Wednesday, December 18, 2013

U.S. Department of Education Announces Grantees for Race to the Top—District Competition and Investing in Innovation 2013 Competition

The U.S. Department of Education made recent award announcements about two programs: the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) program competition and the Investing in Innovation (i3) program competition. Five applicants were selected as grantees for the $120 Million Race to the Top—District competition, and the highest-rated applications secured match funding and became grantees for the 2013 Investing in Innovation competition.

Race to the Top-District Winners

The Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) winners represent a range of districts, and 5 winning applicants have been chosen for four-year awards, which will vary from $4 million to $30 million depending on the population of students served through the plan.

The winners are:
  • Clarendon County School District Two (consortium of four rural districts), South Carolina
  • Clarksdale Municipal School District, Mississippi
  • Houston Independent School District, Texas
  • Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (consortium of 18 rural districts)
  • Springdale School District, Arkansas
These winners demonstrate innovative work going on in rural school districts across the country to tailor education for all students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them in meeting students' needs.

The Race to the Top-District program will provide approximately $120 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and improve student learning, increase student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers.

For more information on the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) program, click here.

Investing in Innovation Grantees

The 25 highest rated applications for the fourth round of Investing in Innovation (i3) program competition have secured private-sector matching funds and will be awarded approximately $134 million by the end of December to expand innovative practices designed to improve student achievement.

The grantees address a variety of issues, including four projects that focus on family and parent engagement; four grantees serving rural students and communities; and five projects focusing on Science, Technology, and Engineering, and Math (STEM) course content and instructional practices to increase student engagement and academic achievement.

For more information on Investing in Innovative Funds (i3) program, click here.

Skillman Foundation Launches Youth Development Resource Center

The Skillman Foundation has launched the Youth Development Resource Center – a new initiative that will help Skillman-funded organizations collect and use data as a key part of their youth development strategy.

Focused on ensuring that Detroit youth have access to the resources needed to thrive, the Skillman Foundation invests in neighborhoods and the community-based organizations that support children and families. However, the Skillman Foundation recognizes that simply investing in programs and services is not enough. In addition to traditional support, Skillman has committed to helping organizations build their capacity to collect and utilize data - an essential component of tracking outcomes and improving programs and services over time to best meet the needs of Detroit youth. Though many youth organizations regularly collect data, such as the age of participants and daily attendance, it is important to understand the different kinds of data that can be collected and how data can generate evidence about a program’s success. Indeed, data is more than just numbers of statistics – it is a powerful tool that can tell a story about the challenging conditions many youth, as well as the outcomes that can be achieved.

In an interview about the Youth Development Resource Center, Sara Plachta-Elliot – a fellow at the Skillman Foundation and a community-based researcher – explores how the Center will support Skillman’s youth development grantees. Specifically, she highlights how the Youth Development Resource Center will help organizations to generate data that is both practical and easily accessible to staff, especially youth workers who spend most of their time working directly with youth. Though a youth worker’s job many not involve collecting data, it is essential that youth workers use data to understand the challenges a youth is facing and track his/her progress to ensure that the right kinds of supports are in place to achieve success.

Moving forward, Youth Development Resource Center staff will engage in a series of listening sessions both in the Detroit and across the nation in search of data collection practices implemented by youth programs. In the coming year, the Youth Development Resource Program will share these learnings through capacity-building opportunities.

Do you know of a youth program that is doing a great job both collecting and using data? Reach out to the Youth Development Resource Center to let them know!

Data Resources:
Making a Difference In Your Neighborhood: A Handbook for Using Community Decision-Making to Improve the Lives of Children, Youth and Families.

BNCP Resource CenterUseable Data Tools and Templates

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Apply for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Fellows Program

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is currently soliciting applications for participation in a three-year fellowship program focused on community leadership. The program’s goal is “to nurture and inspire developing or established leaders, helping them to become transformative change agents in their communities, guiding vulnerable children and their families toward optimal health and well-being, access to good food, academic achievement and financial security.” 

The foundation will select 100 fellows working in priority locations in the United States: Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans. Another 20 fellows from throughout the country will be selected to serve as a national cohort, focused on racial healing and equity.

Fellows will meet quarterly for three to four days at a time each year, with a focus on strengthening their skills and competencies—both within their place-based cohorts and as a national class. Fellows will also commit to applying these skills through a community-based action project and participating in a leadership network focused on improving the lives of vulnerable children. Fellows will receive an annual stipend of $20,000.

Candidates must be 23 years of age or older. According to the foundation, “ideal candidates are developing or established leaders who grasp the importance of working with others and can:
  • Engage in exploring solutions and invite others to help solve conflicts.
  • Empathize and connect to others through voice, action or presence.
  • Respond to new opportunities and relationships, maximizing social change.
Applications are due on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 by 11:59 p.m. ET. For more information, including frequently asked questions and the application itself, click here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Justice Partners with National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc.

The Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has announced a partnership with the National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY). This partnership will provide UNITY with $850,000 to launch the National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative.

UNITY is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native American youth. Supporting Native American youth for 37 years, UNITY has more than 132 youth councils operating in 35 states and Canada. The National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative will provide training and learning opportunities for Native American youth in an effort to increase positive outcomes in their school, community and family environments. Specifically, youth will learn how to plan and carry out service projects within their communities – an opportunity that will provide young people with a chance to learn important skills that can be used in future work opportunities and leadership roles.

Click here to learn more about UNITY.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Virtual Stock and Options Trading

Do you have a virtual stock and/or options trading account? I recently opened up a Virtual Trading account at OptionsXpress for the sole purpose of practice trading. It is a way to test out trading ideas without risking any real money. When you sign up, they put $25,000 of "play" money in your virtual trading account. Virtual trading lets you use the optionsXpress (by Charles Schwab) platform to screen stocks and options. You can then go through the motions of using the trading tools and resources to execute practice trades. This is a way to test trading strategies on stocks, options, and futures without risking any real money.

My biggest complaint so far is the sign up process. They claim that it only takes 5 minutes, but it seemed to take longer than that. You will be asked for all the personal information that you would need to open a real trading account. You are not required to provide a checking account or credit card, and you are not required to fund your account (with real money) at all. You also have to provide your social security number, so I can understand if people think it is not worthwhile. But if you're willing to go through this process, you will have access to the exact same platform as a real OptionsXpress account.

