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(May 26 2015)   General Accountability Office Issues Report -- "Contingent Workforce: Size, Characteristics, Earnings, and Benefits" 
 
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(May 26 2015)   Community Services Block Grant Model State Plan: HHS/ACF Revises Automated Form; Publishes Thirty-Day Notice 
 
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(May 26 2015)   Manufacturing Sector: OCTAE Launches New Series of Panel Discussions; June 5 Webinar to Address "Employer-Centered Talent Development for Small- and Medium-Sized Firms" 
 
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(May 26 2015)   Federal Labs and State and Local Governments: Partners for Technology Transfer Success 
 
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(May 26 2015)   EDA Announces Grants under Regional Innovation Strategies Program; 12 Investments in Science and Research Parks  
 
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(May 22 2015)   Rural Economic Development: USDA Publishes Interim Rule on "Strategic Economic and Community Development" Section of the 2014 Farm Bill 
 
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(May 22 2015)   NIST Seeks Comments on the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Management Information Reporting 
 
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(May 21 2015)   HHS/ACF Seeks Comment on Proposed Changes for Reporting by "Assets for Independence" Grantees 
 
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(May 21 2015)   The Future of Urban Innovation: June 9 Summit for Economic Developers, Entrepreneurs, and Industry Leaders; Sector-Specific Networking Sessions on the Agenda 
 
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(May 21 2015)   SBA Announces Two June Meetings Focused on Business and Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Veterans 
 
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(May 21 2015)   National Skills Coalition Hosts May 19 Webinar on the WIOA Planning Process Featuring New Jersey Speakers; Recording Available 
 
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(May 21 2015)   SBA Announces Funding Opportunity under the "Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act" 
 
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(May 21 2015)   Sector Partnerships Share Best Practices for Apprenticeships and Career Pathways  
 
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(May 21 2015)   New Report from C2ER and the LMI Institute: "Balancing Confidentiality and Access --Sharing Employment and Wage Data for Policy Analysis and Research"  
 
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(May 21 2015)   Code Fellows Launches Scholarship Fund to Foster Technical Workforce Development among Women, Underrepresented Minorities and Veterans  
 
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(May 21 2015)   BusinessUSA Seeks Comment on Redesign of Home Page 
 
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(May 21 2015)   National Science Foundation Seeks Comment on Information Collection for Evaluation of the STEM Talent Expansion Program  
 
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(May 21 2015)   NOAA Announces FY 2015 Funding under the Regional Coastal Resilience Grant Program 
 
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(May 21 2015)   PLTW and College Board Partnership to Develop College and Career Pathways in STEM 
 
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(May 21 2015)   Seven Regions to Pilot-Test New Strategies to Close Skills Gap under Chamber of Commerce and USA Funds Initiative 
 
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(May 21 2015)   Department of Education Launches EdTech Developers Tour 
 
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(May 21 2015)   USDA Announces Availability of Rural Community Development Initiative Funding for FY 2015 
 
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(May 21 2015)   Department of Education Seeks Comment on Proposed Priority under Its Demonstration and Training Program -- Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities 
 
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(May 18 2015)   NOAA Announces Funding Opportunity under the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program; Emphasizes Regional and Collaborative Approaches for Achieving Economic and Environmental Resilience 
 
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(May 18 2015)   PLTW and College Board Partnership to Develop College and Career Pathways in STEM 
 
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(May 15 2015)   ETA Publishes FY 2015 Foreign Labor Certification (FLC) Grant Planning Guidance 
 
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(May 15 2015)   National Science Foundation Seeks Comment on Information Collection for Evaluation of the STEM Talent Expansion Program 
 
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(May 15 2015)   EDA and JPMorgan Chase to Host "Regional Innovation Strategies Program Post-Competition Webinar" on May 28; Discuss the "Small Business Forward" Initiative 
 
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(May 15 2015)   Federal Partners Announce Availability of Grant Funds to Assist Workers and Communities Impacted by Coal Industry and Energy Sector Changes  
 
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(May 13 2015)   Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated Fathers and Their Partners 
 
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(May 13 2015)   HHS/ACF Announces Funding Opportunity under the "New Pathways for Fathers and Families"; Identifies Employment, Job Training and Job Skills Development under "Economic Stability Activities" 
 
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(May 13 2015)   Department of Education Announces 'First in the World" Grant Competition; Investments to Support the Improvement of Postsecondary Education 
 
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(May 13 2015)   National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to Meet on June 4 – 5; Conference Call Line Available for Public  
 
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(May 13 2015)   Jobs for the Future and Aspen Institute Award $6 Million in Grants to Successful Youth Programs 
 
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(May 13 2015)   NIST Previews Funding Announcements in Calendar Year 2016  
 
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(May 13 2015)   Evaluation and System Design for Career Pathways Programs: HHS to Seek Comment on Information Collection for 2nd Generation of Health Profession Opportunity Grants  
 
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(May 13 2015)   Challenging Communities to Envision their Economic Future: Report on Strong Cities, Strong Communities 
 
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(May 13 2015)   National Skills Coalition Offers Case Study on a States Use of WIOA to Advance Its Vision for Its Workforce Development System; Announces May 10 Webinar to Discuss Planning Process 
 
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(May 13 2015)   Seven Regions to Pilot-Test New Strategies to Close Skills Gap under Chamber of Commerce and USA Funds Initiative 
 
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(May 13 2015)   May 21 Webinar: How Regional Organizations are Using Software and Social Media to Support Entrepreneurship and Innovation 
 
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(May 13 2015)   Addressing U.S. Drought Conditions: Bureau of Reclamation Announces Two Funding Opportunities 
 
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(May 12 2015)   Exports as a Source of Jobs: Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness to Hold Public Call and Webinar on May 21 to Discuss Trade and Competitiveness Issues 
 
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(May 12 2015)   Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee to Meet on June 23 
 
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(May 12 2015)   Social Innovation Fund Releases "State of the Pay for Success Field: Opportunities, Trends and Recommendations" 
 
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(May 12 2015)   SSA Publishes RFI Seeking Recommendations on "Targeted Design Features Related to Improving Employment and Earnings Outcomes for People with Disabilities" 
 
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(May 12 2015)   Renewable Energy Sector: IREC's 3i Awards Annual Search Open to Recognize Best in Nation (Innovation ... Ingenuity ... Inspiration) 
 
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(May 12 2015)   Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee to Hold Public Meeting on June 12 
 
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(May 12 2015)   Services to Individuals with Disabilities: HHS/ACL Announces Funding Opportunity to Support Employment Research Priority  
 
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(May 12 2015)   NASWA Announces Availability of Job Dislocation Brochures; 20 States Have Ordered 195,000 Copies to Date 
 
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(May 12 2015)   HRSA Seeks Nominations to Fill 16 Vacancies on the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice  
 
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(May 12 2015)   SBA Announces "America's Seed Fund" Logo Design Competition  
 
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(May 8 2015)   Renewable Energy Sector: Department of Energy Announces Availability of the Wage Energy Prize; Establishes Application Guidelines for "Game–Changing" Performance Enhancement Ideas 
 
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(May 8 2015)   HHS/ACF/ORR Announces Funding for Cooperative Agreements under the Refugee Technical Assistance Program 
 
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(May 8 2015)   National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to Meet on May 20 – 21 
 
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(May 7 2015)   Census Bureau and C2ER to Offer Overview of Quarterly Workforce Indicators Dataset Tool on May 20 
 
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(May 7 2015)   ETA Publishes Early Operating Guidance for Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act 
 
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(May 7 2015)   USDA Announces New Private Funds to Make Investments in Rural America 
 
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(May 7 2015)   ETA Announces Release of the Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws 2015  
 
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(May 7 2015)   Department of Education Seeks Comment on Proposed Revision to "What Works Clearinghouse Formative Feedback" Information Collection 
 
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(May 7 2015)   ETA Proposes Pre-Implementation Planning Checklist for State Unemployment Insurance Information Technology Modernization Projects 
 
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(May 6 2015)   GAO Provides Overview of TANF Funding, Federal Oversight and Program Incentives 
 
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(May 6 2015)   Coal Industry: The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative 
 
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(May 6 2015)   U.S. Department of Education Announces $3 Million In Grants Available to Help Native Youth 
 
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(May 6 2015)   The Appalachian Region: A Data Overview from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey 
 
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(May 6 2015)   DHS Publishes Thirty-Day Regarding the 2015 Survey of E-Verify Employers 
 
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(May 6 2015)   Delta Regional Authority Opens Investment Application Period, Launches New Online Tools 
 
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(May 4 2015)   NIST Releases Draft Community Resilience Planning Guide; Seeks Comments by June 26 
 
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(May 4 2015)   Administration Announces Eight Additional Promise Zones to Build Community Prosperity 
 
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(May 4 2015)   ETA Advises State Agencies of the (1) One-Year Extension the PY 2014 Agricultural Outreach Plans (AOP), (2) Designation of Significant Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) States, and (3) Designation of Significant MSFW and Bilingual Local Offices 
 
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(May 4 2015)   Census Bureau Publishes Thirty-Day Notice for American Community Survey; Proposes Restoration of Question to Discern "Undergraduate Field of Degree" 
 
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(May 4 2015)   Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board to Meet on May 19; Agenda Includes Discussion of MEP Workforce Activities 
 
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(May 1 2015)   IREC Launches New Website for National Program to Grow Clean Energy Expertise of Electric Utility Workforce 
 
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(May 1 2015)   AARP Releases New Report - "A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience 2015" 
 
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(May 1 2015)   USDA Launches Residential Youth Conservation Corps; Announces Opening of Application Period 
 
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(May 1 2015)   New Agreement to Facilitate U.S. Clusters and Member Businesses to Form Strategic Partnerships with the European Union 
 

 

Description

 

General Accountability Office Issues Report -- "Contingent Workforce: Size, Characteristics, Earnings, and Benefits"


The General Accountability Office has published a report on the Contingent Workforce: Size, Characteristics, Earnings, and Benefits

Why GAO Did This Study
Millions of workers do not have standard work arrangements—permanent jobs with a traditional employer-employee relationship. Rather, they are in temporary or other non-standard employment arrangements where they may not receive retirement and health benefits, or safeguards such as job-protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, even if they have a traditional employer-employee relationship. These non-standard arrangements are sometimes referred to as “contingent” work. To collect information about contingent workers, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has previously augmented the labor force data included in its monthly Current Population Survey with the Contingent Work Supplement. While a comprehensive source of data on contingent workers, the bureau has not conducted this supplement since 2005.

In the aftermath of the recent recession (2007-2009), more workers may have become contingent workers with potentially limited access to work-provided benefits as well as coverage under key workforce protection laws. In light of these developments, GAO was asked to examine issues related to the contingent workforce. This report examines what is known about (1) the size of the contingent workforce, (2) the characteristics and employment experiences of contingent versus standard workers, and (3) any differences in earnings, benefits, and measures of poverty between contingent and standard workers.

GAO analyzed data on contingent workers identified in various national survey data sources, including, among others, the Contingent Work Supplement and the General Social Survey administered by NORC at the University of Chicago. GAO compared population counts both over time and based on differing definitions, and examined distributions of self-reported worker and job characteristics, including demographics, family income, job security, benefits, and safety. GAO conducted regression analyses using Current Population Survey data to determine how contingent workers differ from others across various measures, including earnings and retirement plan participation. GAO also analyzed health insurance coverage and measures of poverty. GAO researched relevant laws; reviewed studies on contingent work; and interviewed agency officials from the Department of Labor, the Census Bureau, officials from organizations representing workers and employers, and other subject matter experts.

What GAO Found
The size of the contingent workforce as a proportion of the total U.S. employed labor force can range widely, depending on how it is defined. Narrower definitions generally focus on employment that is temporary, and can result in estimates of less than 5 percent. Broader definitions include various employment arrangements, such as on-call, part-time, and self-employment, among others, and can result in estimates of more than a third of the labor force. Analyzing a defined core contingent workforce, including agency temps and on-call workers, GAO estimated that this group comprised about 7.9 percent of the employed labor force in 2010.

The characteristics and employment experiences of contingent workers differ from those of standard full-time workers in a number of ways. GAO’s analysis found that core contingent workers are more likely to have no high school degree and have low family income. Contingent workers are also more likely than standard workers to experience job instability, and to be less satisfied with their benefits and employment arrangements than standard full-time workers. For example, GAO estimated that core contingent workers were more than three times as likely as standard full-time workers to report being laid off in the previous year. Evaluating workplace safety for contingent workers is challenging due to a lack of worker injury data that track injuries by job type. However, other research has found that some contingent workers, particularly agency temps, may be at increased risk of injury. According to Department of Labor officials, this increased risk occurs for a variety of reasons, including because agency temps often are not provided adequate safety training or equipment.

Earnings, benefits, and measures of poverty of contingent workers also differ from those of standard full-time workers. Contingent work can be unstable, or may afford fewer worker protections than standard work, depending on a worker’s particular employment arrangement. As a result, contingent work tends to lead to lower earnings, fewer benefits (such as retirement plans and health insurance), and a greater reliance on public assistance. Accounting for other factors that affect earnings, contingent workers earn less than standard workers on an hourly, weekly, and annual basis. GAO found that contingent workers earn about 10.6 percent less per hour than standard workers. Differences in earnings vary by industry and occupation. For example, contingent workers in the education industry earned significantly less annually, weekly, and hourly than similar standard workers, while in the construction industry only the difference in annual earnings was statistically significant. GAO also found that contingent workers are about two-thirds less likely than standard workers to have a work-provided retirement plan and less than half as likely to have work-provided health insurance.

 

Community Services Block Grant Model State Plan: HHS/ACF Revises Automated Form; Publishes Thirty-Day Notice


Section 676 of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Act requires States, including the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and U.S. territories applying for CSBG funds to submit an application and plan (Model State Plan). The Model State Plan must meet statutory requirements prior to being funded with CSBG funds. Applicants have the option to submit a detailed plan annually or biannually. Entities that submit a biannual plan must provide an abbreviated plan the following year if substantial changes to the initial plan will occur.

HHS/ACF is currently seeking comments to revise the Model State Plan format for States by automating the form, streamlining the information, and incorporating accountability measures. ACF notes: "The revised and automated form may impose an added first-use burden; however, this burden will diminish substantially in subsequent years.

Copies of the proposed collection of information/Model State Plan can be obtained by visiting http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/csbg."

The May 22 FEDERAL REGISTER contains additional background and the burden hour estimates for State preparation of the requisite documents under the thirty-day notice (also referred to in the letter below).

