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Suzette's Letter, April 4, 2016


Request for Comment for the Community Development MarketPlace Project Intake Survey

The Community Development MarketPlace (CDM) is a database of community development project data, currently from those communities who have applied for designations under the federal Promise Zones Initiative, and consented to share some of their application material with the public. The CDM provides information that describes community goals, proposed activities to advance their goals, and organizations involved in implementing and supporting these projects. The CDM presents an opportunity for community practitioners to find peers working on similar issues and to share best practices around revitalization efforts. It can also assist other potential partners in identifying opportunities to engage or invest in these communities. HUD is seeking public comment on a draft Community Development MarketPlace (CDM) Project Intake Survey that may be distributed widely and used by respondents who are not part of any application process. Specifically we are asking the public to review the questions in the survey and answer the questions listed below. Please submit any comments and/or your answers to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by May 24, 2016. Also feel free to submit user questions or information on any technical issues via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


North America Renewable Energy Brief

CohnReznick takes a look at the market potential for community solar, which states will likely see the most projects, community solar project finance, utilities views on this market, and community energy compatibility with rooftop solar.


Tapping into Alternative Ways to Fund Innovative and Multi-Purpose Water Projects

In this report, Water in the West highlights some tools used in the energy sector that could also be used in to help modernize America's water infrastructure.

State Small Business Credit Initiative Report: Over $1.3 Billion Issued for Small Businesses

The U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) released a new Quarterly Report detailing how the program continues to help small businesses access capital. More than $1.3 billion has been deployed nationwide, helping boost local economic development efforts and supporting greater levels of private sector lending to small businesses. States have now drawn 95 percent of the nearly $1.5 billion of available funds.


What Makes Economies Resilient? Economic Diversity, Experienced Workforce

What leading indicators allow a national, state, regional, or local economy to rebound from an exogenous shock (e.g., economic downturn or natural disaster)? What risk factors are common among economies that were not resilient to an exogenous shock? Resilient economies are able to absorb an exogenous shock with limited negative impact on economic prosperity and their workforce. The studies have identified leading indicators of economic resiliency including age of workforce, diversification of industries, and other key factors. Researchers also have found several risk factors that place economies at high risk of instability in the face of an exogenous shock including household and public fiscal solvency. Read more...

HHS: Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders
Mar 30, 2016 -- Seeks comments on a proposed rule that will increase the highest patient limit for physicians to treat opioid use disorder. Highlights a treatment access disparity for rural areas and describes how this proposed rule would help address it.

Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Announces Additional Actions to Address the Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Epidemic
Mar 29, 2016 -- Announces federal administrative and private sector actions to address opioid misuse and abuse across the country, including specific funding to address substance use disorder in rural communities.
Source: The White House

Rural women, especially young women, are more likely than rural men to have college degrees

The education of workers is closely linked with economic success. Workers with educations beyond high school degrees are more likely to be employed and earning higher wages than workers with high school degrees or less education. Educational attainment of both men and women in rural areas has grown over time, and rural women are more likely to have some college experience or hold associate or bachelor’s degrees than rural men. For example, the most recent (2014) American Community Survey shows that 63 percent of rural young women (age 25-34) had schooling beyond a high school diploma, compared with less than half (47 percent) of rural young men; nearly a quarter of rural young women held a bachelor’s degree or higher. The gender-education gap beyond a high school diploma for rural young adults has widened, from 11 percentage points in 2000 to 16 percentage points in 2014. This gap is more pronounced in rural areas than in the nation as a whole. This chart is based on the ERS Rural Employment & Education topic page.



Integrating Health and Human Services in Rural Communities

The Rural Health Information Hub and the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis will introduce a new Rural Services Integration Toolkit designed to help rural communities improve access to health and human services. Developed by NORC on behalf of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), the toolkit identifies model programs and resources that will benefit rural communities seeking to implement services integration programs. A key focus area of the toolkit is to provide best practices for implementing services integration programs that support children and families living in poverty in rural communities. This webinar will feature two examples of successful programs funded by FORHP, including lessons learned.