For the record, I also have an OptionsHouse account (different company) that I keep around for the purpose of virtual trading. My real OptionsHouse has a balance of $0.01. OptionsHouse starts you with $5,000 of virtual "play" money.

If you decide to open a real brokerage account, consider taking advantage of one of these great offers:

Open up a new optionsXpress account and get $100
Sign Up for an OptionsXpress Account and Choose Your Free Investment Book
Get a FREE Xbox 360 when you open and fund a new OptionsHouse account

DC

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Announced as Finalist for the Innovation in American Government Award

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School has announced the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative as one of five finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award. Established in 1985, the Innovations in American Government Award recognizes public sector programs that promote excellence and creativity in trying to address our nation’s most pressing challenges. Since the award’s inception, more than 27,000 programs have submitted applications and nearly 500 government initiatives have been recognized.

This year, five programs representing innovations at the city, county, state and federal levels of government have been selected from a pool of more than 600 applications and chosen as finalists. After several rounds of evaluation, these programs were chosen based on their novelty and effectiveness, as well as the degree to which they can be replicated in other government entities. The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative – supported by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Treasury – aligns resources across federal agencies to address interconnected and complex challenges in neighborhoods throughout the country.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy congratulates the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) for being chosen as a finalist and is proud to support several NRI initiatives, including Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods and the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program.

Want to learn more about the Innovations in American Government Award? Click here. Want to learn more about the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative? Click here.

50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

January 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty.” Launched by President Johnson in 1964, the “War on Poverty” introduced key programs that still exist today, such as food stamps (now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid. Though these programs have had a positive impact and improved outcomes for those in poverty, more than 46.5 million people remain in poverty, according to 2012 Census data.

On January 8, 2014, The National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty” and foster conversation about the challenges that remain. The event – Legacies of the War on Poverty & Lessons for the Future - will offer diverse perspectives on the effects of anti-poverty policies in the U.S. in areas such as educational attainment, employment, earnings and living standards, and health over the past five decades and in the years to come. Using research highlighted in the new book, Legacies of the War on Poverty (Russell Sage Foundation, September 2013), a panel that includes the book’s editors, as well as commentators from across the political spectrum, will address policies that grew out of the War on Poverty, as well as the gaps that exist as we continue to fight poverty and promote opportunity throughout the nation.

Click here to learn more about the event, including how to RSVP. The event will also be webcast live.

Monday, November 25, 2013

HUD Awards 2013 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants


Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded nine communities with planning grants through the Choice Neighborhoods program, a signature effort of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The grantees will develop plans to revitalize and transform public and other HUD-assisted housing, while seeking to improve outcomes on other interconnected neighborhood issues including public safety, education, health, transportation and employment.

The Choice Neighborhoods program emphasizes the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to neighborhood revitalization and “linking housing improvements with necessary services for the people who live there.” The grantees will develop their plans through a collaborative process that engages diverse stakeholders across sectors, including residents of the affected housing development(s) and the surrounding neighborhood, local government officials, service providers and business owners.

Since 2010, HUD has awarded 56 planning grants, totaling $16.9 million. For summaries of the 2013 planning grants, as well as past recipients, click here.

Policy for Results in 1 Minute and 36 Seconds


Why Policy for Results?

The Center for the Study of Social Policy is proud to present an introductory video to the new Policy for Results site! CSSP believes policymaking should begin with the concrete results we want to achieve and that using reliable data leads to better decisions and ultimately to improved outcomes for children, families and communities.

CSSP has expanded, refreshed and restructured the PolicyforResults website, which provides data, holds hundreds of resources and highlights our public policy agenda. Policyforresults.org is a streamlined and modern tool that features strategies, funding resources, policy papers, briefs, blogs and more authored by CSSP and other experts. The goal is to use the site to advance the policy field's knowledge of equity and create more results-based resources that lead to action.



Friday, November 22, 2013

New Report: Access to Healthy Food & Why It Matters

PolicyLink and the Food Trust have released Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research - a report detailing the latest research about how access to healthy foods has improved in recent years, as well as the impact that limited access continues to have for both individuals and communities throughout the nation.

The report highlights three primary findings:
  • Accessing food remains a significant challenge for many families, particularly those living in low-income neighborhood, communities of color and rural areas. The report suggests that an estimated 25 to 30 million Americans – roughly 9 percent of the population – live in communities with limited or no access to healthy food options. In New York City, for example, one-third of predominantly black census tracts lack walking or subway access to healthy food retailers.
  • Living closer to healthy food retail is among the factors associated with better eating habits and decreased risk for obesity and diet-related diseases. The lack of access to healthy foods – combined with other obstacles, such as limited transportation – pose significant challenges for families and can lead to several negative outcomes, including poor health. According to the report, nearly half of black and Hispanic children are overweight or obese. Ensuring that families have access to healthy food options is essential to creating communities that promote healthy lifestyles.
  • Healthy food retail stimulates economic activity. Beyond ensuring that families have access to healthy food options, food retailers can have a major impact on the local economy. According to the report, it is estimated that 24 new jobs are created for every 10,000 square feet of retail space. Thus, new retail opportunities in low-income communities and communities of color can be a critical piece of a neighborhood's revitalization strategy. In addition, government food benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide a further economic stimulus when spent at local retailers. It is estimated, for example, that ever $5 in new SNAP benefits generates $9 in local spending at SNAP-accepting retail outlets.

Though there has been increased attention to the challenge of healthy food access in recent years, ensuring that communities have access to healthy food options remains a great challenge. The implementation of federal programs, such as the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, has stimulated both interest and action in communities throughout the country. However, increasing access to healthy foods remains a challenge that all communities – particularly those that are low-income – should continue to address.

Want to learn more? Check out the resources blow.
  • Check out the Investing in Community Change blog’s Healthy Food Access label (located on the right sidebar) to learn more about healthy food access, including reports, tools and funding opportunities.
  • Want to know where areas with limited access to healthy foods are located? Check out the USDA’s Food Access Research Map.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3 Key Questions To Help Boost Youth Employment

In October, The Bridgespan Group, a consultancy for nonprofits and philanthropists, published a short paper urging organizations and individuals concerned about youth unemployment to consider several key questions. Entitled "Three Questions to Ask if You're Serious about Jobs for Youth," the piece begins by painting a stark picture of the employment prospects of young people in America. According to Bridgespan, 14 million young people ages 16 to 24, representing more than a third of individuals in this age group, face some sort of "employment challenge," ranging from a lack of connection to education or employment opportunities to working in a position that does not take advantage of their formal education. Approximately half of these young people are "disconnected" from education and employment, a disproportionate number of whom are black and Latino.

