Are you looking for ways to find new investors for your project? What if you could provide something better than a return. If you have ever been to a GDF seminar, then you know that the three major components to any funding deal are:
1. Job Creation
2. Provides Economic Development Activities
3. Shovel Ready
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.
WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration announced eight additional Promise Zones across the country, including six cities, one rural area, and one tribal community. Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community. Through the Promise Zone designation, these communities will work directly with federal, state and local agencies to give local leaders proven tools to improve the quality of life in some of the country’s most vulnerable areas.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new Promise Zone designations in the following communities:
- Camden, New Jersey
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Sacramento, California
- St. Louis/St. Louis County, Missouri
- Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota
- South Carolina Low Country
“From my time as Mayor to my tenure as Secretary, I’ve seen first-hand how a Promise Zone designation can spark progress and possibilities in underserved neighborhoods,” said HUD Secretary Castro. “A zip code should never limit the hopes that folks have for themselves or for their children. We’re proud to be working with a wide-variety of local leaders to strengthen neighborhoods and to unlock doors of opportunity that have been closed for far too long.”
“The Promise Zone effort is proof positive that partnerships are the key to community economic development,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “Families and children in rural and tribal communities are full of potential to compete and succeed in the 21st Century. When we invest our resources and establish long-lasting public-private alliances to strengthen educational opportunities, deliver health care, build infrastructure and create jobs, we are investing in our country’s future.”
To celebrate the newly designated zones, events were held across the country in each of the new urban zones. Secretary Julián Castro, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development visited St. Louis, Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education visited Minneapolis, CEO, Wendy Spencer, Corporation for National and Community Service visited Indianapolis, Deputy Secretary, Nani Coloretti, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, visited Hartford and HUD Regional Administrators held events in Camden, NJ and Sacramento, CA. To highlight the rural zone designations of South Carolina's Low Country and South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted media calls for South Carolina and South Dakota.
Background on Promise Zones:
Today’s newly designated Promise Zones join five others that President Obama designated in January, 2014 – San Antonio; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Southeastern Kentucky Highlands and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The work underway in these communities is already showing results. For example:
- In San Antonio, the George Gervin Youth Center was awarded a $1.1 million YouthBuild grant from the Department of Labor to establish an education and training program for at-risk young people. The program is enrolling 64 people and preparing them for jobs in good, middle-class careers including jobs in the nursing and the building trades. The Gervin Center also received a $2 million Training-to-Work grant from the Department of Labor to help young men and women participating in work-release programs gain the job skills necessary to launch them on a path to high-demand jobs.
- In Los Angeles, the Unified School District is supporting college and career readiness programs for 6,500 students in 16 schools, while Advocates for Youth is developing a teen pregnancy prevention plan with community partners. Access to healthy foods is also a high priority in the L.A. Promise Zone. Business leaders and the East Hollywood Farmers Market are involved in various initiatives including establishing six community-supported agricultural sites to expand access to nutritious food options. The City is also conducting outreach to low-income tenants to reduce lead hazards in homes and will be placing AmeriCorps volunteers in schools and job training sites to counsel students on post-secondary education options and career choices.
- In Philadelphia, the Juvenile Justice Center is providing career training for youth who have been involved with the justice system. Promise Zone partners are creating access to healthy food and improving the business infrastructure for sustainable food production. Drexel University is leading a collaborative effort to increase the number of neighborhood children who have access to high quality child care and improve school performance. Security cameras were installed at a high-crime hot spot and businesses are being encouraged to take advantage of subsidized cameras along key Promise Zone commercial corridors. Specific plans are being developed to preserve affordable housing to avoid displacement of long-time residents as the neighborhood improves.
- In Barbourville, Kentucky, the Knox County Hospital is utilizing funding from the USDA’s Community Facilities Program to expand medical care services for a rural population of approximately 31,883 people and to secure more than 200 jobs.
- In the Choctaw Nation, nineteen Head Start classrooms in thirteen centers received direct support from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide early education, nutrition, and health services to 310 children and their families.
Today’s Promise Zone communities were selected from 123 applications from 36 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. Each urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zone applicant was asked to put together a clear description of how the Promise Zone designation would accelerate and strengthen the community’s own efforts at comprehensive community revitalization. Each Promise Zone will be coordinated by a lead community based organization in partnership with the Obama Administration. HUD will be the federal lead for the six urban designees, while USDA will serve as the lead federal partner to the tribal and rural Promise Zones.
All Promise Zones 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.
Third Round Promise Zone Competition
A competition to select a third round of Promise Zones will commence later this year. In the Summer of 2015, HUD will publish a Notice in the Federal Register requesting public comment on the proposed selection process, criteria, and submissions for the final round of the Promise Zones initiative. This notice will provide urban, rural, and tribal communities the opportunity to help shape the third round application guide and efforts to support other communities more effectively in future years.
ORLANDO, Fla., April 1, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has awarded $31.5 million in funding to local, state, and national organizations to support programs that help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables. Recognizing that all Americans fall well short of the servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the grants will test incentive strategies to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables. These grants were made through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The Secretary, who made the announcement at the Freshfields Farm market in Orlando, said, "Encouraging low income families to put more healthy food in their grocery baskets is part of USDA's ongoing commitment to improving the diet and health of all Americans." Vilsack continued, "These creative community partnerships also benefit regional food producers and local economies along with SNAP participants."
