8/13/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

Top News

The President Speaks on Higher Education, Lifting Graduation Rates in Austin, TX: President Obama traveled this week to the University of Texas at Austin to speak on his commitment to improving the American education system and raising graduation rates. Over the course of a generation, the United States fell from first to 12th place in college graduation rates for young adults. In his speech the President touched on initiatives like Race to the Top and eased access to Pell Grants that help make college more attainable for every American. “If we’re serious about making sure America’s workers, and America itself, succeeds in the 21st century, the single most important step we can take…is to make sure that every one of our young people…has the best education that the world has to offer.”

President Obama Signs the Manufacturing Enhancement Act: The President, this week, signed the Manufacturing Enhancement Act, which will help American companies grow and hire in the manufacturing sector. The act reduces or suspends tariffs that American companies pay on materials for products they manufacture, thereby lowering costs for American businesses and prices for American consumers. Speaking at the bill signing, President Obama said “I’m more determined than ever to do every single thing we can to hasten our economic recovery and get our people back to work.  So that’s why I’m pleased today to sign into law a bill that will strengthen American manufacturing and American jobs.” The manufacturing sector lost 3,864,000 between 2000 and 2008 but has gained 183,000 jobs already this year.

Administration Announces Additional Foreclosure Support for Unemployed Homeowners: The Obama Administration, this week, announced two targeted foreclosure-prevention programs to help homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments due to unemployment. The U.S. Department of the Treasury will make $2 billion of additional assistance available through the Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest Hit Housing Markets. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to launch a complementary $1 billion Emergency Homeowners Loan Program to provide assistance to homeowners at risk of foreclosure due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition.

Secretary Duncan Applauds Congress for Supporting 160,000 Education Jobs Nationwide: This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to provide $10 billion to support an estimated 160,000 education jobs nationwide. The $10 billion fund will support education jobs in the 2010-11 school year. Speaking on the bill passing, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “with the support of the jobs bill, these educators will be helping our children learn instead of looking for work. This is the right thing to do for our children, for our teachers, and for our economy."

EPA Announces $200,000 in Environmental Justice Grants for Affected Gulf Communities: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting proposals for projects that will support the protection of human health and the environment in communities affected by the BP oil spill. The grant program will provide funding to help develop educational materials on what seafood is safe to eat, what to do if exposed to oil, and how to address and adapt to the spill’s long-term effects. The funding, which will go directly to local organizations, will help to ensure that information is distributed through trusted networks of communication and from organizations that will continue to support efforts to rebuild in the wake of disaster.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $1.6 Billion in 2010 Census Savings: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced this week that the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau is returning $1.6 billion in 2010 Census operational savings. In a time of tightened federal resources, the Census came in 22 percent under budget primarily because funding set aside for disasters or major operational failures was not tapped and because both the Census questionnaire mail-back response rate and workforce productivity across field operations beat expectations. “Over the last 17 months, we have worked tirelessly to ensure American tax dollars were being spent wisely…With proficient management, the cooperation of the American public and a little bit of luck, the Census stayed on track with significant cost savings to taxpayers,”  Secretary Locke said.

HHS Announces Availability of $250 Million in Health Center New Access Point Grants: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $250 million in grants for New Access Points, sites that will improve delivery of primary health care services to underserved and vulnerable populations.  The grant program, funded by the Affordable Care Act, will open new full-time sites that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care services and will help decrease health disparities for medically underserved populations. “These funds reflect the Administration’s steadfast commitment to improving and expanding access to vital primary health care services,” Secretary Sebelius said. “From our cities to our smallest towns, each health center has an important role to play, ensuring access to services in its community.”

Featured

Forbes Magazine, Obama's Goal for Higher Education: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote this week in Forbes Magazine on the Administration’s focus on improving education and the role of innovation in reaching that goal. “In the era of the knowledge economy, innovation and institutional accountability are the twin paths forward to revitalizing American competitiveness. Colleges and universities should be developing and expanding evidence-based practices to increase access to college, accelerate learning and support success in the workplace and life, even if doing so means moving past traditional methods of scheduling, structuring classes and 20th century academic programs in need of modernization,” Secretary Duncan writes.

Funding Opportunities

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Pre-Notice: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posted the Choice Neighborhood FY 2010 Notice of Funding Availability Pre-Notice to give potential applicants guidance prior to the actual Choice Neighborhoods funding notice that will be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program. 

Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline August 23: The Department of Transportation is soliciting applications for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects.

Sustainable Communities Grants, Deadline August 23: The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development have joined together to award up to $75 million in funding–$35 million in TIGER II Planning Grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants–for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development.

HUD Sustainable Regional Planning Grant, Deadline August 23: The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for their $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. The program is designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and building a clean energy economy. The grant is part of the DOT, HUD, EPA partnership.

EDA Innovation in Economic Development Competition, Deadline August 27: The Economic Development Administration announced funding for projects that advance innovation, boost competitiveness, and create jobs. Grants will be given to innovations in commercialization, regional innovation clusters, global export promotion, and green technology.

Upcoming Events

August 17th —President Obama will travel to Seattle, WA Tuesday where he will talk about strengthening the economy and creating jobs for the families and businesses of Washington State.

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