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(Feb 25 2015)   SBA Launches Online Matchmaking for Small Business Loans 
 
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(Feb 25 2015)   USDA Announces $9 Million to Support Community Food Projects Program 
 
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(Feb 25 2015)   BLS Outlines Plans for Occupational Requirements Survey; Seeks Comments on SSA-Commissioned Data Collection 
 
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(Feb 25 2015)   National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to Meet on March 5 - 6 
 
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(Feb 25 2015)   SEC Seeks Comment on Standard to be Included in Service Contracts Concerning Workforce Inclusion of Minorities and Women 
 
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(Feb 24 2015)   Energy Department Announces New Office of Technology Transitions 
 
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(Feb 24 2015)   Diversifying Your Economy Post-Disaster - Identifying Emerging Industries (February 25 Webinar) 
 
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(Feb 20 2015)   NIST Awards $20 Million for Research Center to Help Communities Increase Resilience to Disaster 
 
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(Feb 18 2015)   CFED Launches Microbusiness Solutions Learning Cluster 
 
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(Feb 18 2015)   States Pass Various Measures to Advance Career Technical Education: New ACTE Report Provides Activity Profiles by Policy Area 
 
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(Feb 18 2015)   Native American Employment and Training Council to Meet on February 25 - 26 
 
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(Feb 18 2015)   FTA Seeks Proposal under “National Public Transportation/TOD Technical Assistance Initiative” 
 
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(Feb 12 2015)   Department of Homeland Security Seeks Comments on the 2015 Survey of E-Verify Employers  
 
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(Feb 11 2015)   BLS Publishes Sixty-Day Notice on Extension of 'General Inquiries to State Agency Contacts" 
 
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(Feb 11 2015)   Census Bureau Seeks Comments on the New Content of the Annual Survey of Business Owners; New Collection to Gather Information on Business Ownership by Gender, Ethnicity, Race and Veteran Status  
 
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(Feb 11 2015)   Congress.gov Offers Users New Alert System 
 
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(Feb 11 2015)   States Pass Various Measures to Advance Career Technical Education: New Report Provides Activity Profiles by Policy Area 
 
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(Feb 11 2015)   Services for Youth: HHS/ACF Announce Funding Opportunities under “Basic Center Program” and “Street Outreach Program”  
 
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(Feb 11 2015)   Social Innovation Fund Grants 2015: Youth Development and Economic Opportunity among Emphases 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   New Brookings Report Analyzes U.S. Advanced Industries Sector; Discusses Future Workforce Needs  
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   SBA Releases Annual Update of “Small Business Profiles”; Data Includes Employment and Owner Demographics 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Health Information Technology: HHS/ONC Announces New Funding Opportunities Including Workforce Training Program 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Broadband Use: NTIA Seeks Comment on Addition of Expanded Questions to July Current Population Survey 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   USDA Seeks Comments on SNAP Data Collections and Screening Tools 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Federal Transit Administration Announces Cooperative Agreement Opportunity to Administer 'National Aging and Disability Transportation Center'; Invites Applications from Eligible Non-Profits by March 31; Announces Guidance on Emergency Relief Program 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Department of Defense and Department of Army Announce Cooperative Agreement Opportunity to Address STEM in Classroom Settings; Identify $190 Million Investment over Ten Year Period 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   CNCS Announces Funding Opportunity within the Social Innovation Fund 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Department of Energy Issues “Notice of Intent” to Announce “Cleantech University Prize” Competition in Mid-February; Urges Potential Applicants to Begin Development of Partnerships 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Renewable Energy Sector: Energy Department Announces New Funding Opportunity; Identifies Grants Awarded for Solar Research  
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Census Bureau Seeks Nominations for Its Scientific Advisory Committee; Announces March 18 Public Event on Transparency and Data Accessibility; Announces Discontinuation of ACS 3-Year Estimates 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Energy Sector: NIST Seeks Letter of Interest for Collaboration in Cybersecurity Situational Awareness 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   New Version of OccuCoder, ITSC's Job Matching Tool Available 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   GAO Seeks Nominations for Health Information Technology Policy Committee 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   HHS/ONC Releases "Connecting Health and Care for the nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Version 1.0" 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   SelectUSA Investment Conference Agenda Now Available; SelectUSA Announces Availability of C2ER 'State Business Incentives Database" 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Federal Reserve to Host Economic Mobility Conference in Washington D.C. (April 2 - 3) 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Economic Development Administration: Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request At-A-Glance 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   New Report: U.S. Spends $1.1 Trillion on College and Job Training 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   North American Governors and Premiers to Meet in October 30 - 31 Summit; Focus on Economic Development, Trade, and Innovations in Infrastructure and Education 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC): Department of Energy Announces Funding Opportunity 
 
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(Feb 9 2015)   SBA Proposes Regulations to Establish Government-Wide Mentor-Protégé Program for All Small Business Concerns; Announces "InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge" 
 
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(Feb 6 2015)   America's Promise Alliance's Center for Promise Releases White Paper: "Back to School – Exploring Promising Practices for Re-engaging Young People in Secondary Education" 
 
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(Feb 6 2015)   JFF to Hold "Bridging the Gap: Postsecondary Pathways for Underprepared Learners" Conference (New Orleans, April 8 - 9) 
 
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(Feb 4 2015)   USDA Awards Loans to Help Create Jobs, Spur Rural Economic Development in 5 States 
 
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(Feb 3 2015)   DRA Launches New Tools to Drive Investment and Innovation; Announces the “Delta Challenge” to Connect and Grow Entrepreneurs in Region 
 
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(Feb 3 2015)   Bureau of Economic Analysis Advisory Committee to Meet on May 8 
 
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(Feb 3 2015)   Direct Employers Association and Easter Seals Announce Partnership to Bridge Gap between Employers and the Disability and Veteran Community 
 
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(Feb 3 2015)   State, Commerce and Energy Departments Announce Pilot Phase of Interactive Directory of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Solutions; Invites Registration; Outlines Value to U.S. Exports 
 
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(Feb 3 2015)   Legal Services Corporation Announces Opportunity for Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grants; Updates Federal Poverty Guidelines 
 
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(Feb 2 2015)   HUD Awards Choice Neighborhood Grants in Six Cities 
 
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(Feb 2 2015)   Federal Reserve to Host Economic Mobility Conference in Washington D.C. (April 2 - 3) 
 
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(Feb 2 2015)   Department of Commerce Seeks Nominations for National Medal of Technology and Innovation; Identifies "Development of Technological Manpower" among Criteria 
 

 

Description

 

SBA Launches Online Matchmaking for Small Business Loans


By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator

If there's broad agreement that small businesses are the engine that powers the American economy, shouldn't it be easier to fuel the tank?

Access to credit continues to bedevil too many U.S. entrepreneurs. Eighty percent of small business loan applications are rejected, according to some industry estimates, and more applications than we can count are never filed because of the difficulty of getting an appointment with a loan officer.

There's a hunger among entrepreneurs to find financing to get their business off the ground or take the next big step in their expansion plan. Across the country, thousands of small business owners pound the pavement every day looking for term loans, equipment financing, lines of credit, invoice financing, and real estate loans to help them hire and grow. But too often, they're wasting time they don't have cold-calling and door-knocking their way to a lucky break. It shouldn't be this way. If you have a bankable business idea backed by good credit and sound financial planning, you shouldn't have to go begging to borrow.

Technology can help us address this problem. Online matchmaking services pairing lenders with prospective borrowers comprise a multibillion dollar industry. Perhaps you've seen the TV commercial in which a creditworthy home buyer goes online and is delighted to find banks competing to finance her house. Small businesses lending is the next frontier for these matchmaking services. Using the power of the Internet, commercial lenders are finding creditworthy small business borrowers, while entrepreneurs are finding loan officers who are ready to sit down and talk.

The SBA not only supports this concept, we're implementing it. Today (February 11), at the National Press Club, I announced a new SBA initiative called LINC (Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital). Our matchmaking service will help entrepreneurs get a date with a lender.

More ...

 

USDA Announces $9 Million to Support Community Food Projects Program


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has recently announced the availability of $9 million in funding to assist low-income individuals and communities in developing local and independent food systems. NIFA is funding the grants through the Community Food Projects program(CFP), authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).

Community Food Projects involve the entire food system. Projects assess strengths and establish connections among existing food systems, resulting in improved food systems that support self-reliance.

Grants are intended to help eligible, private, nonprofit entities in need of a one-time installment of federal assistance to establish and carry out multipurpose community food projects. Projects are funded from $10,000 to $300,000 and up to 36 months. All grants require a dollar-for-dollar match in resources.

Applications are due March 17, 2015. Please see the request for applications for specific program requirements.

CFP is an important part of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which works to strengthen and support local and regional food systems. More information on the initiative, including an interactive map of CFP and other federally-supported local food projects, can be found at: www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer.

The primary goals of the Community Food Projects program are to (1) meet the food needs of low-income individuals; (2) increase the food self-reliance of low-income communities; (3) promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm and nutrition issues; and (4) meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs, including needs relating to infrastructure improvement and development, planning for long-term solutions and the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

 

BLS Outlines Plans for Occupational Requirements Survey; Seeks Comments on SSA-Commissioned Data Collection


The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is a nationwide survey that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will conduct at the request of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first three years of data collection and capture for the ORS will start in 2015 and end in mid-2018.

Estimates produced from the data collected by the ORS will be used by the SSA to update occupational requirements data in administering the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.

The new ORS occupational information will allow SSA adjudicators to clearly associate the assessment of a claimant''s physical and mental functional capacity and vocational profile with work requirements. BLS will compute percentages of workers with various characteristics, such as skill and strength level. SSA will use this information to provide statistical support for the medical-vocational rules used at step 5 of sequential evaluation regarding the number of unskilled jobs that exist at each level of exertion in the national economy.