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2015
Time: 11:00 am Pacific, 12:00 pm Mountain, 1:00 pm Central, 2:00 pm Eastern

CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: Development Finance Solutions for Disaster Resiliency
April 19, 2016 - 1:00 pm Eastern

Over the past decade, extreme weather events have caused major catastrophes to cities large and small. During this webcast, explore financing programs and structures for disaster resiliency, partnerships, and collaborative efforts to identify financing solutions.

Energy Investment Partnerships Webinar Series
April 26, May 19 - 1-4pm Eastern

The Energy Investment Partnerships Webinar Series is a tailored four-part webinar series designed specifically for states and stakeholders working to develop or enhance an Energy Investment Partnership (EIP).

Providing Patients with Access to Nutritious Food

Money, distance, and lack of education are just a few barriers between rural Americans and nutritious food. Find out how a Critical Access Hospital, a prescription program, and a research project are creating tangible examples of how to promote nutrition and increase patients’ access to healthy food.

HUD Releases Overview of the Assessment of Fair Housing Webcast

This webcast, published March 24, 2016, provides an overview of the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) including key concepts. View the Overview of the Assessment of Fair Housing Webcast. The webcast is also available to view in sections based on your needs and interests.

Rural Creative Placemaking

The Next Generation Digital Learning Commons, offers a platform for storytelling, research, and best practices that fosters an inclusive space for deeper collaboration and learning exchange. Next Generation has also launched a series of surveys to gain greater national understanding of the depth and breadth of rural creative placemaking dynamics. Responses will help shape mission objectives and the content and objectives of the National Rural Creative Placemaking Summit. Please find the National Survey here. The Next Generation Rural Creative Placemaking Summit Save the Date to be held October 12-14, 2016 at the University of Iowa. To learn more, visit: https://ruralgeneration.org/national-summit/

Suzette's Letter March 25, 2016


Service industries account for the largest share of rural and urban employment

Overall employment in rural (nonmetropolitan) areas accounts for between 13 and 14 percent of all U.S. employment. However, the distribution of employment across industries differs between rural and urban areas. Service industries account for the largest share of employment in both rural and urban areas but are more heavily represented in urban areas, where they account for close to three-fifths of all employment. Within the service sector, jobs in finance, real estate, administration, and professional/scientific/technical services were particularly concentrated in urban areas. Rural areas account for 72 percent of the Nation’s land area, and employment in primary extractive industries that depend largely on the distribution of land and natural resources is greater in rural than in urban areas. Nonetheless, these industries—farming and forestry/fishing/mining—accounted for just 10 percent of total rural employment in 2014. Manufacturing employment is also a bigger part of the employment mix in rural areas, largely reflecting past migration of manufacturing activities to lower wage and lower cost locations. Government employment was marginally more common in rural than in urban areas (16 versus 13 percent). This chart is found in the ERS topic page on Rural Employment and Unemployment.

Lawmakers, Bankers Discuss How to Ease Tax Laws for P3s

Municipal finance leaders and a bipartisan group of lawmakers met Wednesday on Capitol Hill to discuss how tax laws might be eased so that more public-private arrangements could be used to finance public infrastructure projects.


P3s Can Spur Economic Development by Providing Good Jobs, Training Opportunities, Study Says

The report, Building American While Building Our Middle Class: Best Practices for P3 Infrastructure Projects, outlines best practices that can be incorporated into P3 agreements, such as the adoption of policies that set job quality and income thresholds, inclusive hiring, apprenticeship and other types of training opportunities and oversight of efforts to ensure fair employment practices. The report also recommends that P3 partners enter into community workforce agreements (CWA), potentially with labor unions, “that establish targeted hiring goals, training opportunities and jobs for communities of need.”

Participation in SNAP falls for the second consecutive year

An average 45.8 million people per month—about 14 percent of the Nation’s population—participated in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in fiscal 2015. This was about 2 percent fewer people than the previous year, and 4 percent fewer than the historical high of 47.6 million participants set in fiscal 2013. SNAP participants in fiscal 2015 received an average of $126.83 per month in benefits to purchase food at authorized food stores. SNAP is one of the Nation’s primary countercyclical assistance programs, expanding during economic downturns and contracting during periods of economic growth. The decrease in SNAP caseloads in fiscal 2014 and 2015 reflects, at least in part, the recovery from the 2007-09 recession reaching lower educated, lower wage workers. This chart appears in ERS’s Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2015 Annual Report, released on March 17, 2016.

