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Illinois misses out on more federal funding Neighborhood groups focused on education, helping underprivileged children were competing for grants of up to $500,000 each


For the second time in recent months, Illinois has been shut out of federal funding aimed at boosting education and helping underprivileged children succeed.

On Tuesday, 17 nonprofit community groups in Illinois learned their applications were not among the 21 awarded Promise Neighborhoods grants from the U.S. Department of Education, headed by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan.

The planning grants of up to $500,000 each will be used to help communities address the wide range of problems faced by students living in impoverished neighborhoods. All but three of the Illinois applicants were from Chicago or Cook County.

In August, the state lost out in the Race to the Top competition, which would have provided $400 million to overhaul Illinois public education.

Adolfo Hernandez, board president of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, said he had hoped the Promise grant would supplement work his organization already is doing in the neighborhood, such as connecting immigrant families to schools and providing services to students and their families.

"We are very disappointed that we did not get it and that no other applicants in Illinois got it," said Hernandez. "But we are really excited about the work we are already doing, and we plan to keep doing it. The grant would have helped us take it to another level."

More than 300 communities from across the nation applied for the grants that President Barack Obama had promised during his presidential campaign.

Obama has requested $210 million in the 2011 budget for the grants, which are designed to help groups develop community-based programs modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone in New York, which offers educational, medical and social services to children from cradle to college.

The program, organizers said, places children on a path to careers rather than crime.

Keywords: Adolfo Hernandez, Arne Duncan, Harlem Children's Zone

Posted in LSNA in the Media