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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.

Washington, DC-The accomplishments of Veteran small business owners around the country were celebrated during National Veterans Small Business Week.

U.S. Small Business Administration district offices and resource partners nationwide hosted more than 100 local events, including entrepreneurship training such as Boots to Business: Reboot classes, veteran access to capital workshops, and government contracting roundtables.

Veteran entrepreneurship workshops were also held at U.S. military installations in Germany and Korea.  On Friday, the ABC television network hosted a special “Shark Tank(link is external)” episode featuring veteran entrepreneurs who pitched their business ideas.

“In a significant way, veteran small business owners continue to serve America in a big way by employing more than six million workers, running one of every 10 small companies and generating more than $1.2 trillion in receipts every year,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “National Veterans Small Business Week is a great opportunity to expand the ranks of veteran entrepreneurship.  We are proud of the men and women who continue to play such a critical role in the economic growth of our nation.”

In addition to the SBA’s district offices and resource partners, the White House, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are involved in supporting NVSBW events.

Each year the SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists start and grow their small businesses.  To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, visit the SBA website.

WASHINGTON - The Small Business Administration has announced the launch of Destination: HUB.  For over 17 years, the HUBZone program has served as one of SBA's signature initiatives and has helped small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

The program encourages economic development and employment growth in distressed areas by providing opportunities for firms to become active participants in the federal supply chain.  Destination: HUB will promote and highlight HUBZones for opportunities in federal procurement.

"More than any other SBA initiative, the HUBZone Program has been a critical resource, creating jobs, alleviating poverty and reducing unemployment in our nation's most vulnerable communities.  The program has had a transformational effect on small businesses all across the country.  SBA's Destination: HUB will put a spotlight on our underserved small businesses and promote HUBZones as ideal places for government contractors to do business," said Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator.

"In our 2013 scorecard, we reported that HUBZone businesses only received 1.7 percent of federal contracts - well short of our 3 percent goal. This new initiative is an example of how the SBA actively working to achieve that goal." said Contreras-Sweet.

Destination: HUB will promote and support HUBZone firms in federal contract opportunities, while ensuring local economic development boards, government officials, federal buyers, and prime contractors work hand in hand to bring more sole-source and set-aside awards directly for these HUBZones.

Overall, Destination HUB will consist of three major components; first, an in-depth examination of successes and needs in the HUBZone program; second, analysis of ideal situations for successful HUBZone collaboration, harnessing the power of our public-private partnerships and market research to recruit more firms for HUBZone participation; and third, launching a broad grass-roots educational initiative, together with community organizations, faith leaders, local economic development, and key stakeholders, to encourage participation in and inspire collective ownership of, the HUBZone program, at both the regional and national levels. As a result, Destination HUB furthers SBA's effort to improve access to capital and close opportunity gaps in communities of color, by empowering entrepreneurs and small business owners economic and social mobility through employment and business growth.

The HUBZone program, enacted in 1997, helps small businesses located in areas that have been identified and designated as historically underutilized in both rural and urban communities, and on Indian reservations, receive contract help, thus promoting job growth, capital investment and economic development. The SBA regulates and implements the HUBZone Program and determines which businesses are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts. In FY 2013, the federal government awarded $6.2 billion to HUBZone firms.

To have a GDF staff member assist you in your HUBZone process, please contact us!

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.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced more than $62 million to help more than 9,000 homeless veterans find permanent supportive housing.  The rental assistance announced today is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA.

HUD is awarding $57 million to support 8,276 Tenant-Based Vouchers for rental units in the private market, and $5 million for 730 Project-Based Vouchers (PBV) for existing units or new construction in specific developments.

With HUD approaching its 50th anniversary next year, Secretary Julián Castro is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including the broader Administration goal of ending homelessness among veterans.  As First Lady Michelle Obama said in a Joining Forces speech in July 2014, “As Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform spends their nights sleeping on the ground should horrify us.  And so it is truly our duty to right this wrong and put an end to veteran homelessness once and for all.”