ACF notes:

OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent directly to the following: Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project, Email: OIRA_SUBMISSION@OMB.EOP.GOV, Attn: Desk Officer for the Administration for Children and Families.

Also see:
CSBG Dear Colleague Letter Model State Plan Revision: OMB Clearance and 30-Day Comment Period (May 21, 2015)

CSBG Dear Colleague Letter Information About the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (April 20, 2015)

 

Manufacturing Sector: OCTAE Launches New Series of Panel Discussions; June 5 Webinar to Address "Employer-Centered Talent Development for Small- and Medium-Sized Firms"


An advisory from the Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE):

Please join OCTAE for Skills on Purpose—Creating the Next Generation of Manufacturers, a series of panel discussions between national, state, and local leaders from government, businesses, colleges, and schools. In these live, interactive webinars, panel members will explore strategies for building partnerships toward a workforce-driven transformation of the manufacturing sector.

In the first webinar Employer-Centered Talent Development for Small- and Medium-Sized Firms, representatives from small- to mid-sized companies will share their workforce development strategies to efficiently and effectively engage with training and education stakeholders and institutions. Such partnerships are critical in ensuring the quality and preparedness of incoming talent, and have become an essential part of growth strategies for many manufacturing firms.

When: June 5th, 2015: 1:00 - 2:00pm ET

To register for this discussion, click here.

 

Federal Labs and State and Local Governments: Partners for Technology Transfer Success


The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) is now accepting submissions for its 2015 edition of the Federal Laboratories & State and Local Governments: Partners for Technology Transfer Success publication.

The goal of this publication is to highlight the value that state and local government entities can obtain for their regions by forming strategic partnerships with federal laboratories. Federal labs play a significant role in creating technology-based regional economic development. The State & Local Government (S&LG) publication works to raise awareness about the impact federal labs can have on their surrounding areas.

The deadline for response is July 17, 2015.

More ...

 

EDA Announces Grants under Regional Innovation Strategies Program; 12 Investments in Science and Research Parks


U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams visited Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on May 22 to announce the 12 recipients of the 2014 Science and Research Park Development Grants, part of the Regional Innovation Strategies program. The Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program, which is being run by the Department’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), is a new initiative designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through three different types of grants: i6 Challenge grants, Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds, and Science and Research Park Development Grants. Secretary Pritzker announced the recipients of the i6 Challenge grants and Cluster Grants for Seed Capital funds in March.

News Release / Listing of Grantees

 

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Rural Economic Development: USDA Publishes Interim Rule on "Strategic Economic and Community Development" Section of the 2014 Farm Bill


The Department of Agriculture today has published an interim rule with a request for public comment. The interim rule implements Section 6025, Strategic Economic and Community Development, under the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill).

Unless the Agency provides otherwise, USDA's agencies will reserve up to 10 percent of the funds appropriated to certain Rural Development (RD) programs each fiscal year to fund projects that support the implementation of strategic economic and community development plans across multi-jurisdictional areas. The programs from which funds will be reserved are community facility programs, water and waste disposal programs, and rural business and cooperative development programs. To be eligible for the reserved funds, projects must be first eligible for funding under the programs from which the funds are reserved. In addition, projects must be carried out solely in rural areas. Any reserved funding that is not obligated by June 30 of the fiscal year in which the funds were reserved will be returned to the programs' regular funding accounts.

The rule is effective June 19, 2015. Written comments must be received on or before August 18, 2015. The comment period for the information collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 ends July 20, 2015.

Also see: USDA to Give Priority Funding for Regional Economic Development Projects: Policy Will Support Long-Term, Regional Economic Growth Strategies

 

NIST Seeks Comments on the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Management Information Reporting


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced it is seeking public comment on the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Management Information Reporting.

NIST MEP offers technical and business assistance to small- and medium-sized manufacturers. This major program which links all 50 states and Puerto Rico and the manufacturers through more than 400 affiliated MEP Centers and Field Offices. NIST MEP has a number of legislative and contractual requirements for collecting data and information from the MEP Centers. This information is used for the following purposes:

(1) Program Accountability,
(2) Reports to Stakeholders,
(3) Continuous Improvement; and
(4) Identification of Distinctive Practices.

Comments are due to the Office of Management and Budget by June 20. More …

Also see:

Training and Employment Notice 38-11: Benefits of Collaboration Between State/Local Workforce Investment Boards and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program

NIST and NSF Partner to Launch Industry-University Consortium to Provide Input on National Advanced Manufacturing Research and Development Priorities

 

HHS/ACF Seeks Comment on Proposed Changes for Reporting by "Assets for Independence" Grantees


The Assets for Independence (AFI) Act requires that organizations operating AFI projects submit annual progress reports. The Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to create an AFI program specific Performance Progress Report (PPR) to replace the semiannual standard form performance progress report (SF-PPR) and the annual data report. The AFI PPR will collect data on project activities and attributes similar to the reports that it is replacing. The Office of Community Services (OCS) within ACF will use the data collected in the AFI PPR to prepare the annual AFI Report to Congress, to evaluate and monitor the performance of the AFI program overall and of individual projects, and to inform and support technical assistance efforts. The AFI PPR would fulfill AFI Act reporting requirements and program purposes.

The AFI PPR will be submitted quarterly: Three times per year using an abbreviated short form and one time using a long form. Both draft data collection instruments are available for review online at https://idaresources.acf.hhs.gov/AFIPPR.

ACF provides additional background in the May 19 FEDERAL REGISTER with instructions on the submission of comments.

Assets for Independence Webpage

 

The Future of Urban Innovation: June 9 Summit for Economic Developers, Entrepreneurs, and Industry Leaders; Sector-Specific Networking Sessions on the Agenda


Co-hosted by the Department of Commerce and Columbia University, The our Future of Urban Innovation Summit on June 9, 2015 will bring together a wide range of participants to engage on the present and future state of innovation, and how government, academics, and industry can work together to spur economic growth.

Featured speakers include:

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
  • Columbia University President Lee Bollinger
  • Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property / USPTO Director Michelle K. Lee

The day will be packed with our panels on hot-button topics for economic developers and businesses, including IP strategies for tech entrepreneurs and city strategies for encouraging start-ups. The day will close with sector-specific networking sessions.

 

SBA Announces Two June Meetings Focused on Business and Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Veterans


The Small Business Administration has announced a June 10 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs. The meeting begins at 9:00 a.m. for the full day; it will be held at SBA Headquarters.

The full committee meeting will focus on business opportunities for veterans and service disabled veterans. Several topics include government procurement and business development. For information regarding SBA’s veterans' resources and partners, please visit www.sba.gov/vets.

More ... attendance protocols

SBA has also announced an open meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development. The meeting will be held on June 11 (9 a.m. to noon) at the SBA Headquarters.

This public meeting is to discuss recommendations identified by the Interagency Task Force (IATF) to further enable veteran entrepreneurship policy and programs. In addition, the Task Force will allow public comment regarding the focus areas.

More ... / attendance protocols

 

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National Skills Coalition Hosts May 19 Webinar on the WIOA Planning Process Featuring New Jersey Speakers; Recording Available


The National Skills Coalition hosted a webinar on May 19 with policy leaders from the state of New Jersey to discuss how state policymakers and stakeholders can advance a robust WIOA planning process. New Jersey's WIOA planning process - highlighted in a new NSC case study - provides an example which may be of interest to other states looking to embark on a skills-focused, inclusive WIOA planning process. The case study is one in a series of resources NSC has created on Realizing Innovation and Opportunity in WIOA.

Read the case study
Download the slide deck
Watch the YouTube recording

 

SBA Announces Funding Opportunity under the "Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act"


The Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999 (the PRIME Act) authorizes the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to establish a program for the purposes of:

  • providing training and technical assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs, including members of worker owned cooperatives struggling with low income earnings;
  • providing training and capacity building assistance to microenterprise development organizations (MDOs) and programs
  • aiding in research and development of best practices for microenterprise and technical assistance programs for disadvantaged entrepreneurs; and
  • for other activities as the SBA Administrator determines.
  • SBA has announced that up to $5,000,000 in funding is available for this program in FY 2015 with the expectation of 35 awards. The closing date for applications is June 29, 2015. SBA will concentrate resources in the use of Information Management Systems to strengthen disadvantaged entrepreneurs and microbusinesses and MDOs regarding information exchange.

    In order to be eligible to submit an application for this funding opportunity an Applicant must clearly demonstrate that it is one of the following:

  • A microenterprise development organization or program (or group or Collaborative thereof), such as a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution or similar entity, that has a demonstrated record of delivering microenterprise services to disadvantaged entrepreneurs; or
  • An Intermediary (as defined in Section 8.1) which has experience in delivering technical assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs; or
  • A microenterprise development organization or program (as defined in Section 8.1) that is accountable to a local community, working in conjunction with a State or local government or Indian Tribe; or
  • An Indian tribe acting on its own, if it can certify that no private organization or program referred to above exists within its jurisdiction.

Eligible organizations may apply to SBA for awards of financial assistance under this Announcement to conduct activities under one, but not more than one, of the following Funding Tracks:

Track 1 (Technical Assistance) — seeks applications for funding to provide training and technical assistance programs to disadvantaged entrepreneurs including training specifically designed to implement automated financial accounting, financial reporting, and inventory management systems, etc.

Track 2 (Capacity Building) — seeks applications for funding to provide training and capacity building services to MDOs, microenterprise development programs, and groups of such organizations to assist them in developing microenterprise training and services, including services geared towards building MDO capacity to provide business training and technical assistance that will improve the ability of small businesses, to be profitable by means of implementing automated business systems.

 

Sector Partnerships Share Best Practices for Apprenticeships and Career Pathways


A May 14 advisory from the National Network of Sector Partners:

Thanks to generous support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and from our dues-paying members, the National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP) offers the Strategic Venture Fund, which provides funding to sector partnerships for the purpose of creating projects that will advance and strengthen the field.

Strategic Venture Fund grantees develop projects that result in lessons that can be shared with and applied to the larger sector field, to specific industries, or to organizations involved in similar work. In the process, they also create products that can be used by other NNSP members and the sector field in general.

Products from the 2014 Strategic Venture Fund are now available to NNSP members and other members of our national network. To see NNSP’s 2014 grantees and discover their best practices and lessons learned, click here.

Towards the end of 2014, NNSP (an initiative of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development) provided Strategic Venture Fund mini-grants to three NNSP member organizations to allow them to document their successful efforts related to the following two priority areas:

Sector Partnerships Incorporating Registered Apprenticeships Goal: document best practices used by sector partnerships in successfully incorporating the registered apprenticeship model in occupations and industries not traditionally apprenticed.

Sector Partnerships Expanding Career Pathways Goal: document successful efforts of sector partnerships that have expanded their focus from occupational skills training for high-demand occupations to a broader career pathways orientation, in doing so incorporating bridge programs for low-skilled adults, next-step training for incumbent workers, and/or successful efforts to promote changes in employment practices that result in worker advancement.

The three sector partnerships receiving Strategic Venture Fund Grants were:

Partners for a Competitive Workforce
In partnership with the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board and Ohio Means Jobs Center of Butler County, Partners for a Competitive Workforce has launched a new Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program, designed by employers to meet their immediate needs for welders and machinists. Participants receive industry-recognized certificates and earn wages for on-the-job training. They also have the opportunity for promotion as competencies are attained. Support from NNSP enabled PCW to evaluate the progress of this program and to compile lessons-learned in a format that can be easily shared with other organizations.

Towards Employment
Towards Employment’s project documented three innovations in programming developed by WorkAdvance, a regional sector specific career pathway program led by Towards Employment. NNSP funding supported the write up of three cases studies to highlight the role that a community based work readiness organization played in

(1) an industry association partnership that led to accelerated outcomes; (2) a training cohort customization that increased access to training for low-skill individuals; and (3) a partnership with a local business to create a strategy for low-wage incumbent worker upskilling and backfill with candidates from distressed neighborhoods.

WRTP/BIG STEP
WRTP's goal for its Strategic Venture Fund grant was to provide two key outcomes: 1. Documentation of best practices in the intermediary model, which has led to high paying jobs for those who typically have barriers to those jobs 2. Based on knowledge derived from key stakeholders, recommendations regarding how WIOA rules can be designed to further access to Registered Apprenticeships for underserved groups

Each grantee documented best practices and lessons learned in order to advance and strengthen the field through descriptions of their innovative and effective practices, how those practices were developed and implemented, and the positive outcomes that have been attained as a result. NNSP congratulates these model sector partnerships for their innovation and effectiveness and also for sharing what they have learned with other sector partnerships who can benefit from their experience.

For more information about the 2014 Strategic Venture Fund grantees and the best practices and lessons learned they have identified for the sector field, click here.

 

New Report from C2ER and the LMI Institute: "Balancing Confidentiality and Access --Sharing Employment and Wage Data for Policy Analysis and Research"


The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and the Labor Market Information Institute have announced the release of a new study, entitled, "Balancing Confidentiality and Access: Sharing Employment and Wage Data for Policy Analysis and Research." This research sought to catalog the current state of practice in intra-state data sharing (data sharing among stakeholders within a state). It was also designed to recognize and catalyze efforts that try to balance the data confidentiality needs of individuals and employer taxpayers with the important role employment and wage data could play in strengthening policymakers' statistical and program evaluation activities. The ultimate goal of the investigation was to support changes in data sharing policies and practices that can make taxpayer investments in workforce and economic development programs more effective. This project was funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, with additional support from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The authors also note: While this research focuses on workforce and economic development, it is also applicable to Other fields such as education and social services that may also seek to access employment and wage records. Many of the lessons also apply to other types of data and associated data sharing problems in fields as varied as health and criminal justice.

 

Code Fellows Launches Scholarship Fund to Foster Technical Workforce Development among Women, Underrepresented Minorities and Veterans


Code Fellows, a two-year-old code school headquartered in Seattle, this week announced the launch of a diversity scholarship program for women, underrepresented minorities, and veterans, which will provide $250,000 in funding for 40 scholarships in the program’s first year.

The organization notes, in part:

Administered through the non-profit WTIA, and supported at launch by several leading tech employers, the program will lower financial barriers to full-time programs and encourage qualified candidates to apply. The scholarships will cover 50-70 percent of Code Fellows’ tuition costs and will be awarded for Bootcamp and Development Accelerator courses.

According to research from USA Today, just 2 percent of technology workers at leading tech companies are black, and 3 percent are Hispanic. Meanwhile, women make up only 20 percent of the programming workforce, according to NPR. And despite the fact that IT-related jobs are considered a top career path for veterans, they can often be difficult to access for transitioning service members.