Through their interviews with a range of nonprofits, foundations, and large employers concerned about youth employment, Bridgespan identified three key questions that can help to guide the work of organizations interested in helping to combat youth unemployment:

1. Who are the employers most likely to hire youth in my region? - Bridgespan's interviews revealed the importance of connecting job training programs with the business sectors that are most likely to be looking to hire entry-level employees. This involves understanding which local sectors are growing and what types of skills are needed to obtain positions in those sectors. The article also notes that, while large companies, defined as those with over 500 employees, make up less than 1% of all employers, they employ more than 40% of youth who work in the private sector, suggesting that the potential payoffs of building relationships with these companies can be substantial.

2. How do I present employers with the business case for hiring youth? - One nonprofit highlighted in the article spoke about the importance of changing the mindset of both employers and youth about the value of youth employment. By providing young people with both technical and professional skills, and offering staff support to help deal with problems that might arise on the job, the organization is able to make the case that hiring youth has real value for a business. Most of the nonprofits interviewed were interested in hiring staff who had business experience or backgrounds that would allow them to better connect with potential employers. Some organizations Bridgespan interviewed worked with employers to determine the skills and competencies that they needed potential employees to have, and further engaged employers by having them teach portions of workforce development programs.

3. How do I tailor skills training to what employers really need?- A number of of organizations interviewed for the article described partnerships between workforce development nonprofits and employers that resulted in stronger training materials that better reflected the types of skills, such as conflict resolution and customer service, that are needed in the real world. In one case, a partnership with a local business association helped to identify an opportunity to develop a customized training program for youth to meet a need for employees in a local industry.

To read the full piece, please visit Bridgespan's website here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Location Affordability Portal Launched

The U.S. Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have launched the Location Affordability Portal (LAP) – a cost calculation tool that allows individuals to estimate housing and transportation costs in neighborhoods across the nation.

According to the LAP, nearly half of the average U.S. household’s budget is used to cover housing and transportation costs. Though housing costs, such as rent or a mortgage, are often easy to estimate, transportation costs are often less clear as they are likely to vary with changes in gas prices, public transportation rates, access to transit, street connectivity and other factors.

In order to help families make informed decisions about where to live and work, DOT and HUD have launched the LAP as part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to provide information about how housing and transportation costs differ across potential residential locations. The LAP uses two tools to provide users with access to cost estimates – the Location Affordability Index (LAI) and the My Transportation Cost Calculator (MTCC). The LAI is a database of predicted annual housing and transportation costs for a particular area, while the MTCC allows users to customize data based on their household’s unique characteristics, such as income, travel patterns and the number of cars owned by a household.

Interested in learning more? Check out the Location Affordability Portal to begin calculating the cost of housing and transportation in your neighborhood!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Continuing the Conversation on What Works for America’s Communities


Last fall, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund published a compilation of essays from leaders across the public, private and nonprofit sectors: Investing in What Works for America’s Communities. The book examined what proven models and innovative ideas can help practitioners, policymakers and academics work together across disciplines and sectors to achieve better outcomes for families and communities.

In partnership with the Low Income Investment Fund, Citi Ventures and Citi Foundation are continuing the dialogue sparked by the book through the What Works Challenge. Readers are invited to submit ideas about how to “encourage collaboration and integration between those working to revitalize communities and improve opportunities for all.” Participants will be eligible to be selected as a guest blogger for the What Works Ideas Blog.

To learn more about Investing in What Works, watch the half-day summit recently hosted by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Low Income Investment Fund, and Citi Foundation.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Best Buy Black Friday Preview

Like Walmart, Best Buy just released their Black Friday Doorbusters Preview on the BestBuy.com website. It seems like Black Friday now actually starts at 6pm on Thursday, 11/28. I quickly glanced through the advertisement, and noted a few interesting deals:

  • LG 55-inch 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $499.99
  • Apple iPad 2 16GB WiFi Tablet for $299.99
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch 16GB for $99.99
  • Insignia 24-inch LED (1080p) HDTV for $79.99
  • Sony Smart Wi-Fi Blu-ray Player for $54.99
  • Google Chromecast HDMI for $29.99
  • LG G2 for $49.99
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 for FREE
  • Microsoft Surface RT 32GB for $199.99
  • D2 Android Tablet 4GB for $39.99 (online only)

Did you see any deals you like?



PFS

Friday, November 15, 2013

National Endowment for the Arts Invites Proposals for Creative Placemaking Projects

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is soliciting proposals for creative placemaking projects that “contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core.” Through the Our Town program, the NEA will award a limited number of grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 to support projects that bring together arts and design organizations with local communities to improve quality of life, encourage greater creative activity, foster stronger community identity and revitalize economic development.

Creative placemaking includes a diverse array of arts engagement, cultural planning and design activities. For instance, in the 2013 round of Our Town funding, the Detroit Economic Growth Association received a grant to use vacant retail storefronts as sites for arts and creative entrepreneurship. The Groundswell Community Mural Project in Brooklyn, New York received a grant to engage young adults on probation in reclaiming vandalized walls. The Parks and Recreation Department of Laramie, Wyoming received a grant to create a public art plan.

While Our Town projects vary in focus, they are united in having:
  • A systemic approach to civic development and a persuasive vision for enhanced community livability. 
  • Clearly defined civic development goals and objectives that recognize and enhance the role that the arts and design play at the center of community life. 
  • An action plan aligned with the project vision and civic development goals. 
  • A funding plan that is appropriate, feasible, indicates strong and wide community support, and includes a well-conceived strategy for maintaining the work of the project. 
  • Artistic excellence of the design and/or arts organizations, designers, or artists involved with the project. 
To be eligible, Our Town proposals must come from a partnership with two lead organizations—a nonprofit organization and local government entity. One of the primary partners must be an arts or design organization. Additional partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors are encouraged. Only one project per local jurisdiction can be submitted, and the application must include an endorsement level from the highest ranking official of local government.

