- Strong foundations: the economic future of kids and communities
Why would the Federal Reserve System, an institution that most of us only think about in terms of interest rates and monetary policy, care about a child's education or the environment he or she grows up in? Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it all: "Ensuring that all of our kids have 'strong foundations' will help build a similarly strong foundation for the U.S. economy." See what the Fed is doing to help families and communities build these strong foundations here.
When most of us think of philanthropy, we think big—big dollars, big foundations, big projects. But philanthropy also happens in small, but impactful ways. The concept was well summed up by Ed Aller, a florist from McComb, Ohio, who was a beneficiary of small town philanthropy: “We’re small enough to know people, but yet we're big enough to get things done.” In this blog post we highlight three examples of local philanthropy that made a difference in Community Heart & Soul® towns.
Females comprised nearly 14 percent of U.S. principal operators—the individual most responsible for the day-to-day decisions on the farm (or ranch)—in 2012. Considering additional, secondary operators as well as principal operators, however, gives a more complete picture of the involvement of females in farming. Including secondary operators more than triples the count of female farmers—from about 288,300 to nearly 970,000—and increases their share of farm operators to almost 31 percent. Including secondary operators has less of an effect on the number of male farmers, increasing their count by 21 percent, from about 1.8 to 2.2 million. Female secondary operators tend to be less involved in farming than female primary operators. About 33 percent of female secondary operators report farming as their major occupation, compared with 43 percent of female primary operators. Roughly 40 percent of secondary female operators work off-farm at least 200 days per year, slightly higher than the corresponding 35-percent estimate for female principal operators.
Traditional economic development efforts at the state level are undergoing increasing scrutiny as budgets are being constrained. Two new studies show a shift in focus away from traditional approaches of tax incentives and reliance on major employers, to broader strategies relying more on the private sector and human capital. A report released by the Delaware Economic Development Working Group recommends shifting many of the core responsibilities of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) to a new nonprofit. And a report focused on Indiana details the decline in footloose jobs in the state despite local government investments in business attraction, indicating a reevaluation of public policy is needed, the authors contend.
Much has been written – both here and elsewhere – about the role of trade and automation in declining U.S. manufacturing employment. Recently released preliminary research published by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies finds U.S. multinationals were responsible for a disproportionate share of manufacturing employment declines from 1993 to 2011. These results underscore the challenges facing economic development in deindustrializing regions, particularly those reliant on the branch plant economy.
- Imports of fresh and processed vegetables make up an increasing share of domestic consumption
Trade plays a vital part in both fresh and processed vegetable markets, one that has increased over time. The United States imports a larger amount of fresh and processed vegetables than it exports. This is in contrast with U.S. agricultural trade as a whole, which consistently runs a trade surplus (exports exceed imports). In 2000, fresh and processed vegetable imports represented 12 percent of domestic use each. By 2016, the import share of domestic use had increased to over 30 percent for fresh vegetables and 22 percent for processed vegetables. The export market for vegetables has grown at a slower pace. Processed vegetable exports doubled between 2000 and 2016 from 7 to 14 percent of domestic use, while fresh vegetables decreased from 7 percent in 2000 to 6 in 2016. Growth in vegetable and other food commodity imports has been driven by expanding domestic demand and reduced trade costs like shipping and tariffs. Consumer preferences for year-round availability of seasonal foods and for vegetables not commonly grown domestically have also played a role in rising import shares. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers are predominantly supplied by imports, while cauliflower has the largest export share.
Introducing “new” products—new package sizes, new flavors, new packaging, and truly new products—is one way that food and beverage companies try to woo consumers and increase sales. After 2 years of declining numbers of product introductions, 21,435 new foods and beverages made their debut on U.S. retail shelves in 2016—the largest annual number of product introductions since 2007. The number of new nonfood grocery items (beauty and personal care; health and hygiene; pet food and merchandise; and paper and cleaning products) increased in 2016 as well. During the Great Recession of 2008-09, consumers sought familiar products and avoided impulse buying. To appeal to bargain-seeking customers who wanted to simplify their shopping trips as well as purchase familiar products, retailers devoted less shelf space to new products. The number of new food and beverage products in U.S. retail outlets, as tracked by Mintel’s Global New Product Database, fell from 22,142 in 2007 to 15,637 in 2009. The number of new foods and beverages rose again in 2010, while new nonfood grocery items continued their downward trend until 2016.