FINI is a joint effort between USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP and has responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of the incentive projects. FINI brings together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system and fosters understanding of how they might improve the nutrition and health status of SNAP households. The awards under FINI represent a variety of projects, including relatively small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, and larger-scale multi-year projects.
USDA is funding projects in 26 states for up to 4 years, using funds from FY2014 and FY2015. USDA will issue a separate request for applications in FY16, and in subsequent years. Fiscal year 2014 and 2015 awards are:
Pilot projects (up to $100,000, not to exceed 1 year):
- Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services, Woodland, Calif., $100,000
- Heritage Ranch, Inc., Honaunau, Hawaii, $100,000
- Backyard Harvest, Inc., Moscow, Idaho, $10,695
- City of Aurora, Aurora, Ill., $30,000
- Forsyth Farmers' Market, Inc., Savannah, Ga., $50,000
- Blue Grass Community Foundation, Lexington, Ky., $47,250
- Lower Phalen Creek Project, Saint Paul, Minn., $45,230
- Vermont Farm-to-School, Inc., Newport, V.T., $93,750
- New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association, Santa Fe, N.M., $99,999
- Santa Fe Community Foundation, Santa Fe, N.M., $100,000
- Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, Greensboro, N.C., $99,987
- Chester County Food Bank, Exton, Pa., $76,543
- Nurture Nature Center, Easton, Pa., $56,918
- Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa., $46,442
- Rhode Island Public Health Institute, Providence, R.I., $100,000
- San Antonio Food Bank, San Antonio, Texas, $100,000
Multi-year community-based projects (up to $500,000, not to exceed 4 years):
- Mandela Marketplace, Inc., Oakland, Calif., $422,500
- Market Umbrella, New Orleans, La., $378,326
- Maine Farmland Trust, Belfast, Maine, $249,816
- Farmers Market Fund, Portland, Ore., $499,172
- The Food Trust, Philadelphia, Pa., $500,000
- Utahns Against Hunger, Salt Lake City, Utah, $247,038
- Opportunity Council, Bellingham, Wash., $301,658
Multi-year large-scale projects ($500,000 or greater, not to exceed 4 years):
- Ecology Center, Berkeley, Calif., $3,704,287
- Wholesome Wave Foundation Charitable Ventures, Inc., Bridgeport, Conn., $3,775,700
- AARP Foundation, Washington, D.C., $3,306,224
- Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Gainesville, Fla., $1,937,179
- Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, Boston, Mass., $3,401,384
- Fair Food Network, Ann Arbor, Mich., $5,171,779
- International Rescue Committee, Inc., New York, N.Y., $564,231
- Washington State Department of Health, Tumwater, Wash., $5,859,307
The announcement featured Marty Mesh, Executive Director of Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers (FOG). With FINI funding, FOG will expand its Fresh Access Bucks program, which allows SNAP participants to double their food dollars for fresh, Florida-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets around the state.
An evaluation of the funded projects will help policymakers determine how best to provide incentives to SNAP participants to increase healthy purchases. Priority was given to projects that develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that can be replicated, use direct-to-consumer marketing, show previous success implementing nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers with agricultural producers, provide locally- or regionally-produced fruits and vegetables, and are located in underserved communities.
All FINI projects must (1) have the support of a state SNAP agency; (2) increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants by providing incentives at the point of purchase; (3) operate through authorized SNAP retailers; (4) agree to participate in the comprehensive FINI program evaluation; (5) ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by both SNAP participants and non-participants; and (6) include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other states and communities.
The FINI program is authorized and funded by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
SNAP — the nation's first line of defense against hunger — helps put food on the table for millions of families experiencing hardship. The program has never been more critical to the fight against hunger. Over 60 percent of SNAP participants are children, elderly, or individuals with disabilities, and 42 percent of participants live in households in which at least one adult is working but still cannot afford to put sufficient food on the table. SNAP benefits provided help to millions who lost their jobs during the Great Recession. For many, SNAP benefits provide temporary assistance, with the average new applicant remaining on the program 12 months.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information can be found on the NIFA website.
GDF represents a client building a public farm market in Shelbyville, Indiana. News of this initiative will be forthcoming.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. These efforts help farmers, ranchers and other small business owners save money on their energy bills, reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, support America's clean energy economy, and cut carbon pollution. These resources are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.
"Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," Vilsack said. "The funding we are making available will help farmers, ranchers, business owners, tribal organizations and other entities incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations. Doing so can help a business reduce energy use and costs while improving its bottom line. While saving producers money and creating jobs, these investments reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution as well."
USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested.
USDA is offering grants for up to 25 percent of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. The REAP application window has been expanded. USDA will now accept and review loan and grant applications year-round.
Eligible renewable energy projects must incorporate commercially available technology. This includes renewable energy from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters). The maximum grant amount is $500,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
Energy efficiency improvement projects eligible for REAP funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption. The maximum grant amount is $250,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
USDA is offering a second type of grant to support organizations that help farmers, ranchers and small businesses conduct energy audits and operate renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include: units of state, tribal or local governments; colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and conservation and development districts. The maximum grant is $100,000.
The REAP program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of the success of the program, Congress reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of no less than $50 million in annual funding for the duration of the 5 year bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million for more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide. This includes $361 million in REAP grants and loans for more than 2,900 renewable energy systems. When fully operational, these systems are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt hours annually – enough to power more than 5.5 million homes for a year.