The Social Security Administration, Members of Congress, and representatives of the disability community have all identified collection of updated information on the requirements of work in today's economy as crucial to the equitable and efficient operation of the Social Security Disability (SSDI) program. The information currently available is more than 20 years old.

The ORS will collect data from a sample of employers. These requirements of work data will consist of information about the duties, responsibilities, and job tasks for a sample of occupations for each sampled employer.

In October 2014, BLS commenced the collection of a six-month ORS Pre-production test. The goal of the Pre-production test is to test all survey activities by mirroring production procedures, processes and protocols as closely as possible. All ORS data elements planned for Production are being collected during the test.

Production activities mirrored in the Pre-production test include selecting ORS samples, training staff, conducting calibration exercises, collecting the data, conducting all review activities, calculating estimates and standard errors, validating the estimates, and applying publication criteria to the computed estimates. Data from this test that meets BLS publication criteria will be provided to SSA and released in a research report for the public. However, due to the sample size of this test, the BLS only expects to be able to compute and release data for a very limited number of occupations or occupational groups, and these data will not be suitable for SSA disability determinations.

BLS received comments on both the March 24, 2014, 60 day Federal Register (79 FR 16058) and July 23, 2014, 30 day Federal Register notice (79 FR 42829) for the six-month ORS Pre-production test.

To assure that BLS is addressing all of these comments thoroughly, BLS consulted with an outside subject matter expert to gain a better understanding of occupational requirements data. The consultant reviewed and analyzed literature related to the reliability and validity of occupational requirements data and provided the BLS with recommendations for testing reliability and validity. Given the recommendations from the subject matter expert, BLS plans to begin a review initiative in FY 2015 including the development of a methodological guide, evaluation of benchmarks for data collection, and future testing of inter-rater reliability. These recommendations, as well as the previous refinements of the collection procedures, the data review process, and the validation techniques developed to date will ensure ORS produces quality occupational data in the areas of vocational preparation, mental-cognitive and physical requirements, and environmental conditions as the BLS moves into full production.

The following data will be collected during the ORS as defined by the SSA's disability program and are data that the NCS does not currently collect:

(1) An indicator of "time to proficiency," defined as the amount of time required by a typical worker to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the facility needed for average job performance, comparable to the Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) used in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT).

(2) Physical Demand characteristics/factors of occupations, measured in such a way to support SSA disability determination needs, comparable to measures in Appendix C of the Selected Characteristics of Occupations (SCO).

(3) Environmental Conditions, measured in such a way to support SSA disability determination needs, comparable to measures in Appendix D of the SCO.

(4) Data elements that describe the mental and cognitive demands of work.

(5) Occupational Task lists data as identified in the Employment and Training Administration's (ETA's) O*NET Program in order to validate the key tasks common across establishments and identify other tasks commonly performed.

Some data needed for ORS are currently collected by BLS's National Compensation Survey (NCS). The ORS data will be collected with the same methodology as data collected for NCS. The general establishment data collected on establishments in the survey samples will be the same for ORS and NCS. The Probability Selection of Occupations (PSO) methodology--a disaggregating technique for selecting individual items from a large number of items--will also be used by both ORS and NCS. For ORS and NCS, these items are employees, occupations, divisions, or sub-units depending upon the application of the sampling procedure being used. The work level of jobs data (factor evaluation method with four factors to evaluate the work level) methodology will also be used in the ORS survey, as it is currently in NCS.

BLS will disseminate the data from the ORS on the BLS public Web site (www.bls.gov/ors).

The ORS will have two collection forms (having unique private industry and government collection forms for each). For those sampled establishments that are in the current National Compensation Survey (NCS), ORS will use NCS data and forms for those data elements that overlap.

 

National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to Meet on March 5 - 6


The Economic Development Administration has announced the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship will meet on March 5 - 6 at the Department of Commerce. The members are scheduled to discuss potential initiatives on innovation, entrepreneurship and workforce/talent. The meeting will be open to the public.

The Council was chartered on November 10, 2009 to advise the Secretary of Commerce on matters related to innovation and entrepreneurship in the United States. NACIE's overarching focus is recommending transformational policies to the Secretary that will help U.S. communities, businesses, and the workforce become more globally competitive. The Council operates as an independent entity within the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), which is housed within the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration. NACIE members are a diverse and dynamic group of successful entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors, as well as leaders from nonprofit organizations and academia.

The final agenda will be posted on the NACIE Web site at http://www.eda.gov/oie/nacie/ prior to the meeting.

More … / Dial In Information…

 

SEC Seeks Comment on Standard to be Included in Service Contracts Concerning Workforce Inclusion of Minorities and Women


The Securities and Exchange Commission has recently published a

(1) Notice of proposed contract standard;

(2) Notice of proposed information collection; and,

(3) Request for public comment.

To implement section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, the SEC is proposing to include in its service contracts a standard concerning workforce inclusion of minorities and women.

The February 13 FEDERAL REGISTER provides the notices and request. Comments should be received on or before April 14, 2015.

 

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Energy Department Announces New Office of Technology Transitions


The Department of Energy this week has recently announced the launch of the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) to help expand the commercial impact of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) research. The office will work closely with the national laboratories and engage with industry to commercialize technology and strengthen the global competitiveness of U.S. industries based on scientific and technological innovations. More ...
 

Diversifying Your Economy Post-Disaster - Identifying Emerging Industries (February 25 Webinar)


The International Economic Development Council has announced a February 25, 2015 webinar (2:30 to 4:00 p.m. EST).

Communities that depend on one or two major industries can be especially vulnerable when a natural or man-made disaster strikes. A diverse industry portfolio enables regional economies to better withstand a disaster''s impacts and return to productivity more quickly. This webinar will help economic developers think strategically about how to identify emerging industries and help them grow, to create a diversified and more resilient economy.

Featured in this webinar is the experience of the Houston-Galveston area, which suffered extensive property damage and business interruption after Hurricane Ike struck in 2008. Speakers will discuss the variety of approaches taken since to retain or leverage regional assets for long-term economic diversification.

Register for this free web seminar

 

NIST Awards $20 Million for Research Center to Help Communities Increase Resilience to Disaster


The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today (February 19) that it has awarded a $20 million cooperative agreement to Colorado State University (CSU) to establish the Community Resilience Center of Excellence. Working with NIST researchers and partners from 10 other universities, the center will develop computer tools to help local governments decide how each can best invest resources intended to lessen the impact of extreme weather and other hazards on buildings and infrastructure and to recover rapidly in their aftermath.

The Fort Collins-based center will receive $4 million annually for five years. NIST has the option to renew the award for five additional years, depending on performance and the availability of funds.

Community disaster resilience includes preparing for anticipated hazards, adapting to changing conditions, and withstanding and recovering rapidly from disruptions.

The framework will provide guidance to communities as they consider pre- and post-event actions and investments to prevent future hazards from inflicting devastating consequences. The framework focuses on buildings and infrastructure systems, such as power, communication, water and transportation. It also will address how to maintain social services and institutions vital to meeting the needs of community residents, as well as economic functions. Work at the new center will support this sustained effort.

The new center will collaborate with NIST to achieve its long-term goal of developing tools that individual communities can use to assess their resilience. This includes evaluating the effectiveness of alternative measures intended to improve performance and minimize post-disaster disruption and recovery time. These tools will improve decision-making so that communities can build a “business case” for the measures they take.

The centerpiece of the center’s effort will be NIST-CORE—the NIST-Community Resilience Modeling Environment. Built on an open-source platform, the computer model and associated software and databases will incorporate a risk-based approach to decision-making that will enable quantitative comparisons of different resilience strategies.

NIST-CORE will provide the scientific basis for developing resilience metrics and decision tools to support the resilience of the built environment and for evaluating cascading effects arising among interconnected infrastructure. In addition, models and tools will integrate social systems vital to the functioning and recovery of communities—health care delivery, education, social services, financial institutions and others.

As NIST-CORE is developed, its performance will be tested against data gathered from past disasters. Ultimately, NIST-CORE will be able to learn from one analysis to the next, a capability that does not exist in any other risk or disaster-resilience model in the world.

John W. van de Lindt, CSU’s George T. Abell Distinguished Professor of Infrastructure, serves as the center’s principal investigator and co-director. Bruce Ellingwood, CSU professor of civil and environmental engineering, is the other co-director. Associate directors are Paolo Gardoni, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Daniel Cox, professor of civil and construction engineering at Oregon State University.

The center’s multi-disciplinary team includes experts in engineering, economics, data and computing, and social sciences from the University of Oklahoma, Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Washington, the University of South Alabama, the California Polytechnic University in Pomona and Texas A&M-Kingsville.

 

CFED Launches Microbusiness Solutions Learning Cluster


From CFED:

It’s been a whirlwind year for CFED’s Entrepreneurship team. Last April, CFED published In Search of Solid Ground, an analysis of microbusiness owners’ greatest financial vulnerabilities. A few months later, we kicked off a Call for Solutions to inform our view of the gaps between the financial capability “pain points” experienced by microbusiness owners and the types of solutions in the marketplace to address them. In October, we invited the winners from this Call for Solutions to apply for the Microbusiness Solutions Learning Cluster, an initiative designed to help organizations design more powerful, user-focused products and services to enhance microbusiness owners’ financial capability.

Thanks to the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Capital One Foundation, the ICE NYSE Foundation, the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Prudential Foundation—we are excited to announce the launch of this learning cluster and highlight our three participants:

  • CAMBA (Brooklyn, NY) offers Mobilize Your Business, a program that teaches low- and moderate-income microbusiness owners to use tablet-based technology to transform their cash-and-carry businesses into more formal, bankable businesses.

