Evansville Promise Neighborhood

Evansville Promise Neighborhood logo

At the end of March, UE announced the receipt of a $30 million grant to create the Evansville Promise Neighborhood. In partnership with 23 organizations, our community will be able to transform families in areas of concentrated need by providing wrap around care cradle to career. This page will serve as a temporary location for interested individuals to stay informed about how the effort is progressing, submit questions or ideas, and stay up to date on interesting developments from our partners. More detailed links, lists of partners and information will be posted as we have it.

Evansville Promise Neighborhood partners.

Why Promise Neighborhoods?

Promise Neighborhoods is a $30 million federal grant program through the United States Department of Education, but it is also an approach driven by a vision, inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone. The vision of the program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career. The goal of DOE with this funding: improve academic and developmental outcomes for children in areas of concentrated poverty, and to transform those communities by identifying and increasing the capacity of eligible entities focused on achieving results for children and youth throughout an entire neighborhood, cradle to career.

Why Evansville Promise Neighborhood?

Consistent with DOE’s goals, Evansville Promise Neighborhood was conceived to advance the following pipeline goals:

  • Pipeline Block 1. –  Improving early health and kindergarten readiness
  • Pipeline Block 2.  – Improving student achievement and success
  • Pipeline Block 3. – Improving post-secondary education access, affordability, completion and success and workforce readiness
  • Pipeline Block 4. – Improving neighborhoods and communities

Specific results expected from the Evansville Promise Neighborhood include kindergarten readiness, proficiency in core academic subjects, successful transitions from middle to high school, high school graduation, postsecondary education/credential attainment, health and safety, stable communities, family engagement, and access to 21 st century learning tools.

How will Evansville Promise Neighborhood achieve these goals?

While the grant will not fund all entities doing valuable work in the Evansville Promise Neighborhood, MOU partners will provide targeted, evidence-based solutions to advance the pipeline goals including the following:

  1. Early childhood home visiting
  2. High quality early childhood education
  3. Free early literacy resources for families
  4. Free adult learning programs for parents and caregivers
  5. Prenatal and early childhood medical care
  6. Chronic absenteeism and dropout prevention programs
  7. High quality, in-school academic support programs
  8. High quality, outside of school time programs
  9. School social work services
  10. High School Equivalency and job skill support
  11. Post-secondary preparation, coaching, and exploration programs
  12. Workforce readiness preparation, coaching, and exploration programs
  13. Neighborhood-based employment and job skills assistance
  14. Access to and distribution of health resources, nutrition education, and healthy food
  15. Family stability programs
  16. Neighborhood revitalization
  17. Community safety and violence prevention

EPN Partner Agencies

The following table lists all EPN partner agencies, the services they will provide, and their match committed to EPN initiatives. The grant application required at least a 1 to 1 match overall (not per partner). The match amount listed includes personnel, volunteer time and effort, as well as other in-kind support services the partners will provide to EPN residents. An organization may match more (or less) than it receives. Budget Allocations from the grant to the agencies cannot be shared at UE this time.

