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(Mar 25 2015)   New Report Available: "Workforce Development in the United States -- Lessons Learned for Older Workers" 
 
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(Mar 24 2015)   Job Creation and Supports for Small Business: New CDFI Data Collection Proposed; New Treasury Department Reports Examine Effectiveness of Benefit to Low-Income Communities 
 
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(Mar 24 2015)   Urban Institute Announces Initiative to Help Guide, Design, and Assess "Pay for Success" Projects across the Country 
 
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(Mar 24 2015)   Department of Treasury Seeks Comment on Information Collections Related to Financial Education for Students and College Choice  
 
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(Mar 20 2015)   USDA Expands StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Build Rural Economies in Oklahoma and Puerto Rico; Partners with University of Kentucky to Establish National Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center 
 
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(Mar 20 2015)   U.S. Manufacturing Council to Hold April 1 Meeting, Receive Briefing from Senior Officials in Government Agencies; Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Bill to Designate "Manufacturing Universities" 
 
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(Mar 20 2015)   HRSA Announces Opening of FY 2015 Funding Opportunity for Health Career Opportunity Program; Updates Definition of "Low Income" Family 
 
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(Mar 20 2015)   EDA Publishes Sixty-Day Notice for the Information Collection in Support of the "Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)" 
 
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(Mar 20 2015)   Department of Education’s Priority for "Investing in Innovation Fund": Implementation of Comprehensive High School Reform and Redesign Strategies 
 
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(Mar 20 2015)   Urban Institute Announces Initiative to Help Guide, Design, and Assess "Pay for Success" Projects across the Country 
 
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(Mar 19 2015)   Job Access and Reverse Commute Program: FTA Seeks Comments on Reporting 
 
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(Mar 19 2015)   NIST Seeks Revision to MEP Reporting, Requests Comment by May 15; Census Bureau Outlines Plans for Annual Survey of Manufactures; Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness to Include Discussion of Workforce Development at April 15 - 16 Meeting 
 
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(Mar 19 2015)   USDA Announces $97 Million Available to Expand Access to Healthy Food, Support Rural Economies 
 
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(Mar 17 2015)   Department of Education Seeks Comment on Information Collection in Support of the "Student Messaging in GEAR UP Demonstration" 
 
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(Mar 17 2015)   Energy Department and the Institute Release Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines 
 
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(Mar 17 2015)   Kauffman Foundation: How Local and State Governments Can Rev Up Business Creation 
 
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(Mar 17 2015)   Corporation for National and Community Service Selects State, Local and Non-Profit Organizations to Develop Pay for Success Projects  
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   EPA Selects 20 Communities for Brownfield Grants to Revitalize Communities, Strengthen Local Economies 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Council on Competitiveness Launches Its U.S. Energy & Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership  
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   New Report: Stepping Up – State Developments in SNAP Employment and Training Data 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   ACF/ORR Announces Funding Opportunity for Projects to Establish and Maintain Individual Development Accounts for Low-Income Refugees 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Health Care Sector: HHS/ACF Outlines Plans for Evaluation and System Design for the Next Generation of Health Profession Opportunity Grants; Seeks Comments on Information Collection 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Increasing Employment Opportunities for Disadvantaged Young Adults: MDRC Announces Availability of Report Focusing on "Demand Driven" Approaches 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   ETA Seeks Comment on Proposed Revisions to the Foreign Labor Certification Quarterly Activity Report  
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   DOL VETS Seeks Comment on the Proposed Extension of Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Tracking Report (VETS 201) 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   ETA Publishes Thirty-Day Notice for Data Collection in Support of the Job Innovation and Accelerator Challenge Grants Evaluation 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   EPA Identifies $48 Million for the Establishment of Regional Environmental Finance Centers to Provide Expertise to Regulated Communities 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   ETA Publishes Thirty-Day Notice for the Data Collection in Support of Youth CareerConnect Impact and Implementation Evaluation 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Department of Commerce and Columbia University to Co-Host "Future of Urban Innovation Summit" on June 9 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Department of Commerce Issues Report Exploring High Paying, Fast Growing Data Jobs; Identifies Members of the New Data Advisory Council 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Department of Education Announces Funding Opportunity under the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Program 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Broadband: NTIA Releases New Public-Private Partnership Primer 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   Job Creation and Job Training Services: USDA Invites Applications for the Rural Economic Development and Loan Grant Programs for Fiscal Year 2015 
 
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(Mar 16 2015)   TANF Families Two-Parent Study: HHS/ACF Seeks Comment on New Data Collection 
 
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(Mar 3 2015)   ARC Report Cites Economic Progress and Challenges in Appalachian Region Since 1965 
 
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(Mar 3 2015)   USDA Announces $14 Million in Grants Supporting Economic Growth for Rural Communities 
 
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(Mar 3 2015)   Administration for Community Living Identifies 'Employment Policy and Measurement"? and "Employer Practices Leading to Successful Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Disabilities" among Research Priorities; Seeks Comments by March 27 
 
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(Mar 3 2015)   New SWEAP Tools Help State Policymakers Align Workforce and Education Programs 
 
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(Mar 3 2015)   Skills Gaps in Manufacturing Sector: Two New Studies from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte 
 
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(Mar 3 2015)   NIST Awards $26 Million to Support Manufacturing in 10 States 
 
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(Mar 2 2015)   USDA Updates Regulations Affecting Rural Economic Development, Business Supports, and Broadband Implementation 
 
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(Mar 2 2015)   Social Security Administration Seeks Comment on New "Data Exchange Request Form" 
 

 

Description

 

New Report Available: "Workforce Development in the United States -- Lessons Learned for Older Workers"


A new report by Stephen A. Wandner, David E. Balducchi, and Christopher J. O’Leary undertakes a selective review of public workforce development programs in the United States over the last eighty years with a special emphasis on their importance to older Americans. These researchers are associated with the Urban Institute and W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Particular attention is paid to services benefitting dislocated workers—that is, experienced adults permanently separated from their prior employers. The Employment Service and the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker programs serve the greatest number of older workers.

The Senior Community Service Employment Program and the very small Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance program (now called Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance) are the only programs targeted specifically to older workers.

Report

 

Job Creation and Supports for Small Business: New CDFI Data Collection Proposed; New Treasury Department Reports Examine Effectiveness of Benefit to Low-Income Communities


A certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) is a specialized financial institution that works in market niches that are underserved by traditional financial institutions. CDFIs provide a unique range of financial products and services in economically distressed target markets, such as mortgage financing for low-income and first-time homebuyers and not-for-profit developers, flexible underwriting and risk capital for needed community facilities, and technical assistance, commercial loans and investments to small start-up or expanding businesses in low-income areas. CDFIs include regulated institutions such as community development banks and credit unions, and non-regulated institutions such as loan and venture capital funds.

The CDFI Fund), Department of the Treasury, is currently soliciting comments concerning the Annual Assessment Evaluation. This report form will be used to collect vital financial performance data, internal control, and investment impact measurement related information for institutions participating in the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, consistent with the program's requirements for Compliance Management and Monitoring (CMM) and Portfolio Management and Loan Monitoring (PMLM), and pursuant to 12 CFR part 1808 (Interim Rule).

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The CDFI fund has also recently released two independent reports that provide the first-ever comparative analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) as compared to mainstream lenders. The findings confirm that CDFIs are resilient and a reliable resource for capital in areas that need it the most.

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Urban Institute Announces Initiative to Help Guide, Design, and Assess "Pay for Success" Projects across the Country


The Urban Institute has recently launched an initiative to ensure “Pay for Success” (PFS) transactions are well-designed, informed by rigorous research, and deliver outcomes as intended.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) will commit $8.4 million over three years for the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, to establish a broad Pay for Success Initiative at Urban and ensure current and future PFS transactions are evidence-based and effective.

Pay for Success is an innovative funding approach that aims to drive government resources toward proven social programs to deliver better results to those in need. The model provides a way for state and local governments to tackle social problems by tapping private investors to cover the up-front costs of the programs. If the programs are successful, governments pay the investors back. If they are not, the investors absorb the cost and the governments pay nothing.