In 2013, owners of the Ideal Dairy restaurant in Richfield, Utah, used REAP funding to install 80 solar modules and two 10-kilowatt inverters, which convert energy from solar panels to electricity. The owners have saved, on average, $400 per month. These savings have helped them preserve their restaurant and livelihood.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) Loan Program reached a lending record in 2014, as announced today by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. By the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30), SBA had approved 52,044 7(a) loans for $19.19 billion, an increase of 12 percent in number loans and 7.4 percent in dollar amount over fiscal year 2013.
The 7(a) program is designed to provide small businesses with the most comprehensive type of financial assistance to cover the vast majority of business expenses, such as short and long-term working capital, exports, and refinancing existing debt under certain conditions.
“As our economy continues to grow and recover, small businesses are the essential fuel to that continued growth,” said Contreras-Sweet. “Thanks to the hard work and outreach by our lending partners, SBA staff, and our resource partners, as well as the small business owners themselves, we have been able to put more capital into the hands of our nation’s entrepreneurs. We know that America’s small businesses pack the biggest punch, creating two out of every three net new private sector jobs in the U.S. These small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities, so their success and expansion is vital to the nation’s economic growth.”
SBA had been authorized $17.5 billion in the FY 2014 lending program. It became clear that lending would exceed that amount; therefore the agency secured an increase for the 7(a) program in the Continuing Resolution that was approved in mid-September.
Other SBA loans that did well in fiscal 2014 were those $150,000 and under. Spurred by the fee relief implemented at the beginning of the fiscal year (fees were set to zero), these loans saw an increase of 23 percent in number of loans (30,675) and 29 percent in approved dollars ($1.86 billion) over fiscal year 2013 (24,923 and $1.44 billion respectively).
Fee relief was also instrumental in helping veteran small business owners through the Veteran Advantage initiative (zero fees on loans $150,000 to $350,000 to veterans.) Fee relief for veterans began January 1, 2014, and by the end of the fiscal year amounted to $610,000. Fee relief for both loans $150,000 and under, and for Veterans Advantage, was extended through fiscal year 2015.
Small businesses reflect the dynamic demographics of the United States. In FY 2014, the number of SBA loans to African Americans grew by roughly 36 percent over the previous year. For Hispanics and women, there was an increase of 14 percent for each group.
In our efforts to reach out and help small businesses across the nation, lenders play an important role as partners, as it is through them that SBA financial assistance is channeled and managed. In FY 2014, SBA added 308 new lenders that, collectively, made 684 loans for nearly $317 million.
As exports continue to play a pivotal role in strengthening the nation’s economy, SBA loans to exporters grew by 3.7 percent in number of loans and 12 percent in dollar amount over last year.
One of the ways in which SBA helps small businesses is through providing essential bid and performance bonds to small contractors, which allows these small businesses to be more competitive when bidding on contracts, be they with the government or the private sector. In fiscal year 2014, SBA Office of Surety Bond Program saw an increase of four percent in total contract value, from $6.168 billion in FY 2013 to $6.413 billion in FY 2014. Total bond contract amount also grew from $1.262 billion in FY 2013 to $1.358 in FY 2014, an increase of eight percent.
PIKEVILLE, KY.– USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O'Brien today announced the selection of 85 utilities and development organizations for loans and grants to support rural business activities that will boost economic growth in rural communities.
"These USDA investments capitalize rural small businesses, which allows the owners to expand operations, enter into new markets and increase hiring," O'Brien said. "The investments we are announcing today include financing to development organizations for microlending to very small rural businesses. Funds are also being provided to utilities to pass on to local businesses for development projects. These innovative programs increase economic opportunities in rural areas – a top priority of Secretary Vilsack and President Obama."
O'Brien announced the rural business investments while in Kentucky with Governor Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers, and the executive board of Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) to discuss investment opportunities in eastern Kentucky, including Promise Zones and regional SOAR initiatives.
Funds are being provided through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program (REDLG) and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). Under the REDLG program, USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which then, in turn, relend the funds to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The program funds business start-up or expansion, business incubators, education and training facilities and equipment, community development assistance, health care and other projects that support rural jobs.
Under RMAP, USDA provides loans to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) that, in turn, make microloans for business start-up or development to eligible microentrepreneurs defined as very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Grants are available for MDOs to provide technical assistance and training, particularly in rural areas experiencing persistent poverty or significant outmigration. USDA does not directly provide funds to the ultimate recipients.
The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and recently reauthorized through the 2014 Farm Bill.
The Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation is receiving a $500,000 RMAP loan to capitalize a revolving loan fund to provide microloans to very small businesses in 19 counties designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission as distressed communities. The Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation is the lead organization carrying out the state's Promise Zone initiative. Its Promise Zone work was made possible through the financial support from USDA.
MEDI, Inc., is receiving a $400,000 RMAP loan and $100,000 RMAP grant to serve as a microlender and technical assistance provider for very small rural businesses throughout Kentucky.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, Rural Development has invested more than $4.4 billion in Kentucky. The agency is targeting assistance to persistent poverty areas in Appalachian Kentucky through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, and will continue its work with Governor Beshear and his staff, the Kentucky Congressional Delegation, other federal agencies, SOAR officials and community leaders throughout the region to benefit rural communities in the impacted areas.
At the national level, the USDA investments are meeting a wide variety of business and manufacturing needs across rural America. For example, in South Carolina, the Santee Electric Cooperative is receiving a $1 million Rural Economic Development loan to support the local "Help My House program," which makes energy efficiency improvements in the rural areas of Williamsburg, Georgetown, Clarendon and Florence Counties. The Nodak Electric Cooperative in North Dakota is receiving a $775,000 Rural Economic Development loan to help S&S Grain, Inc. purchase and renovate a building in Walhalla, N.D., for grain drying, handling and storage.