  • Northern Initiatives (Marquette, MI) offers a standardized, scalable web-based training program and a system to assess and deliver training founded on the principles covered in FDIC’s Money Smart for Small Business curriculum.

  • WESST (Albuquerque, NM) provides an in-person training program to microbusiness owners and is planning to expand access through an on-demand learning platform that teaches three core financial capacity building skills: building and understanding financial statements, cash flow analysis, and implementation and break-even analysis.

    Throughout the year-long engagement, CFED will work closely with each organization to refine a unique design challenge, drill deeper using consumer insights research techniques, design an intervention or programmatic tweak to address the design challenge, and then pilot and assess the impact of the intervention. Each organization will receive a $25,000 subgrant and direct technical assistance from CFED to do this work – but just as importantly, the learning cluster will enable them to share their experiences, give and receive feedback and capitalize on one another’s strengths.

    Along the way, we look forward to sharing the learning cluster’s progress as our participants gather new insights about their clients and refine their offerings to better meet their needs. The project kicked off with a virtual meeting in mid-January, and CFED staff will start making site visits to each participant in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates!

 

States Pass Various Measures to Advance Career Technical Education: New ACTE Report Provides Activity Profiles by Policy Area


The Education Week takes note of a new report from the Association of Career and Technical Education. State legislatures and regulatory bodies were very active passing measures to support, expand, and fund career technical education programs last year.

A new report released February 5 highlights about 150 new policies recently approved in 46 states and the District of Columbia for programs at both the high school and college level. Released by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), based in Alexandria, Va., and the Silver Spring, Md.- headquartered National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), the review includes a roundup of laws that expand partnerships with businesses, promote access to dual and concurrent enrollment, and create incentives or competitive funds for high-quality CTE programs, among other measures.

"This continued spike in CTE-related policies indicates a growing awareness and interest in using CTE as a means to increase postsecondary credential attainment, provide students with real-world experience and prepare a workforce with knowledge and skills necessary to maintain the nation's competitive edge," the report said.

There were 36 states that provided additional funding for CTE, led by California which invested $250 million in its Career Pathways Trust Grant. There were 28 states that approved measures strengthening employer engagement, and 24 states made it easier for high school students to transfer college credits across institutions in 2014. Other legislative activity revolved around industry-related credentials, graduation requirements, and data reporting.

 

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Native American Employment and Training Council to Meet on February 25 - 26


The next meeting of the Native American Employment and Training Council (Council will be held on February 25 - 26 at the Rincon Tribal Hall on the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians Reservation, 1 West Tribal Road, Valley Center, California 92082.

The formal agenda will focus on the following topics:

(1) U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration Update and follow up on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) recommendations;
(2) Performance Outcomes and Reporting;
(3) Recommendations on WIOA regulations;
(4) Training and Technical Assistance;
(5) Council and Workgroup Updates and Recommendations;
(6) New Business and Next Steps; and
(7) Public Comment.

More ...

 

FTA Seeks Proposal under “National Public Transportation/TOD Technical Assistance Initiative”


On February 11, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity and Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new National Public Transportation/TOD Technical Assistance Initiative, which supports the Ladders of Opportunity initiative of the President and the Secretary of Transportation by providing technical assistance for transit-oriented development activities around public transportation stations, including technical assistance to economically distressed communities across the country.

FTA has budgeted up to $4,000,000 over a four-year period and seeks proposals that will demonstrate the ability to organize a technical assistance team with practical expertise in a range of disciplines including public transportation, transit-oriented development, land use, urban planning, affordable housing, environmental justice and community-based economic development.

This National Public Transportation/TOD Technical Assistance Initiative will build upon FTA''s prior research, planning, technical assistance, and training efforts through the Transit Cooperative Research Program, the National Transit Institute and other outreach. The strategic goals of the initiative are: (1) Economic Development; (2) Equity and Quality of Life; and (3) Outreach, Education, and Facilitation.

Eligible proposers are national non-profit organizations with technical expertise in public transportation, transit-oriented development, land use, urban planning, public finance, affordable housing, environmental justice and community-based economic development.

FTA will award one (1) Cooperative agreement that will be between FTA and the selected proposer, which must have a substantial interest in the project and must not simply act as a pass-through for funds. The selected proposer will be directly responsible for the delivery of all services and products. Individuals, for-profit entities, public and Federal agencies are not eligible to apply directly for this solicitation. However, individuals, for-profit entities, public and Federal agencies are eligible to participate as third parties under the direction and leadership of eligible proposers.

The announcement is available on www.fta.dot.gov and www.grants.gov. Additional information can be found in the February 11, 2015 FEDERAL REGISTER.

 

Department of Homeland Security Seeks Comments on the 2015 Survey of E-Verify Employers


The Department of Homeland Security has published a February 11 FEDERAL REGISTER notice regarding the reinstatement, with change, of the 2015 Survey of E-Verify Employers. Comments are encouraged and will be accepted until April 13, 2015.
 

BLS Publishes Sixty-Day Notice on Extension of 'General Inquiries to State Agency Contacts"


The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published the sixty-day notice on February 10 regarding “General Inquiries to State Agency Contacts.” Comments are due by April 13.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) awards funds to State agencies in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Island in order to jointly conduct BLS/State Labor Market Information and Occupational Safety and Health Statistics cooperative statistical programs, which themselves have been approved by OMB separately, as follows:

  • Current Employment Statistics
  • Local Area Unemployment Statistics
  • Occupational Employment Statistics
  • Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Report
  • Annual Refiling Survey
  • Labor Market Information Cooperative Agreement
  • Multiple Worksite Report
  • Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
  • Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries
  • BLS/OSHS Federal State Cooperative Agreement

To ensure the timely flow of information and to be able to evaluate and improve the BLS/State cooperative programs' management and operations, it is necessary to conduct ongoing communications between the BLS and its State partners. Whether information requests deal with program deliverables, program enhancements, operations, or administrative issues, questions and dialogue are crucial to the successful implementation of these programs.

 

Census Bureau Seeks Comments on the New Content of the Annual Survey of Business Owners; New Collection to Gather Information on Business Ownership by Gender, Ethnicity, Race and Veteran Status


The Census Bureau has published the sixty-day notice for the Annual Survey of Business Owners (ASBO). The notice appears in the February 10, 2015 FEDERAL REGISTER. Comments are due by April 13. Excerpts appear below; the full list of developed questions for the ASBO by year, coverage of consultations with OMB, and burden hour estimates appear in the notice.

In the ASBO, respondents will be asked questions about their businesses as well as several questions about the gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status of the principal owner(s). This survey will be the first annual collection of information on the characteristics of U.S. businesses by ownership categories, i.e., by gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status.

The survey will be conducted as a joint project with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Missouri nonprofit corporation and a private foundation exempt from taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The ASBO will supplement the five-year Survey of Business Owners program and provide more timely updates on the status, nature, and scope of women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses. The ASBO statistics will be used by government program officials, industry organization leaders, economic and social analysts, and business entrepreneurs.

Examples of data uses include:

  • To establish and evaluate contract procurement practices affecting small and disadvantaged businesses.

  • To create a framework for planning, directing, and assessing programs that promote the activities of disadvantaged groups.

  • To assess minority-owned businesses by industry and area and to educate industry associations, corporations, and government entities.

  • To assess business assistance needs and allocate available program resources.

  • To analyze economic and demographic shifts and differences in ownership and performance among geographic areas.

  • To analyze business operations in comparison to similar firms, compute market share, and assess business growth and future prospects.

The 2014 data collection of the ASBO will begin in September 2015 and will continue through January 2016. The 2015 data collection will begin in June 2016 and will continue through September 2016 and the 2016 data collection will begin in June 2017 and will continue through September 2017.

More …

 

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Congress.gov Offers Users New Alert System


The free legislative information website Congress.gov now offers users a new optional email-alerts system for tracking legislative action. Users can elect to receive email alerts for tracking:

A specific bill in the current Congress: Receive an email when there are updates to a specific bill (new cosponsors, committee action, vote taken, etc.); emails are sent once a day if there has been a change in a particular bill's status since the previous day.

A specific member's legislative activity: Receive an email when a specific member introduces or cosponsors a bill; emails are sent once a day if a member has introduced or cosponsored a bill since the previous day.

Congressional Record: Receive an email as soon as a new issue of the Congressional Record is available on Congress.gov.

The alerts system is a new feature available to anyone who creates a free account on the Congress.gov site. Creating an account also enables users to save searches. Users can create an account and sign up for alerts at Congress.gov/account.

 

States Pass Various Measures to Advance Career Technical Education: New Report Provides Activity Profiles by Policy Area


The Education Week takes note of a new report from the Association of Career and Technical Education. State legislatures and regulatory bodies were very active passing measures to support, expand, and fund career technical education programs last year.

A new report released February 5 highlights about 150 new policies recently approved in 46 states and the District of Columbia for programs at both the high school and college level. Released by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), based in Alexandria, Va., and the Silver Spring, Md.- headquartered National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), the review includes a roundup of laws that expand partnerships with businesses, promote access to dual and concurrent enrollment, and create incentives or competitive funds for high-quality CTE programs, among other measures.

"This continued spike in CTE-related policies indicates a growing awareness and interest in using CTE as a means to increase postsecondary credential attainment, provide students with real-world experience and prepare a workforce with knowledge and skills necessary to maintain the nation's competitive edge," the report said.

There were 36 states that provided additional funding for CTE, led by California which invested $250 million in its Career Pathways Trust Grant. There were 28 states that approved measures strengthening employer engagement, and 24 states made it easier for high school students to transfer college credits across institutions in 2014. Other legislative activity revolved around industry-related credentials, graduation requirements, and data reporting.