Currently there is only a handful of Pay for Success deals operating nationwide; however, with rapid growth expected, Urban’s scholars will bring a research perspective to assess and advise both existing and future PFS projects, at little to no cost to the field.

“The ultimate goal of our initiative is to identify and scale evidence-based interventions through effective service providers to help people and communities. We are advocates for the evidence that forms the foundation of these agreements to pay for interventions which would otherwise go unfunded, or be funded on a smaller scale. Knowing the rate and scale at which these programs are expanding, we want to make PFS deals as strong and research-based as possible,” said John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

Pay for Success already is an exciting and rapidly growing field. Urban aims to support and complement the work of a number of other organizations and public leaders who have created a strong foundation for others to follow. Ultimately, Urban will help accelerate what the field can learn together.

Scholars supported by Urban’s new PFS Initiative will be engaged in a range of activities, including:

  • Providing training and technical assistance;
  • Developing toolkits and templates for others to follow;
  • Designing new PFS transactions based on existing research;
  • Helping ensure programs are evaluated accurately; and
  • Sharing lessons learned for other leaders and researchers through collaborative events.

As one of the first undertakings for the PFS Initiative, Urban will host a series of virtual events in May examining the areas of public and social service that are most promising for PFS. The panel series will bring together subject matter experts, researchers, service providers, and philanthropic and government leaders from across the country. It will focus on which evidence-based programs and strategies are best poised for a PFS approach in housing, economic development, poverty reduction, and justice system reform.

Urban Institute Fellow and Director of Urban Policy Initiatives Erika Poethig explained, “Urban is uniquely positioned to conduct this work given its independent perspective, the breadth of its expertise on social and economic policy issues, and its commitment to empirical evidence. Since its founding, Urban has used research to improve public sector programs. Pay for Success is a natural extension of that effort, and Urban’s scholars are committed to helping maximize the potential of these new opportunities.”

There are roughly 30 PFS projects in various stages of development in the United States, and PFS investments could total $1 billion across the next three years.

 

Department of Treasury Seeks Comment on Information Collections Related to Financial Education for Students and College Choice


The Department of Treasury is seeking comment on a proposed new data collection -- My Classroom Economy Study.

The Department is seeking Office of Management and Budget approval of this collection that contains four components that will be used to gather information from youth, their parents, and teachers who are participating in a classroom-based financial capability intervention called "My Classroom Economy."

This research will inform the Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) and Treasury officials on strategies for providing financial education to students during the school day.

Comments are due by April 16

Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 927-5331, email at PRA@treasury.gov, or the entire information collection request maybe found at www.reginfo.gov.

The Department is also requesting OMB approval of an information collection instrument to be used at approximately six focus groups involving a total of approximately 18-30 students and their parents at three high schools in the spring of 2015. Treasury and its research team will use insights gleaned from the focus groups as it designs further research on the effectiveness of providing high school students and their parents with information about college choices and options, specifically about quality and cost issues.

Comments are due by April 16. More ...

 

USDA Expands StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Build Rural Economies in Oklahoma and Puerto Rico; Partners with University of Kentucky to Establish National Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center


USDA Secretary Vilsack today (March 19) announced an expansion of the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to address chronic rural poverty in 32 identified counties in Oklahoma and the entire island of Puerto Rico. Today's announcement brings StrikeForce assistance to 880 counties, parishes, colonias, boroughs and tribal reservations across 21 states and Puerto Rico.

More ...                Strike Force Factsheet

Secretary Vilsack also joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and University of Kentucky-Lexington officials today to announce the establishment of the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. The Center will use cutting-edge solutions in child nutrition to reduce child food insecurity in states with the highest number of persistently poor rural counties. Currently, about 85 percent of all persistently poor counties in the United States are in rural areas, and children are one of the most vulnerable groups living in rural areas.

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U.S. Manufacturing Council to Hold April 1 Meeting, Receive Briefing from Senior Officials in Government Agencies; Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Bill to Designate "Manufacturing Universities"


The United States Manufacturing Council (Council) will hold the first meeting of the current members'' term on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. The Council was established in April 2004 to advise the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the manufacturing industry.

The purpose of the meeting is to brief Council members on current manufacturing initiatives throughout the Federal government. The Council will receive briefings from various leaders across the Department who are actively engaged in different aspects of manufacturing policy. The Council will also receive briefings from senior officials of related government agencies such as the Department of Labor. The Secretary of Commerce has been invited to welcome the Council and provided introductory remarks.

Following the briefings, the Council members will be asked to discuss their views on major priorities facing the manufacturing industry and issues that they propose for the Council to advise on during their appointment term. The agenda may change to accommodate Council business. The final agenda will be posted on the Department of Commerce Web site for the Council at http://trade.gov/manufacturingcouncil, at least one week in advance of the meeting.

Additional information / meeting time / submission of comments / attendance logistics

 

On March 18, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), who leads the Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced bipartisan legislation to help schools strengthen their engineering programs and meet the growing demands of 21st century manufacturing.

The news release notes, in part:

The bill would designate 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’ and provide incentives to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers. The incentives would be used to bolster universities’ efforts to focus on manufacturing engineering and curricula specifically related to targeted industries.

The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 would establish a program within the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) charged with designating 25 schools as ‘Manufacturing Universities.’ Designated schools would receive $5 million per year for four years to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing training opportunities, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship. The program would be run by the Director of the NIST, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and the Director of the National Science Foundation, among others.

Companion legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives today by U.S. Representatives Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).

This bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Precision Metalforming Association, the National Tooling & Machining Association, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Clemson University, University of South Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, the University of Missouri System, the University of Illinois, the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Irvine, Boston University, the University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the State University of New York (SUNY) System, Kent State University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.

 

HRSA Announces Opening of FY 2015 Funding Opportunity for Health Career Opportunity Program; Updates Definition of "Low Income" Family


Note that community colleges, technical colleges, and tribal colleges are able to apply under this FY 2015 HCOP competition.

The purpose of the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HPOG) grant program is to:

1) promote the recruitment of qualified individuals (students and adult/non-traditional students, including veterans) from disadvantaged backgrounds into health and allied health professions programs;

2) improve retention and matriculation rates by implementing tailored enrichment programs designed to address the academic and social needs of disadvantaged trainees; and

3) provide opportunities for community-based health professions training, emphasizing experiences in underserved communities.

The Health and Human Resources Administration (HRSA) announced on March 16 it is seeking applications for the FY 2015 Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) program, identifying $11,000,000 in funding support. Applications are due by May 15. The application package is available on www.grants.gov (HRSA-15-042).

Applicants must develop and implement evidence-informed academic and social support activities and data systems that measure student improvements in grade point averages, retention and matriculation rates, standardized test scores, licensure exam scores and on-time graduation rates. HCOP provides a variety of academic and social supports to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds through formal academic and research training, programming and student enhancement or support services. The HCOP recipients provide counseling and mentoring services to assist students in successfully completing their education and training. The program also exposes students to community-based health professions experiences in underserved communities. In addition, HCOP provides student stipends and financial planning resources to students as well as information about health care careers and training. Information related to financial planning resources may also be provided to parents/guardians of students interested in pursuing health careers.

HCOP focuses on three key milestones of education: high school completion; acceptance, retention and graduation from college; and acceptance, retention and completion of a health professions program. The HCOP statutory authority includes a Funding Preference for applicants that utilize a Comprehensive Approach - an organizational model involving partnerships between several public or nonprofit private health or educational entities to establish, enhance and expand educational programs that result in the development of a competitive applicant pool of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who desire to pursue health professions careers.

Eligible applicants include eligible applicants include accredited schools of medicine, osteopathic medicine, public health, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, pharmacy, allied health, chiropractic, pediatric medicine, public and nonprofit private schools that offer graduate programs in behavioral and mental health, programs for the training of physician assistants, and other public or private nonprofit health or educational entities including community colleges, technical colleges and tribal colleges. Each applicant must specifically state its eligibility information in the project abstract.

In the March 17 FEDERAL REGISTER, HRSA announced an update of income levels used to identify a "low-income family" for the purpose of determining eligibility for programs that provide health professions and nursing training to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. These various programs are authorized in Titles III, VII, and VIII of the Public Health Service Act.