Funder Initiative Releases Guide for Water Sustainability

The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation has announced the release of a report aimed at advancing sustainable water management at a scale never before attempted in the field. Produced by the Water Funder Initiative — a collaborative supported and guided by the Mitchell, S.D. Bechtel, Jr., Energy, Hewlett, Packard, Pisces, Rockefeller, Walton Family, and Water foundations — the report, Toward Water Sustainability: A Blueprint for Philanthropy (40 pages, PDF), offers a call to action for collaborative and expanded philanthropic action aimed at making water systems more balanced, resilient, and sustainable. To that end, the document describes the need and opportunities presented by water issues and describes the six priority strategies that emerged from WFI's consultation with experts and stakeholders. In addition to outlining roles for funders and providing examples of near-term opportunities, the report summarizes a set of funding action plans that detail how philanthropy can address high-priority problems in the field.



Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) Webinar

This webinar will provide an overview of SECD and the applicable Rural Development Programs.  Please join us in this opportunity to learn more about SECD and how it can benefit rural communities. 

When: Thursday, March 31, 2016 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (CDT)


CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: Development Finance Solutions for Disaster Resiliency
April 19, 2016 - 1:00 pm EDT

Over the past decade, extreme weather events have caused major catastrophes to cities large and small. From vulnerable energy grids to aging infrastructure, communities are susceptible to disasters in multiple ways, and the aftermath of the clean-up and redevelopment can affect a region for years. During this webcast, explore financing programs and structures for disaster resiliency, partnerships, and collaborative efforts to identify financing solutions.

Energy Investment Partnerships Webinar Series
April 26, May 19 - 1-4pm Eastern

The Energy Investment Partnerships Webinar Series is a tailored four-part webinar series designed specifically for states and stakeholders working to develop or enhance an Energy Investment Partnership (EIP). The webinar series will provide research-based education on EIPs and how development finance agencies, public entities, foundations, energy organizations, and the financing community can work together to achieve greater program and project success to drive clean energy deployment.


Rescheduled Date and Time for FY 2016 CDFI Program and NACA Program Credit Union Applicants Webinar

The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) has scheduled a new date and time for the FY 2016 Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI Program) and Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program) application webinar for credit union applicants. The webinar was originally scheduled for March 23, 2016, but was postponed due to technical difficulties. The new schedule and access information for the webinar is listed below.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
1:00 PM ET
Please call: 1-800-369-1186
Participant Passcode: 5955531
Link to webinar: https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join.php?i=PWXW7654863&p=5955531&t=c">https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join.php?i=PWXW7654863&p=5955531&t=c


Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Announces the Power Initiative Webinar Series

Beginning March 23, 2016, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will hold biweekly webinars on POWER Initiative topics. Webinars will be held every other Wednesday at 2:00 PM EDT. The last webinar will be held June 1, 2016. Please join us to learn more about POWER.

Webinar topics and registration instructions are below. The webinars will use the Live Meeting platform.

April 6, 2016, 2:00 PM EDT | The POWER Initiative: A Deeper Dive into Implementation Support
April 20, 2016, 2:00 PM EDT | The POWER Initiative: A Deeper Dive into Technical Assistance
May 4, 2016, 2:00 PM EDT | The POWER Initiative: What the Data and Research Says

May 18, 2016, 2:00 PM EDT| Topic to be announced
June 1, 2016, 2:00 PM EDT | Topic to be announced

Suzette's Letter March 11, 2016


Farms with direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales had higher rates of business survival between 2007 and 2012

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing—where producers engage with consumers face-to-face at roadside stands, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own farms, on farm stores, and community-supported agricultural arrangements (CSAs)—brings benefits for consumers as well as the farm businesses. According to Census of Agriculture data, farmers who market food directly to consumers had a greater chance of remaining in business than those who market through traditional channels. Sixty-one percent of farms with DTC sales in 2007 were in business under the same operator in 2012, compared with 55.7 percent of all U.S. farms. Based on a comparison of farms across four size categories (defined by annual sales), farmers with DTC sales had a higher survival rate (measured as the share of farmers who reported positive sales in 2007 and 2012) in each category. The differences in survival rates were substantial—ranging from 10 percentage points for the smallest farms to about 6 percentage points for the largest. This chart is found in the March 2016 Amber Waves feature, “Local Foods and Farm Business Survival and Growth.”

