10/27 UPDATE: News and new grant opportunities

News and 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:

NEWS  Town halls are coming up in Nov. in Allendale, Barnwell and Hampton counties.  A Promise Zone team attended a national leadership training conference in Ohio.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES Learn about lots of funding opportunities – from an extended deadline for a state health grant to federal grants to other grants.

COMING EVENTS: There are a host of coming webinars with good information.

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


Town halls to be held in November in Allendale, Barnwell, Hampton counties

Five dozen attended recent meetings in Ridgeland, Walterboro and Bamberg

15.0624.map_1000Town hall meetings with Promise zone supporters, partners and organizations are being scheduled for November to share updates about the activity occurring throughout the six-county Promise Zone area and get input on options for entrepreneurial training classes next year.

Town hall meetings tentatively are scheduled to be held Nov. 16 in Barnwell, Nov. 17 in Allendale and Nov. 21 in Hampton.  More details will be available about times and locations next week.

More than five dozen people attended similar meetings in October in Ridgeland, Walterboro and Bamberg.  Promise Zone coordinator Dean Van Pelt told attendees at that the Promise Zone program has yielded applications for funding totaling more than $53 million over the last year, including a recent application for a $24 million Promise Neighborhood grant and $4 million in funding from the Department of Labor for training.  Since last year, federal agencies have awarded about $14 million in funds throughout the six-county area.

Promise Zone team attends national conference in Ohio

A seven-member team from Allendale and Hampton counties attended a national leadership training course from Oct. 20-23 to help them learn strategies to build stronger communities.

logo_nwThe training offered by NeighborWorks America in Columbus, Ohio, attracted more than 1,000 people from across the country, said team leader Andy Brack, president of the Center for a Better South.

“This was a phenomenal honor and opportunity for members of the team to learn leadership and economic development lessons from national experts and bring lessons home to implement,” Brack said.

Varnville consultant Larry Crapse said he learned more about the importance of commitment, focus, organization and follow-up when working with community projects.

“These elements are essential for success of any project,” he said.  “They can help get Promise Zone projects off the ground and keep them structured and managed effectively.”

Allendale resident Dorothy Riley said she learned to improve leadership skills at the conference.

“In today’s business arena, challenges can arise at any time, and to be an effective leader, you need to be able to respond to those challenges with intelligence and expertise.”

Other team members were Allendale resident Georgia S. Cohen, Michelle Knight of the Lowcountry Council of Governments, Allendale County Alive executive director Shekinah Washington and Nikki Williams, executive vice president of EdVenture children’s museum in Columbia.

The team’s state sponsor is the S.C. Association of Community Economic Development, based in Charleston.  The Center is a member of SCACED, which also is a NeighborWorks partner.

“SCACED is excited about the partnership with our member and the leadership it is taking in the Promise Zone,” said SCACED President and CEO Bernie Mazyck.  “This delegation is designed to represent South Carolina and bring some of the best practices in community economic development back to South Carolina.”


Healthy Insights grant application period extended through Nov. 4

16-10-healthyinsightsThere is more time to develop grant applications for up to $25,000 to promote health in each of South Carolina’s four regions, according to the Healthy Insights collaborative being managed by the S.C. Association for Community Economic Development.

  • The deadline has been extended to 2 p.m., Nov. 4, 2016.  Learn more.

The match funding requirement has been lowered to a 1:1 match, which means that a $25,000 grant would require a minimum of a $25,000 match.  However, in-kind funding, such as staff time and volunteer hours, can be used to satisfy 50 percent of the match requirement.  Grant partners also may contribute resources to the project that count toward in-kind match funding, such as event space and staff time.)

USDA:  Strategic Economic and Community Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is excited to share a new Rural Development funding opportunity authorized by Section 6025 of the 2014 Farm Bill. This new authority entitled Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) prioritizes projects that support the implementation of multi-jurisdictional plans under the Community Facilities ProgramWater and Waste Disposal ProgramBusiness and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, and Rural Business Development Grant Program.

Under this provision, up to 10 percent of each programs annual appropriations can be set aside and made available to eligible SECD applicants. Many communities already working together to develop multi-jurisdictional plans with the help of strategic partners including non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, university extensions, regional authorities, coalitions of counties/towns and federal special initiative coalitions such as: Stronger Economies Together, Promise Zones, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnerships, Sustainable Communities, and Local Food, Local Places.

The goal of SECD is to promote collaboration in rural communities and across Rural Development agencies and programs. Communities are incentivized to align resources, develop long-term community and economic growth strategies and engage federal, state and local partners. By promoting this regional focus USDA resources can be more effectively utilized and have a larger impact on rural capacity building and wealth creation.

EPA:  Apply for Technical Assistance to Create Walkable, Healthy, Vibrant Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites communities to apply for technical assistance through three programs that create economic opportunities, make neighborhoods more walkable, help people live healthier lives, and revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods.

  • Deadline:11:59 p.m. EST on  Nov. 6, 2016.