The Code Fellows Diversity Scholarship Fund aligns with The White House’s recently announced TechHire Initiative, which has dedicated $100 million to train Americans to fill the half-million currently open IT-related jobs, and match them with employers that have “urgent” needs in fields such as cyber security and software development.

“We’re very proud to be providing scholarship support for Code Fellows students,” said Jefferson Fletcher, CEO of Tag Creative. “We know firsthand how important diverse voices are to building great teams, and also how hard it is to find the right talent. We strongly value how Code Fellows goes well beyond technical training to empower developers to be productive team members from day one." Code Fellows, which launched in Seattle in January 2013, expanded into Portland in September 2014 and into Chicago in March of 2015. To date, the school has graduated 401 software engineers from its full-time Development Accelerator programs with an average starting salary of $75,600 per year. The top reported salary offer for a Code Fellows graduate has been $155,000 per year.

To learn more, or to apply for a Code Fellows scholarship before the June 15th submission deadline for classes starting between July 6th and August 3rd, visit www.CodeFellows.org. Or to make a tax deductible contribution of any amount to the Diversity Scholarship Fund, send a check made payable to WTIA Workforce Institute, with the memo: Code Fellows Diversity Scholarships, to Code Fellows, 511 Boren Ave. N., Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98109. Receipts will be issued by WTIA Workforce Institute.

 

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BusinessUSA Seeks Comment on Redesign of Home Page


BusinessUSA is redesigning its home page, and the staff designers would

"love your input as we finalize things. Visit the new Beta home page and take a look around. Be sure to tell us what you think. You can also access the Beta page from our current home page by clicking ''take me there' at the top. We look forward to hearing from you!"
 

National Science Foundation Seeks Comment on Information Collection for Evaluation of the STEM Talent Expansion Program


Subjects: STEM; degree attainment; Federal evaluations; identification of best practices; ETA grants with STEM focus or component, TEN 23-07 (Building and Sustaining an Educated and Prepared STEM Workforce); NSF’s recently-issued "Revisiting the STEM Workforce," Department of Labor’s recent blog post (Things to Know if You are Thinking of a STEM Career); BLS OES; community college to university transfers; IPEDS, OCTAE STEM initiatives

The National Science Foundation is supporting an evaluation of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP). The primary objectives of the evaluation, stated generally, are to (a) analyze STEP implementation and outcome data from the participating institutions of higher education (IHEs), (b) compare these data to baseline data from the IHEs and matched comparison IHEs, and (c) produce a clear report of the findings to inform future programmatic activities focused on degree attainment in STEM.

The NSF published a notice in the May 11 FEDERAL REGISTER seeking public comment on this proposed new data collection. Comments are due by July 11. The notice provides survey methodology, burden hour estimates and instructions for the submission of contents. Excerpts follow:

The evaluation will include surveys of principal investigators; extant data retrieval from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), grantee proposals and annual reports, and STEP monitoring system; and extant outcome data collection from grantee and comparison IHEs that includes aggregate data for key indicators over time (from 2000 to 2015). These key indicators include (a) number of students who are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors; (b) STEM retention rates; (c) persistence to a STEM degree; (d) number of STEM major transfers from 2-year associate programs into 4-year baccalaureate programs; (e) associate and baccalaureate degree attainment among STEM majors; and (f) enrollment in STEM courses.

Additionally, in a subset of 10 IHEs, de-identified student level outcomes for participating students and comparison student counterparts will be collected (see Graduate 10K+ grants below).

NSF granted STEP awards to a geographically diverse set of two- and four-year IHEs, with the first round of grant awards beginning in the 2002-2003 school year and new awards granted each year through the 2013-2014 school year. Over the course of the program, STEP awarded a total of 255 grants (129 of which are currently active). STEP supported 3 types of grants:

Type 1--Type 1 grants supported the implementation of best practices in recruitment, retention, and degree attainment that would lead to an increase in the number of students obtaining associate or baccalaureate degrees in STEM or completing credits to transfer from associate to baccalaureate programs in a STEM discipline. Specific strategies implemented were based on an analysis of the needs of the undergraduate institution of higher education (IHE).

Type 2--Type 2 grants supported educational research projects that helped identify best practices and further understanding of the factors influencing STEM recruitment, retention, and degree attainment.

Graduate 10K+--In support of President Obama's 2012 initiative calling for ``one million STEM graduates in ten years,' a public-private collaboration among NSF, Intel, and the GE Foundation, with a generous personal donation from Mark Gallogly, established the Graduate 10K+ special funding focus in FY2013. Graduate 10K+ projects strived to improve first and second year retention rates in engineering and computer science, especially among women and other groups of students who are underrepresented in the attainment of degrees in those disciplines.

NSF is committed to providing stakeholders with information regarding the expenditures of taxpayer funds. The evaluation of STEP will assess the overall effect of STEP funding across STEP-funded IHEs; explore the types and combinations of STEP strategies, practices, and characteristics that are most effective at achieving the desired STEP outcomes; examine differences in outcomes across targeted disciplines; assess the effects of Graduate 10K+ funding on first- and second-year retention rates in engineering and computer science; and investigate the broad influence of STEP Type 2 projects to the base of quality, practical research in STEM education and in preparing new researchers to enter the field.

 

NOAA Announces FY 2015 Funding under the Regional Coastal Resilience Grant Program


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced funding availability under the FY 2015 Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program. Awards made under this program will support eligible entities as they develop or implement activities that build resilience of coastal regions, communities, and economic sectors to the negative impacts from extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. Successful applicants will develop proposals that plan or implement actions that mitigate the impacts of these environmental drivers on overall resilience, including economic and environmental resilience.

Proposals submitted in response to this announcement shall employ a regional approach that results in improved ability of multiple coastal jurisdictions to prepare for, absorb impacts of, recover from, and/or adapt to adverse events and changing environmental, economic, and social conditions. Proposals should demonstrate coordinated effort of multiple jurisdictions (e.g., states, tribes, territories, counties, municipalities, regional organizations, etc.) and/or state or local managed areas within a specified geographic region and involve the appropriate range of partners and stakeholders to ensure project success. Collaborative projects that leverage NOAA supported programs, products, partnerships or services and support federal, tribal, state, regional, county or local plans and partnerships are preferred. Also preferred are proposals that leverage other Administration priorities and other federal resilience investments.

Total anticipated funding for all awards is up to $5,000,000 for FY 2015. NOAA anticipates funding approximately 5-10 awards. The maximum amount that may be requested for the Federal share of each proposal is $1,000,000 and the minimum that may be requested is $500,000. The amount of funding per project will depend on the size, location, and type of project. There is no limit on the number of proposals from any geographic area or jurisdiction. The exact amount of funds for each award will be determined in pre-award negotiations between the applicant and NOAA representatives.

Eligible funding applicants are: Regional organizations (see Section III.C of the FFO for explanation), nonprofit organizations, private (for-profit) entities, institutions of higher education, and state, territorial, tribal, and local governments as defined at 2 CFR 200.64, which includes counties, municipalities, and cities. The funding applicants must conduct projects benefiting coastal communities in one or more of the following U.S. states and Territories as indicated in the inset map.

Applications from individuals, federal agencies, or employees of federal agencies will not be considered, but these entities may serve as collaborative project partners. If federal agencies are collaborators, applicants must provide detail on the expected level of federal engagement in the application. The lead applicant on any proposal will be responsible for ensuring that allocated funds are used for the purposes of, and in a manner consistent with, this program, including any funds awarded to an eligible sub-awardee.

The FFO may be found on www.grants.gov. Click here for the May 18 FEDERAL REGISTER notice. Applications are due by July 24.

 

PLTW and College Board Partnership to Develop College and Career Pathways in STEM


A partnership announced on May 13 by the College Board and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) will increase access to and expand college and career readiness opportunities, including in critical STEM fields, for students across the United States. The organizations are bringing together the successes of the Advanced Placement Programs applied learning programs — both of which are shown to improve student outcomes and help ensure successful transitions to college and career. Through the partnership, the organizations will develop college and career pathways built around PLTW's existing program pathways — engineering, biomedical science, and computer science — by combining AP courses with PLTW courses.

The partnership creates an opportunity for students to earn credentials that signify their readiness for college and careers, and participate in career-focused opportunities such as internships and scholarships. These recognition opportunities for students will be available beginning in summer 2016. Additionally, schools will receive credentials when they bring together AP and PLTW courses in a meaningful way for students.

PLTW and the College Board recognize the importance of preparing more students, earlier, to pursue high-demand degrees and careers. By the year 2020, almost two-thirds of jobs, and nearly all high-paying jobs, will require post-secondary education or training. [1]By 2018, 92 percent of traditional science, technology, engineering, and math jobs will be for those with at least some post-secondary education and training. Increasingly, career readiness is dependent on post-secondary success.[2]

PLTW and the College Board's long-term partnership will develop college and career pathways in engineering, biomedical science, and computer science by combining AP courses with PLTW programs. Each pathway will emphasize applied learning and consist of:

  • PLTW courses that introduce all students to the field.
  • AP courses that provide an opportunity for college credit.
  • PLTW specialization courses that focus on knowledge and skills needed for rewarding careers.

The College Board is also in the process of exploring the development of new AP courses to support the pathways.

Through these initiatives, PLTW and the College Board aim to expand access to challenging course work that gives all students an opportunity at college and career success.

 

Seven Regions to Pilot-Test New Strategies to Close Skills Gap under Chamber of Commerce and USA Funds Initiative


From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation:

In response to an urgent request from businesses - large and small – to hire skilled workers today and manage their talent pipelines for the jobs of tomorrow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and USA Funds announced the selection of seven regional partners to pilot test strategies aimed at bridging the skills gap. This Talent Pipeline Management national learning network met at a kick off strategy session today (May 8) in Washington, DC and will operate like a new product test team, experimenting with different strategies and innovative practices to confirm what works and what doesn'''t.

Currently, there are 5 million vacant jobs across the country. According to a study by CareerBuilder referenced in the recently released report by the U.S. Chamber Foundation, “ Managing the Talent Pipeline: A New Approach to Closing the Skills Gap, ” these vacant jobs cost businesses as much as $23,000 per unfilled position.

Launched in November 2014, the Talent Pipeline Management initiative is laser-focused on identifying successful pathways to ensuring a more competitive 21st century workforce.

The regional partners (in alphabetical order) are:

Each partner within the learning network will pilot one or more of the following talent pipeline practices:

  • Organizing new collaboratives that manage employer engagement
  • Identifying the type and amount of talent needed
  • Determining the competency and credentialing requirements for those positions
  • Identifying where businesses get their best talent today
  • Designating preferred providers and measuring their performance
  • Incentivizing continuous improvement

The enhanced coordination between educators, business leaders, and workers will help transform the way education and training can be delivered in America. Once models have been tested, evaluated and determined to be effective, communities across the country will be able to adopt and customize them. The research and input collected from the regional participants will help complete the development of a talent pipeline management toolkit that will be released nationwide in the fall and available to employers to adopt. To learn more, visit www.thetalentsupplychain.org

 

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Department of Education Launches EdTech Developers Tour


The Department of Education has launched the Edtech Developer's Tour. Innovation clusters, incubators, and accelerators across the country will host 18 events designed to ignite collaboration among entrepreneurs, developers, educators, funders, and students to work together to solve persistent problems in education. In addition to exciting local programming, each event will feature an in-depth discussion of an aspect of the recently released Ed Tech Developer's Guide.

Dates for City Visits                Ed Tech Developer's Guide                Education Innovation Clusters Website

 

USDA Announces Availability of Rural Community Development Initiative Funding for FY 2015


The Department of Agriculture is soliciting applications for the Rural Community Development Initiative (RDCI) for Fiscal Year 2015.

A nonexclusive list of eligible grant uses includes the following:

  1. Provide technical assistance to develop recipients' capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development, e.g., the intermediary hires a staff person to provide technical assistance to the recipient or the recipient hires a staff person, under the supervision of the intermediary, to carry out the technical assistance provided by the intermediary.
  2. Develop the capacity of recipients to conduct community development programs, e.g., homeownership education or training for business entrepreneurs.
  3. Develop the capacity of recipients to conduct development initiatives, e.g., programs that support micro-enterprise and sustainable development.
  4. Develop the capacity of recipients to increase their leveraging ability and access to alternative funding sources by providing training and staffing.
  5. Develop the capacity of recipients to provide the technical assistance component for essential community facilities projects.
  6. Assist recipients in completing pre-development requirements for housing, community facilities, or community and economic development projects by providing resources for professional services, e.g., architectural, engineering, or legal.
  7. Improve recipient's organizational capacity by providing training and resource material on developing strategic plans, board operations, management, financial systems, and information technology.
  8. Purchase of computers, software, and printers, limited to $10,000 per award, at the recipient level when directly related to the technical assistance program being undertaken by the intermediary.
  9. Provide funds to recipients for training-related travel costs and training expenses related to RCDI.

Entities wishing to apply for assistance may download the application from the RCDI Web site: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-community-development-initiative-grants.

Application information for electronic submissions may be found at http://www.grants.gov. Applications are due by August 13.

More ... / fund structures (floors and ceilings) / application evaluation criteria

 

Department of Education Seeks Comment on Proposed Priority under Its Demonstration and Training Program -- Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities


The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has proposes a priority and definitions under the Demonstration and Training program. The purpose of the Demonstration and Training Program is to provide competitive grants to, or enter into contracts with, eligible entities to expand and improve rehabilitation and other services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act), or to further the purposes and policies in sections 2(b) and 2(c) of the Rehabilitation Act by supporting activities that increase the provision, extent, availability, scope, and quality of rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act.

The Assistant Secretary may use this priority and one or more of these definitions for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and later years. This priority and these definitions are designed to support projects that develop and implement career pathways for individuals with disabilities.

Through this proposed priority, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services seeks to support collaborations between State VR agencies, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, workforce centers and other training providers, human and social service agencies, employers, and other community stakeholders. These collaborations will demonstrate how career pathways can help individuals with disabilities served by State VR agencies to acquire the marketable skills and to attain recognized postsecondary credentials that lead to employment in high-demand occupations.

The May 15 FEDERAL REGISTER provides complete background, the outline of topics to be addressed in future competitions, and instructions for the submission of comments. Comments are requested by June 15.

 

NOAA Announces Funding Opportunity under the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program; Emphasizes Regional and Collaborative Approaches for Achieving Economic and Environmental Resilience


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced funding availability under the FY 2015 Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program. Awards made under this program will support eligible entities as they develop or implement activities that build resilience of coastal regions, communities, and economic sectors to the negative impacts from extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. Successful applicants will develop proposals that plan or implement actions that mitigate the impacts of these environmental drivers on overall resilience, including economic and environmental resilience.

