By Katy Murphy
HAYWARD -- Hayward is one of just five communities in the United States to win a five-year federal Promise Neighborhoods grant to support low-income neighborhoods and the schoolchildren who live in them, the U.S. Department of Education announced Monday.
If Congress fully funds the initiative, Hayward will receive $25 million through the end of 2016 to expand preschool and after-school programs, health care, parent education and other services for families in the Jackson Triangle neighborhood.
"We are amazingly thrilled. What an incredible honor," said Sue Rodearmel, a Cal State East Bay professor who is coordinating the effort.
The education and anti-poverty initiative, modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, was designed to provide low-income children with many of the advantages experienced by their better-off peers so that they stand a better chance of succeeding in school.
In September 2010, Hayward was one of 21 communities to receive a $500,000 Promise Neighborhoods planning grant. Now, it'll be among the first to put its plan into action.
Jackson Triangle, home to about 10,600 residents, is a triangle-shaped neighborhood down the hill from Cal State East Bay, bordered by Jackson and Whitman streets and Harder Road. About 63 percent of its 2,100 school-age children are Latino; 14 percent are African-American; 10 percent are Asian and 6 percent are white.
While there is only one school -- Harder Elementary -- in the area, services will also be provided to five other schools attended by many children from the neighborhood: Park Elementary, Winton and Cesar Chavez middle schools and Tennyson and Hayward high schools, Rodearmel said.
The project is a partnership between Cal State East Bay, the school district, the city and dozens of other local agencies and organizations. It was awarded $3.9 million for the first year of the grant, beginning in January.
Hayward is the only place in California to win the full, five-year grant. Other recipients were from Buffalo, N.Y.; Minneapolis, San Antonio, Texas; and Clay, Jackson and Owsley counties in Kentucky.
In early January, those involved with the project will come together to figure out their first steps. That is, after they allow themselves a brief period of euphoria.
"I'm still on the ceiling with happiness," said David Korth, neighborhood services manager for the city of Hayward.