Community Development

WASHINGTON - The US Department of Agriculture announced the launch of two new private funds, known as Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs), which make equity investments in rural businesses, helping them grow and create jobs. This announcement is part of USDA's ongoing efforts to help attract private sector capital to investment opportunities in rural America to help drive more economic growth in rural communities.

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WASHINGTON– U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced new changes to strengthen a federal program called “Section 3” that directs jobs and training to low-income workers and connects businesses that hire them with HUD-funded contracting opportunities.  The initiative would increase opportunities for businesses that hire local public housing residents for HUD-funded projects. In addition to changes to Section 3 requirements, Secretary Castro also announced the launch of a National Section 3 Business Registry. The registry is a searchable online database that local housing authorities, government agencies, and contractors can use to find firms that are self-certified as employing at least 30 percent public housing residents or low-income workers.

“All Americans should have the chance to contribute to the development and growth of their own communities,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These Section 3 initiatives will connect more hard-working folks and small businesses to local economic opportunities, giving them new tools to secure a more prosperous future.”

Every year, HUD funds create thousands of jobs across the country that range from construction to professional services like accounting or engineering. From 2009-2014, based on data reported by public housing authorities and HUD modeling, approximately 170,000 jobs were created by HUD for eligible low-income workers through this program.More than $5 billion in HUD-funded contracts has been directed to Section 3 businesses since 2009. While businesses are only required to hire 30 percent low-income workers, that goal has been exceeded nationally. About 50 percent of new hires for HUD-funded contracts are low-income workers or public housing residents.

Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 states that, “employment and other economic opportunities generated by Federal financial assistance for housing and community development programs shall, to the greatest extent feasible, be directed toward low- and very low-income persons, particularly those who are recipients of government assistance for housing, and to businesses that employ them.”  Since 1994, the Section 3 program has been governed by an interim regulation. For the first time in 20 years, HUD is proposing a new rule today that would expand opportunities for public housing residents and low-income workers.

In 2012, HUD launched a five-city pilot Section 3 Business Registry in Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans and Washington, DC to help local public agencies better connect local businesses that hire low-income residents and workers with the contracting and economic development opportunities created by HUD-funded  housing and development projects, something that is required under Section 3 guidelines. Nearly 1,000 businesses have signed up for the registry nationally. Today, in Miami, Secretary Castro applauded the nearly 300 Section 3 businesses that have signed up for the registry statewide.  HUD announced that the initiative will now become national.

In addition, the proposed rule announced today would recognize new HUD programs established since 1994 that are required to meet low-income and public housing resident hiring goals. It also clarifies vague language in the interim rule and eases challenges to achieving compliance. HUD is currently accepting feedback on the proposed rule during a 60-day public comment period.


The Provident Bank Foundation is committed to enhancing the quality of life in New Jersey and Pennsylvania communities in Provident Bank's marketplace. Since its founding in 2003, the Provident Bank Foundation has granted more than $19 million to not-for-profit organizations and institutions working toward stronger communities.

The Provident Bank Foundation makes grants in three priority areas: community enrichment, education, and health, youth & families.

  • Our giving to community enrichment focuses on programs that drive economic development, contribute to a more well-rounded community experience, and provide increased access to information and specialized learning opportunities.
  • Our efforts in education support innovative programming that expands access to, and improves the quality of, well-rounded educational experiences for people of all ages.
  • Our contributions to health, youth, and families aim to ensure people of all ages and means have the ability to improve the quality of their lives, including having a safe place to live and access to quality healthcare.


Click HERE for the full details about this RFP.




This is a two-step process. All applicants must complete and submit the online Letter of Intent (LOI). Only submit one entry per organization.


Step 1: Complete the Online LOI form


  • Your application will not be reviewed unless an LOI has been submitted
  • Any questions regarding navigating the online system, review the Step- by-Step Guide

The Rhode Island Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2015 Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship, an annual program to stimulate solutions to the state’s challenges.

Made possible through the vision and generosity of philanthropists Letitia and John Carter, the program will award two applicants up to $300,000 over three years to develop, test and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically improve any area of life in Rhode Island.

“This initiative enhances Rhode Island’s reputation as a place of innovation and ingenuity. Letitia and John Carter are to be applauded for having the vision to invest in encouraging bold thinkers to bring their ideas to life,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

Preference will be given to proposals that promise the greatest good for the greatest number of Rhode Islanders, a small idea that has big potential to be built to scale or new approaches to long-standing, intractable challenges.

“Letitia and I strongly believe in the potential of creative thinking and exceptional originality to power Rhode Island’s growth. We are excited to see the proposals that this platform for change generates,” said John Carter.

Although applicants do not have to be residents of Rhode Island when they apply, they must commit to living in Rhode Island during the term of the Fellowship if selected.