Proposals submitted in response to this announcement shall employ a regional approach that results in improved ability of multiple coastal jurisdictions to prepare for, absorb impacts of, recover from, and/or adapt to adverse events and changing environmental, economic, and social conditions. Proposals should demonstrate coordinated effort of multiple jurisdictions (e.g., states, tribes, territories, counties, municipalities, regional organizations, etc.) and/or state or local managed areas within a specified geographic region and involve the appropriate range of partners and stakeholders to ensure project success. Collaborative projects that leverage NOAA supported programs, products, partnerships or services and support federal, tribal, state, regional, county or local plans and partnerships are preferred. Also preferred are proposals that leverage other Administration priorities and other federal resilience investments.

Total anticipated funding for all awards is up to $5,000,000 for FY 2015. NOAA anticipates funding approximately 5-10 awards. The maximum amount that may be requested for the Federal share of each proposal is $1,000,000 and the minimum that may be requested is $500,000. The amount of funding per project will depend on the size, location, and type of project. There is no limit on the number of proposals from any geographic area or jurisdiction. The exact amount of funds for each award will be determined in pre-award negotiations between the applicant and NOAA representatives.

Eligible funding applicants are: Regional organizations (see Section III.C of the FFO for explanation), nonprofit organizations, private (for-profit) entities, institutions of higher education, and state, territorial, tribal, and local governments as defined at 2 CFR 200.64, which includes counties, municipalities, and cities. The funding applicants must conduct projects benefiting coastal communities in one or more of the following U.S. states and Territories: Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Virgin Islands (U.S.), Washington, and Wisconsin. Applications from individuals, federal agencies, or employees of federal agencies will not be considered, but these entities may serve as collaborative project partners. If federal agencies are collaborators, applicants must provide detail on the expected level of federal engagement in the application. The lead applicant on any proposal will be responsible for ensuring that allocated funds are used for the purposes of, and in a manner consistent with, this program, including any funds awarded to an eligible sub-awardee.

The FFO may be found on www.grants.gov. Click here for the May 18 FEDERAL REGISTER notice. Applications are due by July 24.

 

PLTW and College Board Partnership to Develop College and Career Pathways in STEM


A partnership announced on May 13 by the College Board and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) will increase access to and expand college and career readiness opportunities, including in critical STEM fields, for students across the United States. The organizations are bringing together the successes of the Advanced Placement Programs applied learning programs — both of which are shown to improve student outcomes and help ensure successful transitions to college and career. Through the partnership, the organizations will develop college and career pathways built around PLTW's existing program pathways — engineering, biomedical science, and computer science — by combining AP courses with PLTW courses.

The partnership creates an opportunity for students to earn credentials that signify their readiness for college and careers, and participate in career-focused opportunities such as internships and scholarships. These recognition opportunities for students will be available beginning in summer 2016. Additionally, schools will receive credentials when they bring together AP and PLTW courses in a meaningful way for students.

"To compete in the global marketplace, students need access to challenging course work that will prepare them for college and career success in these critical fields. By harnessing the positive impact of Advanced Placement and Project Lead The Way's applied learning programs, this new partnership will provide students with clear and comprehensive pathways to pursue a wide range of STEM degrees and careers," said College Board President and CEO David Coleman.

PLTW and the College Board recognize the importance of preparing more students, earlier, to pursue high-demand degrees and careers. By the year 2020, almost two-thirds of jobs, and nearly all high-paying jobs, will require post-secondary education or training. [1] By 2018, 92 percent of traditional science, technology, engineering, and math jobs will be for those with at least some post-secondary education and training. Increasingly, career readiness is dependent on post-secondary success.[2]

"This partnership combines the strengths of two leading organizations to create immense value for students, schools, and the broader workforce," said PLTW President and CEO Dr. Vince Bertram. "Through rigorous K–12 curriculum, quality teacher professional development, and widely accepted post-secondary credit opportunities, students and schools will set themselves apart as vital assets to post-secondary institutions and employers across the world."

PLTW and the College Board's long-term partnership will develop college and career pathways in engineering, biomedical science, and computer science by combining AP courses with PLTW programs. Each pathway will emphasize applied learning and consist of:

  1. PLTW courses that introduce all students to the field.
  2. AP courses that provide an opportunity for college credit.
  3. PLTW specialization courses that focus on knowledge and skills needed for rewarding careers.

The College Board is also in the process of exploring the development of new AP courses to support the pathways.

Through these initiatives, PLTW and the College Board aim to expand access to challenging course work that gives all students an opportunity at college and career success.

 

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ETA Publishes FY 2015 Foreign Labor Certification (FLC) Grant Planning Guidance


The Employment and Training Administration has published Training and Employment Guidance Letter 33-14. This TEGL provides guidance to the State Workforce Agency Administrators for the funding and management of FY 2015 annual grant allocations in order to perform FLC program activities.

 

National Science Foundation Seeks Comment on Information Collection for Evaluation of the STEM Talent Expansion Program


Subjects: STEM; degree attainment; Federal evaluations; identification of best practices; ETA grants with STEM focus or component, TEN 23-07 (Building and Sustaining an Educated and Prepared STEM Workforce); NSF’s recently-issued "Revisiting the STEM Workforce," Department of Labor’s recent blog post (Things to Know if You are Thinking of a STEM Career); BLS OES; community college to university transfers; IPEDS, OCTAE STEM initiatives …

The National Science Foundation is supporting an evaluation of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP). The primary objectives of the evaluation, stated generally, are to (a) analyze STEP implementation and outcome data from the participating institutions of higher education (IHEs), (b) compare these data to baseline data from the IHEs and matched comparison IHEs, and (c) produce a clear report of the findings to inform future programmatic activities focused on degree attainment in STEM.

The NSF published a notice in the May 11 FEDERAL REGISTER seeking public comment on this proposed new data collection. Comments are due by July 11. The notice provides survey methodology, burden hour estimates and instructions for the submission of contents. Excerpts follow:

The evaluation will include surveys of principal investigators; extant data retrieval from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), grantee proposals and annual reports, and STEP monitoring system; and extant outcome data collection from grantee and comparison IHEs that includes aggregate data for key indicators over time (from 2000 to 2015). These key indicators include (a) number of students who are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors; (b) STEM retention rates; (c) persistence to a STEM degree; (d) number of STEM major transfers from 2-year associate programs into 4-year baccalaureate programs; (e) associate and baccalaureate degree attainment among STEM majors; and (f) enrollment in STEM courses.

Additionally, in a subset of 10 IHEs, de-identified student level outcomes for participating students and comparison student counterparts will be collected (see Graduate 10K+ grants below).

NSF granted STEP awards to a geographically diverse set of two- and four-year IHEs, with the first round of grant awards beginning in the 2002-2003 school year and new awards granted each year through the 2013-2014 school year. Over the course of the program, STEP awarded a total of 255 grants (129 of which are currently active). STEP supported 3 types of grants:

Type 1--Type 1 grants supported the implementation of best practices in recruitment, retention, and degree attainment that would lead to an increase in the number of students obtaining associate or baccalaureate degrees in STEM or completing credits to transfer from associate to baccalaureate programs in a STEM discipline. Specific strategies implemented were based on an analysis of the needs of the undergraduate institution of higher education (IHE).

Type 2--Type 2 grants supported educational research projects that helped identify best practices and further understanding of the factors influencing STEM recruitment, retention, and degree attainment.

Graduate 10K+--In support of President Obama's 2012 initiative calling for ``one million STEM graduates in ten years,' a public-private collaboration among NSF, Intel, and the GE Foundation, with a generous personal donation from Mark Gallogly, established the Graduate 10K+ special funding focus in FY2013. Graduate 10K+ projects strived to improve first and second year retention rates in engineering and computer science, especially among women and other groups of students who are underrepresented in the attainment of degrees in those disciplines.

NSF is committed to providing stakeholders with information regarding the expenditures of taxpayer funds. The evaluation of STEP will assess the overall effect of STEP funding across STEP-funded IHEs; explore the types and combinations of STEP strategies, practices, and characteristics that are most effective at achieving the desired STEP outcomes; examine differences in outcomes across targeted disciplines; assess the effects of Graduate 10K+ funding on first- and second-year retention rates in engineering and computer science; and investigate the broad influence of STEP Type 2 projects to the base of quality, practical research in STEM education and in preparing new researchers to enter the field.

 

EDA and JPMorgan Chase to Host "Regional Innovation Strategies Program Post-Competition Webinar" on May 28; Discuss the "Small Business Forward" Initiative


The Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship has announced a Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program Post-Competition Webinar on May 28 (3:00 p.m. ET). This webinar will outline the parameters of each of the three competitions, present trends in received applications, and provide general guidance on ways to build a competitive proposal. There will be a Q&A session. To ensure this question period is productive, questions may be submitted have ahead of time via email to oie@eda.gov, using the subject line, "Questions for Webinar."

Representatives from EDA's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship will be joined by representatives from JPMorgan Chase, who will provide information on another funding opportunity for regional initiatives, Small Business Forward. Small Business Forward is a $30 million, five-year initiative launched by JPMorgan Chase to support growth-stage small businesses by connecting them to the critical resources they need to grow faster, create jobs, and strengthen local economies.

Please visit SSTI's website to register.

 

Federal Partners Announce Availability of Grant Funds to Assist Workers and Communities Impacted by Coal Industry and Energy Sector Changes


The U.S. Department of Labor — in partnership with the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission — today (May 11) announced the availability of up to $35.5 million to help communities and workers successfully adapt to changes in the coal industry and power sector.

The grant is being made available as part of the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative — known as POWER — led by the Commerce Department's Economic Development Agency.

"Recent changes in the energy economy have had a profound impact on Appalachian families and communities that have been sustained by the coal industry for generations," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announcing the grant at the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Strategy Summit 2015, in Pikeville, Ky. "We have a moral imperative to work together to ensure we all succeed. That's what the POWER initiative is all about — developing truly cohesive relationships at the federal, state and local level to create real economic opportunities for families throughout the region."

Opened today, the Federal Funding Opportunity outlines the POWER Initiative implementation grant priorities, evaluation factors, and application guidance for the up to $20 million from Department of Labor, up to $12.5 million in funding from the Department of Commerce, up to $2.5 million from the Small Business Administration, and up to $500,000 from Appalachian Regional Commission.

Grants will take a comprehensive approach towards economic diversification and worker advancement in implementing their economic development strategic plans. Experience shows that projects which integrate both economic development and workforce development solutions with broad community partnerships are more successful than when independent solutions are pursued.

Funds will be granted competitively to partnerships of regionally-driven economic development and workforce development organizations in impacted coal communities. Grants will help recipients build economic resilience, industry diversification, and promote new job creation opportunities.

Although resources from multiple federal agencies are made available through this opportunity, applicants need to apply separately for each funding source in which they are interested. Applications for DOC, SBA and ARC funding must be received by July 10, 2015. DOL funding applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Training and Employment Guidance Letter 32-14

Subject:
POWER Initiative National Dislocated Worker Grants

Purpose:
To announce the availability of up to $20 million in National Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) from funds available in Program Years 15, 16, and 17, as part of the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. POWER DWG awards will range from $500,000 to $2 million and will support the planning and implementation of workforce strategies for regions and communities that are negatively impacted by changes in the coal economy.

Also see:

White House Fact Sheet

Economic Development Administration POWER news release with links

 

Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated Fathers and Their Partners


HHS/ACF/OFA has proposed a data collection in support of the "Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners." HHS/ACF/OFA notes "This information will assist federal, state, and community policymakers and patrons in understanding what policy and programmatic supports could help to strengthen families and improve reentry outcomes in this population."

Comments are due by July 7. The May 8 FEDERAL REGISTER provides full background, respondents and burden hour estimates, and instructions for the submission of comments. Excerpts:

This demonstration program, funded in 2006 by the Office of Family Assistance within the Administration for Children and Families, supported healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood activities among incarcerated and recently released fathers, their partners, and children. The MFS-IP evaluation assesses the effects of these activities by comparing relationship quality and stability, positive family interactions, family financial well-being, recidivism, and community connectedness between intervention and control groups.

Data collection for the entire evaluation is expected to last 7 years, from the time the first participant was enrolled in late 2008 until the last qualitative follow-back interview is administered. The current approval expires on August 21, 2015, and HHS/ACF are requesting an extension until December 31, 2015, to enable us to complete all of the interviews that have been previously approved by OMB under this information collection.

 

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HHS/ACF Announces Funding Opportunity under the "New Pathways for Fathers and Families"; Identifies Employment, Job Training and Job Skills Development under "Economic Stability Activities"


The New Pathways for Fathers and Families (New Pathways) programs are designed to strengthen positive father-child engagement, improve employment and economic mobility opportunities, and improve healthy relationships (including couple and co-parenting) and marriage.

The Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services has recently announced a funding opportunity under New Pathways, identifying $47,846,875 in funding availability to support an estimated 49 awards. Applications are due by July 7. Click here for the application package. Excerpts follow:

In addition to responsible fatherhood's core services and skills (communication, character building, interpersonal relationships, parenting, economic stability, and conflict resolution) applicants are encouraged to partner with human service agencies and community organizations. These collaborations will help organizations provide comprehensive services to address the social, emotional, and economic stability needs of fathers and their target communities. Economic stability activities include employment, job training, and job skills development. Social and emotional needs refer to services including, but not limited to, partnerships with and referrals to mental health, substance abuse treatment, and trauma-informed care systems.

Examples of strategies to include in the design of an employment component include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifying in-demand occupations through the use of up-to-date, publicly available labor market information;
  • Aligning education and training approaches and partnerships to growth sectors identified through labor market analysis;
  • Partnering or networking with employers in growth industries, such as technology, health science, construction, entrepreneurial opportunities, and other income-generating alternatives;
  • Coordinating with local businesses, One-Stops, or employment training agencies;
  • Partnering with adult education agencies, community colleges, and other education service providers with the goal of participants receiving a GED, certificates, and/or other education and career advancing opportunities;
  • Partnering with institutions that offer opportunities for advanced vocational training and certifications; and
  • Collaborating with Workforce Investment Boards (WIB) and other employment agencies.