Our Town applications must be submitted through Grants.gov no later than 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on January 13, 2014. A pre-recorded workshop on the Our Town grant guidelines can be found here. For more information on all aspects of the Our Town program, click here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Walmart Black Friday Ad

Walmart has just released their 2013 Black Friday Ad Circular on the Walmart.com website. While Black Friday is traditionally November 29th, Wal-Mart will be opening at 6pm on Thursday, 11/28. I quickly glanced through the advertisement, and noted a few intriguing deals:

  • Apple iPad mini Wi-Fi 16GB for $299 (Bonus free $100 gift card)
  • Funai 32-inch LED HDTV for $98
  • LG Blu-ray Player for $38
  • Furby Boom for $29
  • Straight Talk Galaxy Centura for $29
  • RCA 7" Dual Core Tablet computer for $49
  • Call of Duty Ghosts for $39.96
  • Xbox 360 4GB Console for $99
  • Xbox One System for $499

Did you see any deals you like?

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Free Walmart Gift Card

PFS

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Improving Resident Engagement while Increasing Impact Webinar

Sponsored by Social Solutions, the Alliance for Children and Families will be hosting a webinar on Improving Resident Engagement while Increasing Impact on Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 2:00 PM EST.

The webinar will discuss innovative approaches to engaging communities, and each panelist will discuss how their commitment to improved data management has transformed their thinking around service delivery to improve the lives of the neighbors they serve.

Each member on the panel comes from public and nonprofit human services agencies and will have the opportunity to explain a unique program or population and how they have managed to improve resident quality of life by using data and data systems. Additionally, the panel will address the process of coordinating efforts to support relationship building with participants, beyond the transaction of services.

To register for the webinar, please click here.

Funding Available for Community Development Financial Institutions

Economically distressed communities in the United States often lack institutions that offer residents and business owners access to affordable and responsible financial products and services. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) help fill this need by providing loans, investments, technical assistance and other financial services to under-served populations and communities.

The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund in the United States Treasury Department supports CDFIs through a range of programs, including a certification process, monetary awards, technical assistance and capacity building opportunities.

Last week, the CDFI Fund announced the availability of funding for the following programs:
  • $144 million for CDFI Program awards; 
  • $35 million for Healthy Food Financing Initiative Financial Assistance awards; 
  • $12 million for the Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program awards. 
The proposed funding is still subject to Congressional appropriations, meaning the total amount of funding may decrease.

The CDFI Program: Financial Assistance (FA) & Technical Assistance (TA) Awards
  • TA awards of up to $100,000 are available to certified CDFIs, as well as organizations working toward CDFI certification, to build their capacity to better address the needs of their target markets, expand into new investment areas or targeted population and/or become certified CDFIs. Awards may be used for diverse purposes, including “to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies; for consulting or contracting services; to pay the salaries and benefits of certain personnel; and/or to train staff or board members.” While both certified and non-certified CDFIs are eligible to apply, non-certified organizations must be able to become certified within two years of receiving a TA award.
  • FA awards of up to $2 million are available to certified CDFIs for financing capital, loan loss reserves, capital reserves, or operations. FA awards are made in the form of equity investments, loans, deposits, or grants and must be matched dollar-for-dollar with non-federal funds of the same type as the award itself. To be eligible for a FA award, CDFIs must be certified or submit a separate certification application. Applicants must have developed a comprehensive plan for: deploying credit, capital and financial services to make a measurable impact on community development within their target market(s); and/or expanding into new investment areas or targeted populations.
  • Those eligible for a FA award can also apply for supplemental funding through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to expand their healthy food-focused financing activities, providing residents with improved access to nutritious food through strategies including “grocery stores, mobile food retailers, farmers markets, cooperatives, corner stores and bodegas.” 
The Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program
The NACA Program supports CDFIs that primarily serve Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. Both financial and technical support are available for CDFIs “in various stages of development – from organizations in the early planning stages of creating a CDFI, to tribal entities working to certify an existing lending program, to established CDFIs in need of further assistance.”

Last year, 192 organizations received FA and TA awards totaling over $172 million through the CDFI Program, including 10 awards totaling more than $22 million through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. Additionally, 35 organizations serving Native Communities received $12.4 million through the NACA Program.

Applications for the CDFI Program (including the Healthy Food Financing Initiative) and NACA Program applications are due on December 23, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Application materials, including pre-recorded webinars with additional guidance, are available online for the CDFI Program and NACA Program. In addition, applicants can register for live webinars or an in-person workshop to be held in Washington DC on November 14, 2013. To locate a CDFI in your state, click here.



Friday, November 1, 2013

Administration Releases Promise Zones Application

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the application for the federal Promise Zones designation. Initially proposed during President Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address, Promise Zones is intended to build upon the Administration's place-based strategies for strengthening some of our nation's highest poverty and most challenged communities. Specifically, Promise Zones is focused on supporting the creation of jobs, increasing economic activity, improving educational opportunities, reducing violent crime, and leveraging private investment in a defined geographic area of high need. The Administration anticipates designating 20 Promise Zones by the end of 2016, with as many as five designations being made this year.

Designation as a Promise Zone provides a community with access to federal technical assistance and support in taking advantage of existing federal programs, a competitive preference in competitions for signature Administration initiatives, including Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods, and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, and, pending action from Congress, tax credits to attract local investment and spur job creation. The Promise Zones initiative is a partnership of federal agencies that also includes the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Justice.  (For a quick overview of the Promise Zones initiative, check out CSSP's brief, which we released this summer.)

During this first competition, applications are restricted to communities that have been previously selected to participate in one (or more) of a related set of programs. Eligible applicants include: 
  • Urban areas with an active Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant, Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant, or Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation implementation or enhancement grant;
  • Rural areas with an active Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant or Stronger Economies Together grant;
  • Tribal areas with an active Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant, Stronger Economies Together grant, or Rural Jobs Accelerator grant.
The proposed Promise Zone must include the boundaries of the qualifying program (i.e. those listed above) and the grantees/partners of those programs are expected to be applicants or key partners in the Promise Zone application. Communities that are eligible to apply were notified by federal agencies in July 2013. 

