9/21 UPDATE: New grant opportunities and more

New grant funding opportunities and resources for the S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone


logo_updateIn this update, you will find new information and recent news on a variety of topics, including:

COORDINATOR’S CORNER:  Dean Van Pelt outlines a recent $4 million Labor Department grant submitted through a Promise Zone collaboration.

RECENT NEWS:   Learn more about a new Bamberg business and a television chef who visited the area to push education.

COMING EVENTS:  The S.C. Association of Community Economic Development three meetings in the next few weeks to outline its new Healthy Insights project, which includes grant funding to make inroads against diabetes and obesity.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:  Learn about several community economic development and capacity-building grant opportunities that Promise Zone communities can take advantage of.

RESOURCES:  This section provides links to studies and stories on rural health, education and more.


Team applies for $4 million in labor funding

By Dean Van Pelt, S.C. Promise Zone Coordinator  |  The U.S. Department of Labor has made funds available for its Promise Job-driven Grant Program. This grant program is designed to create or expand regional partnerships between employers, economic development, workforce development, community colleges, training programs, K-12 education systems and community-based organizations that make a commitment – or a “promise” – to provide a pipeline of workers to fill existing job openings, meet existing employer needs for expansion, fuel the talent needs of entrepreneurs and attract more jobs.

Van Pelt

Van Pelt

The SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance (SCA), as the lead agency for the SC Promise Zone, assembled a team and applied for $4 million over four years.  Notifications of awards are anticipated later this calendar year.  The SCA-led team will facilitate the offering of middle- to high-skilled certificate and degree programs that are structured to meet the needs of the region’s employers. The grant provides funding tuition assistance, and the partners are expected to develop the types of innovative services necessary to ensure the participants are successful. The sectors we will serve are Advanced Manufacturing (including nuclear and engineering), Math and Computer Sciences,  Health Care (RN and LPN) and Education (teachers). USC-Salkehatchie, Denmark Technical College, Voorhees College, Technical College of the Lowcountry and USC-Beaufort are the initial educational institutions partnered with the two regional workforce boards, Apprenticeship Carolina and SCA’s Plant Manager/HR Association.

The only way we in the SC Promise Zone are going to ensure the economic prosperity of our residents is by J-O-B-S. This is why SouthernCarolina Alliance is leading this proposal to create a partnership between workforce agencies, higher education and our employer community.

“I don’t feel like I have a job. I have a career. A job is working fast food. A career is something you do with pride, something you can pass along to family members,” said Vonie Glaze.

Glaze is one of the welding graduates of the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training Program, a program that was led by SCA through the USDA and EDA’s Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant.  Glaze’s hard work and determination epitomizes the ethic that SCA has been able to create with the individuals who have been fortunate enough to participate in that employer-driven training. This proposal to fund middle- to high-skills training through America’s Promise Job-driven Grant Program represents a broader, regional application of the systemic approach SCA utilized to establish and achieve that program’s goals.

SouthernCarolina Alliance is committed to leading the partnership that will drive this project to success. Through the detailed job demands that our Plant Manager/HR Manufacturing Association have developed, with the workforce studies and data from external and workforce development board resources, we know what jobs are needed and the skills required to fill them. Expanding the capacity and capabilities of our educational partners is a challenge that we are committed to addressing. Then determining the right mix of support services, incentives and assessment to apply to the individuals seeking these jobs is essential. We are confident that the partners for this project can accomplish this.




Haley, Hitt to be at ribbon-cutting for Black Water Barrels.  Area leaders gathered today for the opening ceremonies of a new Bamberg cooperate.  Read more.

Chef Jeff visited the Promise Zone.  TV’s “Chef Jeff” Henderson visited Allendale and Barnwell County students last week to share his message of getting a good education to get ahead in life.  Read more.  |  Photo essay of Henderson’s visit.