HRSA periodically publishes these FEDERAL REGISTER income notices to be used by institutions receiving grants and cooperative agreements in order to determine individual eligibility for programs providing training for (1) disadvantaged individuals, (2) individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, or (3) individuals from low-income families.

 

EDA Publishes Sixty-Day Notice for the Information Collection in Support of the "Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)"


In order to effectively administer and monitor its economic development assistance programs, the Economic Development Administration collects certain information from applications for, and recipients of, EDA investment assistance. EDA has published a sixty-day notice in the March 17 FEDERAL REGISTER inviting comments by May 18 on this information collection.

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Department of Education’s Priority for "Investing in Innovation Fund": Implementation of Comprehensive High School Reform and Redesign Strategies


The Department of Education published its proposed priority for its “Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)” in the March 17 FEDERAL REGISTER, inviting comments from the public by April 17.

The Department has identified a priority for the i3 program that would promote the implementation of comprehensive high school reform and redesign strategies. This proposed priority could be used in the Development, Validation, or Scale-up tier of the i3 program in future years, as appropriate.

The i3 program addresses two related challenges. First, there are too few practices in education supported by rigorous evidence of effectiveness, despite national attention paid to finding practices that are effective in improving education outcomes in the decade since the establishment of the Department’s Institute of Education Sciences. Second, there are limited incentives to expand effective practices substantially and to use those practices to serve more students across schools, districts, and States. As a result, students do not always have access to high-quality programs.

The i3 program addresses these two challenges through its multi-tier structure that links the amount of funding that an applicant may receive to the quality of the evidence supporting the efficacy of the proposed project. Applicants proposing practices supported by limited evidence can receive small grants to support the development and initial evaluation of promising practices and help to identify new solutions to pressing challenges; applicants proposing practices supported by evidence from rigorous evaluations, such as large randomized controlled trials, can receive substantially larger grants to support expansion across the Nation.

This structure provides incentives for applicants to build evidence of effectiveness of their proposed projects and to address the barriers to serving more students across schools, districts, and States so that applicants can compete for more sizeable grants.

As importantly, all i3 projects are required to generate additional evidence of effectiveness. All i3 grantees must use part of their grant award to conduct independent evaluations of their projects. This ensures that projects funded under the i3 program contribute significantly to improving the information available to practitioners and policymakers about which practices work, for which types of students, and in which contexts.

Click here for the display/docket version of the full notice.

 

Urban Institute Announces Initiative to Help Guide, Design, and Assess "Pay for Success" Projects across the Country


From the Urban Institute:

The Urban Institute today (March 16) launched an initiative to ensure "Pay for Success" (PFS) transactions are well-designed, informed by rigorous research, and deliver outcomes as intended.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) will commit $8.4 million over three years for the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, to establish a broad Pay for Success Initiative at Urban and ensure current and future PFS transactions are evidence-based and effective.

Pay for Success is an innovative funding approach that aims to drive government resources toward proven social programs to deliver better results to those in need. The model provides a way for state and local governments to tackle social problems by tapping private investors to cover the up-front costs of the programs. If the programs are successful, governments pay the investors back. If they are not, the investors absorb the cost and the governments pay nothing.

Currently there is only a handful of Pay for Success deals operating nationwide; however, with rapid growth expected, Urban's scholars will bring a research perspective to assess and advise both existing and future PFS projects, at little to no cost to the field.

"The ultimate goal of our initiative is to identify and scale evidence-based interventions through effective service providers to help people and communities. We are advocates for the evidence that forms the foundation of these agreements to pay for interventions which would otherwise go unfunded, or be funded on a smaller scale. Knowing the rate and scale at which these programs are expanding, we want to make PFS deals as strong and research-based as possible," said John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

Pay for Success already is an exciting and rapidly growing field. Urban aims to support and complement the work of a number of other organizations and public leaders who have created a strong foundation for others to follow. Ultimately, Urban will help accelerate what the field can learn together.

Scholars supported by Urban’s new PFS Initiative will be engaged in a range of activities, including:

  • Providing training and technical assistance;
  • Developing toolkits and templates for others to follow;
  • Designing new PFS transactions based on existing research;
  • Helping ensure programs are evaluated accurately; and
  • Sharing lessons learned for other leaders and researchers through collaborative events.

As one of the first undertakings for the PFS Initiative, Urban will host a series of virtual events in May examining the areas of public and social service that are most promising for PFS. The panel series will bring together subject matter experts, researchers, service providers, and philanthropic and government leaders from across the country. It will focus on which evidence-based programs and strategies are best poised for a PFS approach in housing, economic development, poverty reduction, and justice system reform.

Urban Institute Fellow and Director of Urban Policy Initiatives Erika Poethig explained, "Urban is uniquely positioned to conduct this work given its independent perspective, the breadth of its expertise on social and economic policy issues, and its commitment to empirical evidence. Since its founding, Urban has used research to improve public sector programs. Pay for Success is a natural extension of that effort, and Urban’s scholars are committed to helping maximize the potential of these new opportunities."

There are roughly 30 PFS projects in various stages of development in the United States, and PFS investments could total $1 billion across the next three years.

Also see:
ETA's Workforce Innovation Fund / Pay for Success Webpage

 

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Job Access and Reverse Commute Program: FTA Seeks Comments on Reporting


The Federal Transit Administration published a notice in the March 17 FEDERAL REGISTER seeking public comment on the required reporting in support of the Job Access and Reverse Commute program. Comments are due by May 17.

The FTA notes, in part:

The Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program, authorized the Secretary of Transportation to make grants to states for areas with a population of less than 200,000 and designated recipients in urbanized areas of 200,000 persons or greater to transport welfare recipients and other low-income individuals to and from jobs related to employment.

The (JARC) program was established to address the unique transportation challenges faced by welfare recipients and low-income persons seeking to obtain and maintain employment. Many new entry-level jobs are located in suburban areas, and low-income individuals have difficulty accessing these jobs from their inner city, urban, or rural neighborhoods. In addition, many entry level-jobs require working late at night or on weekends when conventional transit services are either reduced or non-existent. Finally, many employment related-trips are complex and involve multiple destinations including reaching childcare facilities or other services.

The Job Access and Reverse Commute Program was repealed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). However, funds previously authorized for programs repealed by MAP–21 remain available for their originally authorized purposes until the period of availability expires, the funds are fully expended, the funds are rescinded by Congress, or the funds are otherwise reallocated.

 

NIST Seeks Revision to MEP Reporting, Requests Comment by May 15; Census Bureau Outlines Plans for Annual Survey of Manufactures; Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness to Include Discussion of Workforce Development at April 15 - 16 Meeting


NIST Seeks Revision to MEP Reporting, Requests Comment by May 15; Census Bureau Outlines Plans for Annual Survey of Manufactures; Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness to Include Discussion of Workforce Development at April 15 - 16 Meeting Subjects: manufacturing sector, Federal reporting and surveys, Training and Employment Notice 38-11: Benefits of Collaboration Between State/Local Workforce Investment Boards and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program; supply chains and workforce development

Sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is a national network of locally-based manufacturing extension centers working with small manufacturers to assist them improve their productivity, improve profitability and enhance their economic competitiveness.

NIST is currently seeking public comment on the proposed revision of a information collected that provide the MEP with information regarding MEP Center performance regarding the delivery of technology, and business solutions to U.S.-based manufacturers. In order to reflect new initiatives and new data needs, NIST MEP has identified a need to revise its existing reporting processes by modifying existing reporting elements that will enable NIST MEP to better monitor and assess the extent to which the Centers are meeting program goals and milestones.

The collected information will assist in determining the performance of the MEP Centers at both local and national levels, provide information critical to monitoring and reporting on MEP programmatic performance, and assist management in policy decisions. Responses to the collection of information are mandatory per the regulations governing the operation of the MEP Program.

The information collected will include center inputs and activities including services delivered, clients served, center staff, quarterly expenses and revenues, partners, strategic plan, operation plans, and client success stories. No confidentiality for information submitted is promised or provided.

The information will be collected from the MEP Centers through the MEP Enterprise Information System (MEIS), https://meis.nist.gov.

The ICR is available from Deirdre McMahon, National Institute of Standards and Technology--Manufacturing Extension Partnership, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 4800, 301-975-8328 (phone). In addition, written comments may be sent via email to Deirdre.mcmahon@nist.gov.