States, Feds See High-Speed Data Infrastructure Key to Economic Growth

This week, the White House announced the ConnectAll Initiative, an effort to reform federal communications programs to focus on bringing more Americans online. The focus of this effort will be on lower-income families who often lack access to affordable service and the devices to make use of them. Under the proposed plan, low-income families could be eligible for a monthly broadband subsidy. Getting more people online is vital to the future of the American economy and to shared prosperity, according to the report released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in tandem with the White House announcement. Seeing the potential economic benefits, a number of states, including New York and Alabama, have recently made their own investments in Internet accessibility. Read more...

Several Universities Look to Unify Startup Investment Efforts to Support Regional, State Economic Prosperity

Over the last month, several universities have announced new initiatives that look to spur investments in startups to support economic growth and prosperity within their region or state. Four universities in North Carolina have announced the creation of the Triangle Venture Alliance to unify and coordinate the efforts across several angel capital groups including sourcing deals across participating alumni angel groups. In Indiana, Purdue University has combined all its efforts into a single entity making it easier for Purdue-affiliated startups to navigate the early stage investment process. Oregon State University and Rogue Venture Partners announced that it will raise up to $20 million (including $4 million from the university) to make equity-based investments to startups across the state. Read more...


WEBINAR: March 17, 2016 (2:00PM ET) – Is GroupGAP Right for You?

The AMS Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) will present a webinar on GroupGAP, an exciting new program is designed to make USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification program accessible for all growers.  AMS will begin accepting applications for the GroupGAP Program on April 3, 2016.  This, AMS’ second GroupGAP webinar, will focus on the specific requirements of the USDA GroupGAP Program, including:

  • Benefits of Group Certification
  • Implementing a Successful GroupGAP System
  • Creating a Quality Management System
  • Buyers’ Expectations

The webinar is free! Registration is required, and space is limited.


WEBINAR: March 17, 2016 (2:00PM ET) – Promoting Your Farm to School Program

You’ve put in so much hard work! Now, how do you promote your farm to school program to ensure student, school, and community engagement? Hear about programs that have successfully promoted farm to school programs while managing a tight budget. Chef Ann Cooper, Food Service Director for Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, joins us with tips and tricks for successful promotion. Registration is available online.

FY16 Second Chance Act Technology-based Career Training Grant Solicitation Webinar

Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 2 PM EDT
Sponsor: National Reentry Resource Center

Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Reentry Resource Center explain the grant program and application process. These grants will provide up to $750,000 for a 36-month project period to states, units of local government (including educational institutions considered to be units of state or local governments), territories, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments. The goal of this program is increase the post-release employability of the incarcerated population in technology-based jobs.

Register online for this free webinar.


Webinar To Discuss Outreach for Working with Gang-Involved Clients

Wednesday, March 16,2016, 2-3 PM EDT
Sponsors: National Gang Center and the National Training and Technical Assistance Center

The National Gang Center (NGC), OJJDP, and the National Training and Technical Assistance Center will present “Street Outreach and Law Enforcement Collaboration: Prioritizing Safety When Working With Gang Members.” This 1-hour webinar will focus on how to conduct street outreach when gang-involved clients are in danger. Presenters will examine the importance of building collaborative relationships among outreach staff, police, schools, and justice systems to develop crisis response and safety plans. The work of NGC and the Houston Mayor's Anti-Gang Office will be discussed. The National Gang Center is supported by OJJDP and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Register for this webinar.

Learn more about the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model for addressing communities' gang problems.

Access resources on juvenile gangs from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.