Neighborhood Assets and Programs Supported Table
Neighborhood Assets and Programs Supported by Federal, State, Local and Private Funds
Organization Neighborhood Assets/Programs/Services EPN Match
UE Quality out-of-school time programs (Pathfinder), college exploration and readiness programs, ChangeLabs 1,209,137.87
EVSC Pre-K–12 public education, Full-Service Community Schools, high quality after school programs via 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Title 1 programs, behavioral health support, family and neighborhood engagement 5,173,195
Vanderburgh County Health Dept. Public health services, Pre to 3 Home Visiting program, immunizations, health promotion and education 1,208,186
Building Blocks Early childhood development resources, referrals, evidence- based curriculum, early learning / transition coaches and provider training model to improve quality of early learning centers 2,735,285
YMCA 21st Century Community Learning Center programs, physical fitness and family and neighborhood support and engagement 836,000
United Way K-Camp 152,000
EVPL Public library, child, youth and family programs, including early literacy and quality youth development programs 126,480
Goodwill Industries Digital Skills Academy, Excel Center Charter Adult School 2,631,197.44
Ivy Tech Community College, College Connection Coaches and K–14 Completion Coordinators 224,000
Junior Achievement JA Programs 4,975,767
Urban Seeds Healthy eating and food access programs 172,966
Youth First School Social Work program and evidence-based student and family strengthening programs 1,386,435
EPD Community policing, school liaison officers, notifications 3,403,709
Ronald McDonald House Charities Care Mobile: mobile prenatal and infant care 1,235,117.24
ECHO Housing Corporation Housing support programs, PZ Express grocery transportation, Housing Policy Director 110,500
Grow Southwest Indiana Workforce Board Employment assistance programs, skills assessment, training, JAG program 653,935
Dream Center In-and out-of-school time programs, Student Success Mentors (SSMs), Wraparound Care Specialist (WACS), neighborhood revitalization 3,402,000
Potter’s Wheel Quality out-of-school time programs, mentoring, tutoring, recreation, SSMs, WACS 378,000
Memorial CDC Housing support, quality out-of-school time programs, mentoring, tutoring, recreation, SSMs, WACS 374,855
Boys and Girls Club Quality out-of-school time programs 780,675
Community One Neighborhood revitalization and improvement 1,327,855
Total 32,497,295.55

Hope of Evansville and Youth Build are also MOU partners but were not able to provide match due to federal guidelines.

What does the grant fund?

The DOE is very specific on required outcomes for Promise Neighborhoods. There are 5 academic focused results, 5 family and community focused results, as well as Project Outcomes, Performance Indicators and 4 Pipelines to target. The grant does not fund all entities doing valuable work in an area. Interventions must be evidence-based, targeted at required outcomes, supported in the research as a best practice, and targeted at the identified neighborhood. There may be a non-profit in our community not presently identified as an MOU partner which could come on as a partner in later years. The grant has some funding built in for professional development for interested partners willing to target existing programming or build new solutions. In addition, as the continuous improvement plan unfolds, there may be services missed or new needs identified requiring us to bring on additional partners. There is some flexibility built into later years for that process to take place. The pipeline of services and outcomes chart is included at the end of this summary.

Where is the Evansville Promise Neighborhood?

Our Promise Neighborhood includes the census tracts shown below, and these six schools: Evans Elementary School, Delaware Elementary School, Lincoln School, Bosse High School, Lodge Community School, and Glenwood Leadership Academy. 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.

Evansville Promise Neighborhood Map with census tracts

How were neighborhood boundaries and schools identified?

To finalize the EPN geographic boundary and identify focus schools, a series of Core Team meetings were held to determine how best to gain a more accurate picture of student and family needs. Several important considerations guided this determination: (a) Based on feedback from the prior application and to ensure competitiveness, the Core Team understood it was important to narrow the focus of the designated area; (b) Since some required indicators involved specific- school population changes, it was important to ensure the schools selected had a high percentage of students enrolled who also lived in the designated census tracts selected; (c) The original Promise Zone census tracts were used as the initial focus area and adjusted based on enrollment levels within schools; (d) While specific schools were required to be included in the application as focus schools, wrap around care coordination and universal services offered throughout the neighborhood will impact children and families beyond the focus schools; (e) The grant involves a cradle to career focus so focus schools should include a specific attendance district to the extent possible; and (f) The EVSC currently has a full-service community school grant providing similar services to Caze Elementary, Fairlawn Elementary, McGary Middle School, and Harrison High School.

