A map of the designated Los Angeles area "Promise Zone," selected in the first round of the initiative. Graphic courtesy U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A map of the designated Los Angeles area “Promise Zone,” selected in the first round of the initiative. Graphic courtesy U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A map of the designated Los Angeles area “Promise Zone,” selected in the first round of the initiative. Graphic courtesy U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A coalition led by Los Angeles Trade-Technical College finalized an application Thursday seeking to make South Los Angeles a “Promise Zone,” a designation that would give the area an edge when applying for up to $500 million in federal funding for anti-poverty programs.

The group’s proposal would form a South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone, or SLATE-Z, that would receive help under President Barack Obama’s Promise Zone program, which focuses federal resources on areas struggling with poverty.

The area has an aggregate poverty rate approaching 50 percent and a 12 percent unemployment rate. The coalition hopes to focus investment into transit centers, educational programs, business assistance and redevelopment.

If it is designated a promise zone, South Los Angeles would get preference on some competitive federal grant applications, as well as technical assistance and other non-competitive support, according to the resolution.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined nearly 150 representatives from the coalition to sign the application ahead of its submission tomorrow.

The Promise Zone designation “will be able to improve the lives of thousands of young people, their families and communities,” Ridley-Thomas said.

“It is crucial that South Los Angeles be included in the city’s federal Promise Zone,” he said.

A portion of Los Angeles was identified last year as a Promise Zone, but the help was limited to East Hollywood, Thai Town, Little Armenia, Pico- Union/Westlake and Koreatown. The application that led to the designation was submitted by nonprofit Youth Policy Institute, and was announced in January by Mayor Eric Garcetti with much fanfare.

None of the help was aimed at South Los Angeles, however, prompting outcries from the City Council and community members who complained that the area of the city with the highest need was being ignored.

Funding announced recently for Safe Passages — a program aimed at protecting students walking or bicycling to a Hollywood-area middle school — was attributed to the area being designated a Promise Zone.

Councilman Curren Price, who took issue with South Los Angeles being left out of the first round, released a statement today saying that “many people said we wouldn’t be able to bring our community together for this effort,” with  many people giving “excuses” such as “you won’t get folks to support this, you aren’t going to win a designation, it’s just not worth it.”

“Well, not only did we come together, we have put together an amazing application that I am confident will get noticed and furthermore, we have laid the foundation for a host of partnerships that will change the way we work together in this community,” he said.

Price did not attend today’s signing event. He is part of a delegation accompanying Mayor Eric Garcetti this and next week on his travels to Asia to promote trade, investment and tourism for Los Angeles.

The coalition’s application earned the official support of the Los Angeles City Council last week.

In addition to the community college, the coalition backing the application also includes the Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Metro and philanthropic institutions such as California Endowment and the Weingart Foundation.

Nonprofits such as Community Coalition, Brotherhood Crusade, L.A.’s Promise, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development and CD Tech were also part of the mix.

City News Service

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