10/13 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:

NEWS:   The Promise Zone has held two town hall meetings so far this month; another is set for Monday in Jasper County.  Allendale, Barnwell and Hampton counties will have meetings in November.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:  Learn about more than a dozen funding opportunities to help rural communities become stronger – from pilot projects and health center grant offerings to community food projects and training for farmers.

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 hall gatherings held in Bamberg, Colleton counties

Another meeting set for Monday in Ridgeland

More than 30 people attended Promise Zone town hall meetings in Bamberg and Walterboro this month to get an update from coordinator Dean Van Pelt on activities over the last year.

Van Pelt speaks to Bamberg County Council following the Oct. 3 town hall meeting.

Van Pelt speaks to Bamberg County Council following the Oct. 3 town hall meeting.

Another town hall is set for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 17 in Ridgeland at the Jasper County Council chambers [learn more].  Following that meeting, Van Pelt will brief council members on progress over the last year.  Town halls are being scheduled for mid-November in Allendale, Barnwell and Hampton counties.

Van Pelt told attendees at an Oct. 3 meeting in Bamberg and an Oct. 11 event in Walterboro 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.

Center for a Better South President Andy Brack also presented options for entrepreneurial training to those at the town hall meetings in an effort to craft helpful and relevant programs for new and existing small businesses.  Trainings are planned to begin throughout the region in January 2017.


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 Program,Water and Waste Disposal ProgramBusiness and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, and Rural Business Development Grant Program. Under this provision, up to 10 percent of each program’s 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.

EDUCATION:     Performance Partnership Pilots (P3)

Funds for pilot sites to test outcome-focused strategies focused on improving educational, employment, physical and mental health, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth by providing the flexibility to blend funds from existing federal programs and seeking waivers for associated program requirements to allow for innovative activities otherwise not allowed within program guidelines. Priority areas include working with youth in rural and tribal communities, among others.

  • Application Deadline:Oct 31, 2016

HRSA: Service Area Competition Funding for Health Center Program (Areas Served with a Project Period Start Date of May 1, 2017) 

The Bureau of Primary Health Care  offers funding to provide comprehensive primary health care services to an underserved area or population.

  • Application Deadline: Nov. 7, 2016

FEMA:   Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) 

Offers grants to fire departments and EMS organizations for equipment, training, personnel wellness programs, capital funding, and collaboration efforts.

  • Application Deadline: Nov. 28, 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 (CFP) Competitive Grants Program

In FY 2017, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)’s Community Food Project (CFP) intends to solicit applications and fund two types of grants. The types are entitled (1) Community Food Projects (CFP) and (2) Planning Projects (PP).

The primary goals of the CFP are to: Meet the food needs of low-income individuals through food distribution, community outreach to assist in participation in Federally assisted nutrition programs, or improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service; Increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for the food needs of the communities; Promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues; and Meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs including needs relating to: Equipment necessary for the efficient operation of a project; Planning for long-term solutions; or The creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

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:  NIFA Announces the Availability of $17.7 Million to Train, Educate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $17.7 million in grant funding to help train and educate the next generation of agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program helps fund organizations implementing programs throughout the United States that train beginning farmers and ranchers, through workshops, educational teams, training and technical assistance. Eligible applicants include collaborative state, tribal, local or regionally-based networks or partnerships of public or private entities such as state cooperative extension services, community-based organizations, colleges or universities; and other organizations providing services to beginning farmers and ranchers.

  • DEADLINE: 2017 applications are due 8, 2016.

USDA:  Farm to School Grant Program

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service  offers grants to plan, establish, or sustain a Farm to School program that improves access to local foods in schools.

  • Application Deadline:Dec 8, 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

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

  • Application Deadline:Dec 31, 2016


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.

Safer School Garden Grant

Provides funding to start a school garden.

  • Application Deadline:Dec 1, 2016
  • Sponsor: Safer Brand

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: Ongoing


October is National Cooperative Month!

