5/31 UPDATE: News, grant opportunities, webinars, more

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


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

RECENT NEWS:   A Promise Zone partner will host a training session on community development on July 13; MUSC is a new Promise Zone partner; and the SouthernCarolina Alliance celebrates 20 years of bringing good jobs to the region.

NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: The state of South Carolina has $4 million for new housing initiatives.  The federal government has $300 million for strategic economic and community development.

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES:  Read about five other funding opportunities with deadlines approaching.

COMING EVENTS:  Learn how to join a webinar to highlight tools to help fundraising.

RESOURCES:  There’s a great PowerPoint presentation on the recreational economy and how USDA-Rural Development offices are working to promote it.  This section includes a lot of other recent articles and studies that support Promise Zone activities.


Community development session scheduled for July 13

The S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone will host a training session on July 13 for people interested in learning more about community development.

The S.C. Association for Community Economic Development is planning the training event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a location to be determined.  The session, called “Engaging Strategic Partners in Community Development,” will feature trainer Robert Cooke and his team from the Southeast Georgia United Empowerment Zone Inc.

The training will focus on how rural municipalities can develop their communities and improve their economies.  In addition to presentations and facilitated discussions on building connections among local governments and other partners, the day-long event will feature development by participants of basic action plans to allow them to take the next steps for community development in their communities.

We will provide registration and location information as it becomes available.

MUSC department becomes Promise Zone partner

Welcome to the newest partner for the S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone — the Medical University of South Carolina’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

The recently-created department, which will participate in the Promise Zone’s Healthcare workgroup, evolved from the former Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Epidemiology, which has been around since 1968.  According to the department’s website, “We have faculty working on biostatistical methods development; clinical trials; epidemiology of cancer, diabetes, psychiatry, neurosciences, rheumatologic disorders, and infectious diseases; health disparities; community outreach; and health services.”

SouthernCarolina Alliance celebrates 20th anniversary

More than 250 people attended a 20th anniversary celebration for the SouthernCarolina Alliance, the lead organization for the Promise Zone, on May 26 at USC-Salkehatchie in Allendale.  Guests heard about dozens of business successes over the last 20 years as Alliance officials shared the organization’s history and mission.  In the last two decades, the Alliance has recruited more than $1 billion of business investment, which has generated more than 4,000 jobs.


HOUSING:  State announces $4 million funding initiative

Deadline:  June 30, 2016

SC Housing has announced  that approximately $4 million in funding is available for Round 2 of the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP).  The goal of NIP is to stabilize property values through the removal of blighted and abandoned properties in strategically targeted areas, in an effort to prevent future foreclosures for existing property owners.  NIP will assist communities by stemming the decline of home values and acting as a catalyst to initiate redevelopment and revitalization in areas suffering from blight and decline.  Demolition of blighted and abandoned properties will have a positive effect on preserving existing neighborhoods.  NIP is a joint venture of the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority and the SC Housing Corp., a not-for profit corporation.  NIP is made possible by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Interested applicants should review the program Guidelines, Request for Proposals, and the Application documents for information on how to apply for funding.  Program information has been posted on SC Housing’s website at the link provided below.

USDA:  $300 million for Strategic Economic and Community Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Rural Develop funding authority is entitled “Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD).”  It prioritizes projects that support the implementation of multi-jurisdictional plans under the Community Facilities Program, Water and Waste Disposal Program, Business 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—in FY 2016, SECD has set aside over $300 million.  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.

Pediatrics:  Community Access to Child Health Seeks Applications for Community Health Programs

Deadline:  July 29, 2016

Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to support pediatricians in the planning or implementation of innovative community-based child health initiatives designed to ensure that all children have access to healthcare services not otherwise available in their community.  Of particular emphasis:  medical home access and immunization services.


HHS:  Health Center Program New Access Point

Two-tier application process with phase 1 deadline set for June 17, 2016

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to improve the health of the Nation’s underserved communities and vulnerable populations by increasing access to comprehensive, culturally competent, quality primary health care services.  NAP funding provides operational support for new primary health care service delivery sites (i.e., new access points). A new access point is a new service delivery site for the provision of comprehensive health care services. Applicants must propose at least one full-time, permanent new access point site that has primary medical care as its main purpose.

Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, HRSA anticipates awarding approximately $50 million to support an estimated 75 New Access Point awards in Fiscal Year 2017. The maximum annual funding that can be requested in a NAP application is $650,000.

Eligible Applicants:  Organizations eligible to compete for NAP funds include public or nonprofit private entities, including tribal, faith-based, and community-based organizations. Applications may be submitted from new organizations or from existing award recipients to expand their network of service delivery sites to serve new underserved populations. See Section III in the NAP funding opportunity announcement for the full list of eligibility criteria.