HUD-VASH is an important part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to provide critical housing and services to veterans experiencing homelessness that also includes HUD’s Continuum of Care program as well as VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).

“It is unacceptable that after their service and sacrifice, too many of our veterans find themselves living on our streets and in our shelters,” said Secretary Castro.  “We’ve made significant progress reducing homelessness among veterans by a third in just four years, and these vouchers will continue to help communities build on these gains, providing targeted assistance to those in need to ensure that every veteran has a home.”

Welcoming the progress made with HUD and local partners under the leadership of President Obama, VA Secretary Robert McDonald added, “As long as there remains a single veteran living on our streets, there is more work to be done. HUD-VASH vouchers are a vital tool in our efforts to reduce veteran homelessness.”

“Through the HUD-VASH program, communities are making historic progress toward ending homelessness by connecting veterans who have the most intensive service needs to the foundation of a home with supportive services,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.  “The grant awards announced today add crucial resources to this effort, helping to deliver on the promise that every Veteran who has served America has a home in America.”

Last month, HUD, VA and USICH released a new national estimate of veteran homelessness in the United States.  In January of 2013, thousands of cities and counties across the country reported 49,933 homeless veterans, a decline of 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010.  This includes a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of unsheltered veterans sleeping on the street.

Since 2008, more than 59,000 vouchers have been awarded and over 74,000 homeless veterans have been served through the HUD-VASH program.  Rental assistance and support services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among our nation’s veterans.

Additionally, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women. As evidence of that commitment, President Obama has asked for an additional $75 million for HUD-VASH vouchers to serve veterans experiencing homelessness in his fiscal year 2015 budget request to Congress.

In the HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies for these vouchers. Decisions are based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing.  The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.  VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded $75 million to help public housing and Housing Choice Voucher residents across the country connect with local services to improve their education and employment and to put them on a path to self-sufficiency.

Funded through HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS), these grants allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to work with social service agencies, community colleges, businesses, and other local partners to help public housing residents and individuals participating in HUD's Housing Choice Voucher Program to increase their education or gain marketable skills that will enable them to obtain employment and advance in their current work. In 2014, Congress combined funding for the Public Housing FSS (PH FSS) and Housing Choice Voucher FSS (HCV FSS) programs into one program serving both populations.

As HUD approaches its 50th anniversary next year, HUD Secretary Julián Castro is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including helping families and individuals secure quality housing by connecting housing efforts to education and job opportunities.

"HUD connects folks to opportunity," said Castro. "These grants will link people to the computer access, financial literacy, job training, childcare and other tools they need to compete and succeed in the workplace. Every American deserves access to the skills and resources necessary to become self-sufficient."

HUD's FSS Program helps local public housing authorities to hire service coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with programs and services that already exist in the local community. These Service Coordinators also build relationships with the network of local service providers so as to more effectively serve the residents. The program encourages innovative strategies that link public housing and Housing Choice Voucher assistance with other resources to enable participating families to find jobs, increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for rental and/or welfare assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.

Participants in the program sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and that no member of the FSS family is receiving cash welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. Families in the FSS program have an interest-bearing escrow account established for them. The amount credited to the family's escrow account is based on increases in the family's earned income during the term of the FSS contract. If the family successfully completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including improving credit scores, paying educational expenses, or a down-payment on a home.

The Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a long-standing resource for increasing economic security and self-sufficiency among participants. HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research issued Evaluation of FSS Program: Prospective Study in 2011 that evaluated the effectiveness of the FSS Program. Conducted from 2005 to 2009, the study showed that financial benefits are substantial for participants who remain in and complete the program. An earlier study found that individuals who participated in the FSS program fared better financially than those who did not enroll in the program. HUD is currently conducting a longitudinal study on the program, with the first set of results expected in 2018.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Significance

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:

Efficacy

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.

Effectiveness

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.

Systems

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.