How to apply: Submit a completed application and optional letters of support (see each program’s application for specific instructions).

  1. Local Foods, Local Places helps communities create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant neighborhoods through the development of local food systems. This initiative is supported by EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority. Learn how to apply for the Local Foods, Local Places Program
  2. Cool & Connected helps small towns use broadband service to revitalize small-town main streets and promote economic development. The initiative is supported by EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service, and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Learn
  3. Healthy Places for Healthy People is a new program to help communities partner with community health centers (including Federally Qualified Health Centers), nonprofit hospitals, and other health care facilities to create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant places. The program is supported by EPA and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Under this program, communities will receive planning assistance to develop action plans focusing on health as an economic driver and catalyst for downtown and neighborhood revitalization. Healthy Places for Healthy People will focus on communities that are economically challenged, including those in rural Appalachia. Learn how to apply for the Healthy Places for Healthy People Program

USDA:  Streamlined Guaranteed Loans and Additional Lender Category for Small-Scale Operators

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of a streamlined version of USDA guaranteed loans, which are tailored for smaller scale farms and urban producers. The program, called EZ Guarantee Loans, uses a simplified application process to help beginning, small, underserved and family farmers and ranchers apply for loans of up to $100,000 from USDA-approved lenders to purchase farmland or finance agricultural operations. USDA also unveiled a new category of lenders that will join traditional lenders, such as banks and credit unions, in offering USDA EZ Guarantee Loans. Microlenders, which include Community Development Financial Institutions and Rural Rehabilitation Corporations, will be able to offer their customers up to $50,000 of EZ Guaranteed Loans, helping to reach urban areas and underserved producers. Banks, credit unions and other traditional USDA-approved leaners, can offer customers up to $100,000 to help with agricultural operation costs.

USDA:  Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grants

The program funds systems-based research and extension activities to accelerate science-based solutions and new technology for the specialty crop industry. 

  • Eligibility:Land grant institutions, for-profit organizations including small businesses, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher ed, state agricultural experiment stations. 
  • Funding:$48.1 million in total funding (100% match required). 
  • Deadline: Nov. 15, 2016.

HRSA:  Rural Health Network Development Grant Program (RHND)

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy  offers grants for healthcare networks in rural areas to assist with increasing access to and improve the quality of healthcare services.

  • Application Deadline: Nov. 28, 2016

USDA:   Community Food Projects Grants

Project and planning grants are available to fund projects that improve access to food and/or participation in Federally assisted nutrition programs for low-income individuals. 

  • Eligibility: Public food program service providers, tribal organizations, or private nonprofit organizations. Please see RFA. Funding: $8.6 million in total grants; 100% match required.
  • Deadline: Nov. 30, 2016.

HUD:  Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Community Selection

As part of the Continuum of Care program, HUD will select up to 10 communities to participate in the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) to develop and execute a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness. Four of the selected communities will be rural. Applicants must be a collaborative registered through the 2016 Continuum of Care Program.

  • Application Deadline:Nov 30, 2016

USDA:  Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program

The program funds project providing training, education, outreach, and mentoring programs to enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. Priority given to veterans, socially disadvantaged and women farmers or ranchers. 

  • Eligibility:Collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based networks or partnership of qualified public and/or private organizations.
  • Funding:$17.7 million total. A 25% match is required.
  • Deadline: Dec. 8, 2016

USDA:  Farm to School Grants

The program funds projects that improve access to local foods in schools. Priority funding is given to projects that: are submitted by state agencies, involve specific FNS programs (like CACFP or Summer Meals), collaborate with service programs, serve high-poverty communities, involve innovative strategies, or impact multiple schools. 

  • Eligibility:Schools, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations. 
  • Funding:$5 million in grants. 
  • Deadline:  Dec. 8, 2016. 

USDA:  Apply for next round of Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of up to $16.7 million in competitive grant funding to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by families and households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The funding will be awarded to eligible nonprofits and governmental organizations through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program, administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

  • Applications are due by Dec. 12, 2016.

USDA:  Solid Waste Management Grant Program (SWMFY2017)

Offers funds to organizations to provide technical assistance that will reduce or eliminate pollution of water resources in rural areas and improve planning and management of solid waste sites in rural areas.

  • Application Deadline:Dec 31, 2016

USDA:   Water and Waste Disposal Technical Assistance and Training Grants

Offers grants for organizations that assist communities with water or wastewater operations through technical assistance and/or training.

  • Application Deadline:Dec 31, 2016

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.

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: Ongoing


Laura Jane Musser Fund: Rural Initiative Program

  • Purpose:Funds projects in rural communities for economic development, business preservation, arts/humanities, public space improvements, and education.
  • Eligibility: Government or nonprofit entities in communities with fewer than 10,000 people.
  • Funding:Planning (<$5000); Implementation (<$25,000).
  • Deadline: Nov. 2, 2016. 