The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program directly supports the Obama Administration'sInvesting in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative to boost the manufacturing sector and create well-paying manufacturing jobs, using economic development resources available through existing Federal programs.
Through today's announcement, USDA is providing over $59 million in loans and grants to 85 organizations in 31 states, including the District of Columbia, to strengthen rural businesses and promote economic development. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of their loan or grant agreements.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
BURLINGTON, VT – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced that USDA is investing in rural businesses and development organizations to spur economic growth in rural areas and in Tribal communities.
"These investments are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to help rural and Tribal communities that have the greatest need for assistance," Harden said. "USDA is targeting capital and technical assistance to small businesses and development organizations to help stimulate more business activity in areas that are struggling economically. This will help revitalize these small, remote rural communities and create much-needed jobs for local residents."
Harden announced details of the investments following a tour of Intervale Community Farm in Burlington, Vt. Intervale Community Farm is a 135-acre farm incubator on Burlington's Intervale. The Intervale Community Farm contributes 60 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs to the Burlington economy and is part of the Intervale Food Hub, a thriving local food aggregator and distributor contributing to Burlington's regional economy. Local food hubs provide organizations, businesses and institutions orders for local food products that are sourced from a variety of local farms.
The funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) programs. Rural Business Enterprise Grants help small and emerging rural businesses. Rural Business Opportunity Grants promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs.
The grants are being awarded in areas designated as Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) zones. REAP zones are areas that are considered economically distressed due to factors such as poverty, geographic isolation, declining populations or economic upheaval (such as the closing of a major job provider). The 2014 Farm Bill extends all current REAP zones through 2018.
Grants are also being targeted, predominantly through the Rural Business Opportunity Grant program, to Federally recognized Native American Tribes.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA Rural Development has invested nearly $6 million in REAP zones through the RBEG program. These grants have supported businesses and community projects across the country, creating or retaining 2,200 jobs (nearly 1,000 created and 1,200 retained). Since 2009, the agency has also invested $7.8 million in RBOG assistance for REAP zones and Native American Tribes. These Rural Business Opportunity Grants have helped approximately 400 businesses, and have created or retained about 2,100 jobs.
Harden emphasized that the USDA funding includes more than $2.2 million for organizations in Vermont, New York and North Dakota. Nine organizations in Vermont are receiving RBEG and RBOG grants totaling nearly $1.2 million. They will use the money to develop businesses, help revitalize a downtown district, and create jobs across the state. Seven organizations in North Dakota are receiving more than $566,000 in RBEG and RBOG grants to provide technical assistance to rural businesses and explore ways to increase commerce in Tribal areas. In New York, two organizations are receiving more than $445,000 to support rural businesses and determine the feasibility of establishing an open-access fiber optic network.
Through today's announcement, USDA is providing nearly $3 million in grants to 28 organizations in 12 states to strengthen rural business and promote economic development. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
Today's announcement was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The legislation builds on historic economic gains in rural America during the past five years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since its enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
The purpose of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) Prevention Research Branch (PRB) is to support a developmentally grounded program of research on the prevention of the initiation of drug use, progression to abuse and dependence, and transmission of drug-related HIV infection. This research involves the use of rigorous scientific methods to test theoretically derived hypotheses to advance our understanding of the science of prevention within diverse populations and settings. The program’s focus involves studies targeting the prevention of many substances (often collectively) including but not limited to nicotine, inhalants, marijuana, cocaine/crack, methamphetamine, club drugs, non-medical use of prescription and over the counter drugs, or any of these drugs in combination with alcohol. Studies that support this purpose include investigations of cognitive, behavioral, and social processes as they relate to 1) the development of novel prevention approaches, 2) the efficacy and effectiveness of newly developed and/or modified (or adapted) prevention programs, 3) the processes associated with the selection, adoption, adaptation, implementation, sustainability, and cost effectiveness of science-based interventions, and 4) methodologies appropriate for studying complex aspects of prevention science. Programs of research are intended to provide pathways toward the discovery of population-level approaches for the prevention of drug abuse and dependence, drug-related problems (e.g., mental health, interpersonal violence, criminal involvement, and productivity loss), and drug-related disorders (i.e., comorbid drug and psychiatric disorders, or infections including HIV, hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV)), and co-occurring, disorders and illnesses.
Significant progress has been made in understanding effective approaches to prevention of drug abuse over the past few decades, in part because of careful attention given to understanding basic, developmental processes involved in the transition to drug use, abuse and dependence. Drug abuse and dependence are disorders that interfere with the normal, healthy functioning of persons across the lifespan, and are preventable causes of medical and psychiatric problems and disorders, injuries, lost income and productivity, and family dysfunction. While the initiation of licit and illicit drug use, a necessary precursor to abuse and dependence, grows dramatically during the adolescent years, this behavior is preceded by proximal and distal biological, psychological, social, and environmental precursors originating as early as the prenatal period. Furthermore, the misuse and illicit use of drugs extends well beyond adolescence and, for some, begins in adulthood, even in late adulthood.