Guided by the considerations above, the goal was to identify both the neighborhood focus and the focus schools. Since schools comprise students and families from multiple neighborhoods and socio-economic backgrounds, a key challenge was school-level data alone did not accurately represent EPN student needs (e.g., a student living in the identified neighborhood may attend a school outside of the neighborhood). In prior applications, only school-specific data were presented which limited the case for documenting the needs within the specific neighborhood. Therefore, it was determined that student data should be examined at both the school population and neighborhood population levels. The two levels of analysis allowed for a richer understanding in the EPN. For example, when school population data for high school graduation rates are examined, the rates include students who live outside of the PN focus area and those families from all socio-economic backgrounds. Consequently, these rates do not accurately reflect the needs of students living in the neighborhood. However, the neighborhood analysis does. For example, we discovered that only 60% of students in EPN graduated from high school compared to 83% of students living outside the area. This analysis began with the EPN evaluation partner DCG and EVSC staff identifying specific indicators to cross-reference with EPN selected Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) indicators. Under a data sharing agreement, EVSC provided DCG with a de-identified list of students enrolled in 2020–21 that included all student addresses for the school year (over 25,000 addresses were reviewed). Next, DCG identified census tracts for students based on their last address of record. EVSC then prepared an academic file including student demographic information along with NWEA, ILEARN, IREAD, suspension, attendance, and graduation information. De-identified student address and academic files were unduplicated and merged by DCG, and various analyses were conducted using census tracts within the PZ and surrounding areas. Analysis of the academic and demographic data described informed the Core Team’s selection of the final census tracts and schools selected as the EPN focus area.

What have our efforts looked like to date?

Evansville has applied for Promise Neighborhoods four times, including in 2021, the first year in which UE was a partner. Evansville’s selection as a Promise Zone was seen as a necessary precursor to eventually receiving the Promise Neighborhoods grant. In 2021, Dream Center Evansville, EVSC and UE worked together to build a structure which would have replicated Dream Center Evansville’s model in five new neighborhoods. While the application was the highest scoring application to date, it fell short of the mark to receive funding. For the 2022 effort, our core team was expanded to be more inclusive, and our target area became more focused. The EVSC data team, working with Diehl Consulting Group (DCG), did an incredible job compiling the data necessary to focus this attempt on the six EVSC schools with the greatest need and related census tracts. A data sharing agreement for the application process was established with EVSC and necessary organizations to provide access to more accurate data, a significant advancement from past applications. 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 $30,000,000 over five years. This grant requires a 1 to 1 match, and partner agencies accounted for a match totaling $32,497,295.55. This figure comes from the cost invested in providing wrap around care services to the neighborhoods designated. On March 28, we received notification that our community had received the award. One of only 3 in the nation for 2023.

Who was involved in 2022 Application Process?

University of Evansville was the lead applicant and worked closely with EVSC to lead the project, with a dedicated Core Team representative of the Major Partners.

Core Team Members

  • Sylvia DeVault, Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer
  • Jeremy Evans, Executive Director, Dream Center Evansville
  • Erin Lewis, Executive Director UE’s Center for Innovation and Change (CIC)
  • Silas Matchem, Director of Outreach & Community Development, Evansville Promise Zone
  • Kim McWilliams, Chief Officer Center for Family, School, and Community Partnerships, EVSC
  • Derek McKillop, Director of Community Learning Centers, EVSC
  • Tyler Stock, Executive Director of Talent EVV, EREP
  • Kelsey Wright, Director of School Support, EVSC

DCG, widely respected program evaluation experts, worked closely with EVSC officials to analyze key neighborhood and school-specific data to inform the Evansville Promise Neighborhood area and six schools. In the grant, DCG is contracted with UE to further develop and implement the evaluation plan in partnership with the core team, track project-specific and required outcomes across the pipeline, coordinate data sharing, and lead a continuous improvement team. Leadership Everyone (LE) and UE’s CIC conducted neighborhood visioning and design thinking sessions to direct the application’s interventions, and LE will be a contractor with UE to guide the EPN approach. Dr. Tad Dickel of the T.A. Dickel Group, LLC, served as project manager - facilitating the process, overall budget development with partners, and coordinating Core Team and partner meetings in preparation for the grant. Amy Bolek of Bolek Grant Writing and Consulting Services, LLC wrote the grant application. UE, as lead applicant, will house the staff leading the Promise Neighborhood at the CIC.

How was the Neighborhood involved in developing solutions?

