SMU's Partners With The Promise Zone to Close Health Gap

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Appeared in: Sacramento Business Journal
By: Tyrone Roderick Williams

In an environment with growing social needs and limited city and county resources, cross-sector collaborations are proving to be effective tools for changing lives and transforming communities. Sacramento’s designation in 2015 as a “promise zone” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is the catalyst for service expansion in Sacramento’s most economically distressed neighborhoods. Through the Promise Zone Initiative, the federal government works with local leaders and organizations to improve the quality of life for residents in underserved neighborhoods.

As one of 16 urban promise zones in the nation, Sacramento’s promise zone encompasses 22 square miles from Del Paso Heights in the north to The Avenues in the south. Among the 127,000 residents within the promise zone, 34% are living in poverty, 19% are unemployed and 63% of third graders are reading below grade level.

As lead agency for the Promise Zone Initiative, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency has grown the collaboration to more than 150 key partners over the past four years. The alliance has worked to improve educational outcomes, foster a sustainable economic base, accelerate job creation and support sustainably built communities.

The federal promise zone designation came without financial support but provides assistance with accessing resources from federal agencies. Public and private organizations are joining forces, and together they have attracted over $175 million in state and federal funds. The promise zone also provides the infrastructure to support other federal initiatives that fuel economic development such as opportunity zones.

The list of accomplishments includes a $2.7 million Jobs Plus Grant from HUD to accelerate job training and placement opportunities for more than 700 public housing residents; a $1 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to assist the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps’ YouthBuild program in expanding job training opportunities for young adults; a $750,000 corporate investment in a promise zone revitalization effort led by SMUD, along with UC Davis Health, Blue Shield of California, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce and five other Sacramento organizations; and a Community Nurse Corps internship program partnership with Samuel Merritt University and Kaiser Permanente to bring over 60 nurses out of the clinical setting into the community to serve residents’ health and nutrition needs. Today, the California Strategic Growth Council will grant over $32 million to two housing projects that will have a huge economic impact in the River District.

The city’s new budget is proof of its commitment to underserved neighborhoods. Still, business and corporate funding and support is needed now. This is a call for them to join the promise zone partnership and make a significant economic impact that will last beyond the 10-year initiative. The return on investment is communities brimming with economic vitality and residents who are healthy, better educated, self-reliant and productive. Learn more at Learn more at

Tyrone Roderick Williams is the director of the Sacramento Promise Zone and director of development at the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.


Request more information

Vestibulum id ligula porta felis euismod semper. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Sed posuere consectetur est at lobortis. Donec sed odio dui.