Written comments may be sent to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at jjessup@doc.gov). Comments should be submitted by May 15.

More ...

The Census Bureau has outlined its plan for the Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) which has been conducted since 1949 to provide key measures of manufacturing activity during intercensal periods.

The Census Bureau notes, in part:

The ASM statistics are based on a survey that includes both mail and nonmail components. The mail portion of the survey consists of a probability sample that will be redesigned for the 2014 ASM using a methodology similar to the one that was used for the 2009 ASM. However, the industry strata for the 2014 ASM sample will be based on the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which combines many of the six-digit codes in the Manufacturing Sector. For the 2009 ASM, approximately 51,000 manufacturing establishments were selected from a frame of approximately 117,000 establishments. The frame contained all manufacturing establishments of multiunit companies (companies with operations at more than one location) and the largest single-location manufacturing companies within each industry. We expect the number of establishments in the 2014 ASM sample to be about the same as the number in the 2009 ASM sample. The 2009 ASM nonmail component contained approximately 211,000 small and medium-sized single-location companies. No data are collected from companies in the nonmail component. Data are imputed based on models that incorporate the administrative records of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Though the nonmail companies account for nearly two-thirds of the universe, they account for less than 7 percent of the manufacturing output.
The March 16 FEDERAL REGISTER provides complete background and outlines the revisions to the collection. Comments are due to OMB by April 16.

The Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration has published the scheduled and proposed topics of discussion for the April 15 - 16 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness. The meetings are open to the public.

Committee members are expected to continue to discuss the major competitiveness-related topics raised at the previous Committee meetings, including trade and competitiveness; freight movement and policy; information technology and data requirements; regulatory issues; finance and infrastructure; and workforce development. The Committee's subcommittees will report on the status of their work regarding these topics. The agenda's may change to accommodate Committee business. The Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services will post the final detailed agenda's on its Web site, http://trade.gov/td/services/oscpb/supplychain/acscc/, at least one week prior to the meeting.

 

USDA Announces $97 Million Available to Expand Access to Healthy Food, Support Rural Economies


In a recent speech at the National Farmers Union Convention today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $96.8 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to support specialty crop producers, local food entrepreneurs, and farm to school efforts, which in turn will increase access to healthy, nutritious food for American families and children. The announcement is part of USDA efforts during National Nutrition Month to focus on improving access to fresh, healthy, and nutritious products for millions of Americans.

More ...

 

Department of Education Seeks Comment on Information Collection in Support of the "Student Messaging in GEAR UP Demonstration"


The GEAR UP discretionary grant program is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools. GEAR UP grantees serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than the seventh grade and follow the cohort through high school. GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.

The Student Messaging in GEAR UP Demonstration, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education (ED), is being conducted to test the effectiveness of a promising strategy to improve college-related outcomes in GEAR UP.

The demonstration will use a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design to test the effectiveness of sending customized messaging to students, first during the summer after high school graduation, and then in the fall and spring of their expected first year of college. Students within high schools that volunteer for the demonstration will be randomly assigned to either receive the messages or not.

The Department of Education announced it is seeking comment on the proposed collection in support of the demonstration.

The Department is specifically requesting clearance for the collection of GEAR UP student rosters and administration of a baseline survey. In addition to the baseline survey data that will be collected from students, college-related outcome data will be extracted from national datasets (National Student Clearinghouse Data (NSC) and the Federal Student Aid (FSA) database). Impact and descriptive analyses will be conducted to answer the study research questions.

The evaluation plans call for two reports. The first, published in summer 2018, will be based on data collected through 2017 that will look at college advising received in high school and early college-related outcomes (i.e., college enrollment and FAFSA completion). The second report will be available in early 2020, and will investigate college persistence.

Comments are due by May 12. More ...

 

Energy Department and the Institute Release Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines


As a part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support greater energy efficiency through the Better Buildings Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Building Sciences (Institute) today announced new Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines. The Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines, developed with feedback from industry experts, will help enhance and streamline commercial building workforce training and certification programs.

“As building technologies become more advanced, professionals need better training and certification options to increase the quality and scalability of our nation’s energy workforce,” said Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “Employers, building owners and program administrators can also use these established guidelines to identify qualified workers who are trained to deliver energy savings.”

The guidelines provide a national framework for certification agencies across the country to roll out consistent programs. Up until now there have been no national guidelines for energy efficiency-related professional credentials, posing a barrier to the quality, consistency and scalability of this workforce.

The Energy Department and the Institute worked side-by-side with industry trade associations, governing credential boards and energy efficiency advocates to develop the professional certification and certificate program guidelines for four key energy-related jobs: energy manager, building energy auditor, building operations professional and building commissioning professional.

“The Institute established the Commercial Workforce Credentialing Council (CWCC) to help lead development and implementation of the Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines,” said Institute President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. “The CWCC consists of private and public sector industry stakeholders, so we were able to have everyone involved provide input into the process. This is particularly important when the goal is training the next generation of skilled clean-energy workers, who will be responsible for leading the charge in optimizing commercial building performance.”

The Energy Department will recognize competency-based certification programs that successfully implement the new guidelines and achieve third-party accreditation. Currently, the Institute and the Department are working with industry stakeholders to strengthen outreach, education and adoption of the guidelines, which are available on the Institute’s website at www.nibs.org/cwcc.

The Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines support the goal of doubling American energy productivity by 2030 while motivating corporate and public sector leaders across the country to certify professionals under a national framework. The guidelines also support the Better Buildings Initiative goal of making commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next 10 years.

 

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Kauffman Foundation: How Local and State Governments Can Rev Up Business Creation


Related: WIOA emphasis on entrepreneurial skills training; ETA's Integrating Entrepreneurship into the Public Workforce System; TAACCCT and other grants-in-aid with entrepreneurship components; Entrepreneurship Competency Model; CFED microenterprise activities; Delta Entrepreneurship Network; Federal Reserve's Workforce Development and the Entrepreneurship Infrastructure; ARC's entrepreneurship and business development activities; SBA's Office of Entrepreneurial Development; NACCE; AACC's Virtual Incubation Network (VIN) Toolkit; VA's Entrepreneurship Portal for Veterans; EBV Program for Veterans

Local and state governments should reformulate their efforts to promote business startups, according to a research paper released today (March 10) by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that first focuses on what does not work.

"Guidelines for Local and State Governments to Promote Entrepreneurship," reports that, even though many cities and states have been promoting entrepreneurship for at least two decades, the rate of new business formation is declining. New businesses comprised about 8 percent of all U.S. businesses in 2011, down from about 15 percent in the late 1970s. Further, recent groups of startups are creating fewer jobs.

"Cities and states have been devoting a great deal of energy and resources toward the promotion of entrepreneurship, yet entrepreneurship has been sputtering," said Jason Wiens, policy director at the Kauffman Foundation and the paper's co-author. "The traditional methods of encouraging entrepreneurship are not producing desired results and should be replaced with methods that are more likely to gain traction."

The paper states that local government efforts to foster entrepreneurship have often relied on public venture funds and incubation centers that provide startups with free or low-cost office space, business assistance, management training and similar services. But research demonstrates that these strategies often are ineffective in promoting entrepreneurial activity.

"We've found that the public sector typically lacks the expertise to evaluate and support entrepreneurs, and business incubators may only serve to prop up businesses that would not otherwise survive," said Yasuyuki Motoyama, director of Research & Policy at the Kauffman Foundation, and co-author of the paper. "At the same time, entrepreneurs often find it difficult to meet other entrepreneurs or investors in their regions."

Instead, state and local governments should implement strategies that focus on entrepreneurs as individuals who learn by doing and interacting with others. While books and courses may inform continuous learning, there is no substitute for advice from local business owners as entrepreneurs navigate the complicated decisions they face at each stage of their businesses' development, the paper reports.