This particular grant application requires collaborative design with stakeholders. With UE’s strength in changemaking and design thinking, and contracted partner Leadership Everyone’s expertise in community visioning, UE was able to make a strong case that those who would be served were consulted about solutions proposed. In March of 2021, 234 students from three high schools and four elementary schools took part in a design thinking session led by the Center for Innovation & Change. This Promise Neighborhood dreaming session (virtual, due to COVID) asked students to imagine what they want for their neighborhood or school. They drew or wrote their answers on blue construction paper, dropped off and later collected by the CIC. Those hopes and dreams were cataloged, coded, and will be presented to school and city leadership in the form of an interactive art installation: a giant “e” in honor of Evansville’s “e is for everyone” campaign. Their ideas will also form the basis for eventual ChangeLab projects that UE and EVSC students can work on together to implement.

Blue E on floor Erin Lewis and Sylvia DeVault with the results from the EVSC Design Thinking Sessions. Students envisioned everything from walk to school programs, to anti-bullying campaigns, to completely redesigned school days.

Evansville Promise Neighborhood Student Ideas spreadsheet screenshot Screenshot of a selection of student comments and ideas from CIC Design Thinking Sessions.

EVSC also began updating its continuous improvement plan in 2021. This process began with identifying a shared vision and core values, followed by community engagement to envision how to prepare students for a successful future. Stories and input were collected from nearly 2,000 students, employees, parents, community partners and business leaders. Empathy interviews followed to further contextualize and define the values, mission and vision being elevated. This work formed the collective “why.” In March and April 2022, data analysis and research took center stage along with stakeholder conversations around root causes of problems identified. How might we? discussions fostered a community-wide mindset of high expectations and student potential, increasing the sense of belonging. In May 2022, community teams drafted strategies. This work coincided with the EPN needs assessment for alignment to EPN strategies.

The PZ also conducted its latest neighborhood survey in 2021 (7,504 households, 450 responses) which informed our needs assessment. Finally in May 2022, the EPN Core Team sought additional school and community stakeholder input through community sessions conducted by Leadership Everyone (LE), an award-winning non-profit in Evansville and key engagement partner for the EPN. Through a proprietary process called VOICE, LE enables diverse populations to be heard through visioning sessions that invite input about hopes and dreams for the community. Since 2012, LE’s visioning work has informed community initiatives like the PZ, Evansville Downtown Master Plan and projects of the Regional Cities Initiative (IEDC 2022), to name just a few. In 2021–2022, 16 EPN visioning sessions were held with 330 adult and child participants. Top visions were DEI, Beautification, Housing and Education Access, and Environmental Health. Top concepts were Collaboration, Positivity, Inclusion, Kindness and Education.

From the community input, a preliminary list of solutions was gathered by the Core Team, assessed and prioritized for community need and desires, evidence-base and best practices. This work culminated in a solution development session on June 6, 2022. The Core Team mapped potential solutions to identified needs and conducted further assessment for evidence-base and alignment to EPN GPRA indicators. Core Team members then met with partners to finalize programs, modalities and budget needs. Multiple sources and types of information required to be current (no more than three years old), informed the EPN pipeline solution continuum.

What happens next?

UE staff and key partners will meet with our assigned DOE Program Officer at the earliest opportunity to learn about next steps and how the financing will work. The DOE will likely conduct a needs assessment site visit later this summer. With their guidance, UE will set up a process for the 23 partners to draw down funds at certain points. Partners are required to use certain percentages of their budget in this planning year, during which UE, EVSC and others will hire Promise Neighborhood key staff.

While we learn about the process and logistics, members of the Core Team will be available to neighborhood residents during a series of Town Halls and informational sessions at dates to be determined. Our grant proposal has a detailed roadmap of milestones and a management plan for the five years. Partners will begin working the plan, which includes continuous improvement check-ins with neighborhood residents in visioning sessions hosted by the CIC and LE. An Advisory Council of neighborhood residents will be part of that plan. An interim website will be created where questions can be submitted.

Where can I read the detailed narrative?