The Ford Foundation has announced plans to commit up to $1 billion of its $12 billion endowment over ten years to mission-related investing — the largest commitment to MRIs by a private foundation to date.
Ford will carve out the funds gradually from its existing investment portfolio and deploy them over time to investments designed to deliver concrete social returns as well as attractive financial returns. Initial investments will focus on areas where the foundation has prior experience and sees both significant investment opportunity and alignment with its mission to reduce poverty and injustice — starting with affordable housing in the United States and access to financial services in emerging markets.
Communities in the Deep South receive less philanthropic support than those in other parts of the United States, and only a small fraction of those funds supports policy reform or community organizing, a report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and Grantmakers for Southern Progress finds.
The first in a series of reports about opportunities for philanthropy to improve the lives of underserved communities in the South, As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil (17 pages, PDF) found that, between 2010 and 2014, grantmaking by a thousand of the country's largest foundations averaged $41 per capita in the Alabama Black Belt and Mississippi Delta, compared with a national average of $451. And of the $55 million in total grantmaking to those two regions, only 16 percent was designated for community empowerment strategies. In the decades since the civil rights movement, national foundation interest in the rural South has waxed and waned, and foundations based in the region have focused on funding direct service work instead of systemic change strategies....
Compared with rural (nonmetro) areas, urban (metro) areas have historically had a higher share of adults with bachelor’s, postgraduate, and professional degrees. Between 2000 and 2015, the share of urban adults with at least a bachelor’s degree grew from 26 to 33 percent, while in rural areas the share grew from 15 to 19 percent. This gap may be due to the higher pay offered in urban areas to workers with college degrees. Rural areas have improved in terms of high school completion: The share of rural adults with less than a high school diploma dropped to 15 percent in 2015, close to the share for urban adults (13 percent). The share of adults with an associate’s degree and some college, no degree were also similar in rural and urban areas.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the cornerstone of USDA’s food and nutrition assistance programs, accounting for 69 percent of all Federal food and nutrition assistance spending in fiscal 2016. An average 44.2 million people per month participated in the program in fiscal 2016, 3 percent fewer than the previous fiscal year and the third consecutive year of declining participation. Fiscal 2016’s caseload was the fewest SNAP participants since fiscal 2010 and 7 percent less than the 47.6 million participants per month in fiscal 2013. The decrease in 2016 was likely due in part to the country’s continued economic growth as well as the reinstatement in many States of the time limit—3 months of SNAP benefits within any 3-year period—on participation for able-bodied adults without dependents. Per person benefits averaged $125.51 per month in fiscal 2016, 1 percent less than the previous fiscal year and 6 percent less than the historical high of $133.85 set in fiscal 2011.
- //foundationcenter.hosted.strongview.com/t/gcgbbFNoQAJOfXhD6a2-tFGZ5aaaa2-tBMOH1Leaa?n=7@x6z-1&j=Wnlomzivbkl.vluWzix%25y6qjW.0mjU.mi1&;f=La&3=&l=vhjhkqyw6vBu-u-" target="_blank">Impact Investments in Creative Economy Poised for Growth, Study Finds
A focus on providing impact investments in the creative economy could help stabilize vulnerable communities and attract quality jobs to struggling regions of the country, a report from the //foundationcenter.hosted.strongview.com/t/gcgbbFNoQAJOfXhD6a2-tFGZ5aaaa2-tBMOH1Leaa?n=7@x6z-1&j=Wnlomzivbkl.vluWzix%25y6qjW.0mjU.mi1&;f=Lb&3=&l=vhjhkqyw6vBu-u-" target="_self">Calvert Foundation and //foundationcenter.hosted.strongview.com/t/gcgbbFNoQAJOfXhD6a2-tFGZ5aaaa2-tBMOH1Leaa?n=7@x6z-1&j=Wnlomzivbkl.vluWzix%25y6qjW.0mjU.mi1&;f=Lc&3=&l=vhjhkqyw6vBu-u-" target="_self">Upstart Co-Lab finds. Funded by the //foundationcenter.hosted.strongview.com/t/gcgbbFNoQAJOfXhD6a2-tFGZ5aaaa2-tBMOH1Leaa?n=7@x6z-1&j=Wnlomzivbkl.vluWzix%25y6qjW.0mjU.mi1&;f=Ld&3=&l=vhjhkqyw6vBu-u-" target="_self">John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the report, //foundationcenter.hosted.strongview.com/t/gcgbbFNoQAJOfXhD6a2-tFGZ5aaaa2-tBMOH1Leaa?n=7@x6z-1&j=Wnlomzivbkl.vluWzix%25y6qjW.0mjU.mi1&;f=Le&3=&l=vhjhkqyw6vBu-u-" target="_self">Creative Places & Businesses: Catalyzing Growth in Communities (55 pages, PDF), found that while impact investment in the creative economy to date has occurred largely under the radar, the opportunity to generate financial gain and social impact through art, culture, design, and innovation has never been greater. The study identified twenty-six projects in fourteen states with to tal project costs of $1.54 billion seeking impact investment capital between 2017 and 2022, including $338 million in debt financing provided by community development financial institutions and community lenders and $1.13 billion in impact and conventional equity, tax credits, and similar subsidies. Wealth advisors also confirmed to researchers that impact investors are eager to invest in the arts, creative businesses, and so-called creative places — which it defines as multi-tenant affordable real estate projects targeting creatives and benefiting their neighbors....