The deadline to apply for the Promise Zones designation is Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

The participating federal agencies are offering a set of webinars to support applicants, which begin today. The webinars are divided into two series, one intended for "Urban" applicants and one focused on "Rural and Tribal" applicants. The schedule for each series is as follows:

Urban
  • Friday, November 1st @ 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST
    Topic: Webinar to discuss application materials
  • Friday, November 8th @ 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST
    Topic: Webinar to discuss application materials, specifically the mapping tool

  • Friday, November 15th @ 2:00-2:30 p.m. EST
    Topic: Conference call to address any applicant questions

  • Friday, November 22th @ 2:00-2:30 p.m. EST
    Topic: Conference call to address any applicant questions
Rural and Tribal
  • Friday, November 1st @ 3:30-4:30 p.m. EST
    Topic: Webinar to discuss application materials

  • Friday, November 8th @ 3:30-4:30 p.m. EST
    Topic: Webinar to discuss application materials, specifically the mapping tool

  • Friday, November 15th @ 3:00-3:30 p.m. EST
    Topic: Conference call to address any applicant questions

  • Friday, November 22th @ 3:00-3:30 p.m. EST
    Topic: Conference call to address any applicant questions
For complete details about the Promise Zones application process and applicant webinar series, including a regularly updated FAQ document, please visit HUD's website here.

For a quick overview of the Promise Zones strategy, check out CSSP's brief released this summer and other related posts from our blog.

Stay tuned to our blog for more details about the Promise Zone application process as they emerge.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

ArtPlace America Announces Innovation Grants

ArtPlace America – a nationwide initiative that aims to infuse art in community revitalization efforts – has announced it is accepting Letters of Inquiry for the Innovation Grants program.

ArtPlace America is a collaborative of thirteen major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks and eight federal agencies. Grounded in the belief that creative arts are an important aspect of vibrant communities, ArtPlace America works to accelerate “creative placemaking,” which they define as “investing in art and culture at the heart of a portfolio of integrated strategies that can drive vibrancy and diversity so powerful that it transforms communities." For example, in 2012, FringeArts in Philadelphia received an Innovation Grant to construct an outdoor plaza and performance space for arts and socializing on Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront – an underutilized space in the community. To learn more about how other communities have used Innovation Grants and invested in creative placemaking, click here.

ArtPlace America envisions its grants will be used to seed entrepreneurial projects that integrate a community’s economic and revitalization strategies with art and allow the community to attract additional private and public support. To date, ArtPlace America has awarded 134 grants to 124 organizations in more than 79 communities across the U.S. for a total of $42.1 million.

In 2014, ArtPlace grants will be awarded to arts organizations, artists and designers working in partnership with local and national partners on place-based strategies aimed at revitalizing communities. Grants are intended to fund a range of costs associated with implementing a creative placemaking project, including costs associated with a capital project such as pre-development, acquisition, construction, and real estate improvements. A collaborative efforts, certain ArtPlace funders have a deep commitment to their local communities and have provided funding for specific states or communities. Click here to see a list of these locations. While individual states and communities are encouraged to apply, funding is available for projects across the nation.

Award amounts are decided on a case-by-case basis. Letters of inquiry are due December 13, 2013. Selected applicants will be notified in February and will be asked to submit a full proposal.

To learn more about ArtPlace America Innovation Grants, please click here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Obsessed or Just Relentless?

Earlier this month, Washington Post education reporter Valerie Strauss posted a blog asking if the U.S. Department of Education is “obsessed with data” when it comes to their Promise Neighborhoods grantees.

The answer is, yeah, kind of.

But we’d argue the real obsession is with results.

Focusing on specific indicators means focusing on progress. What the government is doing is creating a new level of accountability. Of shared accountability that every partner in every Promise Neighborhood site is clear about.

Why are they doing this? Because to make sure that every child in a low-income neighborhood has the opportunity to get to and graduate from college means everyone involved has to understand what’s going on. Everyone has to be on the same page. And unless you’re tracking along the way – watching data on daily school attendance or critical milestones like reading well by the end of third grade – you risk waiting until kids fail to realize there’s a problem.

Another reason the focus on data and results is so important? It makes for much more efficient use of the resources at hand. Because as Strauss points out, there’s far less funding for Promise Neighborhoods than other education initiatives.

And so yes, it might take some time to get some of the details worked out on the best indicators organizations should be collecting and reporting. But it’s all part of a bigger picture.

Working with each of these communities, we know what’s at stake. We’re glad the Department of Education, neighborhood stakeholders, parents and everyone else who touches the lives of children in Promise Neighborhoods are relentless about results. It’s because they all understand what the end goal is.

And we’d argue that’s something worth being obsessed with!

Frank Farrow is the director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the training and technical assistance provider for the federal Promise Neighbhorhoods initiative.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Register Now for December NeighborWorks Training Institute

NeighborWorks America is a national organization that works to create opportunities for lower-income people to live in affordable homes in safe, sustainable neighborhoods that are healthy places for families to grow. As part of its mission, NeighborWorks offers training institutes for professionals and board members focused on all facets of affordable housing, community development and nonprofit management.

NeighborWorks is now accepting registration for its next training institute, which will be held from December 9 – 13 in Kansas City. The institute will feature over 100 courses, many which include site visits in the local community. The week will also include free afternoon workshops, networking and best-practice sharing, and a special Wednesday symposium, Real-World Solutions for Community Transformation

Register online today, with early-bird pricing ending on October 29th and pre-event registration ending on November 18th. On-site registration is also available, starting December 8.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

AmeriCorps Funding Available

Are you looking for a way to foster civic participation in your community? The Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) is accepting applications for State and National AmeriCorps grants.

For more than 20 years, CNCS has worked with individuals and organizations to address some of the most complex challenges facing our communities. AmeriCorps – a community service program within CNCS – engages individuals in community service through an approved national service position. While volunteering, AmeriCorps members bring leadership, resources and support to community efforts that promote education, employment, health and other key outcomes. As volunteers, members may receive a living allowance and, upon successful completion of service, receive an AmeriCorps Education Award. Recognizing that community service benefits an entire community and creates a pathway to education and employment for individual AmeriCorps members, CNCS is invested in ensuring that all citizens have access to participate, especially those that are often underrepresented, including people with disabilities, veterans and military families, Native Americans, and “Opportunity Youth" - the one in six young people (ages 16-24) who are disconnected from school or work.