The paper recommends that state and local governments adopt several strategies to refocus their entrepreneurship support efforts, including:

  • Facilitate catalytic events that bring entrepreneurs together to learn and connect.
  • Reinvent existing public venture funds in ways that distribute multiple small investments and involve local entrepreneurs in award selection.
  • Reorganize existing incubators along a holistic format that integrates incubated firms, other local startups and experienced local entrepreneurs.
  • Identify and celebrate successful local entrepreneurs.
  • Reexamine professional and occupational licensing with an eye toward lowering barriers for startups.
  • Simplify tax codes and payment systems.
  • Rethink non-compete agreements.
  • Streamline zoning and approval processes.
  • Welcome immigrants, who have been nearly twice as likely as native-born Americans to start businesses.
  • Track the progress of whatever strategies are implemented.

 

Corporation for National and Community Service Selects State, Local and Non-Profit Organizations to Develop Pay for Success Projects


The Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) today (March 11) announced 27 subgrantee organizations selected to receive technical assistance services through its Pay for Success (PFS) grant program. The funding will advance and evaluate innovative PFS projects in fields ranging from early childhood interventions to chronic homelessness.

The subgrantees represent a diverse group of communities and states including Arkansas; Austin, Texas; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Memphis, Tenn.; Nevada, New Mexico; Newark, N.J.; San Francisco and San Diego, Calif., Spartanburg, S.C., and more.

The SIF Pay for Success (PFS) initiative is designed to help gather information about how the PFS model can be implemented effectively. The initiative will also strengthen and diversify the pipeline of state and local governments as well as nonprofit service providers that are ready to participate in PFS, attract capital to solutions that work, and collect and share knowledge about every step of the PFS process.

The 27 subgrantees were selected through open competitions run by SIF PFS grantees: Corporation for Supportive Housing, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School Social Impact Bond Lab, Institute for Child Success, and Third Sector Capital Partners. These organizations will help support cities, states, and nonprofit organizations working to develop new models of funding high-quality, effective social programs that produce measurable outcomes for individuals and communities. A complete listing of the new subgrantees is available here.

Representing a new way of doing business for the federal government, the SIF unites public and private resources to evaluate and grow innovative community-based solutions that work. These solutions must have at least preliminary evidence of results in low-income communities in three priority areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. The SIF will also capture and share best practices and lift-up models with potential for replication.

The new SIF PFS projects include:

  • Ending Community Homelessness Coalition received an award from the Corporation for Supportive Housing to help identify payment structures for a Pay for Success project in Austin/Travis County, Texas that will promote supportive housing for super utilizers of expensive, crisis healthcare services.

  • Third Sector Capital Partners awarded Pay for Success services in Oregon to Marion and Multnomah Counties, Friends of the Children, and Oregon Health Sciences University to explore PFS strategies to support disengaged youth involved in the county and state child welfare and justice systems.

  • The State of North Carolina received an award from the Institute for Child Success for a feasibility study to analyze the use of Pay for Success to potentially expand home visiting and child literacy programs.

    Also see: Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund / Pay for Success Website

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    EPA Selects 20 Communities for Brownfield Grants to Revitalize Communities, Strengthen Local Economies


    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced the selection of 20 communities in 16 states receiving approximately $4 million in Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) grants for cleanup and reuse of Brownfields sites to revitalize communities and strengthen local economies.

    This is the third round of grants awarded under the Brownfields AWP program. The 2010 pilot program, where approximately $4 million was awarded to fund AWP plan development in 23 communities, has leveraged approximately $418 million in infrastructure and project development investments.

    More ...

     

    Council on Competitiveness Launches Its U.S. Energy & Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership


    On March 3, 2015, the Council on Competitiveness launched its U.S. Energy & Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership (EMCP) with an University of Texas at Austin hosted dialogue.

    The conversation between 40 executives and experts from industry, academia, the national laboratories and labor launches a 3-year, private sector-driven effort to deepen understanding of a convergence between two forces essential to America’s long-term productivity and prosperity: energy and manufacturing. The goal of the EMCP is to build a roadmap to ensure America captures the competitiveness opportunity from the interplay of energy abundance with a re-emergent manufacturing base.

    More ...

     

    New Report: Stepping Up – State Developments in SNAP Employment and Training Data


    From the National Skills Coalition:

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food to more than 47 million of the poorest Americans each year, while the associated employment and training (E&T) program helps those receiving benefits to move into stable jobs.

    Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of National Skills Coalition, just released a new paper, "Stepping Up: State Developments in SNAP Employment and Training Data," which explains state best practices for collecting, reporting, and linking SNAP E&T data to other information that can help identify successful pathways into sustainable employment. As states capitalize on increased attention and resources for SNAP E&T, the report provides ideas to enhance their program data and accountability.

     

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    ACF/ORR Announces Funding Opportunity for Projects to Establish and Maintain Individual Development Accounts for Low-Income Refugees


    The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) invites eligible entities to submit competitive grant applications for projects to establish and manage Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for low-income refugee participants. Eligible refugee participants who enroll in these projects will open and contribute systematically to IDAs for specified Savings Goals, including home ownership, business capitalization, vehicles for educational or work purposes, professional certification, and education (limited to postsecondary education, college entrance exam fees, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and GED preparation and test fees). Grantee organizations may use ORR funds to provide matches for the savings in the IDAs of up to $2,000 per individual refugee and $4,000 per refugee household. Applications will be screened and evaluated as indicated in the published funding opportunity announcement. Selection of awards will be contingent on the outcome of the competition and the availability of funds.

    See: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/files/HHS-2015-ACF-ORR-ZI-0958_0.pdf

     

    Health Care Sector: HHS/ACF Outlines Plans for Evaluation and System Design for the Next Generation of Health Profession Opportunity Grants; Seeks Comments on Information Collection


    The Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a information collection activities as part of the Evaluation and System Design for the Next Generation of Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Career Pathways Programs (HPOG Next Gen).

    The goals of the HPOG Next Gen evaluation are to establish a data system for program management and evaluation and to design a study to assess the effectiveness of the new HPOG programs. The study also is intended to evaluate variation in participant impact that may be attributable to different HPOG program components. The impact study design will include a classic experiment in which eligible applicants for the non-Tribal HPOG program services will be randomly assigned to a treatment group offered participation in HPOG and a control group not offered the opportunity to enroll in HPOG.

    Both goals require collecting information from HPOG grantees on a regular basis. The information collection proposed is an internet-based collection of information from HPOG grantees on:

    1. Baseline characteristics of both treatment group and control group sample members.
    2. Treatment group members' program participation and patterns, and participant outputs and outcomes; and
    3. Program designs and operating characteristics.

    The universe of information collection proposed for HPOG Next Gen includes:

    1. A performance management system will collect information from all grantees on their programs and participants on a semi-annual basis over the grant period of performance.
    2. A brief baseline survey of eligible applicants to non-Tribal HPOG programs.

    The March 4, 2015 FEDERAL REGISTER provides full background, respondent information, and instructions for the submission of comments on this collection.

     

    Increasing Employment Opportunities for Disadvantaged Young Adults: MDRC Announces Availability of Report Focusing on "Demand Driven" Approaches


    Improving the employment outlook of disadvantaged young people on a large scale will require a stronger focus on engaging private employers on potential solutions. On June 4, 2014, MDRC and The Rockefeller Foundation convened a group of experts to discuss such demand-driven approaches. MDRC's March 4, 2015 newsletter notes that the report from that session is now available.

    Overview                   Full Document

     

    ETA Seeks Comment on Proposed Revisions to the Foreign Labor Certification Quarterly Activity Report


    The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is soliciting comments concerning the collection of data about Form ETA-9127, Foreign Labor Certification Quarterly Activity Report (OMB Control Number 1205-0457), which expires May 31, 2015. The Form ETA-9127 solicits information from State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) who are recipients of foreign labor certification grants about program-related activities performed by SWA staff in accordance with the specific fiscal year annual plans. These activities include reviewing and transmitting H-2A and H-2B job orders, conducting H-2A prevailing wage and prevailing practice surveys, and performing H-2A related housing inspections of facilities offered to agricultural workers.

    Comments are due by May 4, 2015.

    The March 5 FEDERAL REGISTER provides complete background and the instructions for the submission of comments.

     

    DOL VETS Seeks Comment on the Proposed Extension of Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Tracking Report (VETS 201)


    The Department of Labor's Veteran's Employment and Training Service (VETS) has published the sixty-day notice for the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Chapter 31) Tracking Report (VETS 201) in the March 3, 2015 FEDERAL REGISTER. VETS seeks comments by May 4 on the extension, without revision, of the Tracking Report.