Frequent use of local foods in school meals can bolster the market for local agricultural producers and increase student awareness and interest in healthier foods. In school year 2011-12, more than one in five U.S. school districts (22 percent) served at least one locally-sourced food item daily or weekly. The most popular local food categories were milk (offered daily or more than weekly by 15.4 percent of school districts), fruit (offered by 14.5 percent of districts), and vegetables (offered by 12.2 percent of districts). Locally-produced baked goods, meat, and eggs were also served frequently by some districts. A recent ERS report examined characteristics of school districts that frequently serve local foods. Districts more likely to serve local foods daily tended to be larger, in the Northeast, in urban areas, and in States where residents had higher rates of college completion.
On average, U.S. farmers received 15.6 cents for farm commodity sales from each dollar spent on domestically-produced food in 2015, down from 17.2 cents in 2014. Known as the farm share, this amount is at its lowest level since 2006, and coincides with a steep drop in 2015 average prices received by U.S. farmers, as measured by the Producer Price Index for farm products. ERS uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares from a typical food dollar, including food purchased at grocery stores and at restaurants, coffee shops, and other eating out places. 2015 was the fourth consecutive year that the farm share has declined, but the 2015 decline was substantially more than in the three previous years. The drop in farm share also coincides with four consecutive years of increases in the share of food dollars paying for services provided by the foodservice industry. Since farmers receive a smaller share from eating out dollars, due to the added costs for preparing and serving meals, more food-away-from-home spending will also drive down the farm share.
On April 8, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Excelsior Scholarship program will be included in the state’s FY 2018 budget, after having been approved by the legislature. In its first year, the state will commit $163 million to provide tuition-free options for New Yorkers from ‘middle-class’ families at the state’s public institutions of higher education. Under the Excelsior Scholarship program, students can attend any of the colleges or universities that comprise the State University of New York and the City University of New York systems. After completing their degree, the scholarship requires that recipients must work or live in the state after graduation for the same number of years that they receive support.
Hear Zachary Mannheimer on how creative placemaking creates vibrant, attractive communities with viable business models, enthusiastic investors, and dynamic programs with an eye towards attracting and retaining the younger generation. This 60-minute webinar recorded March 23 is co-hosted with the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design™.
- Rural Gateway Peer-to-Peer Conference Call: Rural Economic Development and Infrastructure: A Discussion of Best Practices
The Office of Rural Housing and Economic Development (ORHED) invites you to take part in our next Peer-to-Peer conference call. Scheduled for April 19, 2017, this call will offer participants the opportunity to learn about available funding opportunities through the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) for economic development and infrastructure activities.
A Rural Behavioral Health Webinar Series is offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Mental Health Promotion Branch, Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress, and Special Programs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The next webinar is “Providing Culturally and Linguistically Competent Behavioral Health Services to Diverse Populations in Rural Communities,” May 17, 2017, 3:00 to 4:30 PM EDT. Other topics in the series are: “Responding to Natural Disasters in Rural Communities,” June 21, 2017, 3:00 to 4:30 PM EDT; and “A Focus on Suicide Prevention in Rural Communities,” August 16, 2017, 3:00 to 4:30 PM EDT.