The deadline to apply is Fri., Dec. 12. The one-page, initial application asks applicants to summarize their proposed innovation in no more than 150 words and to describe how it would benefit Rhode Islanders.

In February 2015, the selection panel will ask a group of semi-finalists to submit a more detailed application and a short video. The Foundation expects to announce the winners in April.

Steinberg will chair the selection committee. The other members are Patricia Flanagan, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Clinical Affairs, Hasbro Children’s Hospital; Ted Nesi, Political and Economic Reporter, WPRI; Lisa Utman Randall, Executive Director, Jamestown Arts Center; Dan Shedd, President, Taylor Box Company; Rosanne Somerson, Interim President, Rhode Island School of Design; and Don Stanford, Chief Innovation Officer, GTECH.

This will be the fourth round of funding. Previous rounds generated more than 900 applications. Soren Ryherd and Allan Tear received the inaugural Fellowships in 2012.

Ryherd’s “The Retail Project” has created three on-line stores to date, with the goal of opening brick and mortar stores in Rhode Island neighborhoods.

Tear's "RallyRI" initiative is building platforms to help entrepreneurs launch start-ups in sectors such as art and design, food and beverage and advanced manufacturing.

The 2013 Fellows are Adrienne Gagnon and Dr. Lynn Taylor.

Gagnon’s “Innovation by Design” proposal will help foster the next generation of Rhode Island innovators by sending out mobile design labs to school yards throughout Rhode Island in order to engage students in free, hands-on design programs that will improve our communities.

Taylor’s project, “Rhode Island Defeats Hep C,” aims to make Rhode Island the first state to eradicate the Hepatitis C virus infection using a comprehensive approach that includes increasing awareness, rapid testing, linkage to health care, building infrastructure for a sustainable model and evaluation.

The 2014 Fellows are Amy Bernhardt and David Dadekian.

Bernhardt’s project, "Colorfast," will create a state-of-the-art research and manufacturing pilot facility for the design and production of digitally printed textiles.

Dadekian’s project, the "Eat Drink Rhode Island Central Market," would house a number of food and drink related businesses, including a public market, commercial production and processing facilities, and an educational component.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.  In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to announce a competition to designate a new round of Promise Zones. These Promise Zones are part of the President's plan to create a new pathway to the middle class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.

Urban, rural, and tribal communities nationwide will be invited to put forward a plan to partner with local business and community leaders to make evidence-based investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity. In exchange, these designees will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone initiatives.

"As a former mayor of an urban Promise Zone community, I have a unique appreciation for the talent, passion and the vision that local leaders offer when working to turn their communities around," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. "Promise Zones are about giving folks who have been underserved for far too long the opportunity to build stronger neighborhoods and more prosperous lives. At HUD, we're honored to give other communities the opportunity to transform their futures so this work can continue across the country."

"The Promise Zones initiative allows us to work directly with local leaders and organizations to meet a community's specific needs," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "In the current Promise Zones, especially in rural and tribal areas, we are seeing how effective it can be when we work in a coordinated way to address economic and social challenges. We've seen economic recovery strategies like this create jobs and opportunity through USDA's community-based StrikeForce Initiative and Promise Zones build on this success."

"As a former mayor, I know the difference that can be made when federal agencies work together to cut through red tape and deliver strategic solutions that address a community's needs," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The Department of Transportation is proud to work alongside other agencies to make sure communities not only offer good homes, thriving businesses and a clean environment, but an efficient transportation system so its people can enjoy them all, too."

Education Secretary Arne Duncan added, "At the heart of every strong community is a great school, but schools can't do it alone - it takes the whole community to help improve outcomes for students in school and in life. Promise Zones create real pathways to success for families in our most impoverished communities across the country by attracting private investment, increasing affordable housing, improving educational opportunities and assisting local leaders in cutting through red tape. I am excited to join our interagency partners in announcing this new opportunity for communities to become a Promise Zone."

Each Promise Zone selected will have demonstrated that local leaders, business leaders, state, tribal and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; children and parents are collaborating effectively to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American, in every community.

In 2009, after a generation of sometimes counterproductive and often contradictory federal engagement that was creating obstacles to greater shared prosperity, local communities across the country demanded a more effective and responsive federal government partner to create new pathways to the middle class. To meet this demand, the Obama Administration adopted a variety of unprecedented place-based efforts to promote economic opportunity and accelerate economic growth by explicitly connecting key federal programs that support such growth, such as education, housing, economic development, and infrastructure, with locally-devised strategies for broadly shared regional growth.

In January of this year, President Obama announced the first five Promise Zones: San Antonio, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Southeastern Kentucky Highlands and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The work being done in these communities is already helping to move the needle in key areas. For example, graduation rates have reached 90 percent in the San Antonio Promise Zone; 2,000 kids in Los Angeles were able to find a summer job through a youth employment initiative; 900 unemployed people in Southeastern Kentucky have been connected to a job; and over 700 households and 50 businesses in remote southeast Oklahoma will soon have access to clean, safe drinking water for the first time. Today's announcement of a new Promise Zone competition will help bring similar success to high-poverty communities across the country.