Culture of Health Prize (RWJF)

  • Purpose:Recognizes standout communities that are addressing broad health needs in education, employment, family/social support, and community safety.
  • Eligibility:Cities and towns/incorporated places and federally recognized tribes. 
  • Funding:$25,000. 
  • Deadline: Nov. 3, 2017. 

Safer School Garden Grant (Safer Brand)

  • Purpose:Provides funding to start a school garden to help students be more active, be more environmentally-conscious, and build healthy eating habits. 
  • Eligibility:Schools that are not past winners.
  • Funding:$500 grant. 
  • Deadline: Dec. 1, 2016.

Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries Accepting School Library Grant Applications

  • DEADLINE: Dec. 12, 2016
  • Grants of up to $7,000 will be awarded to help school libraries expand, update, and diversify their book collections….

CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation Invites Applications for Teacher Technology Grants

  • DEADLINE: Dec. 12, 2017
  • Grants will be awarded to K-12 teachers to help fund classroom projects that advance student success through the innovative use of technology….

Bush Foundation Accepting Applications for Community Innovation Grant Program

  • Grants of up to $200,000 will be awarded in support of inclusive, collaborative projects that use community assets to address a community need or opportunity….

NEA, Kresge:   Creative Placemaking Program

The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, has announced the launch of a technical assistance program for the creative placemaking field. Through the program, Kresge and the NEA will collaborate with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the National Creative Placemaking Program, and PolicyLink to provide fourteen organizations and their partners with specialized technical assistance aimed at building each organization’s capacity to lead placemaking projects that result in positive short- and long-term outcomes for their community. The program also will work to clarify standard practices in creative placemaking by sharing lessons learned and will inform future funding practices for NEA’s Our Town program and Kresge’s own investments in the field.

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.


For new farmers:  Applicant Process Webinar Nov. 16, 2016 | 1-2:00 PM (EST)

This webinar is hosted by the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project as part of a BFRDP Education Enhancement Team.  There are resources and tools to support inexperienced applicants with the application process.

  • Visit New Entry’s BFRDP Assistance Page athttps://nesfp.org/BFRDP for more information and assistance from this project.

Webinar Series Will Get You Ready and Set to “GO” on a Community Food Sovereignty Assessment

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has scheduled a new series of four free First Nations Knowledge webinars that will help Native organizations and tribal communities get ready and set to “GO” on conducting a Community Food Sovereignty Assessment, with the last in the series focusing on moving forward with action planning after the assessment. Please register for each webinar individually:

  • Nov. 15, 2016@ 1:00 p.m. MST 
    “Set! Designing your Community Food Sovereignty Assessment”

    Identifying priority issues for focus in the CFSA; designing the assessment tools, methods and questions; publicizing the work and setting up logistics for success. An organization or tribe will share experiences and best practices. Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7049058483607326210
  • Dec. 13, 2016@ 1:00 p.m. MST
    “Go! Conducting Your Community Food Sovereignty Assessment”

    Conducting the assessment; analyzing the data; dissemination and confidentiality of data; how to use data for strategic/project planning and grant proposals; how to use data for policy development. An organization or tribe will share experiences and best practices. Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3422440325667269378
  • Jan. 17, 2017@ 1:00 p.m. MST
    “Moving Forward! Community-Based Policy and Action Plans”

    Developing action plans from the CFSA data; experience gained through community engagement during the CFSA. This webinar will highlight success stories from two organizations or tribes.  Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2798412501323018754


Growing Rural Economies and Opportunities through Social Media

From Facebook to Snapchat, rural businesses are exploring how to use social media to improve their customer’s experience and expand their customer base. Over the last eight years, USDA and the Obama Administration have partnered with rural communities to build more opportunities that support rural small business owners, farmers and ranchers through applied research.

Food insecurity fell in 2015 for minority-headed households and households with children

The prevalence of food insecurity in the United States declined from 14.0 percent of households in 2014 to 12.7 percent of households in 2015. Some types of households saw greater declines than others. Food insecurity for both Non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics dropped from 2014 to 2015: the former declined from 26.1 to 21.5 percent, while the latter from 22.4 to 19.1 percent. Households with children younger than 18 saw a significant decline in food insecurity—from 19.2 percent in 2014 to 16.6 percent in 2015. Among these households, those headed by single mothers saw their food insecurity prevalence drop from 35.3 percent to 30.3 percent. The prevalence of food insecurity for households with children under 6 years old dropped from 19.9 to 16.9 percent as well.

Pew Research Highlights State of American Jobs, Skills

The majority of Americans say new skills and training are critical to their future job success and to remain competitive in changing workplaces, according to a new report issued by the Pew Research Center in association with the Markle Foundation. This was particularly true for individuals working in STEM occupations, where roughly two-thirds of employed adults responded that ongoing training and skills development would be essential to their development. The State of American Jobs combines an analysis of government economic data with a survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted during the summer of 2016. The report includes: analysis on trends in job and wage growth by occupations; public assessments of the job situation and worker readiness; views on job satisfaction; the types of skills required for work; and, public views about the value of college education. Read more…


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