 

Services for Youth: HHS/ACF Announce Funding Opportunities under “Basic Center Program” and “Street Outreach Program”


The Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services has recently announced two grant opportunities. Applications under both competitions are due by April 10.

Basic Center Program (BCP). The purpose of the BCP is to provide an alternative for runaway and homeless youth who might otherwise end up with law enforcement or in the child welfare, mental health, or juvenile justice systems.

The BCP works to establish or strengthen community-based programs that meet the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families. The programs provide youth up to age 18 years with emergency shelter, food, clothing, counseling and referrals for health care. Most basic centers can provide 21 days of shelter for up to 20 youth at a time. There are exceptions for jurisdictions that have different standards for licensing. Basic Centers seek to reunite young people with their families, whenever possible, or to locate appropriate alternative placements.

Services will include: street-based services; home-based services for families with youth at risk of separation from the family; drug abuse education and prevention services; and at the request of runaway and homeless youth, testing for sexually transmitted infections.

Funding Instrument Type: Grant
Estimated Total Funding: $14,593,033
Expected Number of Awards: 93
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/files/HHS-2015-ACF-ACYF-CY-0957_0.pdf

Street Outreach Program (SOP). Today, in communities across the country, young people are living on the streets after running from or being asked to leave homes characterized by abuse, neglect, or parental drug and alcohol abuse. Once on the streets, such youth are at risk of being sexually exploited or abused by adults for pleasure or profit. In addition, youth may engage in shoplifting, survival sex, or drug dealing in order to provide for their basic needs. Since 1996, SOP has been aiding this population by funding grantees to provide street-based services to run away, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to, or are at risk of being subjected to, sexual abuse, prostitution, or sexual exploitation. These services, which are provided in areas, where street youth congregates, are designed to assist such youth in making healthy choices regarding where they live and how they behave.

Funding Instrument Type: Grant
Estimated Total Funding: $4,712,482
Expected Number of Awards: 38

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/files/HHS-2015-ACF-ACYF-YO-0956_0.pdf

 

Social Innovation Fund Grants 2015: Youth Development and Economic Opportunity among Emphases


The 2015 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) from the Social Innovation Fund is available. Click here to review the Notice and related resources needed to develop and submit your application.

Approximately $40 million is available for new grants to eligible grant making institutions or partnerships in order to run open competitions to select, fund, support, and evaluate community-based nonprofits seeking to grow innovative, evidence-based solutions to challenges facing low-income communities nationwide. Awards will be made to programs aligning with one of our three focus areas:

Youth Development: Preparing youth for success in school, active citizenship, productive work, and healthy and safe lives.

Economic Opportunity: Increasing economic opportunities for economically disadvantaged individuals.

Healthy Futures: Promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing the risk factors that can lead to illness.

Each selected recipient will be awarded between $1 million and $10 million annually and will match every federal dollar of the grant award. At least 80 percent of awarded federal funds must be invested in sub recipient programs.

The deadline to apply is March 17th, 2015 at 5 p.m. ET. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to submit a Notice of Intent by February 20th, 2015.

 

New Brookings Report Analyzes U.S. Advanced Industries Sector; Discusses Future Workforce Needs


Fifty high-technology innovation industries are crucial to future prosperity in the United States but face substantial competitiveness challenges, conclude a new report released this week by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. Expanding the size and competitiveness of these industries, which cluster in metropolitan areas across the country, is a prerequisite for achieving broad-based growth and prosperity in the United States.

In the report, America’s Advanced Industries: What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter, Mark Muro, Jonathan Rothwell, Scott Andes, Kenan Fikri and Siddharth Kulkarni define “advanced industries.” They also analyze the advanced industries sector. which includes 50 R&D- and STEM-worker-intensive manufacturing, energy and services industries ranging from aerospace and automotive to energy generation, computer software and biotech.

Press Release
Full Report
Executive Summary
Jump to Interactive, Data, and Rankings

 

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SBA Releases Annual Update of “Small Business Profiles”; Data Includes Employment and Owner Demographics


The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has released Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories -- the annual snapshots of state-level small business activity. The profiles report on the number of small firms, employment, and owner demographics. They also list each state’s top small business industries by number of firms and number of employees. The profiles cover the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States. They also provide limited information on the U.S. territories.

In addition to the profiles, released detailed state data is available on Advocacy’s website.

 

Health Information Technology: HHS/ONC Announces New Funding Opportunities Including Workforce Training Program


Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has recently announced a new ONC Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) investing in health information exchange (HIE) as part of a Department-wide effort to achieve the safe and secure exchange and use of electronic health information to improve health and transform care. Dr. Karen DeSalvo also announced two more FOAs designed to strengthen the health IT workforce and build on work done by the new 17 Beacon Communities to innovate health care delivery with the goal of building a learning health system.

These three funding opportunities, worth approximately $36 million, demonstrate HHS and ONC's commitment to making the vision of interoperability described in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap a reality. Better access to data where and when it is needed will significantly aid the effort to transform the health care delivery system into one that provides better care, spends health care dollars smarter and results in healthier patients. More information can be found in the News Release on Healthit.gov, and in two new blog posts, that detail the funding opportunity announcements (FOA).

The Workforce Training Program FOA

Interested in training health care workers on topics like population health, care coordination, payment models that support new care delivery and payment Models, and Value Based Care? This program improves on the need to educate and cross-train individuals pursuing careers in health IT. This program will update training materials from the original Workforce Curriculum Development Program and train health care workers to use new health information technologies in a variety of settings: team-based care environment, long-term care facilities, patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations, hospitals and clinics.

Total Program Funding: $6,400,000 Award Ceiling: $2,000,000 Award Floor: $800,000

This funding opportunity is open to the public in the United States. Considering the timeframe and the amount of funding available to execute and accomplish workforce training goals, ONC anticipates that applicants will have experience and a working knowledge of the previous work product and the ability to update and develop materials as specified in the FOA. ONC also anticipates that the applicants will have experience in training Health IT professionals as specified in the FOA.

Closing date: April 6, 2015

 

Broadband Use: NTIA Seeks Comment on Addition of Expanded Questions to July Current Population Survey


The National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) have proposed the addition of 61 questions to the U.S. Census Bureau''s July 2015 Current Population Survey (CPS) to gather reliable data on broadband (also known as high-speed Internet) use by U.S. households.

The Administration is working with Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and other stakeholders to develop and advance economic and regulatory policies that foster broadband deployment and adoption to help ensure that the nation's consumers and businesses can obtain competitively priced high-speed Internet access and develop the skills necessary to use the technology. Collecting current, systematic, and comprehensive information on broadband use and non-use by U.S. households is critical to allow policymakers not only to gauge progress made to date, but also to identify problem areas with a specificity that permits carefully targeted and cost-effective responses.

NTIA notes, in part:

The Census Bureau is widely regarded as a superior collector of data based on its centuries of experience and its scientific methods. Collection of NTIA's requested broadband usage data will occur in conjunction with the Census Bureau's scheduled July 2015 CPS, thereby significantly reducing the potential burdens on the Bureau and on surveyed households. Twelve previous CPS surveys have included questions on broadband and Internet.

The U.S. government has an increasingly pressing need for comprehensive broadband data. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), NTIA, and the FCC have issued reports noting the lack of useful broadband adoption data for policymakers, and Congress passed legislation--the Broadband Data Improvement Act in 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009--wholly or in part to address this deficiency. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) looks to Census Bureau data as an important input into their inter-country benchmark analyses. Modifying the July CPS to include NTIA's requested broadband questions will allow the Commerce Department and NTIA to respond to congressional concerns and directives, and to work with the OECD on its broadband methodologies with more recent data.

Requests for additional information or copies of the proposed information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Rafi Goldberg, Telecommunications Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development, NTIA, at (202) 482-1880 or RGoldberg@ntia.doc.gov.

A February 4 FEDERAL REGISTER notice provides additional background, summarizes the burden hour estimates, and furnishes instructions on the submission of comments. Comments are due by April 6.

 

USDA Seeks Comments on SNAP Data Collections and Screening Tools


The Department of Agriculture has published three ICRs in the January 28 FEDERAL REGISTER related to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Comments regarding these information collections are best assured of having their full effect if received within 30 days. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720-8958.

Waivers Under Section 6(o) of the Food and Nutrition Act
(This is a renewal of an existing information collection)

Section 824 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Public Law 104-193 (PRWORA) establishes a time limit for the receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for certain able-bodied adults who are not working. The provision authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture, upon a State agency's request, to waive the provision for any group of individuals if the Secretary determines ``that the areas in which the individuals reside has an unemployment rate of over 10 percent or does not have a sufficient number of jobs to provide employment for the individuals.'

The Food and Nutrition Service uses the information provided by State SNAP agencies to evaluate whether the statutory requirements for a waiver of the SNAP time limit have been met and to determine specifically whether the designated areas' unemployment rate is over ten percent or if there is a lack of sufficient jobs available. If the information is not collected, the State SNAP agencies could not obtain waivers of time limits contained in Section 6(o) of the Act.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Pre-Screening Tool
(This is a renewal of an existing information collection)

Consistent with Section 5 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has developed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Pre-Screening Tool to enable applicants to assess their eligibility and the order of magnitude of the potential benefit for which they may qualify. This Pre-Screening Tool also enables citizen advocacy groups to help constituents assess their benefit eligibility.

The SNAP Pre-Screening Tool is accessible to the public as an online web-based system. The user is prompted to enter household size, income, expenses and resource information, and the tool calculates and provides the user with an estimated range of benefits that the household may be eligible to receive.