As part of this month’s celebration, USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) is holding a series of training and informational webinars to showcase the many important ways cooperatives empower our daily lives. For the full calendar of events for Co-op Month, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/cooperative-programs.  Of particular interest for South Carolina:

  • Oct. 18, 2016 — When the Last Grocery Store Closes – Exploring Cooperative Options
  • 2-3:15 pm ESTFacilitator: Margaret Bau, RBS Cooperative Programs

The Arts Block: A Case Study on Ethical Redevelopment

On October 18 at 1pm EDT the Community Solutions – Community of Practice is hosting The Arts Block: A Case Study on Ethical Redevelopment, a webinar with guest presenters Theaster Gates and Calvin L. Holmes, President of Chicago Community Loan Fund. In this webinar, Gates will provide an overview of how he and his team (in partnership with a range of local partners, funders, and philanthropist) leverage arts and culture as an economic engine on Chicago’s disinvested South Side, and the people-first ethical principles that guide their work in community development. Holmes will discuss community building, housing, and workforce development. The Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF) is one of largest 10 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) in Illinois.  CCLF is a major partner of the Stony Island Arts Bank – a hybrid gallery, media archive, library and community center. The radically restored building serves as a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine and share their heritage. This is the 8th in a series of bi-weekly innovation calls for the Community of Practice to gather on a specific topic.

NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Informational Webinar

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program helps fund organizations implementing programs throughout the United States that train beginning farmers and ranchers, through workshops, educational teams, training and technical assistance. Eligible applicants include collaborative state, tribal, local or regionally-based networks or partnerships of public or private entities such as state cooperative extension services, community-based organizations, colleges or universities; and other organizations providing services to beginning farmers and ranchers. NIFA will host a free informational webinar for interested applicants on Oct. 26 from 1-3 p.m. EST.


Rural Entrepreneurship webinar recordings

Thank you for your participation during September’s Rural Development Month webinars on rural entrepreneurship and available Rural Business-Cooperative Service Programs.  Most importantly, special thanks to our wonderful speakers and staff cc’d here who helped pull together such an amazing line up of webinar topics.  As promised, below are the webinar recordings for your use and dissemination:

Millennials’ Take on Economy

Millennials internalized the effects of the most recent recession and revealed their beliefs about the economy and jobs future in a recent poll conducted by EY, a professional services company, and the Economic Innovation Group. Nearly one-third believe their community is still in a recession and 78 percent are worried about having good-paying job opportunities, according to the poll. Hard work is an important factor to get ahead in life, say 88 percent of the 18-34 year olds, and two-thirds say having a college education is important, but just 49 percent believe the benefits of a college education will be worth the cost. More than half feel a great deal of confidence about the military and colleges and universities, but other institutions such as the government, organized religion and the news media garner far less confidence. While 78 percent consider entrepreneurs successful and 62 percent have considered starting their own business, 42 percent cite the lack of financial means as the top obstacle to launching a startup. Instead, Millennials appear to prefer to climb the corporate ladder, with 44 percent saying the best way to advance their career is by staying at one company and working their way up the ladder and another 25 percent cite moving between different companies and advancing along the way.  Only 22 percent felt that starting their own company would be the best way to advance.

Broadband Availability and Rural Entrepreneurship

Because existing evidence points to the presence of broadband as having a positive connection to the economic health in rural areas, numerous states and the federal government have made increasing broadband in these places a top priority.  In particular, many rural areas view broadband as an important tool in attracting entrepreneurs and other creative-class employees. Although this tactic is well intentioned, new research suggests that the association between expanded rural broadband availability and the proliferation of entrepreneurship and creative-class employees may not be as strong as one might think, and that the relationship may actually be negative. Read more…

State of Obesity 2016: Better Policies for a Healthier America 

The Trust for America’s Health offers this report on obesity related trends and topics. Includes data and statistics for both adults and children and provides examples of successful programs and policies across the country. Also addresses obesity and chronic disease trends in both urban and rural areas.

Communities That Work Partnership Highlights Best Practices in Matching Jobs to Skills

The Communities That Work Partnership, a national project to support industry-led workforce development efforts, has released seven case studies highlighting what it considers to be best practices for regions seeking ways to strengthen talent pipelines for local employers and improve access to quality employment for jobseekers. Launched in April 2015 by the Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative and the Economic Development Administration, with additional support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the partnership has two goals: to accelerate regional economic development through peer learning, and to document stories of how regional teams can improve links between the demand side and supply side of regional systems. Read more…

White House Blog: Local Foods, Local Places Empowers Creative Economic Development in Rural and Urban Communities

Local Foods, Local Places, an effort to support communities that are building local food systems, is empowering local leaders and citizens to strengthen their communities

Rural America at a Glance – United States Department of Agriculture Fact Sheet

An important indicator of economic recovery is employment. After several years of stagnation, the pace of employment growth in rural areas increased in 2014. Employment gains were significantly higher over the past year compared to previous years in the recovery period, although rural employment remains below pre-recession levels. Rural areas continue to experience population loss, higher poverty rates, and lower educational attainment than urban areas.


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