Funding for AmeriCorps members must support one of the following focus areas:
  • Disaster Services: Grants will support activities aimed at increasing the preparedness of individuals, improving individuals’ readiness to respond, helping individuals recover from disasters, and helping individuals mitigate disasters.
  • Economic Opportunity: Grants will support services and resources that contribute to the improved economic well-being and security of economically disadvantaged people, including improving access to financial literacy, affordable housing and employment services.
  • Education: Grants will provide support for services that improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged students.
  • Environmental Stewardship: Grants will support services that contribute to increased energy and water efficiency, as well as renewable energy use and improved ecosystems.
  • Healthy Futures: Grants support community health services, including improving access to primary and preventive care, increasing seniors’ ability to remain in their homes and increasing physical activity and nutrition among youth in an effort to reduce childhood obesity.
  • Veteran and Military Families: Grants will support CNCS programs that support military service members and their families and aim to increase the number of veterans and military families engaged in community service.
Eligible applicants for AmeriCorps funding include: public or private nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and other community organizations; institutions of higher education; government entities within states or territories; labor organizations; and partnerships and consortia. Applicants must submit a Notice of Intent to Apply no later than December 11, 2013. Completed applications will be due Wednesday, January 8, 2014. Grantees will be notified by April 18, 2014. 

It is important to note that organizations proposing a project that operates in only one state must apply for funding through the Governor-appointed State or Territory Commissions. Each state and territory administers its own selection process and puts forward to CNCS the applicants they select to compete for funding. Organizations can learn more about their State Commissions, including grant processes and deadlines, by clicking here.
For more information about the Corporation for National and Community Service, click here.

Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Applicants Announced

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the states that submitted applications for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC). Sixteen states and the District of Columbia submitted applications in this second round of the RTT-ELC, which provides funding to states to support their efforts to improve the quality of early learning and development programs and ensure that all children enter school ready for success.

The RTT-ELC focuses on five "key areas of reform":
  • Successful State Systems
  • High Quality, Accountable Programs
  • Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children
  • A Great Early Childhood Education Workforce
  • Measuring Outcomes and Progress

The applicants for this round of RTT-ELC include the following: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Awards will range from $37.5 to $75 million over a period of four years.The winners of this latest round of RTT-ELC grants are expected to be announced in December 2013.

For complete details of this announcement, please visit the U.S. Department of Education's website here. If you would like to learn more about the various Race to the Top grant competitions and past awards, please view our past blog posts here.

USDA Grant Opportunity: The Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a grant opportunity through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) that will award $5.6 million for organizations to help generate economic activity in rural areas as it relates to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development. The grant awards can range from $50,000 to $300,000. Applications are due November 12, 2013.

The grants will be awarded to qualified recipients, which include private non-profit, (faith-based and community organizations, and philanthropic foundations) and public (including tribal) intermediary organizations. The grants will provide the award recipients with the help to develop the capacity and ability to undertake these projects by providing financial and technical assistance to a private, nonprofit community-based housing and development organization, a low-income rural community or a federally recognized tribe.

For more information on this grant opportunity, click here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

City of Los Angeles Rolls Out New Neighborhood Data Profiles

Accessing and analyzing data is a critical component of building neighborhood capacity. Data helps communities validate community assets and challenges, identify effective solutions and track progress toward achieving results. At the neighborhood level, this often requires developing new systems and relationships to gather information. At this city level, this entails aggregating and communicating data that can allow for neighborhood-by-neighborhood comparisons and provide a larger regional perspective.

The Atlantic’s Cities Blog recently highlighted Los Angeles’ (LA) leadership role in connecting neighborhoods with data. As part of an effort to add a health and wellness dimension to the city’s General Plan, LA has launched a neighborhood data portal that allows users to map metrics related to health, as well as a diverse range of quality-of-life issues including education, transportation, crime and housing. The portal draws upon data from the city’s Health Atlas, which “highlights the geographic concentration of health disparities” in LA and illustrates the power of place to influence residents’ well-being.

Neighborhoods have important opportunities to generate data about what happens within their borders, including gathering information from those who live and work in the community. However, as LA’s data work showcases, cities can help neighborhoods access administrative data from city agencies and beyond, providing valuable context to local efforts and a potential source of longitudinal data capturing change over time.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

U.S. Soccer Foundation Invites Letters of Interest for Safe Places to Play Grants

Youth living in underserved communities often have limited spaces to play in a healthy and safe environment. To remedy this, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has provided over $59 million to soccer organizations and field-building initiatives nationwide since its inception in 1994. More than six hundred organizations have received grants to date, resulting in the creation of over 1,100 safe places for children to play.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation is currently accepting Letters of Inquiry for the Safe Places to Play program, which funds improvements to a community’s field space. Up to $200,000 of Field Building grants will be awarded for the installation of field surfaces, lighting and irrigation. 

To be eligible for a Field Building grant, applicants must:
  • Apply on behalf of a program or project operating in the U.S.
  •  Be a non-profit organization, school, municipality, college or university, or sovereign tribal nation.
  • Apply as, or on behalf of, a field-building project.
  • Own or have a minimum of a ten-year land lease/land use agreement on the land where the field-building project will take place.

Letters of inquiry must be received no later than February 1, 2014. Upon review, select applicants will be invited to submit a full application. For more information on Safe Places to Play, click here. For more information on the U.S. Soccer Foundation and their initiatives, click here.

Data in Action: Ready Youth

The Forum for Youth Investment has made “using better data and information” one of the building blocks of Ready by 21, a set of strategies focused on improving the odds that youth will be ready for college, work and life. As part of that effort, Ready Youth was launched to provide innovative ways for communities to use data to engage stakeholders and inform solutions.

Ready Youth uses data from the Gallup Student Poll, which surveys young people about three key indicators of student success: hope, engagement and well-being. The Forum and other Ready by 21 partners work with participating communities to analyze poll results in concert with other data on children and youth (e.g., information on health, education, employment and safety).

The combined data, capturing both student perceptions and community context, is used to mobilize a range of local stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, civic leaders and business people to engage in conversation about what strategies can increase young people’s success. New survey waves can then capture the efficacy of those strategies.