FNS User Access Request Form
(This is a renewal of an existing information collection)

The Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A-130, Appendix III, Security of Federal Automated Information Resources, dated February 8, 1996, established a minimum set of controls to be included in Federal automated information security programs. Establishing personal controls to screen users to allow access to an authorized system is directed in this appendix. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) User Access Request Form, FNS-674, is designed for this purpose and will be used in all situations where access to an FNS computer system is required, where current access is required to be modified, or where access is no longer required and must be deleted. Users who access FNS systems are: State agencies, other Federal agencies, FNS Regional offices, FNS Field offices, FNS Compliance Offices, staff contractors, and FNS headquarters staff.

The State Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that State users and entities comply with the FNS Information Systems Security Guidelines and the Procedures Handbook 702 developed for State systems for their use in maintaining proper controls over FNS security features used by State clients. The information to be collected is: Name, e-Authentication ID, telephone number, home zip code, email address, contract expiration date, temporary employee expiration date, office address, State/locality codes, system name, form type, type of access, action requested, comments and special instructions. If access were not granted, users would be denied access to systems needed to deliver FNS programs.

 

Federal Transit Administration Announces Cooperative Agreement Opportunity to Administer 'National Aging and Disability Transportation Center'; Invites Applications from Eligible Non-Profits by March 31; Announces Guidance on Emergency Relief Program


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is soliciting proposals under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act''s Section 5314 Technical Assistance and Standards Development Program from national non-profit organizations for a cooperative agreement to fund a National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC). FTA intends to fund the NADTC at up to $2,500,000 for the first year with the option to extend for up to four additional years.

FTA has released this notice of funding availability to promote the availability and accessibility of transportation options that serve the needs of people with disabilities, seniors and caregivers with a focus on effectively leveraging MAP-21 Section 5310 (5310) Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Grants and other transit investments.

The NADTC builds upon twenty-five years of investment in accessible transportation training and technical assistance that improves mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities throughout the country by removing barriers to transportation services and expanding community transportation mobility options.

Proposals are due by March 31. This announcement is available on the FTA's Web site at: http://WWW.FTA.DOT.GOV/GRANTS/13077.HTML. The funding opportunity RFP is also posted in the FIND module of the government-wide electronic grants Web site at http://www.grants.gov.

The February 6 FEDERAL REGISTER provides additional background on the competition

FTA has also placed on its docket and on its Web site proposed guidance on FTA's Emergency Relief (ER) Program for states and transit agencies that may be affected by a declared emergency or disaster and that may seek funding under FTA's ER Program. The proposed guidance is contained in the newly revised Reference Manual for States & Transit Agencies on Response and Recovery from Declared Disasters and FTA's Emergency Relief Program, which replaces ``Response and Recovery from Declared Emergencies and Disasters: A Reference for Transit Agencies,' last updated in June 2013. In addition to proposed guidance on the ER Program, this document provides information on other disaster relief resources available through FTA and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). By this notice, FTA seeks public comment on the proposed ER Program guidance.

Comments must be submitted by April 6, 2015. Late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable. More...

Also see:

Transit Virtual Career Network

 

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Department of Defense and Department of Army Announce Cooperative Agreement Opportunity to Address STEM in Classroom Settings; Identify $190 Million Investment over Ten Year Period


Subjects: Subjects: Training and Employment Notice 23-07: Building and Sustaining an Educated and Prepared STEM Workforce; Governor''s emphases on the student acquisition of STEM skills; ETA grants-in-aid with STEM focus or component ...

The purpose of the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) cooperative agreement (COA) announcement recently announced is to solicit proposals for a single-award to a recipient, who will carry out the K-College STEM education and outreach programs on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of the Army to help address the nation's need of a diverse, agile and highly competent science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) literate talent pool. Through the AEOP COA award, the Army envisions the government to work with a recipient with an established consortium of organizations to collaboratively advance Army-sponsored STEM education and outreach programs, conducted across the United States, Puerto Rico as well as DoD locations in Europe and the Pacific.

The Recipient selected to administer programs and functions under the AEOP COA will collaboratively work as a consortium to engage students from underserved and underrepresented populations in STEM experiences during their elementary school years, encourage them to pursue STEM experiences and opportunities in their middle school years, and prepare them for college and career opportunities in their high school and undergraduate years. The AEOP COA envisions a collaborative approach in the management, planning and execution of the Army’s STEM education and outreach program portfolio that will focus on the Army STEM priorities and core objectives contained in the attached announcement. The announcement notes, in part:

The growing demand for STEM competencies, the global competitiveness for STEM talent and the unbalanced makeup of STEM fields have led to a national all-hands-on-deck approach to the STEM challenge. Developing a highly competent STEM workforce requires partnerships among government, industry and academia. The Army makes a unique and valuable contribution to the national STEM challenge by providing access to its world-class technical professionals and research centers for students and teachers.

The projected scope of the cooperative agreement is approximately $190 million over the course of ten (10) years. Applications are due by April 29.

An Opportunity Day Meeting will be held on February 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. E.S.T. at Crystal City (Arlington), VA. The Opportunity Day will take place at Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, located at 2800 South Potomac Avenue, Arlington, VA.

This one-day event will discuss the PA and include a technical briefing on program expectations and requirements, a proposal/contracting briefing, and a question/answer session. While attendance is strongly encouraged, attendance at this meeting is not a requirement for proposal submission. The presentations from this meeting, the list of attendees at this meeting, and the non-proprietary questions posed and answers provided during this meeting will be made available on https://acquisition.army.mil/asfi. Nothing said during the Opportunity Day meeting will change this PA. Any changes to this PA will be issued via an amended PA being posted in grants.gov.

This cooperative agreement opportunity was highlighted on www.grants.gov and on FedBizOps at https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=8d677ecea61e07ea8ed8ea2331146624

 

CNCS Announces Funding Opportunity within the Social Innovation Fund


The National Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has recently announced a funding opportunity within its Social Innovation Fund. CNCS has identified $51,000,000 for the purpose of supporting intermediary cooperative agreements, identifying a floor of $1,000,000 and a ceiling of $10,000,000. The solicitation may be found on www.grants.gov.

The purpose of the Social Innovation Fund is to grow the impact of innovative community-based solutions that have compelling evidence of improving the lives of people in low-income communities throughout the United States. The Social Innovation Fund directs resources toward increasing the evidence-base, capacity, and scale of the organizations it funds in order to improve the lives of people served by those organizations. The Social Innovation Fund also generates broader impact by leveraging the grant program in various ways to improve how philanthropies, federal government departments and agencies, state and local government, and community-based organizations deploy funds to address social challenges. Additionally, it enhances the ability of the nonprofit sector to support the growth of innovative, high-impact organizations.

The Social Innovation Fund is driven by three core principles:

(1) many of the most compelling solutions to persistent social problems in low-income communities are being developed in those communities and not in federal offices in Washington, D.C.;

(2) significant impact can be generated for society by proactively identifying the best community-based solutions, strengthening their evidence base, and supporting the growth of their impact; and

(3) the federal government can help drive social innovation by stimulating, focusing and enhancing public-private partnerships and cross-sector collaborations to grow the impact of the best community solutions.

This competition is open to existing grantmaking institutions or eligible partnerships. A grantmaking institution is an organization in existence at the time of the application that invests in nonprofit community organizations or programs through grants as an essential rather than a collateral means of fulfilling its mission and vision. The emphasis on grantmaking activities as a part of an organization’s mission should be evident in the applicants’ mission statement and promotional materials, and should be clearly reflected as a significant percentage of their annual operating budget.

 

Department of Energy Issues “Notice of Intent” to Announce “Cleantech University Prize” Competition in Mid-February; Urges Potential Applicants to Begin Development of Partnerships


From the Department of Energy:

The purpose of this Notice of Intent is to provide potential applicants advance notice that the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of the Technology-to-Market Team in the Office of Strategic Programs, a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP)”, Number DE-FOA-0001271.

The Cleantech UP program seeks to catalyze clean energy start-up formation on college campuses, support novel training and educational opportunities that equip the next generation of energy entrepreneurs and innovators across the country, establish a national-level training program and competition for America’s top clean energy student entrepreneurs, and create a sustained and diverse community to support student entrepreneurs.

The mission of EERE’s Technology-to-Market Team is to aid EERE technology offices and American energy innovation stakeholders in addressing the technological and financial barriers to bring new intellectual property to market. To advance this mission, the Technology-to-Market Sub-Program supports a variety of commercialization and entrepreneurship activities in partnership with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, universities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations around the country. Existing activities include the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (DOE NCEBPC), National Incubator Initiative for Clean Energy, Lab-Corps, and Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (SBIR/STTR); past activities include the Innovation Ecosystem Development Initiative, i6 Green Challenge, Technology Commercialization Fund, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and other initiatives.

No applications will be accepted through this notice. Please do not submit questions or respond to this Notice of Intent.

Prospective applicants to the FOA should begin developing partnerships, formulating ideas, and gathering data in anticipation of the issuance of this FOA. DOE plans to issue the FOA around mid-February 2015. The applicant must first register and create an account on the EERE eXCHANGE website. A User Guide for EERE eXCHANGE can be found on the EERE website https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/Manuals.aspx after logging in to the system.

 

Renewable Energy Sector: Energy Department Announces New Funding Opportunity; Identifies Grants Awarded for Solar Research


In support of the Administration's effort to double renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020, the Energy Department announced on January 29 more than $59 million in funding to support solar energy innovation today. The Department is making $45 million in funding available to quickly move innovative solar manufacturing technologies to market, and is also awarding more than $14 million for 15 new projects to help communities develop multi-year solar deployment plans to install solar electricity in homes, businesses, and communities.