The life course developmental perspective suggests that individual and environmental factors interact to increase or reduce vulnerability to drug use, abuse and dependence. Vulnerability can occur at many points along the life course but peaks at critical life transitions. Thus, prevention researchers should recognize the significance of timing interventions to coincide with important biological transitions, such as puberty; normative transitions, such as moving from elementary to middle school; social transitions, such as dating; and traumatic transitions, such as the death of a parent. In addition, because vulnerability to drug abuse involves dynamic intrapersonal (e.g., temperament), interpersonal (e.g., family and peer interactions) and environmental (e.g., school environment and neighborhood) influences, prevention intervention research must target interactions between individuals and social systems across the life span. To address this complexity, intervention research needs to test strategies designed to alter specified modifiable mediators to determine which are most related to and effective in reducing drug use initiation and escalation, with what audiences, and under what conditions. There is recognition that developmental patterns may vary by gender, gender identity, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other population-based or cultural factors, and that these need to be better understood so that they can be addressed in interventions as appropriate. Drug use, abuse, and dependence often co-occur with delinquency and criminal behavior, interpersonal violence, mental health problems, HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and reproductive health problems. Therefore, understanding the prevention of co-occurring problems and their contribution to elevated levels of risk is important to NIDA's mission.
Successful drug abuse and drug-related HIV prevention programs have utilized a number of theoretical perspectives for predicting differential drug use trajectories and elucidating developmentally grounded mediators, or risk and protective factors, amenable to change. Notable among these theories are Problem Behavior Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, and the Social Development Model. Resulting research has focused on prevention approaches involving positive modification of various precursors of substance use, such as sensation-seeking, emotion regulation, aggressive behavior, academic problems and failure, poor social skills, misperceptions of social norms, poor parent-child attachment, and inappropriate parental expectations and responses. Because theoretical grounding of prevention programs is an essential feature for their success, further progress in prevention research relies on a stronger understanding of successful theories and their application and potentially the development of new theoretical approaches or meta-theories.
Prevention context impacts upon the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of prevention approaches. Successful programs have intervened in multiple contexts, such as schools, health care settings, community service organizations, workplaces, and within the family context. Drug abuse and related HIV prevention research is most successful when there is an existing or created delivery system for prevention interventions to be delivered (e.g., the intervention delivery contexts provide ready access to the target population). That is, the more central the delivery context is to the target audience's existing life routines, the more likely the intervention and associated research will be able to recruit and retain members of the target population and have sustainability of the intervention over time.
Audiences or targets for prevention interventions are generally classified into one of three categories depending on level of risk: universal, selective, or indicated. Universal prevention interventions are targeted to the general public or to a whole population group, such as all children in a school. Selective prevention interventions are targeted to individuals or subgroups of the population with defined risk factors for the development of substance abuse, such as children of drug abusers, children of parents in the criminal justice system, sexual minority youth, and youth in the child welfare system. Indicated prevention interventions are targeted to individuals or subgroups that are identified as having non-clinical but detectable signs or symptoms foreshadowing drug abuse, dependence, and addiction. A tiered approach to prevention interventions incorporates two or more of these levels of intervention with increasing intervention intensity for individuals at greater risk or with greater problem severity.
To advance the field, novel interventions must build on basic science findings from diverse fields. Opportunities exist to expand upon our growing knowledge by incorporating neuroscience, genetics, and physiology to better understand prevention pathways in order to improve effect sizes for successful approaches, increase the breadth of impact, develop personalized prevention approaches, and build efficiency or optimization into the processes of increasing protection or decreasing risk. Furthermore, because of recent advances in a number of disciplines, important opportunities exist to build upon findings from drug abuse etiology and epidemiology research and the fields of human development, neuroscience, criminology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and communications. An interdisciplinary approach to prevention, with research teams comprised of scientists bringing complementary expertise and critical and innovative research paradigms, will strengthen prevention efforts. In addition, studies addressing the unique opportunities to examine the interaction between biological, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and environmental variables in the context of the design and implementation of prevention research, need to be developed and tested.
Three underdeveloped areas of drug abuse/drug-related HIV prevention research are discussed briefly here: developmental transitions, differential effectiveness and fidelity of implementation, and emerging technologies. Characteristics and differences that contribute to drug abuse risk during late adolescence and emerging adulthood have not been well studied. This is a particularly important area of research because late adolescence is a significant transition point in human development, and the initiation of use of so-called hard drugs often takes place during this period. Other normative transitions during this life course stage, such as learning to drive, entering college, the military, or the first job; and courtship, marriage and the transition to parenthood as well as non-normative life events such as victimization have not been seriously considered as targets for drug abuse prevention interventions. Moreover, very few prevention interventions for later stages of adulthood have been developed despite the fact that individuals who have used licit and illicit drugs, and prescription drugs for non-medical use, for long periods of time without developing dependency can move toward abuse and dependence as the result of biological (e.g., lower tolerance with aging), medical (e.g., onset or ongoing chronic diseases, endocrine system changes, chronic pain; treatment of major medical conditions), normative (e.g., retirement), social (e.g., making new friends in retirement) or traumatic (e.g., loss of a spouse) transitions. Thus, greater attention to a wide variety of transitions and the risk and protective factors related to them is needed for the development and testing of innovative interventions that target high-risk periods across the life course.
Some effective prevention interventions show differential effectiveness by gender, ethnicity, and other factors. Research is needed to understand underlying biological, psychological and social processes and mechanisms that account for these differences so that interventions can be adapted as needed for specific sub-groups while maintaining the integrity of the intervention core components. Methodologies that help identify core elements, subpopulation effects, and other factors related to effective implementation are in need of further development. The importance of fidelity of implementation is well established, yet there are situations where strict adherence is not possible. Developing a better understanding of what constitutes the core content or effective ingredients of an intervention and how modification can be made while maintaining or boosting effect sizes may be a superior approach to developing a wholly new intervention. Moreover, research to elucidate under what conditions adaptation is indicated would advance our capability to understand how to optimize prevention services.