Three meetings ahead for Healthy Insights initiative

As part of a $300,000 pilot project, the Data for Healthy Insights initiative is offering four $25,000 grants — one for each of the state’s four major regions — to partially fund projects to boost health.  If you want to learn more about the grant program, you can attend one of three remaining regional meetings — Sept. 29 in Florence, Oct. 4 in Summerville and Oct. 12 in West Columbia.

  • Click here to learn more and register.  Each meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served as part of the conversation.

A robust new data-driven website collaboration offers tools to help people visualize the huge problems that South Carolina faces related its high rates of obesity and diabetes.

The Data for Healthy Insights initiative, a collaboration between the S.C. Association of Community Economic Development, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Mitre Corporation, is a  robust new data-driven website collaboration offers tools to help people visualize the huge problems that South Carolina faces related its high rates of obesity and diabetes.

Here’s what the new web presence does in geek speak:  “Healthy Insights is an open-source based mapping tool that allows users to visualize, at a very local level, the population disease burden, health shaping factors, and resources in their community. With this information, users can begin a conversation among community leaders to generate and prioritize interventions and investment.”

Translated, that means the site, powered by huge spreadsheets of data on everything from median household income and rates of disease to locations of food deserts and junk food stores, uses maps and a friendly dashboard to help viewers see new connections between data sets, which is expected to lead to policy and programmatic initiatives to push to make the state healthier.

Why is this important?  Because focusing on and implementing solutions can save big money.  According to the site, “It is estimated that the state spends $1.2 billion on care of patients with conditions related to obesity.  If South Carolina would halt the increase in obesity, and simply maintain today’s levels, it would save the state approximately $3 billion by 2018.”

Rural Development webinars set for this month

September is “Rural Development Month” at the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) is holding a series of informational webinars to share success stories and best practices on how customers and partner organizations have used RBS programs and resources to support businesses in rural and Tribal communities.

Customers and stakeholders interested in learning more about RBS programs—and how customers have used our financing tools to support entrepreneurship—are encouraged to participate in this opportunity to engage with diverse partner organizations, ask questions, and learn more.  Of particular interest:

Sept. 22, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.:   Stronger Economies Together: Regional Planning & Business Development Success Stories

  • Facilitator: Hiwot Gebremariam, RBS Community Economic Development
  • Speakers: Larry Wright, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension; Janice Stroud-Bickes, USDA Rural Development in Virginia, Martha Walker, Virginia Tech University Cooperative Extension; Peggy Schlechter, South Dakota State University
  • Webinar/Audio: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/53wa6i1fghb4&eom

Sept. 27, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.:  Cooperatives as a Tool for Community Solutions

  • Facilitator: Margaret Bau, RBS Cooperative Programs, Co-op Basics
    • Converting existing businesses to employee ownership, Rob Brown, Cooperative Development Institute, Maine
    • Turning trailer parks into resident owned communities, Diane Gasaway, Northwest Cooperative Development Center, Washington:
    • From farmworkers to farm owners, John Flory, Latino Economic Development Center, Minnesota
    • Home care agencies as worker co-ops, Deborah Craig, Northwest Cooperative Development Center, Washington
    • When the last grocery store closes, Marnie Thompson, Fund 4 Democratic Communities, North Carolina
    • Webinar/Audio: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/7y7n5ugyh3ka&eom

Sept. 29, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.:  Local Food Financing and Cooperative Business Models


HOMELAND SECURITY:   $40M available to Support Cybersecurity Focused COEs, Free Cybersecurity Training for Vets

In August, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced over $40 million in available federal funding for a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Homeland Security Quantitative Analysis via two federal funding opportunities (FFO). The proposed COEs will conduct end user-focused research to enhance the application of analytic tools that support real-time decision making and address homeland security-related threats and hazards. DHS also announced that it will provide free cybersecurity training and certification prep courses to military veterans through a new partnership with Hire our Heroes– a nonprofit focused on providing workforce services to transitioning military members. Read more…

USDA:  Initiative to Provide Transitional Housing for Rural Americans in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an initiative that will use USDA’s rural development resources to help fill the need for transitional housing for people recovering from opioid and other substance use disorders. In January, President Obama tasked Vilsack, who is chair of the White House Rural Council, with leading a federal interagency effort focused on rural opioid use. The initiative is the result of a conversation Secretary Vilsack had in May in New Hampshire at the Hillsborough County Superior Court, where individuals involved with the state’s drug court program told him that a lack of access to affordable housing made it challenging for participants to successfully complete their recovery from addiction.