Read Evansville’s full proposal. You can also read the abstract version. As always, Evansville’s EPN proposal is up on the DOE website along with the other awarded neighborhoods. Those can be found on the Office of Elementary Education website.

Who do I contact with questions or with ideas about getting involved?

Until the Promise Neighborhood Director is hired and onboarded, questions can be directed to UE’s Project Director for the PN, Erin Lewis (EL131@evansville.edu), or Sylvia DeVault (SY5@evansville.edu), main Partner Coordinator for UE.

What does UE get from the grant?

As housing agent for the grant, UE is the lead fiscal agent, contractor for data evaluation and visioning sessions through LE, employer for the EPN full-time team, and a service partner provider through a range of programs.

  • Staffing: UE’s CIC will house five full-time employees dedicated to the Promise Neighborhood. Its Director, Grant Accountant, Program Coordinator, Marketing Coordinator and Data and Program Evaluation Manager, who will work with Diehl Consulting and ChangeLab students from a wide variety of disciplines interested in community surveying. The EPN team will have space at UE, but at least the Director will likely spend most of their time out in the community. UE will also receive its Indirect Rate on the new positions and fringe, as well as supplies (computers, etc.) for those new employees. In addition, we will contract with external evaluator DCG to handle the program evaluation, receive access to a database and training funds to coordinate data between partners, and contract with Leadership Everyone to lead Neighborhood visioning sessions as part of the continuous improvement plan.
  • Programmatic: We’ll receive funding for Journey to Justice, UExplorer, Springboard and Pathfinder scholarships and supplies, ChangeLab stipends for teachers, program managers, and coordinators at the schools, supplies for those projects, and annual professional development for the team starting year two to share best practices on creative problem solving and receive support from the CIC. We’ll also receive funding to provide DEI ChangeLab trainers so students can break down barriers peer to peer. EPN students will receive travel support to get to events on campus, developing the EPN to UE pipeline, and PN team members will have access to professional development funds for site visits to other Promise Neighborhoods. More detailed information will be available about UE’s role in the Neighborhood once the Town Halls are held, but there are also elements more difficult to quantify. How this designation increases competitiveness in other grant applications, provides distinction as a Promise Neighborhood, increases reputational advantage, and leads to concrete outcomes from deep and lasting relationships with over two dozen partners in our community. To our knowledge, UE is now the only college in the nation to be both a Promise Neighborhood housing entity and an Ashoka Changemaker Campus. There are benefits to our entire region we cannot even imagine yet.

What is UE giving in match?

UE will support the Promise Neighborhood team from a variety of positions: CIC, CDEI, Youth Programs Camp Offerings, Corporate and Foundation Relations support, Fiscal Affairs, the Toyota Mobile Innovation Lab, and more. This is largely work individuals in these departments would conduct in the neighborhood as part of their current strategic offerings. However, now the work can scale with the benefit of additional support and targeted funding.

How can faculty and students support or get involved?

Faculty and students interested in getting involved in this work should contact UE’s EPN Project Director Erin Lewis at EL131, or text 812-449-1044. External partners can contact Sylvia DeVault at SY5. A wide range of possibilities are possible in working with students, families and teachers over the five years. For example, Bosse High School students could request a rooftop garden or a walk to school program. Lincoln Elementary could do a joint writing or theatre project with our faculty and students. PsyD or Exercise Science could lead mental and physical wellness initiatives for kids and families. Science faculty and students can develop summer programming for neighborhood families, and of course, dozens of ideas we have yet to imagine. Programming will be determined in partnership with the families in the neighborhood, who will communicate needs and visions in partnership with UE staff, faculty and students. It’s a chance to live out a civic mission across disciplines, and to communicate to prospective UE students that this is the only place – in the nation – that they can do this type of unique hands-on work in their community. At this early stage in the planning year, prior to receiving logistical information from the DOE, anyone interested in being involved should simply express an interest to receive more information. Once a landing page is available, we will communicate its location to campus.

Organization Chart

Evansville Promise Neighborhood Org Chart

Required GPRA Indicators

Evansville Promise Neighborhood Map of Results