Neighborhood investment is unmatched and will be critical to ensuring our community has the resources they need,” said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke ’82. “This is a major success for our city and will be beneficial in the months and years ahead.”

“We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to leverage this funding for the betterment of our students and the families we serve,” said Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Superintendent Dr. David Smith. “It is, once again, another shining example of the collaborative efforts of our Evansville community.”

“This grant we received is a result of this community coming together and collaborating for the common good of Evansville,” said Evansville Promise Zone Director Silas Matchem. “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.”

“Over the past 2-3 years the Evansville Region has committed to enhancing quality of place for both current and future residents through strategic public/private investments. We know that the people care about high quality education, access to healthcare, improved infrastructure, and access to community resources, all of which are key components of what this approach will enable our communities to prioritize,” said Tara Barney, CEO of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. “This award is further testament to the high level of collaboration and strategic visioning that regional leaders have had, and as the regional economic development organization, we are thrilled to see the lasting impact and opportunity that is fostered through and from this opportunity.”

The Background

In June of 2016, the City of Evansville received a federal 10-year Promise Zone designation to support its most at-risk, yet most promising neighborhoods within its urban core. Schools and census tracts were selected after a careful review of school and neighborhood data based on areas of most concentrated need within the Promise Zone. This effort was led by Diehl Consulting, widely respected local program evaluation experts, in close partnership with EVSC to analyze the data. Leadership Everyone and UE’s Center for Innovation & Change conducted neighborhood vision and design thinking sessions with EVSC students and families to help guide the interventions selected. Dr. Timothy A. (Tad) Dickel of the T.A. Dickel Group, LLC helped facilitate the process of budget development with partners, and Amy Bolek (UE alumna) of Bolek Grant Writing and Consulting Services led the grant process. UE, as lead applicant, would house the staff leading the Promise Neighborhood, through its Center for Innovation & Change.

Evansville has applied for Promise Neighborhoods four times, including in 2021, the first year in which UE was a partner and is now the lead partner. Evansville’s selection as a Promise Zone was seen as a necessary precursor to eventually receiving the Promise Neighborhoods grant.