Emerging technologies, such as, social networking tools, and wireless communication (e.g., texting and cell phone applications), may have application to both intervention design and prevention methodology. While the full impact of such changes on prevention programming and research is unknown, possible improvements to intervention processes and data collection methodology should be explored. Technology-assisted interventions have the potential to be both more personalized, through the use of individualized programs, and more confidential, as they involve less face-to-face contact than more traditional methods. Technologies that are promising for their role in prevention research include hand held devices to collect data and new HIV testing technologies, particularly those that identify early infection. Less is known about whether the integration of media or other high-tech intervention components into existing interventions boosts intervention effectiveness. Emerging biological modalities for HIV prevention (e.g., pre-exposure prophylaxis) may have differential utilization and adherence where significant substance use is present and integrated biobehavioral interventions are needed to optimally implement these approaches.
Specific Areas of Research Interest
This FOA for R03 applications seeks to support small-scale research efforts across the spectrum of drug abuse and drug-related HIV prevention research. NIDA's drug abuse prevention research program is comprehensive in nature and fully reflects the prevention research mission, objectives, and study areas advanced by the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health. The following sections address drug abuse prevention research areas of specific interest to NIDA. Under each research section, examples of topics requiring further study are given. However, many areas for future research are not addressed, and there is an ongoing emergence of new areas. Thus, investigators should not view the examples provided as limiting the areas of research of interest to NIDA.
1. Basic Prevention Research
NIDA recognizes the need to maximize the use of existing underutilized approaches and basic science findings for the development of innovative preventive interventions targeting the initiation and escalation of drug abuse and the prevention of drug-related HIV infection. The goal of basic prevention research is to identify and test new prevention paradigms informed by basic science. Basic science discoveries utilized in basic prevention research include findings from biological (e.g. neurobiology, stress reactivity, pubertal maturation, or physical development), psychological (e.g. emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and developmental) and social (e.g., social work, criminology, sociology, urban planning, and communications) sciences that address individual and group vulnerabilities to drug use initiation and escalation from experimentation, to occasional use, to abuse. Investigators’ efforts over the past two decades have focused on the translation of basic research to produce prevention programs with proven efficacy and effectiveness in addition to science-based prevention principles. However, much existing basic science on biological, neurobiological, psychological, and social processes and mechanisms has not been fully utilized for purposes of developing and testing innovative, potentially efficacious, drug abuse prevention interventions. Moreover, recent scientific advances have provided opportunities to integrate knowledge from diverse fields such as biochemistry, biology, biomedicine, health care policy, computational science, computer science, education, economics, engineering, geography, genetics, sociology, urban planning, informatics/information science, mathematics, neurobiology, neuroscience, and physiology.
One opportunity for basic prevention research is the translation of intervention findings into further basic science study. Because preventive intervention trials include at least one non-intervention control group, they have unique contributions to make in advancing our understanding of the mechanisms through which risk and protective factors operate, including how biological, psychological, social and environmental factors interact to influence risk or how such mechanisms operate within and across different phases of development or for groups at risk for different reasons (e.g., LGBT), or at different levels of risk (i.e., accumulated risk, chronic vs. acute). Ultimately, this research will have implications for further development of new intervention paradigms or refinement/improvement of existing programs and strategies, as well as for the natural history of problem behaviors and the effect of intervention on those behaviors.
Most basic prevention science investigations are expected to be human laboratory studies or small-scale field randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies of well-defined hypotheses derived from prior research. When appropriate, researchers can propose basic research applications as stand-alone R03 applications associated with a prevention research study in its early stages.
Possible exploratory/developmental research foci include, but are not limited to:
Small-scale studies that use findings on learning styles, cognitive strategies, and neurocognitive functioning to improve or develop targeted prevention strategies.
Small-scale studies examining the interaction between emotional and cognitive responses to prevention messages to construct messages more likely to elicit appropriate responses (e.g., triggering refusal behaviors when confronted with potential drug use situations).
Secondary analyses of prevention trial data to examine understudied mediators and moderators of program effects on hypothesized primary outcome variables and on conceptually related outcomes such as sexual risk taking behaviors.
Research to discern what theoretical approaches have the greatest promise for informing intervention strategies/modalities leading to durable behavior change.
Small-scale studies using basic science research and emerging technologies to explicate under-explored mechanisms of neurobiological risk and to facilitate understanding of the biological and neurobiological effects of social, emotional, and behavioral preventive interventions.
2. Prevention Intervention Research
Research on prevention intervention programs and strategies should focus on the manipulation of presumed causal, malleable factors derived from basic prevention and other studies on the origins, pathways and mechanisms of vulnerability to drug abuse, addiction, and drug-related HIV. Even relatively modest prevention intervention research trials can address complex and varied questions on drug etiology, theory testing, mechanisms of intervention effects, process measures, fidelity measures, and implementation cost in addition to assessing short term and long term trial outcomes.
Three types of prevention intervention research that will be discussed further here include efficacy, effectiveness, and systems research.
Efficacy trials are designed to establish the impact of the intervention approach on targeted outcomes under ideal and well-monitored implementation conditions. In preparation for efficacy research, pilot studies are typically conducted to gather evidence for feasibility and acceptability, and potential efficacy in advance of proposing an efficacy trial. Mechanisms other than the R01 (e.g., R34, R21, and R03) are often more appropriate for pilot studies and other developmental work, such as the testing of methods and materials and manualization of the intervention. Efficacy trials may be small-scale trials or more moderate in size depending on the level of current evidence for the work and other considerations regarding the design of the trial.