The $45 million Technology to Market funding opportunity is part of the Department's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, aimed at boosting American competitiveness and supporting a strong domestic, clean energy manufacturing sector. This funding opportunity combines three historically separate Sun Shot Initiative funding programs - Incubator, Solar Manufacturing Technology, and Scaling Up Nascent PV at Home - into one that will support projects with the potential to significantly reduce the costs for solar energy systems across a variety of technology areas. These tools, technologies and services could reduce the costs of technologies including photovoltaics and power electronics, and could also contribute to cutting balance of system and non-hardware costs through customer acquisition, permitting, financing, interconnection, and inspection.

The 15 Solar Market Pathways projects announced on January 29 will pursue various approaches to developing actionable solar deployment plans and strategies to promote deployment at residential, community, and commercial scales - from expanding shared or community solar programs and local financing mechanisms to integrating solar energy generation into communities’ emergency response plans. Aimed at cutting the non-hardware "soft costs"? of solar - such as permitting, financing, and connecting to the electric grid - the case studies and lessons learned from these projects will ultimately provide similar jurisdictions with examples that can be replicated - an important step towards making solar deployment faster, easier, and cheaper across the country. The awardees include not-for-profits, utilities, industry associations, universities, and state and local jurisdictions in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

Also see: January 29, 2015 White House Fact Sheet: Administration and California Partner to Drive Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Multifamily Housing

 

Census Bureau Seeks Nominations for Its Scientific Advisory Committee; Announces March 18 Public Event on Transparency and Data Accessibility; Announces Discontinuation of ACS 3-Year Estimates


The Census Bureau is requesting nominations by March 4 for membership on its Scientific Advisory Committee. The Committee advises the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau on the uses of scientific developments in statistical data collection, statistical analysis, survey methodology, geospatial analysis, econometrics, cognitive psychology, and computer science as they pertain to the full range of Census Bureau programs and activities.

The Census Scientific Advisory Committee provides scientific and technical expertise from the following disciplines: Demography, economics, geography, psychology, statistics, survey methodology, social and behavioral sciences, Information Technology and computing, marketing, communications, and other fields of expertise, as appropriate, to address Census Bureau program needs and objectives. This expertise is necessary to ensure that the Census Bureau continues to provide relevant and timely statistics used by federal, state, and local governments as well as business and industry in an increasingly technologically-oriented society.

The February 2 FEDERAL REGISTER Provides full background on the nomination process.

The Census Bureau has also announced a March 18 event -- “Era of Transparency: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act, and Open Government,'” in recognition of National Sunshine Week. Topics will include proactive disclosures, the Privacy Act, and data accessibility. More …

A recent advisory from the American Community Survey Office discusses the discontinuation of a ACS statistical product:

As a result of tight budgetary considerations, the U.S. Census Bureau has proposed permanently discontinuing a statistical product from the . American Community Survey Beginning in fiscal year 2016. The product, often called the “3-year estimates,” combines three years of data collection into a three-year rolling average and is available for communities with populations of 20,000 or more.

Although the Census Bureau would discontinue this product, every community in the nation will continue to receive a detailed statistical portrait of its social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics through other American Community Survey products. Specifically, the Census Bureau will continue producing annual estimates for communities of 65,000 or more, and communities of all sizes, including the nation’s smallest, will continue to receive updated five-year rolling averages each year.

The Census Bureau has proposed dropping the three-year product in order to prioritize funding for activities that enhance the quality of the entire data set and enhance the experience for the survey respondent. For example, these activities include additional training for field representatives, continued review of the survey questions and the way they are asked, and expanded outreach and partnership with stakeholders.

Spending plans for fiscal year 2015 are currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. For more information about the Census Bureau’s fiscal year 2016 budget, please visit http://www.osec.doc.gov/bmi/budget/FY16BIB/EntireDocument-WebVersionWithCharts.pdf.

As always, we look forward to engaging with our American Community Survey data users. So, we hope you will join us at the second American Community Data Users Conference to be held May 11-13, 2015 in College Park, Maryland. The conference agenda is under development and will include both contributed presentations by American Community Survey data users and invited plenary sessions with leading experts and key government Executive staff. To receive updates about this conference and more, please join the American Community Survey data user on-line community network at www.acsdatausers.org.

The ACS provides reliable statistics that are indispensable to anyone who has to make informed decisions about the future. These statistics are required by all levels of government to manage or evaluate a wide range of programs, but are also useful for research, education, journalism, business and advocacy. If you have questions about this survey, please call our Customer Services Center on 1 (800) 923-8282.

 

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Energy Sector: NIST Seeks Letter of Interest for Collaboration in Cybersecurity Situational Awareness


To improve the security of operational technology, energy companies need mechanisms to capture, transmit, analyze and store real-time or near-real-time data from industrial control systems (ICS) and related networking equipment. With such mechanisms in place, energy sector providers, owners and operators can more readily detect anomalous conditions, take appropriate actions to remediate them, investigate the chain of events that led to the anomalies and share findings with other energy companies. Obtaining real-time and near-real-time data from networks also has the benefit of helping to demonstrate compliance with information security standards.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has invited organizations to provide products and technical expertise to support and demonstrate security platforms for situational awareness for the energy sector. This invitation is the initial step for the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) in collaborating with technology companies to address cybersecurity challenges identified under the Energy sector program. Participation in the use case is open to all interested organizations.

Interested parties must contact NIST to request a letter of interest. Letters of interest will be accepted on a rolling basis. Collaborative activities will commence as soon as enough completed and signed letters of interest have been returned to address all the necessary components and capabilities, but no earlier than March 4, 2015. When the use case has been completed, NIST will post a notice on the NCCoE energy sector program Web site at http://nccoe.nist.gov/energy announcing the completion of the use case and informing the public that it will no longer accept letters of interest for this use case.

More...

 

New Version of OccuCoder, ITSC's Job Matching Tool Available


From the National Association of State Workforce Agencies:

The Information Technology Support Center ( ITSC) provides technology services and support to state Unemployment Insurance agencies across the country. A new version of the ITSC''s job matching tool, OccuCoder v 2.3, is now available to all state workforce agencies. OccuCoder is a software tool developed by the ITSC through U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) funding to code both unemployed job seekers and job openings with a standard occupational code. OccuCoder uses the O*NET job coding database of occupational information to attach a job code to unemployed job seekers to enable them to be quickly matched to current job openings that are also coded with the appropriate O*NET Code. The O*NET database contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation specific job descriptions developed by the O*NET Center. For more information on OccuCoder or to demo the tool, click here.

What's New in v 2.3?

  • Updated to use O*NET 17.0 database
  • Better Performance to extract occupational codes from longer job descriptions.
  • Bright Outlook Jobs, a listing of occupations that are expected to grow rapidly in the next several years.
  • Green Jobs, a listing of new and emerging occupations within green economic sectors.
  • Military Occupational Classification (MOC) cross match.
  • Support for Spanish Language - This feature was recently piloted by New Jersey and is in production. However, this support for Spanish has not been tested/piloted for batch processes.

The software is free to all state agencies. To receive the software, please contact Steve Hanle, the ITSC Web Administrator, at stephen.hanle@itsc.org with a request to access to the OccuCoder section of the ITSC website.

 

GAO Seeks Nominations for Health Information Technology Policy Committee


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) established the Health Information Technology Policy Committee (Health IT Policy Committee) and gave the Comptroller General responsibility for appointing 13 of its 20 members. As the result of terms ending in April 2015, the General Accountability Office is accepting nominations of individuals for four openings on the committee in the following categories of representation or expertise required in ARRA: Advocate for patients or consumers, health care provider, representative of a health plan or third party payer, and expertise in health care quality measurement and reporting.

Letters of nomination and resumes are due by February 27, 2015.

More …

 

HHS/ONC Releases "Connecting Health and Care for the nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Version 1.0"


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently released Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Version 1.0. The draft Roadmap is a proposal to deliver better care and result in healthier people through the safe and secure exchange and use of electronic health information.

The draft Roadmap builds on the vision paper, Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A 10-Year Vision to Achieve an Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure, issued in June 2014. Months of comment and feedback from hundreds of health and health IT experts from across the nation through ONC advisory group feedback, listening sessions and an online forum aided in the development of the Roadmap.

 

SelectUSA Investment Conference Agenda Now Available; SelectUSA Announces Availability of C2ER 'State Business Incentives Database"


The SelectUSA Investment conference will be held on March 23 - 24 in Washington D.C. The conference organizers have released the draft agenda at http://selectusasummit.com/images/agenda/2015-01-23-SelectUSA-Summit-Agenda.pdf with summaries of all plenaries and panel sessions. More than 1,200 registrants have already signed up, including firms from 70 markets around the world.

The synopsis of Panel - Training Your Skilled Workforce / Partnerships to Shape Vocational Training Programs and Match Business Needs:

The United States workforce is one of the most skilled and productive in the world. For business models that require specialized training, the United States has the tools to prepare workers to meet your specific business needs. This session will feature innovative models for workforce training like apprenticeship programs, as well as many other resources available to employers through the public workforce development system. This panel will discuss specific strategies for employers to develop their talent pipelines, including federal and state support and technical assistance to train incumbent or onboarding employees in specific skills, technologies, and machinery.

The SelectUSA team has also recenty announced the launch of the State Business Incentives Database, a national database created by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). With almost 2,000 programs from all 50 states, DC, and federal agencies, the database gives economic developers, business development finance professionals, and economic researchers a convenient resource for searching and learning about state incentive programs.

 

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Federal Reserve to Host Economic Mobility Conference in Washington D.C. (April 2 - 3)


The Community Affairs Officers of the Federal Reserve System will host the ninth biennial Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference ( Economic Mobility: Research & Ideas on Strengthening Families, Communities & the Economy) on April 2 - 3 in Washington D.C.

