San Diego Promise Zone
In 2016, the San Diego Promise Zone became one of 22 federally designated Promise Zones in the United States and one of only four in California. The San Diego Promise Zone covers a 6.4-square-mile targeted area that spans East Village and Barrio Logan east to Encanto and is home to the City’s most culturally rich and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, but also some of the City's most under-resourced communities. More than 80,000 San Diegans live in the Promise Zone, an area historically burdened by the City's highest concentrated poverty and unemployment rates.
Since 2016, the unemployment rate has decreased from 14.9% to 9.1%, and the poverty rate has fallen from 38.3% to now 22.1% (ACS, 2016, 2021). We recognize there are many factors that contribute to these numbers. We do know that in the 7 years since the designation, targeted efforts from the city and community-based organizations have supported some improvement in these areas, however, we recognize there is still plenty of work to do to continue improving the lives of our Promise Zone residents.
Through the Promise Zone initiative, federal government partners work with local government agencies, community-based organizations, direct service providers, residents, and business owners to streamline resources and deliver comprehensive support. Leading the effort, the City has partnered with numerous local organizations and agencies to develop programs and initiatives in six Working Group goal areas to improve quality of life among Promise Zone residents by:
- Increasing Economic Activity
- Increasing Access to Quality Housing Affordability
- Promoting Access to Healthy Communities
- Improve Education Opportunities
- Creating Jobs
- Creating a Priority of Safety
Our promise is to co-create an ecosystem of opportunity and investment through collaboration that addresses systemic racism and inequities to improve the quality of life of Promise Zone residents. We will do this by fostering partnerships with community-serving organizations, government agencies, philanthropic, corporate, and educational institutions with shared goals. The goals can be reviewed in the SDPZ Ten Year Strategic Plan.
Promise Zone staff provided an informational update to the Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations City Council Committee on Nov. 17, 2021. Access the presentation slides here.
San Diego Promise Zone Business Walk
The City of San Diego recently partnered with Logan Heights Community Development Corporation and other local organizations to host a Business Walk in the Promise Zone (along Imperial Avenue between 19th and 32nd Street) on June 28, 2023 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM. Volunteers heard first-hand from small business owners to learn what we can do to further support your business community. We shared resources that are specifically created to help small businesses thrive.
San Diego Promise Zone Partner Financial Assistance
As part of a multiyear partnership with California Coast Credit Union, the San Diego Promise Zone is administering one-time capacity building, community outreach, and workforce development microgrants of up to $10,000 to support efforts of Promise Zone partners advancing the goals of the designation. The application window closed on August 7, 2023.
If you would like to become a partner or learn more information about the Promise Zone, please contact staff:
- Amber Weber, Promise Zone & Special Projects Program Manager, City of San Diego Economic Development Department
- Melissa Elder, Promise Zone Coordinator, City of San Diego Economic Development Department
- Roosevelt Williams III, Program Specialist, City of San Diego Economic Development Department
- Nathaniel Hillman, AmeriCorps VISTA, Research and Grants Associate
Alaysja Cark, AmeriCorps VISTA, Communications Associate
Bryan Villegas, AmeriCorps VISTA, Operations Associate
Ian Hembree, AmeriCorps VISTA , Civic Engagement Associate
AmeriCorps VISTA Background: Founded in 1965, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) is an anti-poverty program designed to provide needed resources to nonprofit organizations and public agencies to increase their capacity to lift communities out of poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA provides opportunities for Americans 18 years or older from a diverse range of backgrounds to dedicate a year of full-time service with an organization (“sponsor”) to create or expand programs designed to empower individuals and communities in overcoming poverty.
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