 

Department of Education Announces 'First in the World" Grant Competition; Investments to Support the Improvement of Postsecondary Education


The Office of Adult, Career and Technical Education reports:

Today (May 8), the U.S. Department of Education announced the 2015, First in the World (FITW) grant competition, an evidence-based grant program in higher education designed to support the development and testing of innovative approaches and strategies to improve postsecondary attainment. This year, FITW will award $60 million in grants, including a $16 million set-aside for minority-serving institutions. A press release can be found here:: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-announces-60-million-available-first-world-grant-competition

To learn more about this grant opportunity, please visit the First in the World home page on the Office of Postsecondary Education’s website. Applications will be accepted from May 11th, 2015 - June 26, 2015.

Also see:

Blog post: Supporting Innovation in Higher Education through First in the World

Docket/display version of May 11 FEDERAL REGISTER notice on Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria

First in the World Program: Development Grants

First in the World Program; Validation Grants

 

National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to Meet on June 4 – 5; Conference Call Line Available for Public


The National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) will hold a public meeting on Thursday, June 4, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and Friday, June 5, 2015, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EDT. During this time, members will present proposals to the Secretary of Commerce, identify next steps, and continue to work on potential committee initiatives on innovation, entrepreneurship, and workforce/talent.

The final agenda will be posted on the NACIE Web site at http://www.eda.gov/oie/nacie/ prior prior to the meeting. Any member of the public may submit pertinent questions and comments concerning the Council's affairs at any time before or after the meeting. Comments may be submitted to the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the contact information below. Those unable to attend the meetings in person but wishing to listen to the proceedings can do so through a conference call line 1-800-988-9617, passcode: 7649366 on June 4 and 1-800-369-2154 passcode: 8915613 on June 5.

More

 

Jobs for the Future and Aspen Institute Award $6 Million in Grants to Successful Youth Programs


Today (May 8), in response to President Obama's call to action in launching : My Brother's Keeper (MBK) to promote successful outcomes for boys and men of color, Jobs for the Future (JFF), a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund, and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (AFCS) awarded $6 million to innovative organizations that dramatically improve education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth in communities across the country. Opportunity Youth is a term used to describe the 6.7 million young people – between the ages of 16 to 24 in the United States - who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market.

Seven community grantees will receive three-year grants of $240,000 - $270,000 per year to further develop ladders to success for opportunity youth. Grant award recipients were selected after a rigorous and collaborative evaluation by JFF and AFCS. The grantees, representing a diverse portfolio of communities, are taking a cross-system, cross-sector approach towards improving outcomes for young people, with a particular focus on boys and men of color.

"We have millions of unprepared or underprepared young people in our country, and we're at a critical point," said JFF CEO Gina Burkhardt. "We need more young men and women who are college-ready, who can advance into successful, lasting careers. The grantee partners we have selected today are now even better equipped to develop pathways for opportunity youth—especially for boys and young men of color."

In 2014, JFF in partnership with AFCS received a federal grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), 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.

"By embracing innovation and expanding what works, Jobs for the Future and its partner, the Aspen Institute, are seeding new ideas to address education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth," said Lois Nembhard, Acting Director of the Social Innovation Fund. "Together, the seven organizations awarded today bring a diverse geographic scope and set of experiences needed to address those specific challenges in order to increase their impact and advance what works."

Today's announcement was made by Melody C. Barnes, chair of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Adria Steinberg, vice-president of Jobs for the Future, and Stephen Patrick, executive director of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions. They were joined at the announcement by a wide array of committed partners and stakeholders, including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute; Michael Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother's Keeper; as well as funders, community leaders, and strategic partners.

"We're not just awarding dollars today; we're contributing hard-earned wisdom and knowledge resources to organizations that are making a difference in the lives of young people," said Melody Barnes. "These local organizations understand that system-wide solutions are needed: they employ a collaborative approach that cuts across traditional barriers between private and public sectors."

"The President has made investing in evidence-based interventions or "what works" a key priority of his Administration and the My Brother's Keeper initiative. We applaud Jobs for the Future and the Aspen Institute on its selection of Social Innovation Fund sub-grantees that have a track record of measurable impact, and a plan to get results and create clear pathways to college and career for young people in greatest need," said Michael Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother's Keeper.

It is estimated that the 6.7 million opportunity youth cost our country $250 billion annually in lost revenue, earnings, and increased social services. JFF and AFCS have selected seven communities to partner with in an effort to build education and career pathways for these unemployed or underemployed young people. The grantees include:

Boston, MA | Boston Private Industry Council & Boston Opportunity Agenda | Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative

Hartford, CT | Capital Workforce Partners | Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative

New Orleans, LA | Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, Tulane University | Employment and Mobility Pathways Linked for Opportunity Youth (EMPLOY)

Philadelphia, PA | Philadelphia Youth Network | Project U-Turn

San Francisco, CA | Bay Area Community Resources (BACR) | Roadmap to Peace

Santa Clara County, CA | Kids in Common, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte | Santa Clara County Opportunity Youth Partnership

South King County, WA | United Way of King County & Community Center for Education Results | The Road Map Project

 

NIST Previews Funding Announcements in Calendar Year 2016


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announces that the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP) intends to publish and post two (2) separate announcements of funding availability for MEP Centers in calendar year 2016. The list of specific states that will be involved in the competitions will be posted on the NIST MEP website at: http://www.nist.gov/mep/. The funding announcements will be provided both in the FEDERAL REGISTER and on Grants.gov. Prior to or in conjunction with each publication, MEP will conduct approximately two to three Regional Forums.

NIST MEP anticipates announcing the competitions for approximately eleven (11) states in January 2016, with new MEP Center cooperative agreement awards anticipated to start in October 2016. NIST MEP anticipates announcing the competitions for an additional eleven (11) states in July 2016, with new MEP Center cooperative agreement awards anticipated to start in April 2017. The Regional Forums will take place prior to or in conjunction with each publication, with notification to the public posted at: www.nist.gov/mep/.

More …

 

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Evaluation and System Design for Career Pathways Programs: HHS to Seek Comment on Information Collection for 2nd Generation of Health Profession Opportunity Grants


The Department of Health and Human Services published an announcement in the May 11 FEDERAL REGISTER regarding the proposed information collections as part of the “Evaluation and System Design for Career Pathways Programs: 2nd Generation of Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG Next Gen Design).” HHS is seeking public comment on the evaluation and system design.

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

Both goals require collecting information from HPOG Next Gen grantees on a regular basis. The information collection proposed is an internet-based collection of information from HPOG Next Gen grantees on: 1) grantee program designs and offerings; 2) intake information on eligible applicants (both treatment and control) through baseline data collection; and 3)individual enrolled program participants’ activities and outcomes.

The universe of information collection proposed for HPOG Next Gen includes the HPOG Next Gen Participant Accomplishment and Grant Evaluation System (PAGES). PAGES is a performance management system that will collect information from all grantees on their programs and participants on a semi-annual basis over the grant period of performance and intake information on eligible applicants (both treatment and control) through baseline data collection. The data system will meet the performance data needs of the HPOG Next Gen grantees and of the ACF Office of Family Assistance to monitor the performance of the grants and prepare the report to Congress on the grants, as well as support an impact study, a coordinated Tribal evaluation, and other future research and evaluation efforts sponsored by ACF.

 

Challenging Communities to Envision their Economic Future: Report on Strong Cities, Strong Communities


Tricia Kerney-Willis is the Deputy Director, White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities. Her recent blog reflects on the continuing work under the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative.

As our economy recovers from the impact of the Great Recession, we have to remember that it wasn'''t just individuals who were deeply affected; municipalities and local governments also suffered devastating consequences. Local governments saw a dramatic reduction in their tax base, forcing them to reduce services and think of creative ways to operate while providing services to their residents.

Today, we can gladly say that the national unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, we have reduced the deficit from 9.8 percent of our economy in 2009, to below 3 percent in 2014, and the private sector has added 12.1 million jobs over 61 straight months of job growth-a new record.

The recovery for local governments has been slow, but it is well on its way; and through initiatives like the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) the Obama Administration is providing them with the support they need to plan for a stronger, healthier and more resilient future. SC2 is an innovative new model of federal-local collaboration dedicated to helping communities get back on their feet through job creation, and by helping them to better leverage federal resources and form key private-public partnerships to implement their economic visions.

Since its creation in 2012, the SC2 teams have assisted 17 cities throughout the nation and developed a proven track record of helping communities maximize their investments. The work of SC2 has already enabled these cities to effectively utilize more than $368 million in existing federal funds and investments, including economic development, housing, transportation, public safety, and public health, among other areas.

One of the critical components of SC2 is the SC2 Economic Visioning Challenge, which was launched in 2013 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). The cities of Greensboro, NC, Hartford, CT and Las Vegas, NV were selected to participate in the Economic Visioning Challenge-an innovative prize competition designed to engage diverse teams to help U.S. cities generate tailored economic development plans.

These cities are now gearing up to select the winning economic development plans from 26 finalist teams. Having each been awarded $1 million grants from EDA, the cities launched their competitions in early 2014, and completed Phase 1of the competition in December 2014.

In Phase 1, Greensboro, Hartford, and Las Vegas all awarded small prizes for the best preliminary economic development proposals. A total of 502 teams registered for the competition across all three cities, of which 26 were selected as finalists to compete in Phase 2. The preliminary proposals from Phase 1 were impressive: Greensboro awarded its $55,000 first place cash prize to a proposal for developing a publically-owned gigabit speed fiber optic network; Hartford awarded its $60,000 first place cash prize to a proposal for developing a healthcare and medical technology cluster; and Las Vegas awarded its $60,000 first place cash prize to a proposal for creating an unmanned aerial vehicle and robotics resource center at the Cashman Center.

Currently, the cities are entering into the final stages of Phase 2 of the competition. In Phase 2, the finalist teams selected in Phase 1 build upon their preliminary proposals, and then present the city judges with detailed and targeted economic development plans. As incentive for these plans, the cities are awarding a total of $2.5 million in cash prizes to the teams with the best ideas, including a $500,000 cash prize to the first place team in each city. The finalist teams in Phase 2 will be submitting their plans to the respective city Selection Committees by late April, with Hartford selecting winners on May 20, Las Vegas selecting winners on June 17, and Greensboro selecting winners on July 13.

We couldn't be more excited to see the results in the coming months, and also celebrate these cities taking one more step along a path of enduring economic growth.

For more information on EDA’s SC2 Visioning Challenge, please visit:

 

National Skills Coalition Offers Case Study on a States Use of WIOA to Advance Its Vision for Its Workforce Development System; Announces May 10 Webinar to Discuss Planning Process


The National Skills Coalition (NSC) has recently posted a new WIOA case study on its website.

Forward:

“The State of New Jersey embarked on a robust WIOA planning process shortly after WIOA was signed into law in 2014. This case study describes how New Jersey is using WIOA to advance the state’s vision for its workforce development system. It explains how New Jersey has structured its planning process to focus on sector partnerships, career pathways, job-driven training, and cross-program data, among other key issues. It also details the different mechanisms that New Jersey has used to engage key stakeholders throughout the state. New Jersey’s WIOA planning process provides an example that should be of interest to other states looking to embark on a skills-focused, inclusive WIOA planning process. Using New Jersey’s process as a model, the case study outlines steps that states can take to develop a robust WIOA planning process.”

On May 19 at 1:30 pm ET, NSC will host a webinar with policy leaders from the state of New Jersey to discuss how state policymakers and stakeholders can advance a robust WIOA planning process. Click here to register.

 

Seven Regions to Pilot-Test New Strategies to Close Skills Gap under Chamber of Commerce and USA Funds Initiative


From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation:

In response to an urgent request from businesses - large and small - to hire skilled workers today and manage their talent pipelines for the jobs of tomorrow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and USA Funds announced the selection of seven regional partners to pilot test strategies aimed at bridging the skills gap. This Talent Pipeline Management national learning network met at a kick off strategy session today (May 8) in Washington, DC and will operate like a new product test team, experimenting with different strategies and innovative practices to confirm what works and what doesn''t.

Currently, there are 5 million vacant jobs across the country. According to a study by CareerBuilder referenced in the recently released report by the U.S. Chamber Foundation, Managing the Talent Pipeline: A New Approach to Closing the Skills Gap," these vacant jobs cost businesses as much as $23,000 per unfilled position.

Launched in November 2014, the Talent Pipeline Management initiative is laser-focused on identifying successful pathways to ensuring a more competitive 21st century workforce.

The regional partners (in alphabetical order) are:

Each partner within the learning network will pilot one or more of the following talent pipeline practices:

  • Organizing new collaboratives that manage employer engagement
  • Identifying the type and amount of talent needed
  • Determining the competency and credentialing requirements for those positions
  • Identifying where businesses get their best talent today
  • Designating preferred providers and measuring their performance
  • Incentivizing continuous improvement

The enhanced coordination between educators, business leaders, and workers will help transform the way education and training can be delivered in America. Once models have been tested, evaluated and determined to be effective, communities across the country will be able to adopt and customize them.

The research and input collected from the regional participants will help complete the development of a talent pipeline management toolkit that will be released nationwide in the fall and available to employers to adopt. To learn more, visit www.thetalentsupplychain.org

 

May 21 Webinar: How Regional Organizations are Using Software and Social Media to Support Entrepreneurship and Innovation


SSTI and JumpStart Inc. have announced a free May 21 webinar at 3:00 p.m ET for participants ?to learn more about how regional organizations are using software, mobile apps and social media to support entrepreneurship and innovation.?

Speakers hail from the Boston-based Mass Challenge and the Colorado-based Innovation Center of the Rockies.

 

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Addressing U.S. Drought Conditions: Bureau of Reclamation Announces Two Funding Opportunities


These Bureau of Reclamation grants were posted this week to www.grants.gov

  • R15AS00046 WaterSMART: Drought Resiliency Project Grants for Fiscal Year 2015
  • R15AS00047 WaterSMART: Drought Contingency Planning Grants for Fiscal Year 2015

Eligible Applicants for the Drought Resiliency Grants:
Applicants must also be located in the western U.S. or Territories as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902, as amended and supplemented; specifically: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands

Eligible applicants for the Drought Contingency Grants:
Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and Washington; and Hawaii.

The closing date for applications is June 25.

 

Exports as a Source of Jobs: Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness to Hold Public Call and Webinar on May 21 to Discuss Trade and Competitiveness Issues


The Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness provides advice to the Secretary of Commerce on the necessary elements of a comprehensive policy approach to supply chain competitiveness designed to support U.S. export growth and national economic competitiveness, encourage innovation, facilitate the movement of goods, and improve the competitiveness of U.S. supply chains for goods and services in the domestic and global economy; and provides advice to the Secretary on regulatory policies and programs and investment priorities that affect the competitiveness of U.S. supply chains.