The conference organizers will use the broad theme of economic mobility to advance participants' understanding about how people and communities get ahead, where impediments exist, how factors such as inequality play a role, and what has changed over time.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz are scheduled to deliver the keynote speeches.

Community developers and practitioners, policymakers, lenders, the philanthropic community, researchers, the financial services sector, state and local economic development agency representatives, and students are all encouraged to attend.

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Economic Development Administration: Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request At-A-Glance


The U.S. Department of Commerce has released details about the President's fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request to Congress, which includes $273 million in funding for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). This request is a $23 million increase from the FY 2015 enacted levels.

The President's Budget reflects EDA’s priority of supporting and empowering regions and communities across the country. Specifically, the President's Budget enables EDA to more effectively help communities develop and implement their own plans for increased job creation, enhanced business investment, and improved quality of life for their citizens.

Increases in staffing capacity, along with a stronger emphasis on EDA's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process, will pave the way for EDA to serve as an effective integrator of federal economic development resources. The President's Budget expands on the federal government's approach to planning, positioning EDA as the government's premier resource for communities engaged in regional planning. Communities that collaborate on a regional basis are better poised to take advantage of opportunities to grow, attract businesses and jobs, and create a better life for their citizens.

EDA will also assume a central role in coordinating the Partnerships for Workforce and Economic Revitalization Plus (POWER+) Plan, an interagency initiative to target assistance through competitively awarded grants to partnerships anchored in communities impacted by changes in the power sector and coal industry.

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New Report: U.S. Spends $1.1 Trillion on College and Job Training


From the February 5, 2015 INSIDE HIGHER ED:

Colleges spent $407 billion in 2013 on formal education programs, while employers spent $177 billion, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The report found that employers also spent $413 billion on informal, on-the-job training. That means the workforce side of the total $1.1 trillion in expenditures on training outpaced that of higher education.

However, the rate of increase for spending on formal training has been faster in higher education -- an 82 percent increase since 1994 compared to a 26 percent increase by employers. Federally funded job training was the smallest piece of the pie, with $18 billion. College graduates receive the most formal training from employers, with 58 percent of the total expenditure by that sector compared to the 17 percent received by workers with a high school education or less.

The Role of Employer-Provided Training in the American Postsecondary Education and Training System

 

North American Governors and Premiers to Meet in October 30 - 31 Summit; Focus on Economic Development, Trade, and Innovations in Infrastructure and Education


The National Governors Association (NGA) of the United States, the Council of the Federation (COF) of Canada and the National Conference of Governors (CONAGO) of Mexico have announced the inaugural Summit of North American Governors and Premiers will be held October 30-31 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The summit will be attended by U.S. and Mexican governors and Canadian premiers.

The goal of the summit is to promote and advance cooperation by the leaders of North America, a continent that generates a combined gross domestic product of nearly USD$20 trillion per year with a population of more than 475 million. Specifically, the summit will focus on promoting economic development and trade through improvements and innovations in infrastructure and supply chain management, education, energy technology and culture.

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Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC): Department of Energy Announces Funding Opportunity


The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative has released the funding opportunity announcement entitled Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC).

The SPARC funding opportunity will establish a national recognition and technical assistance program for local governments-driving greater solar deployment and making it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access affordable and renewable solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Funding recipients will establish and administer a national recognition program and also provide technical assistance and share best practices to communities seeking national recognition for cutting red tape and improving local solar market conditions.

The SPARC designation, coupled with robust and agile technical assistance, will spur communities across the country to earn recognition for achievements that distinguish them from their peers as they become more solar-friendly, and in doing so, ignite local solar markets while establishing consistency in solar practices across the country. SPARC supports the goals of the SunShot Initiative to make it faster, cheaper, and easier to go solar.

This program will establish prominent national leadership recognition and technical assistance programs for local governments. SPARC has two topic areas: the designation program administrator (topic A), which will establish, name, and maintain the program, and the technical assistance provider (topic B), which will provide technical assistance to help communities achieve ambitious goals that eliminate market barriers and reduce soft costs. Local governments that qualify for recognition will receive a prominent designation and join a peer network of leading communities across the country. This funding opportunity will result in a maximum of two awards that range from $3,000,000 to $10,000,000. No cost share is required for either topic.

Registration for February 18, 2015 webinar (4:00 p.m. Eastern)

 

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SBA Proposes Regulations to Establish Government-Wide Mentor-Protégé Program for All Small Business Concerns; Announces "InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge"


The Small Business Administration is proposing to amend its regulations to implement provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013. Based on authorities provided in these two statutes, the proposed rule would establish a Government-wide mentor-protégé program for all small business concerns, consistent with SBA''s mentor-protege program for participants in SBA's 8(a) Business Development (BD) program.

The proposed rule would also make minor changes to the mentor-protege provisions for the 8(a) Business Development program in order to make the mentor-protégé rules for each of the programs as consistent as possible. The proposed rule would amend the current joint venture provisions to clarify the conditions for creating and operating joint venture partnerships, including the effect of such partnerships on any mentor-protégé relationships.

Finally, the proposed rule would make several additional changes to current size, 8(a) Office of Hearings and Appeals or HUBZone regulations, concerning among other things, ownership and control, changes in primary industry, standards of review and interested party status for some appeals.

The February 5 FEDERAL REGISTER contains the proposed rule. Comments must be received on or before April 6, 2015.

Excerpt:

Instead of implementing four new separate small business mentor- protégé programs (i.e., having a separate mentor-protégé program for SDVO SBCs, HUBZone SBCs, WOSB concerns, and all other small business concerns, in addition to the current mentor-prot?g? program for 8(a) BD Participants), this rule proposes to implement one additional mentor-protégé program for all small businesses since the other three types of small businesses (SDVO, HUBZone and women-owned) would be necessarily included within any mentor-protégé program targeting all small business concerns.

Approved mentor-prot?g? relationships would then be able to seek to perform joint ventures for any contracts for which the protégé firm qualifies as eligible (e.g., women-owned set aside where the protégé firm qualifies as a WOSB concern). Although the NDAA language authorizing a mentor-protégé program for all small businesses could to be read as specifically authorizing a fifth separate mentor-protégé program for certain types of small businesses (i.e., one for small businesses not already covered by SBA's current 8(a) BD mentor-protege program and not previously contained in the Jobs Act provisions authorizing mentor-protégé programs for HUBZone, SDVO or women-owned small businesses), SBA believes that having five separate small business mentor-protégé programs could become confusing to the public and procuring agencies and hard to implement by SBA.

SBA has also announced it is looking for innovative products and services that help impact and empower women's lives as they navigate the challenges of a changing work and family life.

SBA notes, in part: "We know that our workforce looks very different from 50 years ago. Women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in our nation.s economic prosperity. Most children live in households where all parents work. And as our population ages, families are increasingly caring for aging parents while balancing the needs of work and home. As demands on women and families grow, the need for products, services, and technologies that address unique challenges increases. This Challenge will provide that platform."

Challenge Criteria

The SBA is looking for entrepreneurs to create products or services that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%), has the potential for commercialization (40%), and fills a need in the marketplace (30%).

Participants must be at least 18 years of age, U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and meet other requirements as defined in the Competition Rules.

How to Participate

InnovateHER's first round goes live March 1st. Throughout the month of March, universities, accelerators, resource partners and other organizations will host local competitions. A month after going live, each host will select and submit one local winner to the SBA, who will then identify no more than 10 finalists. These finalists will travel to Washington D.C., and have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of judges and compete for up to $30,000 in prize money during National Small Business Week, May 4 - 8, 2015.

Finalists will be responsible for covering their own travel costs to DC for the national competition.

View the Competition Rules

More Questions?

  • Read our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Contact us at womenbusiness@sba.gov
  •  

    America's Promise Alliance's Center for Promise Releases White Paper: "Back to School – Exploring Promising Practices for Re-engaging Young People in Secondary Education"


    On January 22, the America’s Promise Alliance’s Center for Promise held discussion with program directors and staff from around the country who are working each day to re-engage young people in educational and career opportunities. As part of the release of its white paper, Back to School: Exploring Promising Practices for Re-engaging Young People in Secondary Education, the Google hangout session offered a summary of the paper, descriptions of re-engagement programs operated by community-based organizations and concluded with a moderated discussion with panelists on emerging themes and promising practices.
     

    JFF to Hold "Bridging the Gap: Postsecondary Pathways for Underprepared Learners" Conference (New Orleans, April 8 - 9)


    Jobs for the Future (JFF) has announced a New Orleans conference (Bridging the Gap: Postsecondary Pathways for Underprepared Learners). The event will spotlight what works when designing programs for underprepared youth and adults to transition to and succeed in postsecondary education. Through this interdisciplinary conference, conference participants will explore the systems, structures, and strategies that enable more underprepared youth and adults to access and succeed in postsecondary education.

    The conference will feature a cross-section of leading practices and strategies from many of JFF's initiatives, including Accelerating Opportunity, Back on Track, Credentials that Work, Breaking Through, and the Postsecondary State Policy Network. Conference tracks will give attendees the opportunity to share and learn from each other. Tracks on the roster for the conference include:

  • Pathway Designs
  • Job-Driven Pathways
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Financing, Scale, and Sustainability
  • Policy and Research]’
  • Click here to view the session tracks and draft agenda Registration page

     

    USDA Awards Loans to Help Create Jobs, Spur Rural Economic Development in 5 States


    On January 23, 2015, Agriculture Under Secretary Lisa Mensah announced five awards to expand access to credit for rural businesses, particularly small businesses in poor and underserved areas.