TREASURY:  Low-income Taxpayer Clinic Grant program

Deadline:  June 20, 2016

The Department of Treasury is seeking applications for the 2017 Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) grant program.  The LITC program provides matching grants of up to $100,000 per year to qualifying organizations to represent low income taxpayers in disputes with the IRS and to educate persons who speak English as a second language (ESL) about their rights and responsibilities as U.S. taxpayers. LITC services must be provided free or for a nominal fee.

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.

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.

USDA:  Applications sought to Fund Rural Broadband

Deadline:  July 7, 2016

USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Brandon McBride today announced that the Department is accepting applications for loans to bring broadband to underserved rural areas. The funding is from the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. The minimum loan amount is $100,000. The maximum is $10 million. The deadline to apply is July 7, 2016. For additional information, see Page 20614 of the April 8 Federal Register. In addition to the availability of funding, McBride also announced that USDA is implementing several improvements to the Broadband program. One of these improvements is faster Internet speeds. Loan applicants must design broadband systems with speeds of 10 megabits downstream and 1 megabit upstream. For additional details, see Page 45397 of the July 30, 2015 Federal Register.

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


AGORA:  Webinar to highlight tools to help fundraising

WHEN:  June 14, 2 p.m. 

Agora provides many tools to help manage the fundraising process for both communities and funders that span the public, private and philanthropic sectors.  This is an opportunity to learn more about the Agora platform and how it has benefitted our Stronger Economies Together (SET) Region in OR/WA.  Folks invited to join this demonstration are colleagues who manage and support the following initiatives:   SET, Promise Zones, and Tribal Regions.  Other staff invited are those who support the delivery of various USDA Rural Development programs.  For more information about Agora, visit  http://www.agora-platform.com.

  • Join the meeting: https://join.me/zanbatodemo
  • Join the audio conference: Dial a phone number and enter access code, or connect via internet. By phone:
    United States – Washington, DC +1.202.602.1295 | Access Code 361-995-733#


USDA:  PowerPoint with great information about the recreational economy

You can find examples of how your organization can use USDA-Rural Development resources to expand in this sector, particularly in emerging fields of renewable energy, broadband and recreation.

Topics covered in the PowerPoint presentation include a discussion of USDA’s rural development mission, what it is doing in the recreational economy field, its target communities, available technical assistance and financing, and how to move forward to boost the recreational economy.

Income Inequality: A Growing Threat to Eliminating Rural Child Poverty

No child in this country should grow up in poverty.  And as a new analysis by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) makes clear, to end that injustice we must do more to tackle growing income inequality.  The study found that rising income inequality explains an overwhelming 93 percent of the increase in rural child poverty between 2003 and 2014.  As the report notes, income inequality was considerably higher in 2014 than in 2003 in both urban and rural areas.  Over the past seven years, USDA and the Obama Administration’s work to bring economic opportunity to rural America has produced concrete results: rural areas are seeing income growth; two-thirds of rural communities have demonstrated job growth; and for the first time in years, rural areas are gaining population rather than losing residents.  But this new research on the pervasive effects of income inequality underscores that broader Administration priorities, like raising the minimum wage, must be part of any comprehensive approach to rural poverty.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food May 2016 Newsletter

With the warmer weather, the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative also brings warm greetings and many exciting announcements. At USDA, we just wrapped up KYF2/Organics Month, during which we launched a number of new local and regional food system activities and also enhanced our existing resources. The Department kicked off the month by publishing the latest installment of our Results project, summarizing the major achievements we’ve made on local and regional food systems since the founding of KYF2 in 2009.  And we launched a brand new version of our website.

New Tools Bring Lenders to the Table for Local, Regional Food Enterprises

USDA has joined forces with Wholesome Wave, a national non-profit working to increase affordable access to local produce, to offer free online interactive training to help funders of all stripes better understand what these food businesses have to offer the bottom line. We’ve already begun training USDA staff at all levels, and now we’re making the free online training available to the public so funders and investors everywhere can learn more, on their own time and pace, about this emerging business sector. The online training entitled, What’s the Big Deal? Assessing and Financing Regional Food Enterprises, helps funders and investors better understand and assess regional food businesses by providing an introduction to the food sector and regional food enterprises, a framework for conducting due diligence and a case study exercise to practice assessment. The training also introduces “capital stacking,” by which multiple funders, from private philanthropy, mission-oriented lenders, traditional lenders and public or government programs, use different models and levels of risk-tolerance to meet the capital needs of regional food businesses need.

