LA Promise Zone Info

The LA Promise Zone Initiative is a collective impact project to fight urban poverty.  It provides resources and leadership to public, non-profit, and community-based organizations that are committed to making Central Los Angeles a better place to live, work, and play.  The City of Los Angeles is the lead agency in this initiative, and the LA Promise Zone Operations Team is housed within the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

The LA Promise Zone was established in January 2014.  Since then, we have forged powerful partnerships and developed best practices in aligning federal and local funding to create better lives for the students and families who call our city home.


Our Promise Zone is located in Central Los Angeles, covering the diverse communities of Pico-Union, Westlake, Wilshire Center, East Hollywood and Hollywood. These five neighborhoods lie just west of downtown Los Angeles. The area is one of the most densely populated in Los Angeles — housing 34,000 people per square mile, compared with an average density of 8,000 across the city.

The LA Promise Zone is home to over 165,000 residents, with a population that is 60% Latino; 4% African-American; 16% white; and 20% Asian-Pacific Islander.

Tackling the challenges facing these communities begins with leadership that brings people together. This work would not be possible without the dedication and generous support of our partners in this initiative. They represent the diverse makeup of the LA Promise Zone, and provide the services necessary to meet the needs of the area’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and Limited-English Proficient (LEP) populations.

Initiative Goals

In the LA Promise Zone, we are dedicated to boosting quality of life for our residents, and improving the places they call home.  Our partnership goals center on economic development, education, public safety, and sustainable neighborhoods. We spent a year developing the Partnership’s Strategic Plan, which was adopted in January of 2016. Partners like the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the County of Los Angeles, and First 5 L.A. — along with our social sector partners — are actively engaged in our efforts. 

For this National Day of Civic Hacking event, we have developed a series of data visualization challenges/ questions and one app challenge. 


Data Challenges

While we know a bit about the basic demographic composition of the communities we serve, there many aspects of community life that we don’t know enough about.  We’ve assembled a series of questions in each policy area that would greatly enhance our knowledge of the existing conditions in the LA Promise Zone, and help us better serve our communities. 

These data visualizations and maps may be used as a baseline from which to judge the future impact of Promise Zone activities.  If we can show where we are now on these key metrics, we can help the Promise Zone teams understand their impact and effectiveness visually.


We believe that education is a catalytic agent for improving not only a child’s future, but a whole neighborhood.  

Strategic objectives: To improve school readiness, grade promotion, graduation rates at all levels, student prep for college & career, college readiness, enrollment, and graduation.

  • What are interesting and useful ways to visualize educational achievement and/ or educational challenges within the Promise Zone?
  • How many child care providers are located in the LA Promise Zone?
  • Determine which neighborhoods are centers for recent immigrants by mapping “language spoken at home” to the census tract or census block level.

Economic Activity

We believe that a thriving Economy is one where people have the opportunity and resources to move up the economic ladder.

Strategic objectives: To support small business and entrepreneurs; to employ innovative economic development strategies, to strengthen job training and placement; and to support family success.

  • How can we visualize productive economic activity and job growth in the Promise Zone?
  • How many banks do we have in the LA Promise Zone?  How many credit unions?  How many ATMs?  Where are they located?  Are there any neighborhoods that are not adequately served by financial institutions in the LA Promise Zone
  • Determine the number and types of small businesses in the LA Promise Zone.  For the purpose of this exercise, small business is defined as an establishment that has less than 25 employees.
  • How many individuals have bank accounts in the Promise Zone?
  • How many individuals are supported by WIC, CALWORKS, SNAP or other forms of public assistance?

Public Safety

We envision neighborhoods where everyone feels safe at all times. This vision is possible when we develop community partnerships based on trust and cooperation between safety officials and the public.

Strategic objectives: To address public safety and quality of life concerns, provide gang intervention and prevention services; and to promote safe routes to school.

  • How safe are our Promise Zone neighborhoods?  Are there areas within the Promise Zone that require special attention from law enforcement?  Are these areas getting more or less safe over time, relative to the rest of the City?
  • How many collisions occur in Promise Zone intersections which are in considered to be in the City's High Injury Network? (Vision Zero)

Equitable, Livable and Sustainable Communities

We believe that all residents should enjoy livable communities where they have access to affordable housing, diverse transportation options, improved streets and sidewalks, green public spaces, and community assets and culture.

Strategic objectives: To reduce and end local homelessness; to preserve, maintain and supply of affordable housing; and to focus resources on sustainable neighborhood infrastructure.

  • Can we visualize gentrification or displacement within the Promise Zone?
  • What is the utilization of public transportation and other forms of active transportation within the Promise Zone?
  • What are the obesity and asthma rates in the LA Promise Zone?  For Adults?  For Children?
  • How many grocery stores are located in the LA Promise Zone?  How many corner markets?  How many liquor stores?  Are there any neighborhoods that do not have access to healthy food?
  • Determine if there are any neighborhoods where housing overcrowding is evident. Map data to the census tract or census block level.
  • Create a story map to illustrate how our LA Promise Zone school children face dangerous street conditions when they walk or ride bikes to school.

Application Challenge

The Promise Zone team is fairly early in its development of technology tools and strategies to achieve its goals.  One identified need is to better connect the organizations active inside the Promise Zone.

App for Outreach and Connection

In order to fully achieve collective impact goals in the ten year duration, partners need to be on the same page. One way to accomplish this is created an app specially designed for partners to connect via smartphones. Whether posting about job opportunities, grant collaboration opportunities, events, program updates, and needs for volunteers, some system to prompt programs to share data, and to allow stakeholders to see the breadth of activity within the Zone, could facilitate better collaboration. Could partners have the opportunity to get updates on whatever topics interest them? We find this to be useful because at many partner organizations there are staff handling different matters which can lead to varied interests. This prospective app could be a step into the future of seamless communication and collaboration between agencies and organizations.

If you're planning to join us at Hack for LA 2016 to work on these Promise Zone challenges, be sure to register for the event!


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