WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary C. Peters, and Congressman John Conyers, Jr., announced the allocation of $8.9 million from the Community Development Block Grant Declared Disaster Recovery Fund (DDR) to the City of Detroit. The funds will help Detroit become better prepared for future floods and other natural disasters, and assist with planning and implementation costs associated with resilient projects in the Brightmoor, Mt. Elliot and McDougall-Hunt neighborhoods, stemming from August 2014 flooding damage.

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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:

  1. Camden, New Jersey
  2. Hartford, Connecticut
  3. Indianapolis, Indiana
  4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  5. Sacramento, California
  6. St. Louis/St. Louis County, Missouri
  7. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota
  8. 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.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today its support for entrepreneurial ecosystem development in eight communities through “ScaleUp America.”  This new initiative is designed to provide the necessary support to help companies scale up and grow, while strengthening and enhancing local entrepreneurial ecosystems around the specific needs of growth-oriented entrepreneurs and firms resulting in their ability to produce measurable economic impact and job growth in local communities.

“Today the SBA is announcing funding support for eight communities that will help scalable small firms grow and create jobs,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “Ninety-two percent of new jobs come from the expansion of existing businesses.  We are bringing our successful entrepreneurship education programs to underserved communities, bridging the gaps for those in greatest need across the country. This intensive SBA support will create jobs and support a diverse cross-section of communities across our great nation.”

The eight ScaleUp awardees were selected from more than 60 applicants to participate in the inaugural group of communities represent a wide range of diverse geographic areas and organizations.  From urban to rural, the applicants focused on filling the gap in services for growth-oriented small businesses with average annual revenue of $150,000 to $500,000.

SBA’s funding will be provided to each ScaleUp community’s organizing entity to strengthen opportunities for small businesses within the community.  The funds will be used to deliver a proven entrepreneurship education curriculum for growth-oriented entrepreneurs and small businesses; provide on-going one-on-one support, mentoring and technical assistance; assistance and connections to growth capital; and opportunities to build and strengthen connections and networks in their community.

The ScaleUp America communities include:

StartUp Tucson, Community of focus:  Tucson, Ariz.

StartUp Tucson, a nonprofit organization, has developed entrepreneurship ecosystem through an IDEA to IMPACT strategy – a strategy that received recognition by Entrepreneur Magazine. And now, with the assistance of SBA, StartUp Tucson and several key partners will provide assistance to four cohorts of growth-oriented companies that have developed market traction, but face challenges that are distinct from the entrepreneurs at the startup-stage.

University of North Florida, Community of focus: Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), Fla.

The five-county region of Jacksonville MSA has been nationally recognized as a small business climate conducive to start-ups and second-stage companies, yet recently has experienced a loss in establishment, sales and job growth for the self-employed and Stage 1 companies.  ScaleUp North Florida will specifically seek to assist these companies through an entrepreneurship education curriculum tailored for this community, management assistance and support based on an in-depth assessment of each business’ needs, access to capital for identified graduates and opportunities to build and strengthen networks.

University of Missouri - Kansas City, Community of focus: Kansas City

Two cohorts of small businesses participating in the ScaleUp Kansas City, led by University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Innovation Center, will commence their program with the FastTrac® Listening to Your BusinessTM and FastTrac® Growth Venture™ entrepreneurship curriculum. Supplementing the curriculum, businesses will develop their growth plans through one-on-one consulting and training, experienced business mentors, workshops on energy and environmental assistance, government contracting and international trade, and will all complete a financial assessment in order to discover ways of funding their particular growth strategies.

Women’s Business Development Center, Community of focus: Aurora, Ill.

Through the ScaleUp Aurora program, the national Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), headquartered in Chicago, Ill., will fill a gap in Aurora as the city lacks an economic development center focused on accelerating the growth of small businesses and providing access to capital. The program will use the Plan for Profit 12-week program followed with individual counseling, mentors, networking events, connection to resources – both connections and streams of capital.

Your Management Team, Inc., Community of focus:  Central Ohio

Your Management Team, Inc. will fill the gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Central Ohio by targeting established small but growing main street businesses.  Each business participating in the program will develop a strategic plan shaped by their experiences in the program completing the Kauffman Foundation’sGrowthVenture™, leadership and management workshops, marketing and sales workshops and quarterly financial reviews by certified public accountants.

Supply Chain Visions LLC, Community of focus:  Roanoke, Va.

With nearly 3000 growth-oriented small businesses with annual revenues in the $150,000 to $500,000 range, Roanoke, Va. will be an ideal community for the inaugural class of ScaleUp America.  Supply Chain Visions LLC will provide the training curriculum of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership/Workshop in Business Opportunity’s (WIBO) sixteen module, intensive program, a peer-to-peer learning, workshops focused on access to capital, and business networking needed to further develop a cohesive business to business environment, particularly for underserved populations.

