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A group of Ogden leaders has won a nearly $500,000 grant to help improve the community largely through education.

Ogden United — a coalition of the United Way of Northern Utah and Ogden school, city, university, business and other leaders — is one of 17 groups to win a 2012 Promise Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the department announced Friday. The grants are intended to fund local efforts to boost educational opportunities and provide health, safety and support services to those living in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Ogden United will use its grant, intended for planning, to further develop its plan to improve educational outcomes in Ogden. Leslie Herold, with the United Way of Northern Utah, said the grant will help speed up the process of making change in Ogden.

She said the group has already been working to develop a plan for about a year and a half and has already made some changes. For example, Ogden United helped companies and churches connect with local schools to provide more tutors.

She said the group was born out of a "crisis" situation in Ogden, which two years ago, had some of the lowest performing schools in the state.

"I think people looked at what's going to make this community healthier and the No. 1 thing was we really needed to focus on education. We were not graduating enough of our youth," Herold said. "We needed a really comprehensive group that could come together and collectively get a plan that was one plan, not just the school district and city attacking it from different places or different angles."

The group was chosen to receive the grant from more than 200 groups that applied.

Twitter: @lschencker —

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