FY16 Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Mentoring Grant Solicitation Webinar

Thursday, March 17, 2016 2 PM EDT
Sponsor: National Reentry Resource Center

Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Reentry Resource Center explain the grant program and application process. These grants will provide up to $1,000,000 for a 36-month project period to nonprofit organizations (including tribal nonprofit organizations) with a documented history of administering comprehensive, evidence-based reentry services. The goal of this program is to promote more effective reentry incarcerated individuals through the utilization of comprehensive, evidence-based wraparound reentry plans. A core component is the involvement of trained mentors who support the participants’ preparation for release and help link them to programs and services in the community based on their needs.

Register for this webinar.

Suzette's Letter, March 4, 2016


Rural Gateway Peer-To-Peer Conference Call U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development’s Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) Funding Opportunity:  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 March 10, 2016, this call will offer participants the opportunity to learn about available activities through the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD). Call-in instructions and additional materials will be emailed to participants on March 9, 2016. The 60 minute call will include presentations and a Q&A session. Please RSVP by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than close of business on March 8, 2016. Please include your name and organization. If you have any questions, please call 1-877-RURAL-26 (1-877-787-2526).

USDA Rural Development’s Home Repair and Homeownership Programs 1-minute Video

Sharing this newly created 1-min outreach videos regarding  USDA Rural Development’s Home Repair and Homeownership Programs:  http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/single-family-housing-programs. Please share with your regional counterparts, disaster centers, and other partner organizations interested in accessing our loan programs that can support individuals and families in rural have a safe home. 


Challenges & Opportunities for Co-op Development in African American Communities

During the webinar Melbah shares insights into organizing co-ops in some of the poorest rural areas of the country.  She discusses challenges and opportunities for co-op development in African-American communities.  Always the visionary, Melbah will also speak about future possibilities for co-op development.

Web Link:  http://cc.readytalk.com/play?id=707n05


CDFI Fund Implements Annual Certification Report

The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) launched today a new mandatory Annual Certification Report for all certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).  The Annual Certification Report, which must be completed in the CDFI Fund’s Awards Management Information System (AMIS), will allow the CDFI Fund to annually assess certified CDFIs’ compliance with certification rules. The CDFI Fund has posted to its website’s https://www.cdfifund.gov/programs-training/certification/cdfi/Pages/reporting-step.aspx">Certification page instructions for completing the Annual Certification Report, along with a helpful glossary of terms.  These guidance documents can be found on http://www.cdfifund.gov/cdficert">www.cdfifund.gov/cdficert, under How to Apply Step 2: Reporting.   The CDFI Fund will host training webinars on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. ET and Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. ET to provide training for CDFIs that must report in April.  Access information for the webinars can be found on the CDFI Fund’s http://www.cdfifund.gov/cdficert">Certification website under How to Apply Step 2: Reporting.  Additional webinars will also be scheduled to assist CDFIs with later reporting dates. The CDFI Fund will release information about additional webinars when available. 

CDFA and USDA Launch Community Facilities Infrastructure Toolkit

The Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are excited to announce the release of the Community Facilities Infrastructure Toolkit (CFIT), a guide which was developed in collaboration over the past year. The CFIT contains best practices for planning, designing, developing and financing rural community facilities that can be used by nonprofits and public entities.  In order to further analyze the Toolkit, CDFA, in partnership with the USDA, is offering a complimentary education webinar to examine how conventional bank loans, bond financing, or state and federal grant and lending programs can be applied broadly across organizations regardless of project type or finance resources.

“Introducing a Food Access Survey” Training Webinar Hosted by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) Tuesday, March 15, 2:00-3:00pm ET

Join us for a webinar – part of the Michigan Good Food Charter Shared Measurement training series – that will provide an overview of a new food access survey tool and the associated Request for Applications (RFA) for piloting the tool.  If you are considering applying to participate in the pilot, this webinar will help you understand both the application and the pilot process better! You may also want to sign up if you just want to learn more about the pilot or are interested in using the survey tool in another context.

