What is the Philadelphia Promise Zone?


In January 2014, President Barack Obama designated five regions throughout the United States as “Promise Zones.” The federal government created these ten-year “Promise Zone” designations to increase opportunity, improve quality education access, decrease crime, and create jobs in locations of deep and persistent poverty. West Philadelphia was chosen as one of the five locations.

The target area of the Promise Zone is roughly two square miles in West Philadelphia – bounded by the Schuylkill River to the east, Girard Avenue to the north, 48th Street to the west, and Sansom Street to the south. It includes 35,315 residents with an overall poverty rate of 50.78%, nearly double the city’s rate of 26.9%.

The Promise Zone designation does not come with any initial funds; instead, it provides “preference points” that make West Philadelphia more competitive across an array of grant opportunities from federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Department of Education.

As the lead agency on the Promise Zone initiative, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity works with local partner organizations and community groups to access these opportunities and collaboratively create or enhance anti-poverty programs and initiatives. Collectively, we can use this opportunity to reduce poverty and bring greater opportunity to West Philadelphia.