WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) announced that it is seeking grant proposals to award up to $700,000 in grant funding for projects that promote the development of innovative and successful Native American firms that are eligible for assistance under the SBA’s 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program.

The SBA expects to award three to seven grants to provide funding opportunities for Native American Micro Enterprise Business Services.

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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.

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

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

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


Click HERE for the full details about this RFP.




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


Step 1: Complete the Online LOI form


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

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)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.

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

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.

Washington, DC – The Obama Administration announced an almost $17 billion global settlement with Bank of America. $1 billion of the total settlement amount resolves claims arising from allegations of fraud involving certain Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured single-family mortgage loans and a failure to perform under its servicing contract with the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae).

Under the terms of the settlement, Bank of America will pay $800 million to resolve the claims relating to FHA and $200 million to Ginnie Mae. The remaining nearly $16 billion of the total settlement amount resolves fraud claims involving the pooling of residential mortgage backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, and other claims by the United States, along with the States of California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and includes $7 billion in consumer relief with a focus on borrowers that were in the hardest-hit areas during the housing crisis.

"Today’s settlement with Bank of America is another important step in the Obama Administration’s efforts to provide relief to American homeowners who were hurt during the housing crisis,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro. “This global settlement will strengthen the FHA fund and Ginnie Mae, and it will provide $7 billion in consumer relief with a focus on helping borrowers in areas that were the hardest hit during the crisis.  HUD will continue working with the Department of Justice, state attorneys general, and other partners to take appropriate action to hold financial institutions accountable for their misconduct and provide consumers with the relief they need to stay in their homes. HUD remains committed to solidifying the housing recovery and creating more opportunities for Americans to succeed.”

This settlement is part of the ongoing efforts of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s RMBS Working Group.

Working with the Department of Justice, HUD’s Office of General Counsel, Office of Housing, and Office of the Inspector General worked extensively on the fraud investigation involving FHA-insured single-family mortgage loans that were underwritten by Bank of America during the period from May 1, 2009, to April 1, 2011. HUD also provided assistance with respect to a breach of contract claim involving Bank of America’s role as one of two master subservicers for Ginnie Mae’s portfolio of defaulted single-family mortgages.

The $7 billion in consumer relief will focus on areas that were hardest hit during the housing crisis. Consumer relief will take various forms including loan modification for distressed borrowers, including FHA-insured borrowers, and new loans to credit worthy borrowers struggling to get a loan in hardest hit areas, borrowers who lost homes to foreclosure or short sales, and moderate income first-time homebuyers. Bank of America will also make donations to community development funds, legal aid organizations, and housing counseling agencies to assist individuals with foreclosure prevention and to support community reinvestment and neighborhood stabilization. They will also provide financing for affordable rental housing with a focus on family housing in high-cost areas.  An independent monitor will be appointed to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement.

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.

Washington D.C. — In support of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Department of Energy issued a loan guarantee solicitation today, making as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. This solicitation represents the next step in the Department’s commitment to support the deployment of innovative, clean energy technologies at commercial scale in the U.S.

“As the President emphasized in his Climate Action Plan, it is critical that we take an all-of-the above approach to energy in order to cut carbon pollution, help address the effects of climate change and protect our children’s future,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Investments in clean, low-carbon energy also provide an economic opportunity. Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today’s announcement will help build on and accelerate that success.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market-ready. Within the solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the appropriate requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams; and efficiency improvements.

During the 30-day public comment period, the Department held six public meetings around the country and accepted written comments online.  The solicitation issued today addresses many of those comments and the full public comment record is available online.

With today’s announcement, the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) is now accepting applications in three areas, which also include the $8 billion Advanced Fossil Energy Projects solicitation that was released in December 2013 and the $16 billionAdvanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

Currently, the LPO supports a diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments, supporting more than 30 projects nationwide. The projects that LPO has supported include one of the world’s largest wind farms; several of the world’s largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems; and more than a dozen new or retooled auto manufacturing plants across the country.