4/4 UPDATE: Coming webinar, workshop, opportunities

New 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:

  • April 6 webinar on Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program: See our COMING EVENTS section at the bottom of this page to learn how to join an April 6 webinar of an overview about this program.
  • New Markets Tax Credit workshop in Charleston: Learn how to register for an April 28 workshop in Charleston that provides information about the New Markets Tax Credit and how South Carolinians can access those funds.  See our COMING EVENTS  section below.
  • Opportunities to get AmeriCorps volunteers in your community: Read below in NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES about how your community can get a team of young people to volunteer to strengthen your community.


Federal officials, others meet here to secure better broadband Internet

More than 30 local, state, federal and corporate officials met this month to discuss how to develop more broadband Internet access and service throughout the six counties of the S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone.

Promise Zone partners get $246,140 in grants

  • The S.C. Regional Housing Authority #3, a Promise Zone partner based in Barnwell, won a $156,411 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist agencies to hire or retain service coordinators to help residents achieve economic and housing independence.
  • South Carolina’s office of the Center for Community and Economic Development United, Inc. (CCEDU), won a grant worth $89,729 from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to serve the state’s Promise Zone counties to build the capacity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs to meet the needs of families.

Black:  Let’s transform our region by working together

SouthernCarolina Alliance President and CEO Danny Black offered an opinion piece that was published by several area newspapers that outlined the Promise Zone’s new strategic plan, announced at the beginning of March.  An excerpt:

“We’ve identified game-changing projects in the Promise Zone that will transform our region if we continue to work together to use the blessings offered by the designation.  But we’ve got to put in the time to do the work together. By focusing on the goals of this plan, we can reduce poverty. We can create more jobs. We can improve education. We can reduce crime. And we can build more opportunities for all of our citizens.”


AMERICORPS:  Proposals accepted for projects for volunteers for your community

Deadline for a Project Concept Form:  April 25, 2016

What could a team of highly motivated and energized volunteers accomplish for my community and organization in 4-8 weeks?    AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a team-based volunteer service program for young people ages 18–24. The mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is to strengthen communities through the volunteer service of our teams. Our NCCC teams complete service projects to address community needs in collaboration with diverse partners across our 11-state Southern Region. Community partners include non-profits (both faith based and secular), local municipalities, state and federal agencies, national and state parks, Indian Tribes and schools. To learn more, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-nccc

  • Click here to learn more about the 2016 Request for Proposals (RFP)  process that contains more information about the program and how your organization could host a team to address needs in your community.
  • If your organization or an organization you know is interested in hosting an NCCC team to address needs in your community during Round 1 (August 16th to October 14th), please submit the Project Concept Form (also attached to this email) by April 25, 2016. You can apply for as little as a few weeks, or for as long as 8 weeks. For more information or to submit a concept form, please contact Rachel Turner at RTurner@cns.gov or 601-630-4069.

HHS:   Community Economic Development Healthy Food Financing Initiative Projects

Deadline: April 27, 2016

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Community Services (OCS) will award up to $9.5 million in Community Economic Development (CED) discretionary grant funds to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for community-based efforts to improve the economic and physical health of people in areas designated as food deserts. OCS seeks to fund projects that implement strategies to increase healthy food access, foster self-sufficiency for low-income families, and create sustained employment opportunities in low-income communities. To do this, the CED-HFFI program will provide technical and financial assistance for healthy food ventures designed to: (1) improve access to, and purchase and consumption of healthy, affordable foods; and (2) address the economic needs of individuals and families with low-income through the creation of employment and business opportunities in low-income communities.

HHS:  Community Economic Development Projects

Deadline: April 27, 2016

Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Community and Economic Development (CED) program, administered by the Office of Community Services (OCS) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), will provide up to $17.7 million in grants ($800,000 maximum per project) to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for projects designed to address the economic needs of individuals and families with low-income through the creation of employment and business opportunities.  For more information, please refer to pages 51 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

USDA:  $260 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of up to $260 million for partner proposals to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. The funding is being made available through USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) innovative Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and applicants must be able to match the federal award with private or local funds. Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP investments of nearly $600 million have already driven 199 partner-led projects. The program leverages local leadership to establish partnerships that can include private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profits and other non-government partners to work with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners on landscape- and watershed-scale conservation solutions that work best for their region. This will be the third round of funding through RCPP, helping USDA build on record enrollment in all voluntary conservation programs, with more than 500,000 producers participating to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.

TRANSPORTATION:  TIGER Discretionary Grants
Deadline:  April 29, 2016

Awards grants for transportation projects that better connect communities to centers of employment, education, and services and that hold promise to stimulate long-term job growth, especially in economically distressed areas. Applications may include linkages between transportation improvements, including walking and bike trails, and overall community wellness, health, and livability.