ULI: Creative Finance for Smaller Communities

The Urban Land Institute provides a series of case studies that illustrate how communities have used P3s and other financing mechanisms to improve the appearance and functionality of their infrastructure.

CDFA RLF Resource Center

The CDFA Revolving Loan Fund Resource Center contains lists of federal, state and local RLF programs, as well as detailed information on how to capitalize and operate new RLF programs.

Weighing Economic Incentives in the Location Decision

Today’s market conditions call for a savvier real estate approach, and it is no longer a secret that a solid incentives package can mean the difference between propelling a deal forward and maintaining the status quo.

2015 National Food Hub Survey

The data from 2015 National Food Hub Survey is first ongoing national data set of its caliber on food hub operations. This report details findings on topics such as the financial state of food hubs, the numbers and types of farmers and ranchers that they work with, and the types of customers they serve. The findings of this, the second national food hub survey, together with the 2013 National Food Hub survey, are the beginning of a longitudinal data set that tracks what food hubs look like and what impacts they are having across the United States. Overall, the 2015 National Food Hub Survey indicates that the food hub model can be financially successful across a variety of legal structures and geographic or customer markets. As consumer interest in local and regional food grows, the market for food hub services also grows.

Expanding Veterans’ Opportunities to Become Entrepreneurs

Todd Connor, CEO of Bunker Labs, begins his pitch in front of a Startup Week event in Columbus, Ohio with a compelling statistic. In the six years following WWII, 50 percent of returning veterans started their own businesses. Today, only 6 percent of post-9/11 vets do the same, despite surveys showing four times that number would like to do so. What has changed to lead to such a contrast and entrepreneurship gap? Read more…

Americans are consuming less caloric sweeteners, with children leading the way

A recent linking of ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data with intake surveys from 1994-2008 reveals that American children are doing a better job of cutting down on sugary beverages and other sweetened foods than adults are. In 1994-98, children ages 2 to 19 consumed 94.0 pounds per person per year of caloric sweeteners compared with 81.4 pounds consumed by adults. Over the next decade, per-capita consumption of caloric sweeteners by children fell to 77.4 pounds per year, while adults’ consumption rose before returning to 1994-98 levels. Caloric sweeteners include cane and beet sugar, high fructose corn sweeteners, glucose, dextrose, honey, and edible syrups—common ingredients in sweetened beverages, baked goods, spaghetti sauces, ketchups, and a host of other processed foods. Over 1994-2008, consumption of sweeteners declined across all income and race/ethnicity groups, with Hispanics and other races/ethnicities consuming less caloric sweeteners than non-Hispanic Whites and non-Hispanic Blacks. The data for this chart and similar information on 62 other food commodities can be found in the ERS report, U.S. Food Commodity Consumption Broken Down by Demographics, 1994-2008, March 2016.

Performance Partnership Pilots: An Opportunity to Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth

Federal agencies have released a second call for bold proposals to improve education, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth. Over five million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are out of school and not working. In many cases, they face the additional challenges including being low-income, homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. In response, seven federal agencies are jointly inviting state, local, and tribal communities to apply to become a Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies to achieving better outcomes for these youth, as well as youth at risk of becoming disconnected from critical social institutions and supports.

Foundations Aligning Investments With Their Missions

While foundations traditionally have kept the management of their endowment funds separate from their grantmaking activities, some are aligning more of their investments with their missions, the Financial Times reports. Seeing their endowments as a tool that can help them pursue their philanthropic goals, some foundations have opted to eschew investments that might be regarded as unethical or counter-productive, including investments in arms manufacturers, tobacco companies, and/or fossil fuel companies. For example, more than a hundred and twenty-five foundations have signed on to the Divest-Invest Philanthropy campaign, which calls on foundations to divest their portfolios of investments in the two hundred largest fossil fuel companies and invest at least 5 percent of their assets in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean technology within a five-year period….

Study Outlines Billion-Dollar Philanthropic Bets to Address Poverty

Billion-dollar philanthropic investments in key areas could improve social mobility and revive “the American dream” for low-income families, a report from the Bridgespan Group argues.

The report, “Billion Dollar Bets” to Create Economic Opportunity for Every American (33 pages, PDF), identified four areas in which investments of $1 billion could dramatically improve the lifetime earnings of low-income Americans — building skills and assets, addressing cultural and structural inhibitors, transforming communities, and building the infrastructure to implement and scale interventions that work. The researchers evaluated proven interventions and promising innovations in the four areas, which they then narrowed to six “big bets” — improving early childhood development, establishing clear and viable pathways to careers, reducing rates of conviction and incarceration, reducing unintended pregnancies, reducing the effects of concentrated poverty on those living in distressed neighborhoods, and improving the performance of public systems that oversee social services….


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