Any community meeting the qualifying criteria can apply for a designation, regardless of whether it has a previous federal grant. HUD and USDA will designate at least 8 Promise Zones across urban, rural and tribal communities. The deadline for submitting Promise Zone applications is November 21, 2014.

HUD in close collaboration with USDA will convene three distinct webcasts for urban, rural, and tribal to discuss the second round of the Promise Zone Initiative with interested communities.

DURHAM, NC -  With light-rail transit on the drawing board following approval of a half-cent sales tax in Durham and Chapel Hill, the Durham City/County Planning Department is co-sponsoring a community meeting to encourage development of affordable housing near rail lines. The meeting, the kick-off of a four-part strategy, is scheduled for August 20, 2014, at the Temple Building, 302 West Main St.  Registration starts at 7:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 8 a.m.

“Although the planned light-rail system will have tremendous economic, environmental and mobility benefits, the development of rail systems tend to significantly increase housing costs near transit stations,” said Assistant City/County Planning Director Patrick Young, “Our elected officials have wisely chosen to seek ways to preserve and create affordable housing in these areas now.”

Both the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners recently adopted resolutions to pursue policies that result in 15 percent of all housing units within one-half mile of all future light-rail stations to be affordable to households at or below 60 percent of area median income (AMI).  In Durham (City and County), a family of three making $32,560 per year is at 60 percent of AMI in 2014.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers housing “affordable” if a household is spending no more than 30 percent of its monthly gross income on rent (or a mortgage) and utilities.  

A family of three at 60 percent of AMI has only $814 per month to spend on rent (or a mortgage) and utilities and to stay within the HUD affordability guidelines.

“The private market is unlikely to provide new housing units affordable to working families near transit stations without incentives or assistance from non-profit, charitable or governmental organizations,” said Young.  “No one agency or entity can do this on its own – partnerships are critical to success.” 

The meeting will include a panel discussion on emerging issues in affordable housing and resources available, with representatives from the non-profit, private and governmental sectors.

Additionally, panelists will evaluate a sample development project financing plan to begin to assess the “gap” between an affordable housing unit and the costs of producing housing units near transit areas.

Finally, City and City/County staff will discuss a four-part strategy to encourage housing affordability near transit, including additional incentives through the development review process, the continued implementation of higher density “design districts” near transit stops, the identification of financing strategies for affordable housing and a detailed needs assessments to be conducted with the City’s HUD Consolidated Plan update.

The meeting is being hosted by the Self Help Credit Union, and also co-sponsored by the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development and Community Development Department.  

Admission to the event is free, and a light breakfast will be provided.  Since seating capacity is limited, interested persons should RSVP to Juliet Black with the Durham City/County Planning Department at (919) 560.4137, ext. 28216, or via email at

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Small Business Administration announced Small, non-farm businesses in the Idaho counties of Bonneville, Fremont, Jefferson, Madison and Teton are now eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  “These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the drought that began on May 15, 2014, in Madison County,” announced Tanya N. Garfield, Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

Small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage.  These loans have an interest rate of 4% for businesses and 2.625% for private, nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years, and are available to small businesses and most private, nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes EIDLs available when the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster.  Secretary Tom Vilsack declared this disaster on July 16, 2014.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance.  Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency (FSA) about the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration.  However, in drought disasters nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at

Washington, DC--HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced today the availability of $100 million from the Affordable Care Act to support an estimated 150 new health center sites across the country in 2015. New health center sites will increase access to comprehensive, affordable, high quality primary health care services in the communities that need it most.  Later today, Secretary Burwell will also visit a Community Health Center in Decatur, Georgia to talk with its health care professionals about the important work they are doing to connect the community with high quality primary care.

“In communities across the country, Americans turn to their local Community Health Center for vital health care services that help them lead healthy, productive lives,” said Secretary Burwell.  “That’s why it’s so important that the Affordable Care Act is supporting the expansion of health centers.”

The investment announced today will add to the more than 550 new health center sites that have opened in the last three years as a result of the Affordable Care Act.  Today, nearly 1,300 health centers operate more than 9,200 service delivery sites that provide care to more than 21 million patients in every State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.  Health centers are also playing a critical role in helping the public learn about new coverage opportunities under the Affordable Care Act, by conducting outreach and enrollment activities that link individuals to affordable coverage options available through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Since last fall, health centers have provided enrollment assistance to more than 4.7 million people across the country,” said HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. “We are pleased that the Affordable Care Act is supporting the establishment of additional health center sites to provide expanded opportunities for the newly insured to receive care.”

To learn more about this funding opportunity, visit

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit

To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit

To find a health center in your area, visit