    Synopsis / History:

    The Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training (VETS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VA VR&E) share a mutual responsibility for the successful readjustment of disabled veterans into the civilian workforce. Since August, 1995, the two Federal Agencies have worked together under a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate and coordinate services provided to veterans and transitioning service members referred to or completing a program of vocational rehabilitation authorized under title 31, United States Code.

    To help Congress understand the extent to which federal agencies coordinate programs and the performance of this coordination, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a study and released Report Number GAO-13-29: Veterans' Employment and Training—Better Targeting, Coordinating, and Reporting Needed to Enhance Program Effectiveness. One of the findings encouraged the two agencies "to determine the extent to which veterans' employment outcomes result from program participation..."

    As a result of the GAO recommendations, a Joint Work Group was directed to establish and standardize processes to ensure disabled veterans participating in the Chapter 31 program achieve the ultimate goal of successful career transition and suitable employment after the provision of Labor Market Information and employment services from the Jobs for Veterans State Grant recipients. The Joint Work Group refined processes and strengthened the team approach to serving these disabled veterans.

    The Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (Chapter 31) Tracking Report (VETS 201) is designed to respond to the GAO finding by compiling information on disabled veterans jointly served by the VA, VETS and Jobs for Veterans State Grant recipients. All partners agree to share information exclusively to facilitate job development and placement services for participating veterans. The information is collected only with documented consent from veterans in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and other applicable regulations and each agency will provide practical and appropriate safeguards to protect Personally Identifiable Information in accordance with applicable regulations and laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and reauthorizations, and title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    The information is collected by the Jobs for Veterans State grant recipient and submitted to the state Director for Veterans' Employment and Training (DVET) once per Federal fiscal quarter. The results are shared between VETS and VA VR&E.

     

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    ETA Publishes Thirty-Day Notice for Data Collection in Support of the Job Innovation and Accelerator Challenge Grants Evaluation


    The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is seeking Paperwork Reduction Act authority for the Job Innovation and Accelerator Challenge (JIAC) Grants Evaluation information collection that would support an evaluation of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (JIAC) grants.

    The main objective of the evaluation is to build a better understanding of how multiple Federal and regional agencies work together on these grant initiatives, how the ETA grant is used, training and employment-related outcomes that the clusters are able to achieve, lessons learned through implementation, and plans for sustainability. ETA seeks authority to conduct site visit interviews and grantee and partner surveys.

    The Office of Management and Budget will consider all written comments received by April 6.

    Click here for the thirty-day notice (March 5, 2015)
    Click here for the sixty-day notice (October 27, 2014)

     

    EPA Identifies $48 Million for the Establishment of Regional Environmental Finance Centers to Provide Expertise to Regulated Communities


    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the availability of funds and solicits applications from eligible entities for regional Environmental Finance Centers (EFCs) that provide multi-media environmental finance expertise and outreach to regulated communities. EPA recognizes that given the trends of growing costs and increasing resource pressures, the need to support the environmental work of regulated communities through vehicles such as the regional Environmental Finance Centers is as important and timely as ever. The EFC’s will be established and supported in EPA regions across the country to provide regulated parties with finance-related training, technical assistance, finance studies, and other analytical support (eligible services) to help them develop sustainable solutions to the critical “how-to-pay” issues associated with meeting environmental standards and goals.

    The closing date is April 30.

    EPA notes that it is inviting “eligible applicants from all regions of the country and hopes that ones with a wide range of experience and background will apply. In this regard, the Agency encourages historically black colleges and universities, tribal universities, and community colleges to apply for funding under this announcement or to partner with another eligible applicant.”

    Examples of environmental finance-related priorities that applicants for these regional EFC grants are encouraged to address in their applications and then provide to the regulated communities (e.g., state, tribal, and local officials and private businesses) via eligible services if they receive an award include:

    1. building the capacity of communities and private parties to develop, implement, and support sustainable public-purpose water and other environmental infrastructure systems;
    2. providing computer-based and other financial and outreach tools to communities (particularly small and disadvantaged ones) to help them more effectively manage watersheds and water systems;
    3. supporting cleaner/greener business through source reduction, pollution prevention, conservation, resource recovery, reuse, and recycling (sustainable materials management);
    4. promoting environmentally sustainable development, redevelopment, smart growth and land use planning; green infrastructure approaches; and green building efforts by state and local governments and the private sector;
    5. supporting environmentally and fiscally sustainable environmental infrastructure, including ensuring the resiliency and security of that infrastructure;
    6. supporting wetlands programs and protection;
    7. improving drinking water and wastewater utility water conservation, energy efficiency, management, and capital planning;
    8. encouraging green jobs and green business products and services;
    9. promoting innovative ways to finance and otherwise support interstate, state, regional, and local air pollution reduction efforts;
    10. reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and developing decision tools and financial strategies for adaptation to adverse weather events and/or climate change.;
    11. improving water quality and quantity (includes aquifer recharge),
    12. evaluating the feasibility of attracting non-federal public and private resources to water infrastructure and other environmental projects;
    13. assisting the owners and operators of small, medium, and disadvantaged environmental systems in planning, developing, and obtaining financing for infrastructure projects;
    14. developing fiscal sustainability plans for utilities that include inventories of critical assets, evaluations asset performance, energy conservation efforts, operations, maintenance and repair needs and activities, and any required certifications;
    15. reducing and mitigating stormwater runoff from public and private facilities and properties, and developing systems to fund and finance stormwater activities;
    16. encouraging the development and use of public-private partnerships, where appropriate in providing environmental services, infrastructure, projects, and activities;
    17. developing, identifying, and marketing innovative financing approaches as well as successful traditional approaches such as the state clean water and drinking water revolving fund loan programs; and
    18. identifying, supporting and advancing environmental equity and justice concerns, where appropriate, in all trainings, outreach, projects, programs, and activities.

    Access to RFA: http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-03/documents/efc_grant_rfa.pdf

     

    ETA Publishes Thirty-Day Notice for the Data Collection in Support of Youth CareerConnect Impact and Implementation Evaluation


    The Employment and Training Administration is seeking Paperwork Reduction Act authority for the data collection in support of the Youth CareerConnect (YCC) Impact and Implementation Evaluation information collection. In spring 2014, the agency awarded 24 grants to implement the YCC program. The program is a high school based initiative aimed at improving students' college and career readiness in particular employment sectors. The programs are redesigning the high school experience through partnerships with colleges and employers to provide skill-developing and work-based learning opportunities to help students prepare for jobs in high-demand occupations.

    The evaluation will address three main research areas: (1) The impact of the YCC programs on students' short-term outcomes, (2) individual YCC program implementation, and (3) whether and how YCC programs varied in effectiveness based on student and grantee characteristics. The impact study will employ a randomized controlled trial to estimate program effectiveness and will be carried out in a subset of YCC grantees. The implementation study will draw on data gathered from all YCC grantees.

    The Office of Management and Budget will consider all written comments received by April 6.

    Click here for the thirty-day notice
    Click here for the sixty-day notice.

     

    Department of Commerce and Columbia University to Co-Host "Future of Urban Innovation Summit" on June 9


    The U.S. Department of Commerce and Columbia University today announced that they will co-host the first-ever Future of Urban Innovation Summit, which will take place at the Columbia University campus in New York City on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. The summit is part of the Commerce Department’s ongoing efforts, through its U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to provide information and resources to innovators and entrepreneurs in the region.

    The summit will bring together entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, government officials, and thought leaders in the innovation ecosystem to engage on how government, academia, and industry can work together to spur economic growth. The event will include panels on the evolving role of urban innovation in the American economy, the role of government and universities in technology development, and discussions on what investors and startups want to see in developing policy around innovation.

    More ...

     

    Department of Commerce Issues Report Exploring High Paying, Fast Growing Data Jobs; Identifies Members of the New Data Advisory Council


    The Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) released a new report on March 13, entitled "The Importance of Data Occupations in the U.S. Economy" that explores the importance of data jobs and their impact on the U.S. economy.

