The Promise Center opened in late August with the hope of reversing Atlanta’s recidivism and drug problem. With over a million dollars invested in the project, the Promise Center became the source of a fair amount of praise and criticism. Was a million dollars invested in a building and a couple of programs really worth it? Couldn’t a grant for schools in Atlanta or already established non-profits in the area have been a better use of the money? Though only time would be able to tell whether the Promise Center was an effective use of the money, the investment became a case study for the Atlanta government to see if use of public funds outside of the regular programs and grants could effect change in the community.
The Promise Center was built with a three-pronged approach in mind: diversion, intervention and prevention. The diversion aspect of the program stems from the recreation section of the center where students can participate in team sports and clubs or contribute to the center’s youth-run radio station. Intervention is provided in the opposite section of the Promise Center. The center provides character and leadership development training, healthy lifestyle programs and group counseling, all in an effort to intervene in youth’s problems before the ramifications become too serious. The final step of the program, prevention, is carried out through the extensive education programs the center provides.
In addition to these three goals, the Promise Center hopes to heal the broken relations between police and the community. These better relations fostered between students and government could help increase school attendance and produce healthier, productive outlets for youth.
A year after the investment, the creation of the Promise Center seems to be paying off. The center has held dozens of events, each focusing on increasing youth engagement in the area. It highlights how government can go beyond distant economic or educational policies to improve the lives of its students. Creative programs like the Atlanta promise center seem to be doing much more than any stipend or loan could have. If government focuses on spending funds outside of the standard loans and grants, it could have a much broader and more positive net effect on the community.