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5/28/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

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

Top News

Remarks by President Barack Obama After Briefing on BP Oil Spill: Today, President Obama traveled to Louisiana to review the efforts underway to respond to the BP Oil Spill and to lend support to the region. He delivered the following remarks: “Now, our mission remains the same as it has since this disaster began, since the day I visited Louisiana nearly four weeks ago:  We want to stop the leak; we want to contain and clean up the oil; and we want to help the people of this region return to their lives and their livelihoods as soon as possible.”

President Obama on the Economy and Innovation in Fremont, CA: This week, President Obama traveled to Fremont California where he toured the Solyndra facility-- solar panel manufacturer that received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The President stressed the importance reviving our economy by spurring innovation and creating new manufacturing jobs.  “We’ve got to go back to basics.  We’ve got to go back to making things.” President Obama explained.

President Obama Calls for Small Business Jobs Package: In recognition of Small Business Week, President Obama honored Small Business Owners of the Year and called on Congress to pass a small business jobs package that will increase access to capital and encourage new hiring. “It’s about unleashing the great power of our economy and the ingenuity of our people,” President Obama explained.

Vice President Biden on Employment and the Recovery Act: This week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report on the employment impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and found that ARRA was responsible for as many as 2.8 million jobs.  Vice President Joe Biden issued the following statement on the implications of report for job creating investments.

The First Lady’s Tells Detroit “I’m looking at our future right now”: First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Detroit, Michigan this week as part of an ongoing effort to foster mentorship opportunities for young people.  “I am here because I know something that I want everyone in America to know -- that there is a brighter, better future ahead for Detroit, for Michigan, for America,” Mrs. Obama said, “I know this -- because I’m looking at our future right now.”

Driving Solutions and Rewarding Results Through the Social Innovation Fund Program: Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service announced the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) program in a recent blog post on  Managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the SIF fund “represents an extraordinary opportunity to drive results-oriented responses to critical social challenges, stimulate innovation in the non-profit sector, and support community-led approaches.”

Secretary Duncan on Education Scores in our Nation’s Largest Cities: U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued a statement on the release of the 2009 Trial Urban District Assessment, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.  “Today’s report shows that the reading achievement of students in our largest cities has increased over time. At the same time, the results also show that cities have significant work to do. The increases since 2007 weren’t statistically significant in 4th grade. The overall scores of cities are lower than the nation, and the achievement gap in the urban districts is larger than in a nation.”

Historic High-Speed And Inter-City Passenger Rail Is On The Way: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that nearly $80 million in grants have been delivered to states as part of President Obama's historic high-speed and intercity passenger rail program.  The President's vision for high-speed rail will forever change the way Americans travel by offering new transportation options,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “The grants released today are merely the very beginning of many more to follow.”


Washington Post Op-ed: “How to prevent huge teacher layoffs”: Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors Christina Romer penned an op-ed addressing the importance of pending legislation that would enable communities to keep teachers in classrooms and avoid drastic lay-offs.  “The emergency spending bill before the House would address the education crisis facing communities across America — and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers are at stake.”

Community Foundations Applaud and Support the Social Innovation Fund: The Council on Foundations released a letter signed by more than 130 heads of community foundations from across the country in support of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF).  The letter commends President Obama for recognizing “the key role community foundations play in creating innovation and impact for a better tomorrow in our hometowns.”

Funding Opportunities

New: 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, to be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program.

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. More here.

CDFI Fund 2010 New Markets Tax Credits 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.” 2010 NMTC Electronic Allocation Application Now Available.

Commerce Announces New Innovation Competition - the i6 Challenge, Deadline June 15th: The Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new $12 million innovation competition - the i6 Challenge. The program, administered in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), seeks the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. EDA expects to award up to $1 million in each of its six regions, while NSF and NIH will award up to $6 million in additional funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees that are associated with winning teams.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 August 23 (Pre-Application July 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

June 1st
Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas will speak at the White House Conference on Economic Opportunity and Security for Vulnerable Communities: Building Partnerships to Fight Poverty on Tuesday, June 1st from 1-5pm.

First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada where she will help launch Let’s Move Outside! – an Administration effort to promote outdoor physical activity for children and families in America’s great outdoors.  Further details about this trip will be released in the coming days.