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Milestone Achieved as Evansville Promise Neighborhood Marks First Year Anniversary

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2024

One year after the University of Evansville (UE) secured a $30 million grant to create the Evansville Promise Neighborhood (EPN), significant work has been taking place behind the scenes to establish a foundation for success.

Launching a Promise Neighborhood is a significant and complicated undertaking that requires multiple steps and approvals. The initial steps involved the team at UE's Center for Innovation & Change, Office of University Advancement, and consultant Dr. Tad Dickel reviewing the entire EPN grant line item by line item, with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to work toward full approval. Simultaneously they needed to recruit, interview, and hire a full-time EPN team of five members, and they were successfully hired and onboarded in August 2023.

Shortly after budget approval was received from the DOE, the team immediately got to work connecting with all 22 partner agencies and developed robust Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements that outline program and service provisions, define data sharing and frequency, and budget approval procedures for the distribution of funds. The creation, submission, and approval of a data plan and consent forms were also necessary. Completion of these steps are essential for establishing accountability, transparency, and effective methods by which the success of the entire initiative will be measured.

A spokesperson from the DOE has praised the team's progress, stating that EPN has "put forth a sophisticated approach and plan," and serves as a model for other grantees to learn from. Additionally, it is "one of the few new grantees that established a Sustainability Council with committed members in their first year." The Sustainability Council is an integral part of ensuring the ongoing success of the EPN. UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz leads the Sustainability Council, comprising University administrative members, prominent business figures, and community leaders. The council has already begun the vital work of developing EPN's funding plan for the next decade and beyond.

"Since the announcement of the Evansville Promise Neighborhood in 2023, we have been gearing up for a substantial investment from our university and the 22 partner agencies, all aimed at assisting families in need. We are working with our community and progressing quickly, all because of the collaboration with our partners," said President Pietruszkiewicz. "UE has been honored to support our partners through servant leadership, and we eagerly anticipate more positive outcomes over the life of this amazingly transformative grant. The Evansville Promise Neighborhood is what being a Changemaker campus is all about and reinforces the strong partnership we have with our community."

EPN recently held its first-ever all-partner meeting with members from all 23 community partners, including UE on campus, along with Mayor Stephanie Terry and Deputy Mayor Lindsay Locasto. Community partners came together to network and learn more about each other's programs and services. Additionally, a cradle-to-career continuum was developed during the meeting, with each program and service mapped into one of the four areas of focus for EPN: early health and education, student achievement and success, postsecondary education and workforce readiness, and neighborhood and community revitalization.

"I commend UE for its leadership in driving this initiative forward, and I'm grateful to all of the businesses and partner agencies for their unwavering commitment," said Evansville Mayor Stephanie Terry. "This investment, totaling more than $62 million - including both federal funding and contributions from partner agencies - will have a profound impact on our community's well-being. It represents the culmination of years of collaborative efforts and illustrates how strong we can be when we work together. I look forward to continuing our work, as we strive to move all of Evansville forward together."

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