    USDA Rural Development is providing a total of $2.55 million in loans to five non-profit groups through the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). Under the IRP program, USDA provides loans to local organizations so they can create revolving loan funds for businesses.

    News Release

     

    DRA Launches New Tools to Drive Investment and Innovation; Announces the “Delta Challenge” to Connect and Grow Entrepreneurs in Region


    The Delta Regional Authority’s new website will provide residents and entrepreneurs across the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt region with new tools to identify and secure investment and resources, the agency recently announced.

    The new DRA.gov platform provides a number of enhancements to allow for more effective and efficient use, including:

    • New face for the homepage that provides a dashboard with helpful links for navigating the website, videos, and pictures that describe DRA’s flagship programs and initiatives, and up-to-date news through the agency’s Twitter feed;

    • State-specific pages that provide quick facts on DRA investments in that state, contact information for state board members and Governors, news and events for each state, and a mapping tool to explore DRA’s footprint;

    • Interactive Mapping that better explains the DRA’s footprint and economic status of its counties with further investment tracking and data mapping capabilities coming soon;

    • Newsroom archives of press releases, newsletters, Chairman's briefings, and DRA spotlights that can be filtered to help visitors find recent and past news regarding DRA and its communities; and

    • Resource section that provides valuable links, contact information, and data to help economic developers, local leadership, small business owners, and entrepreneurs strengthen their communities.

    This is the first round of a series of improvements to DRA.gov. In the coming months, the agency will be launching a new portal for its flagship federal investment program—the States’ Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP)—with enhanced application, tracking, and project management capabilities; a leadership portal to support members of the Delta Leadership Institute; and a section for the Delta Doctors program that will help Delta hospitals connect with highly-qualified physicians interested in serving medically underserved communities.

    The Delta Regional Authority has also launched The Delta Challenge—a series of entrepreneurship pitch competitions—as part of a newly established program called the DRA Entrepreneurship Network to boost entrepreneurial success in the Delta region and Alabama Black Belt.

    The Entrepreneurship Network builds on a key partnership with The Idea Village to identify, connect, nurture and grow entrepreneurs from across the Delta region and Alabama Black Belt by addressing regional deficiencies in capital, training, and best practices through a connected infrastructure of support organizations, investors, and educators.

    The new program seeks to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Delta region and broaden the region’s cultural understanding of entrepreneurship. The Delta Challenge pitch competitions will help regional leadership to identify up to 16 Entrepreneurship Network fellows and will take place in five communities across the region:

    Cape Girardeau, Missouri - February 24, 2015 Ruston, Louisiana - February 26, 2015 Jackson, Mississippi - February 27, 2015 Jonesboro, Arkansas - February 28, 2015 Linden, Alabama - March 2, 2015

    As a part of the Network’s development, DRA is also accepting applications from individuals and non-profit organizations that provide direct entrepreneurship support or educational services. Representatives from up to 16 support organizations will be identified to join the Network. Application guidelines and instructions for interested entrepreneurs and support organizations can be found at dra.gov/entrepreneur.

    The winners of the Delta Challenge competitions and those entrepreneurship support organizations selected will be designated as Entrepreneurship Network Fellows.

    The fellowship will include participation in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), produced by The Idea Village, on March 20-27, 2015. Network Fellows will showcase their ideas to investors, connect with fellow entrepreneurs, industry experts, and mentors, and participate in programmatic workshops. Entrepreneurship support organization representatives will receive access to emerging entrepreneurs, gain technical knowledge and training, expand their entrepreneurship support network, and learn additional entrepreneurial ecosystem development strategies.

    The Idea Village has been globally recognized as a model for place-based economic development through entrepreneurship and has been a steadfast advocate for making New Orleans a vibrant entrepreneurial community.

    Applications for both the Delta Challenge and the Entrepreneurship Support Organizations open January 15, 2015. Entrepreneurship Support Organization applications are due by midnight CST on February 15, 2015. Two webinars will be held to outline application guidelines and address any questions from the public on January 27 and February 3. To register for either webinar, visit dra.gov.

    The Network continues DRA investments into the Delta region’s entrepreneurial community through the DRA’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Initiative, directly aligning with the DRA’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Policy Framework.

     

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    Bureau of Economic Analysis Advisory Committee to Meet on May 8


    The Bureau of Economic Analysis Advisory Committee will meet on May 8 to address ways in which “the national economic accounts can be presented more effectively for current economic analysis and recent statistical developments in national accounting.”

    This is a public meeting. Meeting logistics

     

    Direct Employers Association and Easter Seals Announce Partnership to Bridge Gap between Employers and the Disability and Veteran Community


    DirectEmployers Association, the leading nonprofit provider and OFCCP compliance solution and recruitment marketing tools, is continuing to bridge the gap between employers and the disability and veteran community through a national partnership with Easter Seals, a nonprofit organization committed to helping individuals with disabilities and veterans achieve their goals and gain meaningful employment. Through this partnership, DirectEmployers is also launching a job portal, http://www.EasterSeals.jobs, which will provide employment opportunities from DirectEmployers members to the Easter Seal's job seeker community.

    DirectEmployers will also collaborate with Easter Seals Dixon Center, Easter Seals' military and veteran sector, to connect veterans and military families with organizations that are seeking the positive attributes veterans bring to the workforce.

    In March of 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) began enforcing its new requirements pertaining to the hiring and retention of veterans and individuals with disabilities. These new regulations require federal contractors to follow new hiring benchmarks of 7.2% for veterans, and new utilization goals of 7% for individuals with disabilities. By partnering, DirectEmployers and Easter Seals will help connect their members together, further encouraging disability and veteran hiring and outreach initiatives.

    "With much of our membership falling into the federal contractor category, this partnership will be crucial in helping our members further reach individuals with disabilities and veterans who are actively seeking employment," commented Bill Warren, DirectEmployers Executive Director. "Not only will this partnership be beneficial from a hiring standpoint, our members will also have the opportunity to learn how veterans and individuals with disabilities benefit their workforce as a whole."

     

    State, Commerce and Energy Departments Announce Pilot Phase of Interactive Directory of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Solutions; Invites Registration; Outlines Value to U.S. Exports


    The U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Energy (the “Interagency Team”) have recently announced an opportunity for U.S.-based suppliers and providers of clean energy, smart grid, and energy efficiency solutions to participate in the pilot phase of an interactive directory of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions.

    The Interagency Team is currently developing an interactive app to serve as a mobile business directory for U.S. clean energy exporters. The app will highlight sustainability improvements at U.S. diplomatic missions and provide potential business partners globally with a searchable interface to find information on potential U.S. technology and service providers. The app will showcase a diverse array of clean energy goods and services, including renewable energy equipment (solar, wind, geothermal), biofuels, fuel cell power, smart grid technologies, and energy efficiency solutions, as well as U.S.-based services critical to the deployment of clean energy supplies.

    U.S. clean energy exporters interested in registering to be part of the pilot phase of the interactive directory and providing information on their company's solutions to be included in the app are requested to send an email to reee@trade.gov by no later than February 20, 2015.

     

    Legal Services Corporation Announces Opportunity for Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grants; Updates Federal Poverty Guidelines


    The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) provides grants of federally-appropriated funds for civil legal services to low-income individuals and families. LSC is making available up to $3.8 million for Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants commencing in October 2015. Current recipients of LSC funding may submit a Letter of Intent to Apply for these funds. The deadline to submit a Letter of Intent to Apply is 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on February 23, 2015.

    More ...

    LSC is also required by law to establish maximum income levels for individuals eligible for legal assistance. On February 2, 2015, LSC published the updates to the Federal Poverty Guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

     

    HUD Awards Choice Neighborhood Grants in Six Cities


    Building on a commitment to help local communities redevelop distressed public or assisted housing and transform neighborhoods, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro has announced seven new Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant awards. These awards will help grantees craft comprehensive, locally driven plans to revitalize and transform distressed neighborhoods. Part of the Obama Administration's effort to build Ladders of Opportunity to the middle class, HUD's promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming neighborhoods struggling to address the interconnected challenges of distressed housing, inadequate schools, poor health, high crime, and lack of capital.

    News Release / Funding Amounts

    Grant summaries with partners noted (Note participation of WorkforceOne Indiana in Gary grant; Nevada Department of Training and Employment in North Las Vegas Grant)

     

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    Federal Reserve to Host Economic Mobility Conference in Washington D.C. (April 2 - 3)


    The Community Affairs Officers of the Federal Reserve System will host the ninth biennial Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference ( Economic Mobility: Research & Ideas on Strengthening Families, Communities & the Economy) on April 2 – 3 in Washington D.C.

    The conference organizers will use the broad theme of economic mobility to advance participants’ understanding about how people and communities get ahead, where impediments exist, how factors such as inequality play a role, and what has changed over time.

    Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz are scheduled to deliver the keynote speeches.

    Community developers and practitioners, policymakers, lenders, the philanthropic community, researchers, the financial services sector, state and local economic development agency representatives, and students are all encouraged to attend.

    More ...

     

    Department of Commerce Seeks Nominations for National Medal of Technology and Innovation; Identifies "Development of Technological Manpower" among Criteria


    The Department of Commerce (United States Patent and Trademark) has announced it is accepting nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI). Since establishment by Congress in the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, the President of the United States has awarded the annual National Medal of Technology and Innovation (initially known as the National Medal of Technology) to our nation's leading innovators. If you know of a candidate who has made an outstanding contribution to the country's economic, environmental, or social well-being through the promotion of technology, technological innovation, or the development of technological manpower, you may obtain a nomination form from: http://www.uspto.gov/about/nmti/index.jsp.

    The deadline for submission of a nomination is June 1, 2015. More