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6/4/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

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

Top News

The President Visits Communities Impacted by the BP Gulf Spill: Today, President Obama returned to the Louisiana Gulf Coast to assess the latest efforts to counter the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. During his visit he met with residents of Grand Isle who have been affected directly by the economic consequences of the spill. Earlier in the week the Administration sent a preliminary bill for $69 million to BP and other responsible parties for response and recovery operations.

President Obama on Building a New Foundation and Economic Progress in Pittsburgh: This week, President Obama traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he spoke on the state of the economy and the progress that has been made over the last 16 months. In his speech, the President emphasized the importance of forging a new economic foundation built upon reform and investments in education, infrastructure, and technology.  President Obama explained that it is critical for America to move beyond what he referred to as the “pre-crisis status quo.”  “America does not stand still” he said, “we move forward.”

President Obama Emphasizes Administration’s Commitment to Job Creation, Growth: The President and Vice President toured K. Neal International, a commercial truck dealership and parts supplier in Hyattsville, Maryland. While there, President Obama offered remarks on the employment statistics released today, saying “we are again moving in the right direction. The economic policies we put in place are working.” Cabinet Secretaries and senior administration officials traveled across the country today to hold events highlighting the administration’s commitment to job creation and economic growth.

The First Lady Announces Let’s Move Outside!: This week, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move Outside!, a component of her Let’s Move! initiative at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area of Southern Nevada. The program’s goal, she explained, “is to really get our kids active so that they make it a habit of moving around and seeing the activity they need not as a chore but as a fun way to explore our country and to do some things they haven’t done.” The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service will be hosting Let’s Move Outside! events across the country during the summer months.

HUD Awards $113.6 Million in HOPE VI Program Grants: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced Tuesday that six public housing authorities will receive $113.6 million to transform distressed public housing developments in their cities into mixed-income communities. Housing authorities in Charlotte, NC, Covington, KY, Dallas, TX, Jersey City and Trenton, NJ, and Memphis, TN were each able to develop highly successful revitalization plans, including effectively incorporating early childhood education programs—a priority for the Obama Administration. “The HOPE VI Program has done an outstanding job over the years to improve housing conditions for countless low-income communities and this year, we took it a step further,” Donovan said.

35 States and D.C. Seek Share of $3.4 Billion in Race to the Top Fund: The second phase of the Race to the Top competition drew applications from 35 states and the District of Columbia seeking to win a share of $3.4 billion provided by Congress to drive education reform. Education Secretary Arne Duncan commended all of the states that applied saying, "This took a lot of hard work and political courage. It required administrators, elected officials, union leaders, teachers, and advocates to work together and embrace a common reform agenda. Every state that applied now has a blueprint for raising educational quality across America."

Christina Romer on May Employment Gains: Employment figures released today for the month of May show continued signs of labor market recovery. Payroll employment rose 431,000 over the month while the unemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent. As expected, many created jobs were part of temporary hiring for the decennial Census. Total private employment increased by 41,000, somewhat lower than the rate of increase in previous months. Since December 2009, half a million private jobs have been created.

Putting Our Public Health Data to Work: In an effort to ease the sharing of health data and improve health and the value of health care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week announced the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI), which uses cutting-edge information technologies to “put our public health data to work.” CHDI increases the amount of federally generated community health data available and the ease with which it is accessed.

FTA Solicits Public Comment to Improve Evaluation of Major Public Transit Projects: The Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration seeks public comment on its evaluation process of major public transit project proposals seeking federal funding. “Major transit improvements are at the center of President Obama’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower oil consumption, and improve our quality of life,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “The Administration is developing criteria that will appropriately measure all of the benefits these projects bring to their communities. We need the public’s input to help get it done.”


Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink: An independent, foundation-supported resource, the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink offers tools, information, and strategies to assist any community interested in participating in the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program. The deadline to submit a federal application is June 25, 2010. The Promise Neighborhoods Institute provides technical support for planning, identifying quality approaches, building partnerships, assessing needs, and many more essentials for successfully responding to the federal Promise Neighborhoods application.

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

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 16th): 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.

Upcoming Events

June 7th
President Obama will deliver the commencement address to the Kalamazoo Central High School Class of 2010, this year’s Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge winner.

June 8th
Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas will offer remarks at Changing the Odds Beyond the Borders: Adapting the Harlem Children’s Zone Model in Hungary on Tuesday, June 8th at 9am.

June 8th-9th
The Minority Business Development Agency will host a 2010 Minority Business Development Summit beginning on June 8th at 7 am at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

June 9th
Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett will speak at the Washington DC Premiere of the film Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City, which will be screened on June 9th at 8:30 PM on the National Mall in Washington DC.

June 11th
Associate Director of Urban Affairs Alaina Beverly will deliver the keynote address at the Envision Prince George’s 3rd Annual Economic Outlook Forum on Friday, June 11th at 12:10 PM.