By Angela Glover Blackwell

Founder & CEO, Policy Link

Originally posted on the Promise Neighborhoods Institute website

All across the country, we are seeing examples of communities working hard to improve conditions for their children. From Detroit to Brooklyn to Hayward, California, they’re building Promise Neighborhoods, communities of opportunity centered around strong schools, and they know they’re on the path to building a better future for their children. We know it, too. We’re confident that this kind of effort works because we’ve seen the wonderful results from the Harlem Children’s Zone. These results encouraged the Obama Administration to fund Promise Neighborhoods at $10 million in 2010, and to raise that to $30 million in 2011. These results encouraged over 300 communities to apply for that funding. These results have encouraged public and private donors, individuals and community-based organizations, to pool their resources to make sure that all children have the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed.

Now, these communities are taking the steps needed to track, analyze, and demonstrate their results to keep their efforts strong and focused, and to inspire more communities to form Promise Neighborhoods. Geoffrey Canada focused on results from day one, and when you see the children in the Harlem Children’s Zone graduating from college, entering the workforce, and pursuing their dreams, it’s easy to understand how much results matter.

We need to help leaders see what is going on in real time on the ground, change up strategy if it’s not working, and press ahead if it’s getting the job done, and that’s exactly what those Promise Neighborhoods in Detroit and Brooklyn and Hayward have begun to do. They’re using a wonderful tool called the Clear Impact Scorecard for Place-Based Solutions to continually improve their work based on real results, and to share those results. Other Promise Neighborhoods are starting to use the Scorecard, too, because they know that the opportunities our children will have in the future depend on the work we do today.

The scorecard, provided by Clear Impact, creates the vision and the passion that helps communities take action. It’s being used by the United Way of Central Iowa right now to support and align the performance of all 75 of its grantees towards the community impact they want to achieve in education, income, and health. In Maryland, the Results-Based Accountability concepts of the scorecard have supported the increase in percentage of children entering school ready to learn from 47% to 82%.

The scorecard lets us zoom in on the specific successes and challenges that communities face, so we’re able to delve deep to provide focused technical assistance. The scorecard also lets us zoom out to see improvements over time, across communities, and within a program area. We will use the scorecard to zoom out to see the big picture, a future in which all children are healthy and well-educated, and make a data-driven plan for how to get there.

With a common language and a common goal, we will get there. Together.

–Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO of PolicyLink