USDA:  Household Water Well System Grants
Deadline:  May 9, 2016

Provides funds to create lending programs for homeowners to borrow funds for the construction or repair of household water wells.  Sponsored by the USDA Rural Utilities Service

USDA:  Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP)
Deadline:  May 12, 2016

Offers grants to projects that assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community‐supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer‐to‐consumer market opportunities.  Sponsor:  USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

USDA:  Applications sought for loans, grants to help grow rural businesses; spur economic development

Deadline:  June 30, 2016

Rural Business Cooperative-Service Administrator Sam Rikkers announces USDA is seeking applications for loans and grants to help support the start-up or expansion of rural businesses.  The funding is being provided through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. Under this program, USDA provides zero-interest loans and grants to local utilities, which use the funding to create revolving funds for projects that will create or retain jobs in rural areas. USDA is making $37 million in loans and $11 million in grants available. A recipient may receive a loan of up to $1 million, or a grant of up to $300,000.


TRANSPORTATION:  Credit Availability for Infrastructure Projects

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the availability of credit assistance for critical infrastructure projects across the country through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. Secretary Foxx encouraged states and cities across the country to submit letters of interest for direct loans, loan guarantees, and standby lines of credit through TIFIA as a result of the recently enacted Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).

USDA:  Stakeholder Announcement $62 Million in Grant Funding Available to Assist the Specialty Crop Industry

Deadline: July 6, 2016.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is making more than $62 million in grant funding available to support specialty crop producers through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP).  SCBGP grants are allocated to U.S. states and territories for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research and other programs to increase demand. Those interested in applying should do so directly through their state departments of agriculture, which administer a competitive grant process.  A listing of the SCBGP’s state contacts, and how to apply with state application due dates, can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp.  State departments of agriculture must submit their applications to AMS by July 6, 2016.

RWJ Foundation:  What’s Working to Help Kids Across America Eat Healthy?

Deadline:  Aug.  3, 2016

RWJF announces $2.6 million in funding to support the Healthy Eating Research program which is one of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s national programs that builds evidence to guide their work in addressing obesity among children. Highlights how research in this area helps address challenges to securing nutritional and healthy foods for children within rural, American Indian, and Asian/Pacific Islander populations.

Home Depot:  Community Impact Facility Grants

Deadline: Dec. 31, 2016.

Community Impact Grants Program provides support to nonprofit organizations and public service agencies in the U.S. that are using volunteers to improve the physical health of their communities. Proposals for the following community improvement activities will be considered: repairs, refurbishments, and modifications to low-income or transitional veteran’s housing or community facilities (schools, community centers, senior centers, etc.); weatherizing or increasing energy efficiency of low-income or transitional veteran’s housing or community facilities; engaging veterans as volunteers to help other veterans in their community through service projects focusing on the renovation, repair, and improvement of homes and other properties serving veterans; and planting trees or community gardens or landscaping community facilities that serve veterans.

MORE GRANTS:  Click here to find recently-announced grant openings


APRIL 6 webinar:  Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Overview.

You can get an overview of USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program in a special two-hour webinar at 2 p.m. on April 6, 2016.

APRIL 28:  New Markets Tax Credit workshop to be held in Charleston

Greenville New Markets Opportunity (GNMO) II and its partners are hosting a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) workshop in Charleston on April 28.    In addition to information about the basics of NMTC financing, and how to access those funds in South Carolina, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of closing a transaction from both the bank lending partner and the borrower perspectives.  The format will be small group and conversational, with a particular focus on the recently closed Limehouse Produce transaction in North Charleston.

  • Click here to see the invitation. To register, contact molly@smoakpr.com or by hitting the Register Today button on the invitation, which will take you to Eventbrite.

SBA:  Webinars | Affordable Care Act 101

The U.S. Small Business Administration  and Small Business Majority will host free Affordable Care Act 101 webinars so small business owners can learn the basics of the Affordable Care Act and how they can enroll in health insurance marketplaces. The webinars begin at 2pm ET.

April 14  Register now

April 28 Register now 

USDA:  Webinars for Local Food Systems Grant Applicants, $26 Million Now Available in Grant Funding

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is making over $26 million in grant funding available to strengthen local and regional food systems through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and hosting a series of webinars to help farmers markets, producers groups, and other potential applicants with the grant process. Administered by AMS, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program provides a combined total of over $26 million in competitive grants, divided equally between the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP).  FMPP grants support direct producer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agritourism.  LFPP funding supports projects that develop, improve, and expand local and regional food business intermediary supply chain activities, including processing, distribution, aggregation, and storage of locally- or regionally-produced food products.


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.

CDFA and USDA Launch Community Facilities Infrastructure Toolkit

The Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have announced 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.


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