The Department of Commerce has announced the Committee will meet on May 21. Committee members are expected to deliberate and vote on the Trade and Competitiveness subcommittee's recommendation to Secretary Pritzker, which generally urges the Administration to expand market access for U.S. firms to international markets, implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), support customs trade transformation initiatives, and ensure our trading partners' compliance with our trade agreements. This recommendation, available at: http://trade.gov/td/services/oscpb/supplychain/acscc/documents/May%2021%202015%20Conf%20Call/ACSCC%20trade%20ltr%20to%20SPP%20TC%20Subcomm.pdf, has been reviewed and discussed over the last several open meetings of the ACSCC, most recently at the April 16 meeting. The Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services will post the final agenda and the recommendation on its Web site at least one week prior to the meeting.

Note:

The conference call will be open to the public and press on a first-come, first-served basis. Access lines are limited. The minutes of the meetings will be posted on the Committee Web site within 60 days of the meeting. The conference call will have webinar capabilities. Participants can join the event directly at: https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join.php?i=PW3670392&p=4490607&t=c.

For those whose computers are compatible to the webinar system, this will give you both the ability to look at the document and hear the conversations of the meeting participants. For those that do not hear the audio from this site, you will have to call 1-877-951-7311 and input the passcode: 4490607 for audio.

Additional background on meeting

 

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee to Meet on June 23


The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (RE&EEAC) will hold a meeting on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at the Department of Commerce Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington, DC. The meeting is open to the public.

The RE&EEAC provides the Secretary of Commerce with consensus advice from the private sector on the development and administration of programs and policies to enhance the international competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.

During the June 23rd meeting of the RE&EEAC, committee members will discuss priority issues identified in advance by the Committee Chair and Sub-Committee leadership, and hear from interagency partners on issues impacting the competitiveness of the U.S. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency industries.

Copies of RE&EEAC meeting minutes will be available within 30 days following the meeting on the RE&EEAC website.

Additional background on the May / meeting logistics / attendance protocols

 

Social Innovation Fund Releases "State of the Pay for Success Field: Opportunities, Trends and Recommendations"


In 2014, the Social Innovation Fund launched its Pay for Success (PFS) program to help develop the field of PFS by funding technical assistance and capacity building for state and local governments and nonprofit organizations across the country seeking to better understand and implement PFS strategies.

Through the efforts of the inaugural cohort of grantees, the Social Innovation Fund has funded?capacity building and project structuring for 43 projects across the country in more than 35 different cities and states, in fields ranging from early childhood development, asthma prevention, teen pregnancy, supportive housing, homelessness, to workforce development and recidivism.

State of the Pay for Success Field: Opportunities, Trends and Recommendations is the first resource released by the Social Innovation Fund, as part of its goal to enhance knowledge in the field and begin to test and address questions around the applicability and efficacy of Pay for Success.

The report offers compelling insight into the rapidly growing field of Pay for Success, common elements of PFS projects to date, opportunities for local and state governments and nonprofit service providers to learn from existing projects, and recommendations for the social sector to consider, in order to spur even more growth in the field.

Full Report
The 2014 Pay for Success Grantee Cohort
Pay for Success: A Primer for Social Innovators

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

 

SSA Publishes RFI Seeking Recommendations on "Targeted Design Features Related to Improving Employment and Earnings Outcomes for People with Disabilities"


The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (2015) provided the Social Security Administration with money under section 1110 of the Social Security Act to begin the design, development, and implementation of an early intervention demonstration to test innovative strategies aimed at helping people with disabilities remain in the workforce.

The President's FY 2016 Budget requested additional funds to support a complete demonstration project. In order to inform the development of that demonstration, SSA’s issued request for information (RFI) on May 7 seeks recommendations on targeted design features related to improving employment and earnings outcomes for people with disabilities, specifically individuals with mental impairments. SSA identifies “States, community-based and other non-profit organizations, philanthropic organizations, researchers, and other interested members of the public” as possible sources for recommendations on “effective approaches for improving employment and earnings outcomes for individuals with disabilities, specifically individuals with mental impairments.” Comments must be received by June 8, 2015.

Full text of announcement with instructions for the submission of comments.

 

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Renewable Energy Sector: IREC's 3i Awards Annual Search Open to Recognize Best in Nation (Innovation ... Ingenuity ... Inspiration)


From IREC:

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) announces its Call for Nominees for the IREC 3i Awards - a prestigious annual national search for innovative people, projects and programs that promote and accelerate the sustainable growth of clean energy. The IREC 3i Awards honor innovation, ingenuity and inspiration from the nation's best in both renewable energy and energy efficiency.

For the second year, the selection of IREC's award winners in several categories will be in the hands of the public, with open voting dates to be announced. The opportunity for a variety of stakeholders and the community at large to vote brings even greater awareness and acknowledgement of the applicants and awardees. All applications must be received online by June 26, 2015.

IREC recognizes that renewable energy and energy efficiency play equally crucial roles in achieving a sustainable future. While traditionally government, energy industries and educational systems view them separately, with little collaboration between programs, IREC's awards are inclusive. And a specific award category for "Closing the Divide" seeks innovative examples of initiatives that help close the divide between energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Applications from or on behalf of extraordinary people, projects and programs in the clean energy arena will be accepted online through June 26 in one of five categories.

  • Community Renewables Project of the Year
  • State and Local Government Initiative of the Year
  • Closing the Divide Award - Integrating Energy Efficiency & Renewables
  • IREC Accredited Clean Energy Training Provider of the Year
  • IREC Certified Clean Energy Trainer of the Year

Application link

 

Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee to Hold Public Meeting on June 12


The Census Bureau has announced a public meeting of the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee on June 12.

The Committee advises the Directors of the Economics and Statistics Administration's (ESA) two statistical agencies, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the Census Bureau, and the Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on statistical methodology and other technical matters related to the collection, tabulation, and analysis of federal economic statistics.

The meeting will be held at the U.S. Census Bureau Conference Center, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, MD 20746.

Additional background / meeting times and logistics / contact information

 

Services to Individuals with Disabilities: HHS/ACL Announces Funding Opportunity to Support Employment Research Priority


The Administration for Community Living within the Department of Health and Human Services has announced a funding opportunity under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program. The purpose of DRRPs is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, by developing methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technologies that advance a wide range of independent living and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most severe disabilities.

A total of $950,000 has been identified to support projects which honor the established priorities, including “Center on Knowledge Translation for Employment Research Priority” and “Projects for Translating Disability and Rehabilitation Research into Practice.”

The deadline for notice of intent to apply is June 9, 2015; and, the deadline for transmittal of applications is July 6, 2015.

Additional background /award structure / application requirements

Accompanying document / final statement of priorities

 

NASWA Announces Availability of Job Dislocation Brochures; 20 States Have Ordered 195,000 Copies to Date


The National Association of State Workforce reports:

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) has partnered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to develop a brochure that provides unbiased financial advice for dislocated workers. Through the partnership, FINRA will send copies to every state (who requests the brochure) to distribute to unemployed workers.

Copies of the brochure are free to NASWA members as FINRA is covering all printing and shipping costs. So far, NASWA members in 20 states have ordered more than 195,000 English-version brochures and almost 57,000 Spanish-version brochures. The 2015 English and Spanish version of the brochure, titled "Job Dislocation: Making Smart Financial Choices after a Job Loss,” is located on the NASWA website by clicking here.

The brochure advises dislocated workers how to protect themselves from investment fraud, avoid job scams, and keep their finances on track during a period of unemployment. It also includes information on the workforce system, health care and other resources, and special messaging to UI claimants about registering with the State Workforce Agency.

How to Order Brochures: If your state would like to order the brochure, please click on the Brochure Order Form and respond by email to Josie Link at jlink@naswa.org, with the name(s) and address(es) of the individuals to whom you would like your copies sent. There is no limit per state and you may request to split the delivery in a state to a small number of locations. (Please do not send P.O. Boxes and we would appreciate one response per state.)

Also, please let us know how many copies you would like sent to each location and if you are interested in hard copies of the Spanish version. We anticipate the brochures will be ready for distribution by the end of the month.

States or localities interested in posting the brochure on their website are welcome to do so. If you have any questions regarding your state’s order, please contact Josie Link, NASWA, at 202-434-8029, or jlink@naswa.org.

 

HRSA Seeks Nominations to Fill 16 Vacancies on the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice


The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is requesting nominations to fill at least 16 vacancies on the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP).

HRSA must receive nominations on or before July 15, 2015.

The May 4 FEDERAL REGISTER provides complete background and instructions for the submission of nominations.

Also see: Healthcare Virtual Career Network Website

 

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SBA Announces "America's Seed Fund" Logo Design Competition


The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced the "America's Seed Fund" Logo Design Competition, pursuant to the America Competes Act, to encourage artists and designers to create a thoughtful and imaginative visual representation of the government's largest innovation effort focused on research-driven, innovative and cutting-edge small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs.

The submission period began on May 4 and ends May 29. The winning contestant will be announced and the winning design will be unveiled during a White House ceremony on June 15, 2015. The winning contestant will be notified in advance of the public announcement.

Click here for full background, eligibility rules, and instructions for submission of designs.
Click here for the SBA SBIR "portal page."

Excerpts:

  • The SBIR/STTR Programs are extremely competitive and encourage small businesses to engage in federally funded research and development (R&D) through eleven Federal agencies with R&D needs. SBIR/STTR awards enable small businesses to explore their technological potential, stimulate innovation to meet federal R&D needs, and potentially profit from private-sector commercialization of developed technologies.
  • Since inception in 1982, 150,000 awards totaling $40 billion have been awarded to the small firms that participate. The programs touch, catalyze and seed the creation of STEM driven innovations in industries critical to the nation's long term competitiveness and growth--from nanotech to robotics to mobile communications to genetic therapies to clean energy to advanced weapons to space exploration.
  • Many of today's technology giants--or their underlying technological components--received seed funding through SBIR or STTR awards via the eleven participating Federal agencies; the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Transportation. (Visit the sbir.gov Web site at https://www.sbir.gov/ for more information.)
  • The new logo will serve as the official logo for the SBIR/STTR Programs to be used for promotional and educational information, including but not limited to, the Programs' Web site, SBA's Web site, participating Federal agency Web sites, conferences, events, television, print, and other media outlets. The winning logo is intended to premiere at the 2015 Tibbetts Awards ceremony on June 15, 2015, and be highlighted at the National SBIR Conference, June 15-17, 2015.
  •  

    Renewable Energy Sector: Department of Energy Announces Availability of the Wage Energy Prize; Establishes Application Guidelines for "Game–Changing" Performance Enhancement Ideas


    The Department of Energy has announced the availability of the Wave Energy Prize and of DOE's responses to public comments on the draft Prize Rules and Prize Terms and Conditions. The prize is designed to achieve game-changing performance enhancements to wave energy conversion (WEC) devices, establishing a pathway to sweeping cost reductions on a commercial scale. The prize consists of three phases--design, build, and test and evaluation. Prize purses to the winner(s): Grand Prize ($1,500,000), 2nd Place Finisher ($500,000), and 3rd Place Finisher ($250,000). The Winner(s) of the Prize, if any, is expected to be announced by the end of 2016. All dates are subject to change.

    The prize is designed to increase the diversity of organizations involved in WEC technology development, while motivating and inspiring existing stakeholders. DOE envisions this competition will achieve game-changing performance enhancements to WEC devices, establishing a pathway to sweeping cost reductions on a commercial scale.

    The DOE notes, in part:

    The wave energy industry is young and is experiencing many new innovations as evidenced by a sustained growth in patent activity. While the private industry is developing these early-concept WEC devices through design and benchtop prototype testing, funding is hard to secure for performance testing and evaluation of WEC devices in wave tanks at a meaningful scale. This is a problem for the industry since scaled WEC prototype tank testing, validation, and evaluation are key steps in the advancement of WEC technologies through the technical readiness levels to reach commercialization.

    Goal of the Wave Energy Prize: The Wave Energy Prize will encourage the development of more efficient WEC devices that double the energy captured from ocean waves, which in turn will reduce the cost of wave energy, making it more competitive with traditional energy solutions.

    Economic impact of the Wave Energy Prize: A successful Wave Energy Prize could jump-start private sector innovation critical to the country's long-term economic growth, energy security, and international competitiveness in the wave energy conversion sector.

    Additional background / application instructions

     

    HHS/ACF/ORR Announces Funding for Cooperative Agreements under the Refugee Technical Assistance Program


    The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), within Administration for Children and Families (ACF), has announced the availability of funds for the Refugee Technical Assistance (RTA) program. The RTA program is intended to assist ORR funded refugee-service providers, hereafter referred to as "refugee-service providers", in their response to specific challenges or needs in refugee resettlement. ORR will award cooperative agreements to qualified organizations with experience and demonstrated capacity to provide innovative technical assistance to refugee-service providers.

    The goal of the RTA Program is to provide innovative TA support on national and individual levels to direct service providers that are funded by one of ORR's discretionary or mandatory grant programs to improve the quality of services provided to refugees and support the long-term civic, economic, and linguistic integration of refugees in the United States. ORR plans to focus on the following categories: community engagement and public awareness in support of refugees' long-term integration, the creation of mechanisms to support and enhance self-sufficiency of refugees, and capacity building activities that will improve the quality of services provided by refugee-service providers.

    ORR projects the total of four cooperative agreement awards from the funding level of $800,000. Applications are due by July 6.

     

    National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to Meet on May 20 – 21


    The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will meet on May 20 – 21 in San Diego.

    The NEJAC will discuss these primary areas: (1) Goods Movement; (2) EJ 2020 Action Agenda; (3) EJ Best Practices for Local Government; and (4) Climate Change. In addition, the meeting will include updates from NEJAC work groups.

    Additional background / meeting logistics

     

    Census Bureau and C2ER to Offer Overview of Quarterly Workforce Indicators Dataset Tool on May 20


    The U.S. Census Bureau and the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership in collaboration with the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) welcome Mr. Heath Hayward as he shares the latest updates to QWI Explorer. He will focus on labor-force analysis use cases that highlight the longitudinal, categorical, and spatial comparisons available in this easy-to-use application. Additionally, new features such as thematic mapping and sharable data tables and visualizations will be demonstrated.

    QWI Explorer is a web-based analysis tool that enables comprehensive access to the full depth and breadth of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) dataset. Through bar charts, line charts, thematic maps, and interactive tables, users can compare, rank and aggregate QWIs across time, geography, and/or firm and worker characteristics on the fly. Visit the following link to preview QWI Explorer before the webinar at http://qwiexplorer.ces.census.gov.

