top of page


Charlottesville’s City of Promise received national recognition as one of only 15

recipients of federal Promise Neighborhood planning grants. 

City of Promise is the result of several interrelated efforts that over the course of ten years have resulted in our current pathway of support for children and families.  

2007-2011: The Charlottesville City Schools Strategic Plan 2007-2011 outlined a firm commitment to closing achievement gaps by raising expectations for all students and focusing on early childhood education, increased graduation rates, and professional development. The updated CCS Strategic Plan 2011-2017 continues this work and outlines expanded goals and objectives for ensuring that all students graduate prepared for post-secondary education and active participation in society.


2009: City Councilor Kristin Szakos had been inspired by conversations with hundreds of Charlottesville residents during her 2009 campaign to try to create a kind of “Children’s Zone” model in the City.  She gathered school officials, city leaders and nonprofit directors to encourage them to work together to identify and fill gaps in services, to share data and commit to data-driven results and accountability, and to work with community members to create a city where all children could thrive and be successful.


2010: The City of Promise Action Team began as a workgroup of the Charlottesville Dialogue on Race to push for creation of community network of supports for African American children modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone. The goal was to increase student achievement and build a culture of high expectations through community and parent engagement, school reform, and enriched out-of-school experiences for children. It was the Action Team that developed CoP’s vision of “changing the game” for children, as well as its Mission Statement: We commit to creating a community where all children are valued and have the support and the tools they need to make decisions that lead to their success.

2011- 2012: The three streams came together when the U.S. Department of Education announced that grants would be awarded to fund the planning of such efforts. The City Schools, the City, the Action Team, and several key nonprofits submitted an application. In 2011, Charlottesville’s City of Promise received national recognition as one of only 15 recipients of Promise Neighborhood planning funds.  With an additional major grant from the Justice Department and some local funding, City of Promise was able to hire founding director, Sarad Davenport, along with a development director and community organizers. Several neighborhood intern research assistants began engaging the community and conducting a comprehensive needs assessment and analysis of what was needed to create a pathway of supports.

2014: City of Promise offices relocated to renovated home at 708 Page Street, right in the heart of the neighborhood.

2016: A Comprehensive Data Report affirmed the difference City of Promise has made in the neighborhood over the course of five years. 

May 2017: Founding director, Sarad Davenport, accepted new opportunity with Communities in Schools, a national organization.

September 2017:T. Denise Johnson was appointed as Program Director, established Promise Baby Academy, and led the way in securing 501c3 status for City of Promise. 

May 2019: Development Director, Mary Coleman, was named Interim Executive Director after Denise Johnson was appointed as Charlottesville City Schools' first Equity Supervisor.


December 2019: Mary Coleman was appointed as Executive Director.


July 2020: City of Promise became independent from fiscal sponsor, ReadyKids.

September 2020: City of Promise secures 1,000 sq. feet of additional program space in the 10th St. Warehouse.


bottom of page