Federal funding has stalled out for a Macon program aimed at improving educational results by boosting city neighborhoods.
Macon Promise Neighborhood says the U.S. Department of Justice won't issue any further grants this year for their nation Promise Neighborhood program.
That's because of federal budget cuts due to sequestration.
The Macon Promise Neighborhood is a coalition of three dozen local groups, spearheaded by Mercer University.
In 2011, the coalition received a $500,000 planning grant.
Under the federal program, communities work to improve student achievement and graduation rates long-term by boosting the quality of life in city neighborhoods.
Under the local plan, work would begin with Ingram-Pye and Hartley Elementary schools.
The Macon Promise Neighborhood would identify at-risk youth in the neighborhoods and provide them and their families with support services and educational enrichment opportunities in conjunction with the Bibb County School District and other agencies.
But last year, the local group was passed over for a second federal grant to implement its plans. And last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced there would be no 2013 round of grants.
Mayor's spokesman Chris Floore says that doesn't mean the demise of Macon Promise Neighborhood. The 39 groups in the coalition will continue their own work toward the program's goals, he said.
"The mayor has said all along that the work must go on," said Floore.
The local coalition had applied last year for $5 million over the next five years and had planned to reapply this year.
Floore could not say specifically what effect the loss of that grant money would have. He referred further questions to Ebony Harris, spokesperson for Macon Promise Neighborhood. She could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The school district's involvement in Promise Neighborhood spurred some controversy earlier this year.
The partnership was started under former superintendent Romain Dallemand, who left in February when the school system bought out his contract.
The project involves the renovation of a new community facility to be called the Promise Center. It will be housed in the former Ballard-Hudson Building on Anthony Road.
The contract authorizing that building's lease became the subject of a whistleblower lawsuit, contesting the way Dallemand and other leaders handled the contract. Former school financial officer Ron Collier argued that he was removed from his job because he questioned the deal.
The Macon Promise Neighborhood's statement:
MACON PROMISE NEIGHBORHOOD:
THE NEED IS GREAT AND THE WORK CONTINUES
MACON - On Friday, May 17, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the amount of funding in the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution will not allow them to conduct an Implementation Grant competition this year in the Promise Neighborhoods (PN) program.
While this is disappointing news for the 31 partners in the Macon Promise Neighborhood (MPN) collaboration, it will not stop their work focused on the Unionville and Tindall Heights neighborhoods in Macon. A year of planning has clarified goals and brought additional resources to the table. New early learning programs and expanded adult education opportunities will help build a culture of education. A wide array of early intervention programs and services will be coordinated to help at-risk students succeed academically and persist to graduation. Neighborhood safety and health initiatives will improve life for families in these neighborhoods.
Over the past three years, changing the educational outcomes for children in these neighborhoods has become a Bibb County priority. Unprecedented civic leadership has emerged to push this effort forward. Our research shows that many communities are successfully pursuing these transformative educational goals whether they have a federal PN Implementation Grant or not. Other federal and national foundation funding will be sought to bring these efforts to scale.
We cannot afford to fail in this effort. Ultimately, the future of our whole community is at stake.
For more information about the Macon Promise neighborhood, visit our website at www.maconpromise.org.