    Heath Hayward is a geographer in the Center for Economic Studies with the U.S. Census Bureau. He has worked on the OnTheMap project in the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) Program since 2006, and took charge of the QWI dissemination project in 2012. Prior to working at the Census Bureau, Heath completed his M.S. in Geographic Information Science at the University of Denver and his B.A. in Economics from DePauw University in Indiana.

    The free webinar will be held between 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on May 20. Registration is free.

     

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    ETA Publishes Early Operating Guidance for Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act


    The Employment and Training Administration has published Training and Employment 31-14.

    This TEN informs state and local workforce system leaders and other stakeholders comprising the nation's employment and training system and One Stop Centers of the Employment and Training Administration's (ETA) plans to issue operating guidance on the implementation of WIOA and to continue to provide technical assistance.

     

    USDA Announces New Private Funds to Make Investments in Rural America


    On April 29, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the launch of two new private funds, known as Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs), which make equity investments in rural businesses, helping them grow and create jobs. This announcement is part of USDA's ongoing efforts to help attract private sector capital to investment opportunities in rural America to help drive more economic growth in rural communities.

    Innova Memphis and Meritus Kirchner Capital can now begin raising capital to constitute their funds. Meritus Kirchner Capital has set a goal of raising $100 million, while Innova Memphis has set a goal of raising $25 million for their respective funds. Once the funds have been raised, these companies will make equity investments in rural businesses with high-growth potential.

    The new funds announced today were formed under the USDA's Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP). USDA is utilizing RBIP to license funds to invest in enterprises that will create growth and job opportunities in rural areas, with an emphasis on smaller enterprises. Working through the USDA program enables licensed funds to raise capital from Farm Credit System banks and associations. Last year, Secretary Vilsack announced the creation of the first new RBIC which has already begun investing in rural businesses with high-growth potential. The $10 billion Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, also announced last year, facilitates private loans for job-creating rural infrastructure projects across the country.

    These efforts are part of the Made in Rural America initiative, which was created by President Obama to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad. Secretary Vilsack and the White House Rural Council convened the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference last summer to attract additional investments to rural America by connecting major investors with rural business leaders, government officials, economic development experts and other partners.

     

    ETA Announces Release of the Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws 2015


    Each year, the Employment and Training Administration publishes a new edition of the Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws to reflect recent changes to state laws and new areas of interest.

    This publication provides in-depth information on key aspects of state unemployment insurance programs such as coverage, financing, monetary entitlement, extensions and special programs, nonmonetary eligibility, overpayments, and appeals. It also provides an overview of the temporary disability programs operated in six states.

    Training and Employment Notice 30-14 transmits the 2015 publication and provides additional background. The document is directly accessible here.

     

    Department of Education Seeks Comment on Proposed Revision to "What Works Clearinghouse Formative Feedback" Information Collection


    The Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics has proposed a revision to its "What Works Clearinghouse Formative Feedback" information collection. Comments are due by June 30. The May 1 FEDERAL REGISTER notice provides complete background, burden hour estimates, and instructions for the submission of comments. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-05-01/pdf/2015-10192.pdf

    Excerpt:

    The intended purpose of the Department of Education (ED), Institute of Education Sciences (IES) WWC feedback task is to collect feedback from users on the relevance, timeliness, quality, and ease of use of the products associated with the What Works Clearinghouse Web site. The results of the data collection will be used to inform improvements in ED program products and services for its customers. The WWC provides educators, policymakers, and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education. The WWC aims to make findings from education research easy and accessible through its searchable online repository of intervention reports, single study reviews, and practice guides. There are thousands of empirical studies that claim to identify effective instructional approaches, many using complicated research methods and statistical analyses. This research often yields conflicting results, leaving educators wondering which approach to take. Given the large volume of education research and significant variations in quality, principals and other educators need help identifying reliable research and interpreting findings. Using systematic review processes and evidence standards, the WWC reviews all the research on a topic to identify the most rigorous studies and synthesize the findings from high-quality education research.

    The WWC has developed three new products that focus on utilizing the WWC and the WWC resources when making key decisions in education. First, the WWC will produce and is developing several videos that describe the purpose of the WWC or how to understand specific materials on the Web site. For example, the WWC has already released a video that addresses how to select a mathematics curriculum. The WWC also developed practice guide summaries which consolidate the information from practice guides into an 8-10 page summary that presents expert recommendations from the field, along with tips on implementing the recommendations. The WWC has already released two of these summaries--Teaching Math to Young Children and Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers. Finally, topical blasts consolidate WWC content relevant to a specific education topic. Emails direct users to a dedicated landing page containing links to the relevant content. Findings from the case studies of these topics will be used to improve these and other WWC products going forward. The WWC feedback task will include the following data collection methods: Focus groups with WWC users, user feedback Web surveys, and data analytics.

     

    ETA Proposes Pre-Implementation Planning Checklist for State Unemployment Insurance Information Technology Modernization Projects


    The Employment and Training Administration has published a sixty-day notice today for a new data collection –

    ETA 9166
    Pre-Implementation Planning Checklist Report for
    State Unemployment Insurance (UI) Information Technology (IT) Modernization Project

    Building on lessons learned from previous state implementations of modernized UI IT systems, ETA commissioned the development of a UI IT Modernization Pre-Implementation Planning Checklist for states to use prior to "going live" with a new system. The checklist is expected to validate that all necessary system functions are available and/or that alternative workarounds are developed prior to the production launch of the UI IT system to help avoid major disruption of services to UI customers and to prevent delays in making UI benefit payments when due.

    In addition, the checklist will be used by ETA to identify the technical assistance needs of State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) in support of successful implementation of UI IT Modernization projects.

    ETA anticipates the report will be completed by some combination of an IT Project Manager and the state''s UI Director. The total annual response projection: 3 to 5 States.

    Comments are due by June 30.

    Other excerpts from this notice:

    This comprehensive checklist denotes critical functional areas that states should verify prior to launching including, but not limited to, technical IT functions and UI business processes that interface with the new system. The list of critical areas identified in the checklist includes, among others,
    • Verification for essential UI Benefit and Tax functions,
    • Interstate Connection (ICON) network and UI reporting interfaces,
    • System Error handling,
    • End-user support mechanisms,
    • Alternate access options and usability issues,
    • Policies and Procedures development and dissemination
    • Technical preparation,
    • Call Center and Customer Service operations,
    • Staffing and Staff Training on new system operations,
    • Help Desk support,
    • Management oversight,
    • Vendor support and
    • Communications.

    The new ETA 9166 will be used by the National and regional offices to ensure that states have plans to address critical issues prior to launching a new UI IT system and to identify areas where SWAs may need technical assistance to support successful implementation of UI IT Modernization projects. This information will include the project title and purpose, the project timeline and milestones, and a narrative description of the project implementation status. It will also include explanations of plans or workarounds to address the areas of potential issues identified in the implementation checklist, an explanation of any portion of the project that will experience delays in implementation, mitigation proposals for addressing problems and new project timelines (if applicable), a self-reported designation of the implementation status, and a discussion of identified technical assistance needs for the successful completion of the project.

     

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    GAO Provides Overview of TANF Funding, Federal Oversight and Program Incentives


    On April 30, the General Accountability Office has released a statement for the record/study at http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/669938.pdf

    Why GAO Did This Study

    The TANF block grant provides $16.5 billion annually in federal funding to states for cash assistance as well as a variety of other benefits and services to meet the needs of low-income families. TANF requires states to maintain a specified level of their own past welfare spending to receive all of their TANF funds. In fiscal year 2013, states spent a total of $31.6 billion in federal TANF and related state funds on cash assistance and other services for low-income families. GAO was asked to provide information from its recent reports to inform a hearing on next steps for welfare reform.

    This statement addresses (1) states’ use of TANF funds, (2) TANF’s accountability framework, and (3) innovation and evaluation in the TANF program, drawing primarily from GAO reports issued from 2010 to 2014. For these reports, GAO reviewed and analyzed state TANF data reported to HHS from fiscal year 1997 through 2013; reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; interviewed HHS and state TANF administrators; and conducted visits in selected states.

    What GAO Found

    While the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant serves as the nation’s major cash assistance program for low-income families with children, states increasingly use it as a flexible funding stream for supporting a broad range of allowable services. For example, in December 2012 GAO found that nationwide, in fiscal year 1997, states spent about 23 percent of TANF funds on services other than cash assistance, such as child welfare or child care. In contrast, states spent more than 66 percent of TANF funds for these purposes in fiscal year 2013, according to the most recent available data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    TANF’s accountability framework has limitations in both the approach used for measuring work participation and the information that is available on trends in services other than cash assistance. One program performance measure, the work participation rate, measures the extent to which states engage work-eligible TANF cash assistance recipients in work activities as defined by federal law. In May 2010, GAO found that states often relied on several options allowed in law, including credits for caseload reductions, to reduce the percentage of families they needed to engage in work to meet their work participation rate requirements. Thus, GAO concluded that the rate’s usefulness as an indicator of TANF performance is limited. There are also no reporting requirements mandating performance information specifically on families receiving services other than cash assistance. To fully assess how funds are being used, GAO suggested Congress should consider ways to improve performance information when TANF is being reauthorized. In response to GAO’s 2012 recommendation that HHS develop a detailed plan to revise reporting categories for TANF expenditures to provide a more complete picture on the use of TANF funds, HHS has taken steps such as revising its reporting form and accounting methodology for expenditure data. HHS has also cited a statutory provision as preventing it from reporting an improper payment estimate for the TANF program, but says it will seek statutory modifications to allow for such an estimate when the program is reauthorized.

    Incentives are often lacking for state and local TANF agencies to adopt and test promising approaches for moving cash assistance recipients from welfare to work, according to a November 2014 GAO report. State use of federal TANF funds for services that are not necessarily related to welfare-to-work activities may compete with funding for developing promising approaches for TANF cash assistance clients. Also, the federal work participation rate requirements may discourage states from pursuing approaches that incorporate longer-term education and training or treatment services, or from engaging hard-to-employ individuals in work activities as states can meet their work participation rate requirements by using the law’s other options. In addition, little incentive exists for states to evaluate their TANF programs, and states are not required to do so, although these evaluations can provide useful information on program effectiveness. GAO recommended that HHS, in consultation with Congress, identify potential changes to address the lack of incentives to adopt and test promising approaches and submit a legislative proposal outlining those changes. HHS agreed with the recommendation but has not yet suggested program changes.

    What GAO Recommends

    In its prior work, GAO recommended that HHS take steps to improve TANF expenditure reporting and identify potential changes to address the lack of incentives in the TANF program. HHS has taken some action. GAO has also suggested Congress consider ways to improve performance information when TANF is reauthorized. Consequently, GAO is not making any new recommendations at this time.

     

    Coal Industry: The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative


    The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative is a new interagency effort to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector. Booming natural gas production, declining costs for renewable energy, increases in energy efficiency, flattening electricity demand, and updated clean air standards are changing the way electricity is generated and used across the country. These industry shifts are impacting workers and communities who have relied on the coal economy as a source of good jobs and economic prosperity.

    Planning and Local Technical Assistance FFO
    Planning and Local Technical Assistance FFO Addendum (PDF)
    Frequently Asked Questions
    Map of Negatively Impacted Coal Mine Counties and Power Plants 6/2011 to 1/2015 (PDF)

     

    U.S. Department of Education Announces $3 Million In Grants Available to Help Native Youth


    The U.S. Department of Education today announced the availability of an estimated $3 million in grants to help Native American youth become college- and career-ready. Funding for the new Native Youth Community Projects is a key step toward implementing President Obama’s commitment to improving the lives of American Indian and Alaskan Native children. The new grants will support the President’s Generation Indigenous “Gen I” Initiative launched last year to help Native American youth.

    In a recent Federal Register notice, the Department said it would award five to seven demonstration grants ranging from $400,000 to $600,000 to tribal communities before Sept. 30. The new program is based on significant consultation with tribal communities and recognizes that these communities are best-positioned to:

    • Identify key barriers to improving educational and life outcomes for Native youth, and
    • Develop and implement locally produced strategies designed to address those barriers.

    Each grant will support a coordinated, focused approach chosen by a community partnership that includes a tribe, local schools and other optional service providers or organizations. For example, the program allows tribes to identify ways to achieve college and career readiness specific to their own communities – whether it’s early learning, language immersion or mental health services. Communities can tailor actions to address one or more of those issues. The success of these first projects will guide the work of future practices that improve the educational opportunities and achievement of preschool, elementary and secondary Indian students.

    The President’s FY 2016 budget proposal calls for increased investments across Indian Country, including a total request of $20.8 billion for a range of federal programs that serve tribes – a $1.5 billion increase over the 2015-enacted level. The budget proposal includes $53 million for fiscal year 2016 – a $50 million increase from this year – to significantly expand the Native Youth Community Projects program. For more on the Administration’s investment in Native American issues, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/nativeamericans.

     

    The Appalachian Region: A Data Overview from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey


    The Appalachian Regional Commission notes the availability of a new study which examines state- and county-level data on population, age, race and ethnicity, housing occupancy and housing tenure, education, labor force, employment and unemployment, income and poverty, health insurance coverage, disability status, migration patterns, and veteran status from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey (ACS) for the 13 Appalachian states.

    Information is summarized for five Appalachian subregions and five metro designations. The study includes ACS data topics that were in the 2010 decennial census, as well as others that are no longer available in the census, to provide a comparable time series of data for all counties in Appalachia Full Report in PDF (9 MB)

    Report Contents

    Table of Contents and Foreword (PDF: 70 KB)
    Chapter 1: Population Basics (PDF: 600 KB)
    Chapter 2: Age (PDF: 1 MB)
    Chapter 3: Race and Hispanic Origin (PDF: 600 KB)
    Chapter 4: Housing Occupancy and Tenure (PDF: 900 KB)
    Chapter 5: Education (PDF: 1.8 MB)
    Chapter 6: Labor Force, Employment, and Unemployment (PDF: 800 KB)
    Chapter 7: Income and Poverty (PDF: 1.8 MB)
    Chapter 8: Health Insurance Coverage (PDF: 1 MB)
    Chapter 9: Disability Status (PDF: 900 KB)
    Chapter 10: Migration (PDF: 700 KB)
    Chapter 11: Veteran Status (PDF: 900 KB)
    All Report Tables (Excel File: 300 KB)
    All Report Maps (Zip file: 15 MB; includes 48 PNG files, compressed size approx. 400 KB, and one text file, 300 KB)
     

    DHS Publishes Thirty-Day Regarding the 2015 Survey of E-Verify Employers


    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published the thirty-day notice in the April 29, 2015 FEDERAL REGISTER for the 2015 Survey of E-Verify Employers. The sixty-day notice was published on February 11. USCIS did not receive any comment in connection with the 60-day notice. Comments are due by May 29.
     