Courtney Pinard, Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, and Kathryn Colasanti, CRFS, will cover the following topics:

  • Dimensions of food access and associated measures
  • A walk-through of the new survey tool and where to access other tools
  • Tips on conducting surveys
  • An overview of the RFA to pilot the survey tool
  • Other opportunities to utilize the survey tool
  • Next steps in the shared measurement process

Register today at: https://msu.zoom.us/webinar/register/51c6c29056224a8866858a512be5123a. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. This webinar will be recorded and made available for later viewing on the CRFS website. Please pass on to others who may be interested. For questions or more information, please contact Kathryn Colasanti (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.


HUD's Office of Housing Counseling will discuss the FY16-17 NOFA for HUD’s Housing Counseling Training Grant Program in a webinar onMarch 2, 2016, 2:00-3:30 PM EST.

Speakers will cover changes to the application process including the new charts, funding methodology, the rating factors with information on specific charts, as well as submission requirements and other technical issues. Register for this webinar.

Branding Basics for Nonprofits

Tuesday, March 8, 2:00-3:00 pm ET | 11:00 am-12:00 pm PT

Ever wonder what makes a nonprofit's brand powerful? In this webinar, we'll show you how to lead a branding process and exercises to articulate your brand's most compelling attributes. Register Now»

Community Builders Webinar Series begins March 16, 2016, 2:00-3:00 PM EST,with “Cities Building Community Wealth”.

Sarah McKinley, Manager of Community Development Programs with the Democracy Collaborative, will present an emerging new way of doing community economic development. The work is place-based, fed by the power of anchor institutions, and built on locally rooted and broadly held ownership. Across the country, economic development professionals and mayors are working in partnership with foundations, anchor institutions, unions, community organizations, progressive business networks, workers, and community residents to implement strategies that build wealth and prosperity for everyone. Register for this webinar.

Now Available: Targeted Community Reinvestment: HUD’s Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program as a Financing Tool - 2016 Update Webinar

This webinar, held on February 10, 2016, describes how the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program (Section 108) can serve as an important financing tool in targeting reinvestment for economic development, public facilities and improvements, and housing rehabilitation. The loan guarantees can help recipients leverage limited public resources to catalyze investment in communities, especially those facing, among other challenges, persistent poverty and the need to increase community resilience following the impact of natural disasters.

Along with this information, the webinar explains recent rule changes that permit HUD to charge borrowers a one-time fee upon loan approval. The webinar also provides an overview of how Section 108 recipients should be using HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS) to track and disburse funds. Click the video to play the Targeted Community Reinvestment: HUD’s Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program as a Financing Tool - 2016 Update Webinar.


Low-education counties are mostly rural and concentrated in the South and Southwest

The proportion of adults lacking a high school diploma or equivalent declined in rural America (defined here as non-metro counties), from 32 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2014. The proportion of rural adults with college degrees also increased from 12 to 19 percent during that time. Despite these overall gains, educational attainment varies widely across rural areas. ERS’s latest county typology classifies low-education counties as those where at least one of every five working-age adults (age 25-64) has not completed high school. In an average of data over 2008-12, ERS identified 467 low-education counties in the United States, 367 of which were rural. Eight out of 10 of all low-education counties are located in the South. Three-fourths of rural low-education counties also qualified as low-employment in the latest ERS county typology. Over 40 percent of rural low-education counties were both low-employment and persistently poor, reflecting the difficulty that adults without high school diplomas have in finding and retaining jobs that pay enough to place them above the poverty line. This map is part of the ERS data product on County Typology Codes, released December 2015.

Gateses' Annual Letter Calls for Improved Energy Access, Gender Equity

In their latest annual letter (28 pages, PDF or HTML), Bill and Melinda Gates argue that persistent poverty is as much about the absence of resources as it is about lack of money. The Gateses' eighth annual letter is addressed, for the first time, to high school students, who, as the couple writes, will be the ones "solving these problems." One of the problems highlighted by the Gateses is access, or lack thereof, to energy, which, as Bill Gates notes in his half of the letter, affects 1.3 billion people — 18 percent of the world's population. "Without access to energy," he adds, "the poor are stuck in the dark, denied all of these benefits and opportunities that come with power." Using a mathematical equation, he then highlights the need for an "energy miracle" — the development and transition to efficient green technologies that will boost energy production while reducing carbon emissions. Indeed, Gates argues, access to affordable sources of clean energy will transform the lives of millions of the poorest families, enabling them to study, run businesses, and power local clinics and hospitals....