    "Our report found that data occupations pay more than average, and employment in these data-intensive industries has been growing faster than overall employment," said Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, Dr. Mark Doms. "Our society increasingly depends on the intelligent use of data, whether making our businesses more competitive, our governments smarter, or our citizens better informed. This report reveals a new dimension to the value of data as an employment engine driving innovation and economic growth."

    Key highlights of the new report include:

    • Over half the American workforce, 74.3 million work with data in their jobs.
    • Data analysis and processing using fairly sophisticated computer technology are central to 10.3 million private and public sector jobs.
    • Over the past ten years, data jobs have grown 4 times faster than the rest of the private sector, adding 1.8 million jobs representing 31 percent of total private sector job growth.
    • Jobs in the data sector pay on average $40/hour, 68% more than the average private sector job.
    • Click here for the full report.

    This new ESA-led report on data jobs is part of a series of reports authored by the Office of the Chief Economist for the Department of Commerce. The first report released July, 2014, entitled "Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data", explored the huge benefits from a relatively small investment in our nation's statistical agencies.

    From the Department of Commerce (March 6):

    Today we have reached an important milestone in the data transformation movement with the naming of members to Commerce Department's new Data Advisory Council (CDAC). The 19 leaders we have selected will help guide the Department in revolutionizing our approach toward data optimization and usability. They are bright stars in private and public sectors: thought leaders on data; respected and well-equipped to facilitate this transformation. Members' expertise mirrors the spectrum of Commerce data -- demographic, economic, scientific, environmental, patent, and geospatial.  Their agenda? To help us foster innovation, create jobs, and drive better decision-making throughout our economy and society. Their first meeting will take place April 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

    Selecting from an impressive and wide array of experience, innovation, education and talent was not an easy task.  The individuals we have chosen are extraordinary for a host of reasons evident in their positions and achievements.  But perhaps one of the most compelling traits they share is keen awareness that success is built upon the ability to listen to a chorus of voices representing a range of viewpoints.

    Click here for CDAC members bios.

    We are thrilled to have reached this important marker in our "data revolution" and look forward to the CDAC's guidance on such key issues as data management; open data standards; public-private partnership; and ensuring a user-driven process.

     

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    Department of Education Announces Funding Opportunity under the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Program


    The Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Program awards grants to State educational agencies (SEAs) to design, develop, and implement Statewide longitudinal data systems to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student data.

    The Department of Education’s long-term goal in operating the program is to help all States create comprehensive P-20W (early learning through workforce) systems that foster the generation and use of accurate and timely data, support analysis and informed decision-making at all levels of the education system, increase the efficiency with which data may be analyzed to support the continuous improvement of education services and outcomes, facilitate research to improve student academic achievement and close achievement gaps, support education accountability systems, and simplify the processes used by SEAs to make education data transparent through Federal and public reporting.
    The Department of Education has announced a funding opportunity under this Program, identifying $27 million in resources.  States may apply for funds to address up to two of the priority data use cases described in the announcement. SEAs may apply for grants selecting up to two of the following data use priorities:

      (1) Financial Equity and Return on Investment;
      (2) Educator Talent Management;
      (3) Early Learning;
      (4) College and Career;
      (5) Evaluation and Research; or
      (6) Instructional Support.

    Grants will not be made available to support ongoing maintenance of data systems. Use of data supported by these grants must be in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as well as any other applicable Federal and State laws or regulations concerning the confidentiality of individual records.

    Information regarding program and application requirements for this competition will be contained in the Request for Applications, which will be available on March 12, 2015, at the following Web site: http://ies.ed.gov/funding/.  The Department intends to hold webinars designed to provide technical assistance to interested applicants. Detailed information regarding these meetings will be provided on the IES Web site at http://ies.ed.gov/funding.

    The letter of intent is due April 13; applications will be due by June 10.

    The March 12 FEDERAL REGISTER provides additional information.

    Also see:
    Employment and Training Administration's Workforce Data Quality Initiative

     

    Broadband: NTIA Releases New Public-Private Partnership Primer


    Broadband is critical to the economic development and vitality of communities across the United States. Given its importance, many local leaders are exploring how to expand the availability and adoption of robust, high-quality and affordable broadband services in their communities. To reach these goals, many municipalities have utilized public-private partnerships. While no partnership structure is exactly like another, there are some common models and best practices that communities should know about before embarking on a broadband partnership. The best approach for a particular community will depend upon several factors specific to each community.

    In a new primer called BroadbandUSA: An Introduction to effective public-private partnerships for broadband investments, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration shares (NTIA) the lessons learned and best practices from companies, state and local governments, and other organizations that received Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grants. The primer provides a basic introduction to a variety of partnership models for communities considering new broadband projects.

     

    Job Creation and Job Training Services: USDA Invites Applications for the Rural Economic Development and Loan Grant Programs for Fiscal Year 2015


    The Rural Business-Cooperative Service within the Department of Agriculture is inviting applications for loans and grants under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) programs for fiscal year (FY) 2015.

    Funding to support $38.6 million in loans and $9.2 million in grants is currently available. The commitment of program dollars will be made to applicants of selected responses that have fulfilled the necessary requirements for obligation.

    Assistance provided to rural areas, as defined, under this program may include business startup costs, business expansion, business incubators, technical assistance feasibility studies, advanced telecommunications services and computer networks for medical, educational, and job training services, and community facilities projects for economic development.

    The March 11, 2015 FEDERAL REGISTER provides full background on this program and the application requirements.

     

    TANF Families Two-Parent Study: HHS/ACF Seeks Comment on New Data Collection


    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing an information collection activity as part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Two-Parent Study.

    Through this information collection, ACF seeks to gain an in-depth, systematic understanding of the characteristics of two-parent families participating in or eligible to receive TANF, the variety of services two-parent families receive through TANF, how state policies may affect participation in TANF among two-parent families, and how the beliefs of staff and eligible families affect two-parent families' participation in TANF.

    The proposed information collection consists of semi-structured interviews with key State and local staff, community-based organization representatives, and adult members of two-parent TANF or likely eligible families on questions of TANF policies, service delivery, and program context, as well as focus groups with adult members of two-parent TANF or likely eligible families.

    Respondents are State- and local-level TANF administrators and staff, representatives from community-based organizations, and adults from two-parent families on or likely eligible for TANF.

    The March 11, 2015 FEDERAL REGISTER contains additional background and instructions for the submission of comments.  ACF notes: "OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication."

     

    ARC Report Cites Economic Progress and Challenges in Appalachian Region Since 1965


    The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) this issued a research report that shows substantial economic progress in the Appalachian Region since the inception of the Commission in 1965, although significant development challenges remain.

    The report, Appalachia Then and Now: Examining Changes to the Appalachian Region Since 1965, was prepared for ARC by the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and West Virginia University.

    ARC, a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government, was created in 1965 with the passage of the Appalachian Regional Development Act. A broad bipartisan coalition in Congress approved the legislation early that year, and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it into law on March 9.

    ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl noted some of the significant improvements described in the report: "The Appalachian Region has gone from 295 high-poverty counties in 1960 to 107 today. The Region's high school graduation rates have increased to being almost on par with the nation's, infant mortality has plummeted, availability of potable water has gone up, and more than 2,000 miles of new highways have been built and opened since President Johnson made his historic 1964 visit to Martin County, Kentucky," he said. "The challenge going forward is to use the Region's assets: a history of hard work, innovative solutions to complex problems, and strong families and communities to leverage today's emerging economic opportunities into a diverse and vibrant economic future."

    Appalachia Then and Now: Compilation of all Reports (PDF: 12 MB)
    Executive Summary (PDF: 2 MB)
    Technical Report (PDF: 9.5 MB)
    State Meetings Report (PDF: 800 KB)

     

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    USDA Announces $14 Million in Grants Supporting Economic Growth for Rural Communities


    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today (February 25) announced nearly $14 million in grants to support four programs to increase prosperity in rural America through research, education, and extension programs focused on promoting rural community development, economic growth, and sustainability.

    Farmers, ranchers, and rural communities are the backbone and economic lifeblood for Americans everywhere, providing food, feed, fiber, fuels, and open spaces. However, rural areas and communities face many hardships. High poverty rates, slow recovery from economic recession, and low average income per household are all challenges to having a successful and viable community. Funding from NIFA is expected to assist communities and regions in creating self-sustaining, long-term economic development through research and strategic planning.