Efficacy trials utilize small randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or, if well justified, other highly rigorous research designs. Quasi-experimental designs are discouraged, except in cases where the research question cannot be tested using a more rigorous approach. It is essential to articulate a theoretical framework or basis for the intervention effects anticipated. The theoretical or empirical basis of the intervention defines the role of mediating factors, that is, how various programmatic components have been designed to alter these elements in order to impact upon measurable intervention outcomes. An important aspect of efficacy studies is determining the relevance and acceptability of the program for translation to real world settings.
Effectiveness trials replicate efficacious strategies and interventions in less controlled, real-world settings with larger more diverse samples, and generally employ a RCT or equivalent research design (e.g., multiple baseline, cross over, etc.). In addition to determining effectiveness, these studies usually incorporate prevention services research questions related to factors such as participant recruitment and retention, dosage, cost, fidelity of implementation, and implementer training (see below for further discussion). That is, they examine issues that affect the transportability of programs to real world settings, facilitators and barriers to implementation, and generalizability to diverse populations and geographic settings.
Systems research takes prevention programs or strategies with demonstrated efficacy and effectiveness to scale. Systems trials are implemented through existing (e.g., schools, primary care settings, workplaces) or newly created delivery systems with large samples. Random assignment to intervention and control conditions remains the ideal study design. A major emphasis of systems trials is identifying and understanding how factors that affect the sustainability of programming operate. Thus, addressing prevention services research questions is a core goal of this type of study. All three intervention study types, efficacy, effectiveness, and systems, generally incorporate a longitudinal design to allow for the examination of the role of moderators, mediators and a variety of proximal and distal outcomes over time.
An important emphasis of NIDA's prevention research program is on prevention services research questions. Prevention services research involves identifying and determining how features internal and external to interventions contribute to efficacy and effectiveness. Examples of internal features are: content, implementation strategies, fidelity, dosage, delivery setting, and implementer training. Examples of external features are: exposure to other programs, media, enforcement of regulations and laws related to substance use and community norms around substance abuse. One important area of prevention services research is replication of efficacious interventions with other population groups and in alternate contexts in an effort to develop a clear understanding of those features that are essential to program integrity (i.e., core elements) and those that can be adapted to meet the needs of specific groups and settings. Prior research suggests that features such as program duration, reinforcement of prevention messages over time, consistency of messages across settings, use of developmentally appropriate content and materials, use of interactive teaching techniques, use of intermittent reinforcement, client-facilitator fit, grouping of clients, and interactions between these features need further investigation to improve the quality of programming and increase the potential for translation into real-world settings. Questions around these and other features that concentrate on the availability, organization, management, financing and sustainability of prevention interventions fall into the broad category of prevention services research. This also includes understanding community-level decision-making regarding the selection, adoption, adaptation, implementation and sustainability of prevention programs, policies and practices.
Prevention services research is integral to intervention research and forms the link between research and practice. For that reason researchers are encouraged to include services research questions that address or inform real-world implementation issues in efficacy and effectiveness trials as appropriate. In addition, researchers are encouraged to integrate prevention practitioners into the research process, from inception through to completion to ensure that successful interventions meet identified needs and to foster ownership and sustainability.
Examples of prevention topics appropriate for exploratory/developmental R03 research projects include:
Small-scale studies developing and testing strategies to strengthen existing group and environmental anti-drug norms and characteristics that have been show to be protective against drug abuse and addiction.
Small-scale studies developing and pilot testing preventive interventions designed to strategically target understudied periods in the life course, such as intervening in early childhood to alter precursors, intervening in late adolescence with youth who discontinue their education, or intervening in adulthood with individuals experiencing high stress, such as military personnel, returning veterans and their families, displaced, bereaved, or victimized persons, or sexual minorities.
Small-scale studies on the efficacy of drug abuse prevention programs and strategies that are untested but widely used such as: case management, mentoring, job training, and challenge activities.
Small-scale studies pilot testing the efficacy of drug use and/or HIV/STI screening tests for their potential effects in reducing or preventing drug abuse and dependence and/or HIV/STI infection.
Small-scale studies of the effects of environmental manipulations, such as school policies, state or local laws, and local law enforcement strategies, or the built environment on drug use and drug-related activities such as gang involvement.
Small-scale studies developing and pilot testing the efficacy of brief HIV and drug abuse prevention interventions for specific contexts such as primary care settings, federally qualified community health centers, and college or workplace health programs.
Small-scale studies testing theoretically grounded interventions with demonstrated efficacy for preventing drug use for their effects on sexual risk behaviors.
Small-scale studies for the development and pilot testing of new prevention interventions or adaptation and testing of evidence-based interventions for at-risk groups of children and youth who have been underrepresented in research efforts (e.g., military youth and families, children of parents in the criminal justice system and their families, children in foster care and their foster and biological families, adopted children and their families, lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth).
Small-scale studies of structural or environmental interventions designed to prevent drug use and abuse in communities.
Small-scale studies of tiered approaches that include screening and implementation of universal interventions and selective or indicated interventions for those who continue to experience difficulties to increase intervention impact in a setting or with a population.
Small-scale studies to identify core elements of intervention models (e.g., features/elements that need to be retained, or those that can be adapted or eliminated to streamline programming) while maintaining or boosting efficacy.