Foundation Transparency Focused on Grantmaking, Goals, Survey Finds

Foundations and their grantees believe what matters most in foundation transparency is information about the substance of a foundation's work rather than disclosures about its finances or governance, a report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy finds. Based on survey data from a hundred and forty-five foundation CEOs and more than fifteen thousand grantees, as well as a review of more than seventy foundation websites, the report, Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency (52 pages, PDF), found that foundations see grantees and potential grantees as the primary audiences for their transparency efforts, and that community foundations also see individual donors as a key audience. Funded in part by the Fund for Shared Insight, the report also found that foundations do well when it comes to sharing information about their grantmaking processes and goals and strategies, with nearly three-quarters of the foundation CEOs surveyed saying that being transparent about the foundation's goals could significantly increase the foundation's ability to be effective and 69 percent saying the same about strategies. At the same time, only 46 percent of foundation CEOs said their foundation was "very" or "extremely" transparent about what had or hadn't worked, even though 69 percent said it could significantly increase the effectiveness of their grantmaking....

Third Round Promise Zones Competition Update

Thank you for your interest in the final round of the Promise Zones competition.  HUD intends to designate five urban communities and USDA intends to designate one rural and one tribal community. Applications for Promise Zone designations will be reviewed by representatives from the federal agencies affiliated with the initiative. Announcements will be made in the Spring of 2016. Urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zone applicants were asked to put together a clear description of how the Promise Zone designation would accelerate and strengthen the community’s own efforts at comprehensive community revitalization. All Promise Zones will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone initiatives. Promise Zone designations will have a term of ten years and may be extended as necessary to capture the full term of availability of the Promise Zone tax incentives if enacted by Congress. For the Third Round Promise Zones competition, there were 82 applications submitted: 64 urban applicants, 11 rural applicants, and 7 tribal applicants. View the list of applicants. Join the mailing list to receive announcements and to follow the progress of the first and second round Promise Zones. More information is available on the Promise Zones website.

Princeton University has released a new report, "Rising Morbidity and Mortality in Midlife Among White Non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st Century”.

The report demonstrates the negative impact that economic hard times have on well-being. The report speaks to the importance of economic development that generates opportunities and prosperity for all. Download the report.

The Center for Housing Policy at the National Housing Conference released "Housing Landscape 2016".

The report reveals that more low- and moderate-income working households are renting as opposed to owning their homes, with the share of households who rent increasing from 50.8 percent to 52.6 percent from 2011 to 2014. Download the report.

A white paper from the Summit on Creativity and Aging in America is now available to download from the National Education Association website.

This event, which was hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Center for Creative Aging in May 2015, brought together more than 70 experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the fields of healthy aging, lifelong learning in the arts, and design for aging communities. Download the paper.  

Forbes Magazine published an article titled, "Report Illuminates Wealth-Creation Gap Among Small Business Owners". The report highlights wealth building differences for minority and women entrepreneurs, based on CFED's Asset and Opportunity Scorecard. Read the article

Nearly one-third of SNAP recipients obtain food from a food pantry

Both Federal and community food and nutrition assistance programs are important resources for low-income households and together make up the Nation’s nutrition safety net. In addition to receiving Federal food and nutrition assistance, some low-income households access community programs such as food pantries and emergency soup kitchens to cope with food hardships. In 2014, nearly one-third of low-income households (with incomes less than 185 percent of the poverty line) that reported receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits also used a food pantry. About 23 percent of low-income households that received free or reduced-price school lunches or Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food packages also used a food pantry. Among low-income households that did not receive SNAP, free or reduced-price school lunch, or WIC, 8 percent used a food pantry. Fewer low-income households ate meals at less commonly available emergency kitchens. In 2014, 3.2 percent of SNAP recipient households also ate a meal at an emergency kitchen. Emergency kitchen use is likely understated because the survey underlying these statistics does not include people who are homeless. The statistics for this chart are from Statistical Supplement to Household Food Security in the United States in 2014, AP-069, September 2015




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