    A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions is available on the USDA website for the awarded projects.

     

    Administration for Community Living Identifies 'Employment Policy and Measurement"? and "Employer Practices Leading to Successful Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Disabilities" among Research Priorities; Seeks Comments by March 27


    Through separate notices in the February 25 FEDERAL REGISTER, the Administrator of the Administration for Community Living has proposed five priorities for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) Program administered by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR):

    Employment Policy and Measurement
    Employer Practices Leading to Successful Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Disabilities
    Employment for Individuals with Blindness or other Visual Impairments
    Self-Directed Care to Promote Recovery, Health, and Wellness for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness
    Promoting Universal Design in the Built Environment

    The Administration for Community Living takes these actions to focus research attention on area of national need, intending these priorities to contribute to improved employment practices and successful employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Comments are due by March 27.

     

    New SWEAP Tools Help State Policymakers Align Workforce and Education Programs


    February 23 update from the National Skills Coalition:

    The State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) is demonstrating how state policymakers can use information from three types of data tools to develop policies that align workforce and education programs with each other and with employer skill needs. These three tools -- dashboards, pathway evaluators, and supply and demand reports - are discussed in a set of SWEAP papers issued by National Skills Coalition (NSC). The papers discuss the steps states can take to create these data tools and provide real-world examples of states that have used these tools to inform workforce policy decisions.

    • Dashboards use a small number of common metrics to report education and employment outcomes across workforce development programs. Key metrics indicate completion rates, employment, and earnings and answer questions, such as: Do participants complete skills training? Do they get jobs? How much do they earn?
    • Pathway evaluator tools show di?erent patterns of participation across programs and the credential and labor market outcomes associated with them. They answer questions policymakers have about how their state’s array of skills programs help a diversity of students and workers earn credentials and get jobs.
    • Supply and demand reports compare the number of newly trained workers with employer demand as measured by the number of job openings. Comparisons are broken down by level of education and occupational field. Supply and demand reports can answer policymaker questions, such as: Where are the skill gaps in the state? What fields need additional capacity in order to match employer demand?

    Policymakers can use these tools to ensure that their states' skills programs work together to equitably and efficiently prepare students and workers for middle-skill jobs. Policymakers can use this information to develop new policies, including policies around job-driven investments, career pathways, and sector partnerships. For example, policymakers can use dashboard information to drive investments to programs that have strong labor market results, while modifying policies for weak programs that need improvement. They can adopt policies integrating the services of multiple programs, building career pathways along the patterns of service that pathway evaluators reveal to be successful. They can establish sector partnerships to close skill gaps in fields in which supply and demand reports discover mismatches.

    This spring, SWEAP will begin providing technical assistance to several states. NSC staff and colleagues from the Ray Marshal Center at the University of Texas will assist state policymakers from governors' offices, workforce and education agencies, and state legislatures to develop the tools and new policies based on information from the tools. The selected states will soon be announced. In addition, during the next two years NSC will share the lessons learned from SWEAP with other through publications, webinars, and forums.

     

    Skills Gaps in Manufacturing Sector: Two New Studies from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte


    Industry Week coverage of the February 25 release of two new reports from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte

    The manufacturing industry is looking at shortfall of more than 2,000,000 workers over the next decade, according to new reports from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.

    The shortage is led by the expected retirement of nearly 3,000,000 Baby Boomers and fewer young people who see the industry as a career destination. A study survey showed while nine in 10 Americans believe manufacturing is essential to the U.S. economy, only one in three parents would encourage their kids to pursue a career in the industry.

    “The skills shortage pervades all stages of manufacturing — from engineering to skilled production,” said Jennifer McNelly, president, The Manufacturing Institute. “This challenge will only grow as the demographics of our workforce evolve with retirements, new technological advances requiring a higher level of training and certification, and our K-12 education system, which continues to lack the necessary focus on STEM education.”

    As production costs rise in countries like China, more and more companies are going through some sort of reshoring, and the talent shortage will only become and even bigger issue.

    Companies say they're offering higher pay for many of the jobs, but have to be proactive in addressing the shortage. Many already provide internal training and worker development programs. But others are hitting the streets, working with their local schools and community colleges to create external training and certification programs, and others have implemented veteran hiring programs.

  • The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing: 2015 and Beyond
  • Overwhelming Support: U.S. public opinions on the manufacturing industry
  • PowerPoint
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    NIST Awards $26 Million to Support Manufacturing in 10 States


    Subjects: Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model; ETA grants-in-aid with an advanced manufacturing focus; TEN 38-11: Benefits of Collaboration Between State/Local Workforce Investment Boards and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program; Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnerships

    On February 24, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today (February 24) announced the award of new cooperative agreements to 10 nonprofit organizations and universities to manage Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers. NIST’s MEP program helps small- and mid-size manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits and save time and money. In an open competition, the existing MEP centers in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, were selected to receive a total of $26 million in federal funding, an increase of about $10 million or nearly 60 percent. The funding will allow the centers to reach new customers and offer new services.

    The recipients are:

  • Colorado: Manufacturer’s Edge (Boulder) - $1,668,359
  • Connecticut: CONNSTEP, Inc., (Rocky Hill) - $1,476,247
  • Indiana: Purdue University/Indiana MEP (Indianapolis) - $2,758,688
  • Michigan: Industrial Technology Institute/Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (Plymouth) - $4,299,175
  • New Hampshire: New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Concord) - $628,176
  • North Carolina: North Carolina State University/North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Raleigh) - $3,036,183
  • Oregon: Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Tigard) - $1,792,029
  • Tennessee: University of Tennessee, Center for Industrial Services/Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Nashville) - $1,976,348
  • Texas: The University of Texas at Arlington/Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (Arlington) - $6,700,881
  • Virginia: A.L. Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership/GENEDGE Alliance (Martinsville) - $1,722,571
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    USDA Updates Regulations Affecting Rural Economic Development, Business Supports, and Broadband Implementation


    The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development has amended its regulations by updating references to the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) and clarifying and updating references to the census data. These actions will provide consistency in terminology between program regulations. In addition, clarifying and updating references to census data is needed to account for changes to the decennial Census, which, starting with the 2010 decennial Census is no longer reporting income and unemployment data. Additional revisions are being implemented to show the regulations that do not apply to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and to remove outdated or unnecessary language.

    This rule (published in the February 24 FEDERAL REGISTER) will become effective April 27, 2015 without further action unless the Agency receives significant written adverse comments or written notices of intent to submit adverse comments on or before March 26, 2015. If the Agency receives significant adverse comments or notices, the Agency will publish a timely notice in the Federal Register withdrawing those provisions on which adverse comment were received.

    USDA programs affected by this rulemaking are shown in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. They include the Technical Assistance and Training Grants, Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Community Connect Grant Program, Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program, Rural Cooperative Development Grants, and the Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program.

     

    Social Security Administration Seeks Comment on New "Data Exchange Request Form"


    The Social Security Administration today published a number of information collection requests, including the new "Data Exchange Request Form". Comments are due by April 24. Click here for the PDF version. Excerpts appear below:

    Data Exchange Request Form--0960-NEW.

    Type of Request: This is a new information collection.

    SSA maintains approximately 3,000 data exchange agreements and regularly receives new requests from Federal, State, local, and foreign governments, as well as private organizations, to share data electronically. SSA engages in various forms of data exchanges from Social Security number verifications to computer matches for benefit eligibility, depending on the requestor''s business needs. Section 1106 of the Social Security Act (Act) requires we consider the requestor's legal authority to receive the data, our disclosure policies, systems' feasibility, systems' security, and costs before entering into a data exchange agreement. We will use Form SSA-157, Data Exchange Request Form, for this purpose. Requesting agencies, governments, or private organizations will use the form when voluntarily initiating a request for data exchange from SSA.

    Respondents are Federal, State, local, and foreign governments, as well as private organizations seeking to share data electronically with SSA.

    SSA is soliciting comments on the accuracy of the agency's burden estimate; the need for the information; its practical utility; ways to enhance its quality, utility, and clarity; and ways to minimize burden on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments are due by April 24.

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