USDA: Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and new assistance for organic farmers

USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides financial and technical assistance to address agriculture conservation practices related to: drinking water protection, reducing soil erosion, preserving wildlife habitats, preserving/restoring forests/wetlands, and aiding farmers whose farms are damaged by natural disasters. USDA intends to help fund and assist organic farmers to establish 20,000 acres of new conservation buffers and other practices on and near their farms. Date: CRP continuous is ongoing.

WHITE HOUSE, more: Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools

Provides technical and financial support to install salad bars in schools. The initiative is jointly sponsored by United Fresh, the White House, the Center for Disease Control, and others. Dates: rolling application.

School Fruit and Veggie Grants

Purpose: Awards school projects that help kids learn about and eat more fruits and vegetables. Sponsored by Skoop and Chef Ann Foundation. Eligibility: Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Schools with greater than 50% free and reduced eligible enrollment encouraged to apply. Funding: $2500/school. Deadline: Available until funding is depleted.

USDA:  National School Lunch After School Snack Program 

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service offers funding for schools and residential child care institutions to provide after school snacks to low-income children who participate in the National School Lunch program.

  • Deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

NACO:     Rural Impact County Challenge: A National Effort to Combat Rural Child Poverty 

The National Association of Counties’ Rural Impact County Challenge will recognize and support counties making strides in reducing child poverty in rural communities. The challenge will provide educational opportunities, networking forums, and resources to develop and implement evidenced-based approaches to reduce the number of children and families living in poverty in rural areas.

  • Deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

USDA Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP)

  • Purpose:Provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDO’s) to provide microloans, training, and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and micro entrepreneurs.
  • Eligibility:See website.
  • Funding:Up to $205,000 annually (with 15% matching); loans up to $50,000-$500,000 for MDOs; loans up to $50,000 to ultimate recipients.
  • Deadline:Rolling (applications will be considered for next Federal fiscal quarter).

USDA Microloans (FSA)

  • Purpose:USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides financial assistance for small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm ownership or operations. Non-traditional farm operations can include truck farms, farms, direct marketing farmers, Community Supported Agriculture, restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic, and/or vertical growing methods.
  • Eligibility:Please see website.
  • Funding:Maximum of $50,000.
  • Deadline:


Affordable Care Act Gives New Farmers the Freedom to Farm

Provides a variety of affordable insurance plans specifically for rural Americans. An estimated eight out of ten may qualify for financial assistance to help pay for coverage.

Rural Students Face Barriers to College Access, Study Finds
Students from rural communities who want to attend college face unique challenges in their pursuit of higher education, a study from the University of Georgia finds. Conducted by Darris R. Means, an assistant professor in the university’s College of Education, the study included interviews with African-American students and staff members in a rural southeastern high school regarding their views of college and college access. While many students had parents who pushed them to go to college, that encouragement was tempered by a lack of resources. For instance, students felt they did not have access to academically rigorous classes or enough time with counselors who could help with the college admission process. They also felt constrained by pressure to attend a school closer to home for family reasons or felt out of place on campuses that lacked diversity. The study also found that in addition to geographic location, race plays a role in whether a student matriculates….

Prevalence of food insecurity in 2015 was lower than 2014, still above level before Great Recession

In 2015, 87.3 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 12.7 percent (15.8 million households) were food insecure; they had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure declined from 14.0 percent in 2014. Additionally, in 2015, 5.0 percent of U.S. households (6.3 million households) had very low food security. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. The rate, or prevalence, of very low food security in 2015 declined significantly from that in 2014 (5.6 percent). The 2015 declines in food insecurity and very low food security prevalence were the largest year-to-year changes in these rates since the two rates rose in 2008.


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