Small-scale studies of culturally congruent intervention approaches to reduce drug abuse and drug-related HIV among Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other understudied minority populations that are adversely affected by the consequences of drug use.
Small-scale studies that examine the efficacy of novel strategies for addressing the rise in prescription drug misuse and abuse that reflect the unique roles of medical and dental providers, social networks, and policy makers in prevention.
Secondary analysis of prevention intervention data to better understand the impact of drug abuse prevention intervention on drug use, drug disorders, and sexual risk taking behaviors among specific subgroups of individuals such as high risk youth, females, ethnic minorities, and LGBT youth in order to elucidate the need for intervention modifications and specialized intervention approaches.
Secondary analysis of prevention intervention trial data to assess factors accounting for variation in response to drug and HIV prevention interventions such as psychiatric disorders, family function, environmental exposures, stress responsivity, and cognitive or neurocognitive functioning.
Small-scale studies on adaptation of effective drug abuse and HIV prevention approaches to understand the added value of efforts to customize prevention for specific populations such as underserved racial and ethnic minority populations.
Small-scale studies examining program effectiveness in reducing HIV sexual and drug use risks as well as risks for acquiring related infections (i.e., other sexually transmitted infections, viral hepatitis), where research takes into account emerging knowledge about HIV risks such as population-based biological vulnerability, and network patterns.
Small-scale studies examining how differences in school environments, including drug abuse rules, and their enforcement, and policies, influence mediators of drug abuse (e.g., attitudes, norms and intentions) and eventually substance abuse behaviors with particular attention to the pattern and duration of the environmental change processes.
Small-scale studies of the initiation, development, and continuity of community coalitions to prevent drug abuse, and impact on selection and implementation of effective drug abuse prevention strategies.
Small-scale studies examining access and adaptability of research-based strategies for training high-risk parents (e.g., those who abuse drugs, or in situations where abusive child-rearing practices have been documented) through existing service delivery systems.
Determination of the cost and cost-effectiveness of brief drug abuse and HIV prevention programs that have been integrated into primary care, mental health and community settings, including federally qualified community health centers.
Small-scale studies that examine community-level decision-making regarding the selection, adoption, adaptation, implementation and sustainability of prevention programs, policies and practices.
Small-scale studies of the impact of prevention policies on the prevention of drug use and abuse in communities.
Small-scale studies that examine dissemination of evidence-based prevention interventions in communities.
3. Methodological Research
Methodological research is needed in the field of drug abuse prevention on promising data collection, data management, analysis, and reporting techniques. Special attention should be given to the hierarchical and longitudinal nature of most prevention trial data, the adaptation of measures for intervention cohorts over the course of time and development, the measurement and analysis of complex theoretical process models including moderating and mediating variables, the development of adaptive designs, the problems of missing data and attrition when following intervention and control subjects over time, and the development of analytic strategies to determine important features of prevention interventions (i.e., core components). NIDA supports the adaptation and assessment of proven scientific procedures from other disciplines to determine their applicability to drug abuse prevention research such as those from systems science. Specific areas of research include:
Development, testing, and application of complex statistical models to examine differential impacts of preventive interventions across individuals, across time, and across contexts.
Designs to improve causal inference from non-experimental and quasi-experimental research and natural prevention experiments.
Research to improve the analysis of longitudinal data—in particular, the analysis of correlated data, the modeling of different sources of error, and techniques for dealing with missing data at various levels of aggregation that may occur in prevention trials, as well as refining methods for evaluating effects in small, high risk subpopulations.
Methodological research to improve the analysis of complex prevention trial data, including the statistical modeling of non-response and other survey errors.
Analytic methods that appropriately model social structures, social processes, and spatial relationships such as social networks, social influence, diffusion, and contextual effects within randomized prevention trial datasets.
Methods for the detection and analysis of non-linear or discontinuous changes in response to preventive interventions.
Methodological research examining complex interactions between qualitative (e.g., process data) and quantitative outcome data.
Applications of systems science to improve the ability of complex trials to model real world clinical operations and decision making.
Research that evaluates ethical issues in the implementation of prevention interventions in particular populations, settings, or policy contexts, including evaluation of specific intervention modalities, study designs, and data collection methods.
WASHINGTON, DC– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is seeking applications for grants that will be awarded to organizations to provide critical financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop and strengthen their capacity to carry out housing, community facilities and community and economic development projects.
"Many rural nonprofits often need capital and technical assistance to carry out their missions," Vilsack said. "These grants will provide both of these components through local and regional organizations that are experts at delivering such services."
USDA is making nearly $6 million available to qualified organizations under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI).
Recipients must be non-profit organizations, low-income rural communities, or federally recognized tribes. Intermediary organizations are required to provide matching funds at least equal to the RCDI grant. The grants do not go directly to business recipients but rather through qualified intermediaries.
The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is November 12, 2014. Applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development state office where the applicant's headquarters are located. More information about the program and how to apply is available on page 47427 of the August 13, 2014 Federal Register.
Here is an example of how the RCDI program is helping rural communities. The Western Maine Community Action Program (WMCAP) has received several RCDI grants in recent years to help low-and very-low-income seniors maintain their independence and remain in their homes through the Keeping Seniors Home Program. Started in 2004, this program has served nearly 3,000 low-income senior homeowners in Maine. WMCAP is also working on a regional job creation plan to train energy auditors, private contractors, and other community partners to provide additional support services to Maine's elderly rural citizens.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.