Indianola, Mississippi, one of the six communities participating in the Ready Youth pilot, provides a case study on the role data can play in informing effective solutions. For instance, despite a 2011 needs assessment in which 95 percent of parents said their children felt safe going to and from school, the Gallup Student Poll revealed that at least one-third of students believed that safety was a key concern. This finding prompted the high school to develop a safety strategy, which included “testing students on the code of conduct and training staff on safety protocol.”

The gap between parent and student perceptions illustrates the importance of gathering information from a variety of sources and using it to stimulate conversation about community assets and needs. Community dialogue can offer a rich opportunity to examine diverse stakeholders’ take on “the story behind the data,” including the root causes of challenges that emerge as priorities for collective action.

The example of Ready Youth shows that data is just one capacity that communities need to achieve better results for youth. For more information about collecting and analyzing data, engaging diverse stakeholders in partnerships to achieve results and identifying effective solutions check out the tools and templates on the Building Neighborhood Capacity Resource Center.

Friday, October 4, 2013

DOJ Awards $8 million in Community-Based Violence Prevention Grants

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded $8 million to six communities through the 2013 Community-Based Violence Prevention Demonstration Program. The six recipients are:
  • City of Camden, NJ 
  • City of East Baton Rouge, LA 
  • City of Kansas City, MO
  • City of Newport News, VA 
  • City of Syracuse, NY
  • Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention
The Community-Based Violence Prevention Demonstration program supports multi-sector partnerships working to replicate evidence-based programs, such as Operation Ceasefire and the Richmond Comprehensive Homicide Initiative, in their own communities. Participants analyze date to identify young people at high-risk of being involved in gun violence and design their interventions accordingly. The partnership bring together both law enforcement and community leaders, including outreach workers and clergy, to increase young people’s awareness of the costs of involvement in violence and promote alternatives.

To learn more about the Community-Based Violence Prevention Demonstration Program, click here. To learn more about community-focused violence prevention strategies, read about the DOJ's Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation initiative. Explore other evidence-based violence prevention strategies and solutions at the OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide and National Institute of Justice’s CrimeSolutions.gov.

Apply for a KaBOOM! Let’s Play Community Construction Grant

KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit that works to create play spaces for children, is now accepting applications for $15,000 grants to be used to purchase playground equipment. The grants are part of the Let’s Play initiative, a community partnership supported by the Dr. Pepper Snapple group to get kids active.

Grants are open to U.S.-based municipalities, registered 501(c)3 organizations, public and charter schools and non-profit, child-serving organizations. Priority is given to applicants without a playground or with existing equipment that is unsafe.

To be eligible, applicants must:
  • Own land or have permission to build
  • Spend $24,000 to $40,000 on playground equipment
  • Work with a KaBOOM! Preferred Vendor
  • Use the community-build model
  • Finish project within 12 months of award
  • Serve a low-income population
The community-build model engages families, including children, and other community volunteers in both designing and building their playground. In addition to working with residents in their own neighborhood, grant recipients participate in a community of practice on Our Dream Playground website, where they have access to planning tools and share best practices and challenges.

Grantees also can receive planning support from KaBOOM! Alumni. Upon completion of their project, they have access to the KaBoom! Alumni Network and opportunities for additional maintenance and expansion grants.

Applications are due on October 11, 2013. To learn more, click here.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Taking a Lump-Sum Payout after Winning the Lottery

After winning the lottery, you will often be presented with two options of how to receive your winnings. You can either claim your winnings in one, lump-sum payout, or as a structured settlement, receiving the payments over a set period of time. There are pros and cons to both options, so make sure you explore each and know which is best for you.

Lump-Sum Payout
A lump-sum payout is a one-time payment of a partial or total value of an asset. In the case of lottery winnings, this option would give you one immediate payment of your total lottery winnings, after taxes have been taken out. For some, this is an attractive choice, but it also has some disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of taking your lottery winnings as a lump-sum payout:

PROS
CONS
·        You get more money upfront, immediately.
·        You can invest your winnings.
·        You can spend however little or however much you want to at any time
·        Easier to spend all of your money quickly and unwisely.
·        May become a target for friends, family, charities, media and anyone else looking to get some extra cash.
·        You will pay more taxes than if your winnings were taken as a structured settlement.
·        You must pay taxes, immediately, on the entire amount of your winnings.

Structured Settlement Payments
A structured settlement is a legal settlement paid out as an annuity rather than in a lump sum. It is often used to settle wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits, but it can also be used in the event that you win the lottery. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of receiving your lottery winnings as a structured settlement:

PROS
CONS
·        Payment schedules are flexible. You can schedule payments for almost any length of time, beginning immediately or in the future.
·        Guaranteed income.
·        It provides beneficiary protection. In the event of the recipient's premature death, the contract's beneficiaries can continue to receive future payments.
·        You can sell your annuity in the future, if you decide you need more money at a given time than what your regular disbursements provide.
·        You can withdraw from an annuity early, but some fees may apply.
·        You are only taxed as you receive each payment.
·        Once the recipient agrees to the terms and conditions, they are stuck with them. Terms and conditions cannot be changed.
·        Since the funds inside an annuity account may not be accessible, they are not available for purchasing other types of investments.

One of the most important decisions you can make after winning the lottery is deciding how the money will be given to you. Make sure you understand the advantages and disadvantages of taking a lump-sum payment or a structured settlement before making any final decisions. You could be dealing with a lot of money, and it is important to take care of it.

About the Guest Author
Kaitlyn Fusco is a content writer for Annuity.org. She combines her interests in writing and overcoming debt to inform the public about issues related to credit, debt, annuity and personal finance.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Retirement Income Scenarios Blog

For some years I have been focusing most of my research on issues associated with the provision of income to individuals during their retirement years. I now have expanded this work to include the provision of programs that anyone can use, requiring only a browser that supports Adobe Flash software. To keep everything associated with this research in one place I have created a new blog at:

                  www.RetirementIncomeScenarios.blogspot.com

Please take a look. If you find it interesting, I'd be delighted if you would sign up for notifications by email when I add new posts, which I hope to do quite frequently.