Supply Chain Visions LLC, Community of focus:  Greater Portland, Maine

Members in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Portland, Maine articulate a strong community and assistance for the start-up community, but identify gaps in the support network for later stage, growth-oriented companies. Supply Chain Visions LLC and their committee of the University of

Southern Maine, Gorham Savings Bank, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Blackstone Accelerates Growth (BxG), The Regional Chamber of Commerce and SBA resources partners will help fill those gaps with their ScaleUp program.

Advantage West Economic Development Group, Community of focus:  Western North Carolina

ScaleUp Western North Carolina will provide intensive business scale up assistance and leadership development to two cohorts of Western North Carolina small businesses with strong potential for growth and job creation each year.  The program, led by the Advantage West Economic Development Group, will also fulfill gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem identified in their regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) plans, and will extend a proven training curriculum to rural, underserved and underrepresented small business communities.  In addition to offering a robust program to the small businesses, Advantage West will improve the ecosystem by hosting a series of regional outreach meetings to engage community partners from across the 23-county Western North Carolina region.

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)This is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. 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.

Another site you can also have a look at is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance or the CFDA. This has a list of Government grants and assistance. The Catalog also allows you to punch in key words for you to browse through the available grants out there by Category or by Topic Area.

Now that you found the grant perfect for you, you have to really understand what is written on the Eligibility Requirements. Understand these and make sure that you are qualified before you apply for the grant – so as to not waste time.

Another important note on government grants that you must consider is that they are not available all year-round. Just like fruits in the market, you cannot go there and buy it if it is not in season. You cannot apply for a grant just because you feel like it. You can only apply when it has the go signal from the Government agency.

The Government agency comes up with the funding for the grant. Once this is met, it announces to the Federal Register that the grant is available.

One must remember that researching for the right grant, looking for the one that is right for you and applying for it may take a lot of time and effort on your end. The forms are not simply filled up and sent in like how you do with credit card issuers. It does not work that way.

For one, grants are very competitive. Since this is some sort of "free lunch," a lot of people line up for it to be able to have a grant. However, government agencies sift through all these proposals and only approve those they have a gut feeling on who would make the most out of the money they lent them. Up to $25,000 to upgrade your skills as an Employee. US Government Grants for USA Citizens

There are some government agencies that would only provide funds to a specific kind of cost or expenses. Therefore, these government agencies will not be able to fully back the grantee up with the entire expenses.

Another thing is that not all grants are available all year-around. You have to check whether the grant that is right for the business venture, charity event or personal reasons you are interested in is available at that time.

A lot of people go gaga over the whole concept of free federal grants. The moot point is, is it really free? If you were to read Jay M. Shafritz's book 'American Government and Politics', he defines what a grant is. A grant, he says, is a gift that has certain obligations for the grantee and expectations from the grantor. A grant is no one-way street as most people looking for grants would like to believe. A grant comes to you inbuilt with the word 'obligations'. And rightly so, wouldn't you say? Why on earth should someone give you a lot of money and then forget about it? A grant is not philanthropy pure and simple. It means you have a responsibility to fulfill certain obligations.

Why are free federal grants given? They are basically dispensed so that organizations that are involved in doing work that benefits the community have the money to carry out the work. For example, the projects could be programs that train displaced workers, or street paving projects or water conservation projects or anything for the good of the community or the society. Once a grant has been sanctioned, the organization has to make sure that their functioning has certain strict performance standards. There has to be detailed and transparent auditing and accounting and the auditing has to be done once a year at least.

The other thing about free federal grants is that every cent has got to be spent. If there is any money that is left over after the project is complete, it reverts to the Treasury. The deal is that every cent should be accounted for. The goals that are set out in the program when the grant is applied for must be followed exactly as they are specified. If there are any changes in the course of the period, they must go through government procedures and get an approval. Of course it goes without saying that time schedules must be adhered to and the project must be successfully completed.

What happens if the organization does not comply with the program goals? Then, it is likely that the 'grantee' or the one who gets the free federal grant will have to pay a penalty. What form do these penalties take? This is said to be non-compliance and the penalties could range from economic sanctions to maybe even a prison term if it is suspected and proved that there was intentional misuse or theft of the grant money.

Who do most of the free federal grants go to? Most of the beneficiaries of this grant money are universities, colleges, states, cities, federal agencies and research organizations. The application process is done by experts who are well-versed in this. Which is why individuals usually do not qualify for them. Most organizations have special staff or get expertise from outside to prepare the applications and to monitor and administer the grants. It takes a lot of expense and time to just apply for a free federal grant. It also involves a great deal of legwork and going to and fro till it is finally approved. With so many cutbacks on federal spending, the chances of the grant being approved could be slim. The truth is that free federal grants are no cakewalk. They come with a price tag attached. The organization that gets it has to be prepared to deliver and deliver well.