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Since then, the program has offered summer-school classes, after-school tutoring, rental assistance and hired staff that help families find work, housing and child care.
The government agency report criticizes the Education Department for such programs in the dark about their chances of winning an implementation grant. The watchdog report also faulted the Education Department for failing to set goals to keep the initiative alive without federal funding.
After twice failing to secure a multimillion-dollar implementation grant like Minneapolis, St. Paul’s program has survived primarily on private and state funds.
“Our plan was intentionally built so that if we didn’t get it, there’d be pieces we could do without that surge of federal dollars,” said director Muneer Karcher-Ramos.
Once the federal funds run dry, PolicyLink aims to help the Promise Neighborhood leaders in Minnesota and elsewhere pick up private support. For that to happen, the initiative needs to produce results now, McAfee said.
“If we’re using public dollars, we darn well better be able to articulate the results for that investment,” he said. “If we’re not delivering, we don’t believe we deserve a dime.”
Corey Mitchell is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau. Twitter: @C_C_Mitchell