 


  

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Power of Personal Voice: Storytelling, Strategy Selection and Policy Influence

In today’s policy environment, using local data to bolster arguments is a key way that advocates can influence change. Neighborhood residents and providers alike have access to micro-level data that can be used to assess the impact and effectiveness of public policies and document unmet needs. In this case, “micro-level” data relates not only to facts and figures generated by local information systems but also to resident engagement efforts that can help to uncover “the story behind the data.”

In the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP), grantees are working to establish quantitative indicators and gather baseline data that will help them track progress toward their intended results. In concert with these efforts, grantees are also prompted to generate and examine more qualitative information, focusing on questions such as:
  • What do residents know about the root causes of the issues they want to address? 
  • Are certain streets or parts of the neighborhood more challenged than others? 
  • Are there policies or regulations that either assist or challenge change agents in their efforts?
Tools that the BNCP neighborhoods are using to uncover the story behind the data include everything from neighborhood surveys to group visioning exercises. Once these stories have been harvested, they become part of the evidence base that will guide strategy selection.

Stories can serve manifold purposes, and in addition to informing direct action in communities, they can also lift up the voices of individuals and stakeholder groups. With digital tools, these stories can have an impact beyond the borders of an immediate community to influence decision-makers at the local, state and national levels.

For instance, Half in Ten and the Coalition on Human Needs recently launched Our American Story: A Storyteller Action Network, where participants are invited to submit stories about the impact of public services and investments on their access to economic opportunity. In Recipes for Rising Neighborhoods, the United Neighborhood Centers of America and the Alliance for Children and Families include additional tools for collecting stories at the neighborhood level.

The interaction between resident engagement, data analysis, communications and policy influence illustrates the interdependence of the different capacities that are essential to neighborhood revitalization. For more information about capacity building, including stories about the BNCP neighborhoods, we invite you to visit the Building Neighborhood Capacity Resource Center.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Lock in $3.95 Stock Commissions

OptionsHouse just sent me an Email saying that they are raising their commissions for stock trades from $3.95 to $4.75 after October 1, 2013. However, existing customers and people who open a new account by 10/1/13 will still receive the old commission rate of $3.95 indefinitely. Unless you have a special deal with a broker, stock commissions don't get any better than at OptionsHouse.com.

So, if you are interested in locking this $3.95 rate, I would advise opening up an OptionsHouse account now before the price increase takes effect. You can also take advantage of their FREE Google Nexus Tablet or Free Kindle Fire HD offer.

As a favor, if you are not planning to take advantage of one of the OptionsHouse special offers, but still want to open an account, I would ask that you Email me (at the Email address in the sidebar). I have an OptionsHouse account, and they offer a commission to customers who refer new customers. Thanks!

PFS

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Center for the Study of Social Policy: Look at the 2012 American Community Survey Data & Three Cities

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Community Population Survey, in 2012 46.5 million people lived in poverty – 16.1 million of them children. The report showed that Black and Hispanic families continue to have disproportionally higher poverty rates and lower incomes than White families.

While the national data provide a sense of the magnitude of poverty and disparities in the U.S., it is often difficult to imagine what that means for communities. However, the subsequent American Community Survey (ACS) data - which was released today - provides a more detailed look at demographic characteristics in cities and states.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy believes that place matters and strongly impacts the health, safety, educational and employment opportunities of children and families. We work in a number of communities that face significant challenges due to years of disinvestment, including unemployment, failing schools and housing instability. These communities are trying to take a more comprehensive approach to addressing these issues. The ACS data highlight some of the significant obstacles in place.
  • California is one of only three states that has seen an increase in poverty since 2011. In 2012 Fresno, CA – a recipient of Promise Neighborhoods planning grant and a Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) grant – faced a poverty rate of 31.5 percent, up from 28.8 percent in 2011. In Fresno, nearly half of all Black residents (47.1 percent), 30.1 percent of Asian residents and 38.1 percent of individuals identifying as Hispanic lived in poverty. 
  • Though median incomes in the state of Wisconsin remain unchanged in 2012, residents of Milwaukee, WI – a BNCP grant recipient – continue to experience an unacceptable level of disparity. More than 42 percent of Milwaukee’s children lived in poverty, including 55.2 percent of Black children. An immense gap remained across income levels as the median household income for Black families was $24,994, compared to $45,268 for White families.
  • Tennessee’s poverty level in 2012 was not statistically different from the 2011 rate. In Memphis, TN – also a BNCP grant recipient – 28.3 percent of residents lived in poverty including more than a third (33.6 percent) of Black residents and 14.7 percent of White residents. In Memphis 27.1 percent of households relied on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits at some point in 2012. 

The data released today provide a snapshot across several indicators and capture information that can be used to make informed public policy and funding decisions – critically important in the midst of sequester cuts. State and local poverty rates can only be significantly and sustainably reduced if opportunity gaps are addressed. A growing number of communities are learning how to help policymakers better understand what is actually happening in their neighborhoods and the kinds of resources required to address local needs.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Byrne Criminal Justice Grantees Announced

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the 2013 Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) grantees. With more than $12 million in awards, the 14 grantees will utilize BCJI funding to tackle neighborhood crime by using data to identify the local drivers of crime and develop evidence-informed strategies that address the needs of the local community. The 14 grantees include:

  • City of Corning, CA
  • San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, CA
  • Youth Policy Institute (Los Angeles), CA
  • Georgia Department of Public Health (Atlanta), GA
  • City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, LA
  • City of Springfield, MA
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, MO
  • Fund for the City of New York (Syracuse), NY
  • City of Cleveland, OH
  • Martha O’Bryan Center, Inc. (Nashville), TN
  • ECHO Housing Corporation (Evansville), IN
  • City of Erie, PA
  • Housing Authority of the City of Tampa, FL
  • Olneyville Housing Corporation (Providence), RI

Recognizing that public safety is a challenge that requires the expertise and collaboration of several partners, BCJI awards are made to a cross-sector partnership in each city, rather than a single entity. By engaging local governments, nonprofit organizations, criminal and juvenile justice organizations and neighborhoods residents, BCJI will bring together stakeholders from various sectors that, together, can share resources and develop comprehensive, interconnected solutions to the complex issue of crime and safety.

As mentioned in the announcement, BCJI is part of the Obama Administration’s Promise Zones Initiative, a part of federal government's commitment to invest in and partner with high-poverty urban, rural, and tribal communities to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, and reduce violent crime.