No ‘Promise’ Grant For Boyle Heights

By EGP Staff Report

Proyecto Pastoral’s application for a $4 to $6 million national grant from the US Department of Education to implement the Boyle Heights Promise Neighborhood plan was not funded, according to the nonprofit organization.

The Boyle Heights Promise Neighborhood plan was developed with support from a coalition of community-based organizations, schools, healthcare providers and religious groups, and funds from a Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grant, one of 21 awarded nationwide.

The Boyle Heights plan focused on transforming 30-blocks, from instructional reforms to systematic changes in housing, emotional wellness, public safety and economic development.

The organization and it’s numerous partners say they are still “energized and ready to begin implementing the ambitious plan” developed to create student success and community stability.

According to Proyecto Pastoral, they have leveraged the initial grant received from the Dept. of Education to raise an additional $959,000 in financial investments from private sources, and $34.4 million in in-kind services to support implementation of the plan.

“There is no turning back. The Boyle Heights community managed to build a wave of energy for school and community change that cannot be deterred,” said Cynthia Sanchez, executive director of Proyecto Pastoral. “There is no doubt that the Promise Neighborhood grant would have accelerated the implementation of our plan. But in the end, we are a Promise Neighborhood because of the passion and shared commitment to improving the life of children and families in Boyle Heights,” she said.

“We will leverage the momentum that we’ve built in the community to raise the resources that will be needed to implement the plan and to sustain our work in the long term.”

Several of the project partners also expressed disappointment over the rejection of the grant application.

Mendez Learning Center’s School of Math and Science principal, Mauro Bautista, said they are “saddened” by the news, but are committed to continue working with the “numerous community members, organizations, and educators who have worked tirelessly during the planning phase of the grant,”

“This is not the end, but only the beginning,” he said.

Raul Estrada, executive director of El Centro de Ayuda said they are proud of their work with the project that aims to “provide an increased level of clinical and mental Health Services to low-income, inner-city youth in support of a pathway to higher education.”

In September, over 100 local teachers and residents pledged to help implement the plan regardless of whether the grant was secured.

The pastor of Dolores Mission, a Roman Catholic parish in Boyle Heights that also includes an elementary school, said not continuing is not an option.

“We made this decision for the good of our young people whether we would obtain the funding or not,” said Father Scott Santarosa. “There is simply too much at stake for organizations like ours, Proyecto Pastoral, and others not to collaborate.”

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December 29, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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