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4/30/10 Urban Affairs Newsletter

A weekly look at recent and upcoming events in urban policy from the Office of Urban Affairs.

Top News

The Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship: The Summit was held this week in Washington, D.C. Co-hosted by the Departments of State and Commerce, the Summit brought together more than 275 participants from over 50 countries around the world – from Morocco to Indonesia, Uganda to Kazakhstan, France to India. President Obama delivered the closing address Monday night.
The First Meeting of the Fiscal Commission: President Obama spoke to an audience in the Rose Garden this week about restoring the “pay as you go” rule and bringing down the nation’s debt. The President appointed a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – based on a proposal originally presented by a bipartisan group of senators – to review government spending and find ways to reduce the growing deficit. 

Clean Energy Leadership from the White House to Main Street: This week President Obama traveled to Iowa, Missouri and Illinois as part of his Main Street tour. He witnessed the hardships that Americans are facing from the economic crisis that plagues our nation. He also witnessed the possibilities and opportunities for growth that are happening all over the country, through investment in our clean energy economy.

Why Wall Street Reform Matters for the Middle Class: Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Tuesday for a Middle Class Task Force meeting about the need for Wall Street reform. Speaking at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin’s Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, the Vice President stressed why this issue matters so much to middle class Americans.

Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers on GDP for the First Quarter of 2010: CEA Chair Christina Romer issued the following statement on the First Quarter GDP Report : “Today’s GDP report shows important signs of continued recovery. Real GDP grew at a solid 3.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2010. This is the third consecutive quarter of positive growth. To put the rate of growth into perspective, real GDP fell at a 6.4 percent rate in the first quarter of 2009. There is no question that the economy has improved dramatically over the past year.”

Buildings Compete to Work Off the Waste: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sponsoring the first national energy efficiency contest of its kind, featuring 14 commercial buildings from across the country. The building that sheds the most energy waste on a percentage basis will be declared the winner at EPA’s final weigh-in on Oct. 26, 2010. “It’s time for buildings to tighten their belts and we’re happy to help them go on an energy diet,” said Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for air and radiation. “Cutting energy use will reduce their monthly expenses and their carbon footprint, showing that environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand.”

EPA Awards More Than $1 Million to College Teams for Environmental Innovation: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week awarded more than $1 million to 14 college teams who participated in the 6th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. The People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award competition rewarded sustainable design projects and ideas that protect the environment, encourage economic growth and use natural resources more efficiently. "Innovations like these keep our country competitive and healthy,” said Paul T. Anastas, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Showcases “Safe Routes to School” and “Let’s Move!”: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, and U.S. Representative Andre Carson joined elementary students in north Indianapolis last week to showcase the federal “Safe Routes to School” program and to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. “By ensuring children have a safe place to walk or bike to school,” said Secretary LaHood, “the Safe Routes to Schools program is helping America’s young people stay safe, healthy and active.”


Emerging Regional Innovation Cluster Strategies: The Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution recently published an article emphasizing the “crucial role that regional industry or ‘innovation’ clusters can play in enhancing economic performance.”

Urban Affairs Associate Director Alaina Beverly Carries the Message of Bottom-Up Innovation and Federal Collaboration to Buffalo: The Buffalo News covered the recent visit of WH Office of Urban Affairs Associate Director Alaina Beverly to SUNY Buffalo where she amplified the work of the White House in coordinating government agencies to more efficiently and effectively address the issues facing America’s cities.

Transportation Website Covers Administration’s Efforts to Merge Transportation and Land Use Planning: A recent article published by The Transport Politic applauds the collaborative efforts of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation to align housing and transportation policies.

Funding Opportunities

Energy Efficient Building Systems Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative, Deadline May 6th: This is the first pilot project of the Interagency Regional Innovation Clusters Taskforce (Taskforce). The Taskforce has been charged with developing a model for coordinated federal and regional efforts that foster and use regional innovation clusters to develop sustainable and efficient models for attaining national strategic objectives including creating good jobs, increasing regional gross domestic product and promoting innovation in science and technology.

Department of Labor Announces Grants Serving Young Adult Offenders and High School Dropouts, Deadline May 10th: The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced the availability of approximately $20 million for two grants to provide employment services to young adult offenders and high school dropouts ages 18 to 24 in high-poverty, high-crime communities.

Investing in Innovation (i3) Program, Deadline May 11th: The Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Program will support local districts and nonprofit organizations—working in partnership with several districts and/or several schools—as they seek to implement educational innovations with promising or demonstrated effective outcomes for students.

2010 Opportunity to Register and Other Important Information for Electronic Application Submission for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program, Deadline May 15th: Organizations interested in applying for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant program are asked to call the HUD NOFA Information Center as soon as possible to register and receive important application information. HUD's NOFA Information Center can be reached at 1-800-HUD-8929.

Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program, Deadline June 1st: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot program through which 20 pilot projects will receive funding and direct assistance (through Agency contract support) to facilitate community involvement in area-wide planning approaches to brownfields assessment, cleanup, and subsequent reuse.

CDFI Fund Announces 2010 New Markets Tax Credits Available for Investments to Help Low-Income Communities, Deadline June 2nd: The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the opening of the 2010 round of competition for tax credits under the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program.  According to CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell, “these credits will help finance small businesses, grocery stores, healthcare centers, charter schools and job-training sites and will help create, save or support local jobs where they are needed most.”

Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Planning Grants, Deadline June 25th: The U.S. Department of Education has launched the Promise Neighborhood program, the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in urban and rural areas. The $10 million available in fiscal 2010 will support up to 20 organizations with one year of funding to plan for the implementation of cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods. Planning grants will range between $400,000 and $500,000.

Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline July 16th: The Department of Transportation is soliciting application for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects. 

Upcoming Events

President Barack Obama will deliver the spring 2010 commencement address at the University of Michigan, where he will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. in Michigan Stadium.

May 3rd
The Department of Education will host a series of Promise Neighborhood Webinars designed to provide technical assistance to interested applicants for Promise Neighborhood grants. The May 3rd webinar will be an overview that will provide a brief introduction to the program. Pre-Application webinars will follow on May 5th and 10th and will go into detail about major sections of the Promise Neighborhoods Notice Inviting Applications. Registration required. 

May 8th
Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett will deliver the spring 2010 commencement address at the University of Michigan Law School, her alma matter. The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m.