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    Delta Regional Authority Opens Investment Application Period, Launches New Online Tools


    The Delta Regional Authority has recently launched the 2015 application cycle for the States' Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP) with a new online tool to help drive strategic investments into the region. DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said the new online application portal, located at dra.gov/SEDAP, would help streamline the application process and grow the region's economy.

    "Our new online investment tool brings us one step closer to our goal-removing barriers for local communities and driving strategic economic development in our part of the world,” DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said. "The world has become increasingly digitized. This new portal will help the Delta Regional Authority move at the speed of local entrepreneurs and communities to invest in our region's future and create jobs for Delta residents."?

    Specifically, the new online portal will allow local economic development leaders and community officials to:

    • Apply for federal funding through the States' Economic Development Assistance Program;

    • Report project progress, achievements, and outcomes; and

    • Track regional investments on a state and county level.

    To date, the DRA's SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged $129 million in federal resources into more than $2.7 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and infrastructure development projects. These investments have helped create or retain more than 18,000 jobs since the DRA was established.

    The SEDAP will this year institute an open application format through which communities are able to apply for funding throughout the year. However, communities are encouraged to apply before July 31, 2015. The DRA will begin selecting projects for SEDAP investments at the end of July 2015. All projects submitted after July 31 will be considered during the 2016 investment cycle.

    Learn more at dra.gov/SEDAP.

     

    NIST Releases Draft Community Resilience Planning Guide; Seeks Comments by June 26


    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) established a program in Community Resilience to conduct research and develop guidance that improves the way communities prepare for, withstand, and recover from disruptive events, such as natural hazards. The Draft CRPG has benefitted from the input of private and public sector stakeholders and experts, with a wide range of expertise in areas including but not limited to community planning, disaster recovery, emergency management, business continuity, insurance/re-insurance, state and local government, design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure (buildings, water and wastewater, electric power, communications, transportation), and standards and code development. The Framework is intended to provide local governments with a methodology for including resilience in their long term community development planning process and to provide a means to facilitate engagement with external stakeholders that have a role in ensuring community resilience.

    NIST has released the Draft Community Resilience Planning Guide (CRPG) for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems on Monday, April 27, 2015, seeking comments by June 26.

    The Community Resilience Planning Guide (CRPG) for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems will identify typical performance goals; existing standards, codes, and practices to enhance resilience; and gaps that must be addressed to enhance community resilience. The first version of the Guide will provide the basis for convening a Disaster Resilience Standards Panel (DRSP) representing the broad spectrum of the stakeholder community to further develop and refine the Guide.

    The CRPG will aim to:

     

    Administration Announces Eight Additional Promise Zones to Build Community Prosperity


    On April 28, the Obama Administration announced today (April 28) announced eight additional Promise Zones across the country, including six cities, one rural area, and one tribal community. Through the Promise Zone designation, these communities will work directly with federal, state and local agencies to give local leaders proven tools to improve the quality of life in some of the country’s most vulnerable areas.

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new Promise Zone designations in the following communities:

    Camden, New Jersey
    Hartford, Connecticut
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Sacramento, California
    St. Louis/St. Louis County, Missouri
    Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota
    South Carolina Low Country

    News Release

     

    ETA Advises State Agencies of the (1) One-Year Extension the PY 2014 Agricultural Outreach Plans (AOP), (2) Designation of Significant Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) States, and (3) Designation of Significant MSFW and Bilingual Local Offices


    The Employment and Training Administration has published Change 1 to Training and Employment Guidance Letter 13-13. This TEGL informs the State Workforce Agencies of the extension of the approval period for the AOPs, the designation of MSFW states, and the PY 2014 designation of Significant MSFW and Bilingual Local Offices through June 30, 2016. This means that current AOPs, designated MSFW states, and Significant MSFW and Bilingual Local Offices will remain the same through June 30, 2016. States do not need to submit updated AOPs.
     

    Census Bureau Publishes Thirty-Day Notice for American Community Survey; Proposes Restoration of Question to Discern "Undergraduate Field of Degree"


    The Census Bureau has published the thirty-day notice for the American Community Survey in the April 28 Federal Register.

    The sixty-day notice had mentioned the Bureau’s intent to remove the “Undergraduate Field of Degree” from the Survey as Frank Gallo’s e-mail below indicated. Here is the summation of the Bureau’s reasoning from today’s notice to maintain the question based on the receipt and analysis of wide feedback.

    Regarding the field of degree question, the Census Bureau received 625 comments from researchers, professors and administrators at many universities, professional associations that represent science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and industries, members of Congress, the National Science Foundation, and many individuals interested in retaining this question. A number of commenters (92) cited the importance of these estimates for research that analyzes the effect of field of degree choice on economic outcomes, including earnings, education, occupation, industry, and employment. University administrators (37) commented that this information allows for analysis of postsecondary outcomes, and allows them to benchmark their graduates' relative success in different fields as well as to plan degree offerings. While some commenters used the estimates to understand fields such as humanities or philosophy (56), the majority of these comments (125) addressed the value of knowing about the outcomes of people who pursued degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These commenters felt that knowing more about the people currently earning STEM degrees and the people currently working in STEM fields would enable universities, advocacy groups, and policy makers to encourage more people to pursue STEM careers, and to encourage diversity within STEM careers.

    The initial analysis of Person Question No. 12--Undergraduate Field of Degree did not uncover any evidence that the question was Mandatory or Required. However, comments to the Federal Register notice uncovered the existence of a relationship between the Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation, dating back to 1960. Over the course of this established relationship, long-form decennial census data was used as a sampling frame for surveys that provided important information about scientists and engineers. These comments demonstrated that the Field of Degree question on the ACS continues this historical use of decennial long-form and ACS data for this purpose, and makes this process more efficient. Many commenters (58) also cited the necessity of the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), and recommended retaining the question because it is needed as a sampling frame for the NSCG. Though commenters theorized that the NSCG might still be able to produce STEM estimates without the ACS, a number of commenters (16) thought that doing so would be very expensive, costing as much as $17 million more (1).

    Additionally, many comments also indicated uses of this question to understand the economic outcomes of college graduates at local geographic levels, especially those with STEM degrees. These commenters included professional, academic, congressional, and policy-making stakeholders who expressed concerns that the absence of statistical information about STEM degrees would harm the ability to understand characteristics of small populations attaining STEM degrees. Given the importance of this small population group to the economy, the federal statistical system and the nation, bolstered by the new knowledge of historical precedent brought to light by commenters to the Federal Register notice, the Census Bureau therefore plans to retain this question on the 2016 ACS.

    Comments to OMB on all components of the thirty-day notice are due by May 28.

     

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    Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board to Meet on May 19; Agenda Includes Discussion of MEP Workforce Activities


    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announces that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Advisory Board will hold an open meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time. The meeting will be held at the Embassy Suites Phoenix-Scottsdale, 4415 E. Paradise Village Parkway South, Phoenix, AZ 85032.

    This meeting will focus on updates from the Advisory Board Sub-committees on (1) Technology Acceleration and (2) Board Governance. In addition, the board will engage in a discussion about MEP workforce activities.

    The April 28 FEDERAL REGISTER provides complete background.

     

    IREC Launches New Website for National Program to Grow Clean Energy Expertise of Electric Utility Workforce


    Several workforce challenges face the electric utility sector: aging utility workers, the large number of imminent retirements of utility engineers, a decline in power engineering educational programs, and faculty retirements in U.S. universities. At the same time there is a critical need to upgrade the curriculum of power systems engineering programs to address current and anticipated changes, specifically regarding clean energy technologies.

    Launched by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is a new The website for GEARED - Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment. As National Network Administrator of GEARED, IREC is helping facilitate and support efforts of the Distributed Technology Training Consortia (DTTC) created by the U.S. Department of Energy's Sun Shot Initiative. The goal is to build a national framework for power systems training and curriculum that will grow the power engineering workforce.

    A year and a half into the five-year The GEARED project, the partners are identifying and sharing best practices and industry workforce standards that will build the expertise and preparedness of current and future electric utility sector professionals--specifically to accommodate high penetrations of solar and other distributed technologies. GEARED is also helping foster student interest and expertise in the utility sector.

    Among several unique outcomes of GEARED is an annual student-centered education and peer research exchange conference, the first of which was held in the fall of 2014, where students can meet and learn alongside renewable energy professionals from the electric utility industry.

    The goal is to create a national network of centers and professionals that support power systems training and curriculum development based on research, development, data generation, collection, analysis and simulation.

    Central to the GEARED project is the Distributed Technology Training Consortia. Composed of three regional consortiums, each with multiple universities, utility and industry partners, the collaborators are working toward the infusion of power systems analysis and R&D into training activities such as curriculum and short course development, internships and co-ops, and continuing education.

    The project leads of the Distributed Technology Training Consortia include:

    • University of Central Florida: Foundations for Engineering Education for Distributed Energy Resources

    • Missouri University of Science and Technology: Mid-America Regional Micro grid Education and Training Consortium

    • The Electric Power Research Institute: The Center for Grid Engineering Education

    The Energy Department's Sun Shot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. For more information, visit www.energy.gov/sunshot.

     

    AARP Releases New Report - "A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience 2015"


    April 27 AARP news release:

    A new AARP study debunks myths about age 50+ workers, showing that they have productive advantages that can make them a "critical component" of a successful business.

    The report, "A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience 2015," was prepared by Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement, and health solutions company of Aon plc. It finds that the business case for employing workers age 50+ has grown even stronger in the last 10 years, reinforcing a 2005 AARP study that found that these experienced workers are highly motivated, productive and cost effective.

    "Leading employers across all industries value the expertise and experience of workers 50+ and know that recruiting, retaining and engaging them will improve their business results," said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins today in releasing the report.

    More ...

     

    USDA Launches Residential Youth Conservation Corps; Announces Opening of Application Period


    April 27 blog post on the USDA website:

    As a young man, Tom Tidwell had a summer job with the Forest Service as a member of a Youth Conservation Corps crew. Today, he is Chief of the Forest Service, overseeing an agency of forty thousand employees that honors a mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

    Chief Tidwell’s story is not entirely unique. There are other leaders in the Forest Service who were introduced to the agency through Youth Conservation Corps, including National Forest System Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon and a host of other Forest Service employees.

    Youth Conservation Corps creates jobs for United States citizens, ages 15 to 18, across the nation, in national forests, national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands. It equips young people with skills for a new career, while awakening a love for America’s Great Outdoors in them. They work outdoors, learn about conservation stewardship, get trained in restoration skills necessary for field work, and develop a work ethic and interpersonal communication skills. Throughout their paid work experience, participants are supervised by – and gain valuable guidance from – the staff of the Forest Service and recognized partners.

    This year, the Forest Service is pleased to launch its Residential YCC programs, which provide housing at select Youth Conservation Corps locations. Young men and women can apply online or by mailing in an application. With more than 80 percent of our country’s population living in urban areas, this new housing element seeks to reach that very population by expanding opportunities for our nation’s young people to relocate for work away from home.

    Why should teens spend their summer on a Youth Conservation Corps crew? If you happen to meet Ben, age 18, and a member of the summer 2014 crew on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia, you’d get several good reasons. He spent the summer working 10-hour shifts, four days a week, gaining specialized construction skills he may not have obtained otherwise. He learned how to navigate in a team with other youth and Forest Service staff, staying on his feet aware of the Forest Service culture of emphasizing safety. Ben’s experience helped him realize he wanted to explore a more permanent career with the Forest Service.

    Perhaps Ben will follow the path many agency leaders took, including some of its most senior leaders like Chief Tidwell and Deputy Chief Weldon. Hopefully there will be more stories like Ben and Chief Tidwell’s stories in the future, with this year’s emphasis on expanding Youth Conservation Corps opportunities to underrepresented youth. U.S. youth are encouraged to engage with the Forest Service to help ignite a newly engaged workforce of young people looking to make a difference in the world.

     

    New Agreement to Facilitate U.S. Clusters and Member Businesses to Form Strategic Partnerships with the European Union


    U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews this week signed a Cooperation Arrangement between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH). The agreement aims to makes it easier for clusters and their member businesses in the United States and the European Union to form strategic partnerships across the Atlantic.

    During the signing ceremony, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted the Commerce Department’s commitment to supporting regional innovation clusters to help grow our economy, create jobs, and make small and medium-sized businesses more competitive in the global marketplace. He added that the agreement with DG GROWTH is a part of Commerce’s long-standing partnership with the European Commission on initiatives to promote trade, investment and innovation on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected industries and supporting organizations that make regions uniquely competitive for jobs and private investment. According to research from Harvard Business School's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, regional clusters are a prominent feature of successful and growing economies: they drive regional competitiveness and entrepreneurship, and underlie new business growth. They also increase our nation’s global competitiveness.

    The economies of the United States and the European Union (EU) account for about half of global GDP and a third of global trade. The $1 trillion in annual two-way trade supports roughly 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The nearly $4 trillion in total transatlantic investments directly supports seven million American and European jobs, and millions more indirectly. United States-EU flows in research and development are the most intense between any two international partners, with mutual investments exceeding $60 billion annually. Millions of visitors crossing the Atlantic include entrepreneurs, researchers, teachers, and trainees, who contribute to U.S. and EU collaboration in research and development, innovation, and growth.

    Through the Cooperation Arrangement signed today, Commerce and DG GROWTH will:

    • Build a collaboration platform based on the new U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry (clustermapping.us) and similar EU cluster mapping websites;

    • Encourage cluster, cluster businesses and supporting organizations to voluntarily register on these websites in order to attract strategic partners across the Atlantic;

    • Conduct outreach in the United States and the EU about the benefits of and opportunities for cluster cooperation;

    • Organize matchmaking and networking opportunities at conferences and trade shows; and

    • Exchange best practices on supporting the growth and development of clusters.

    Commerce’s contribution will be led by the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA). ITA has a global network of experts located in more than 100 U.S. cities and 20 countries in the European Union that give U.S. businesses access to services, such as counseling on developing an international business strategy and increasing brand awareness abroad, and connects businesses with new markets, business partners and customers. In addition, ITA provides easy access to information about federal-level programs and services related to business investment. EDA funded the development of the U.S. Cluster Map and Registry, and leads the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and by preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

     

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