Monday, April 7, 2014

Summer Food Service Program

The USDA is hosting a webinar highlighting the Summer Food Service Program to help end summertime hunger for children and teenagers. Millions of children and teenagers rely on free or reduced-cost school lunches during the school year, but during the summer, these students are at increased risk of going hungry because they no longer have access to the free and reduced-price meals they received while they were in school. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to cover the summer meal gap by providing nutritious meals to students when school is not in session. Free meals that meet Federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children 18 years old and younger at approved SFSP sites in areas of significant concentrations of low-income children. Most sites provide one or two meals each day, while places serving migrant children may serve up to three meals per child, each day.
State approve SFSP meal sites as open, enrolled, or camp sites:

  • Open – These sites are operated in low-income areas where at least half of the children come from families with incomes at or below 185% of the federal poverty level, making them eligible for free and reduced-cost school meals. Meals are served free to any child. 
  • Enrollment – Enrollment sites provide free meals to children enrolled in an activity program at the site. At least half of the children enrolled at the site must eligible for free and reduced-cost meals. 
  • Camp – These sites receive payments only for meals served to children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

Though this program is intended to help the majority of children that receive free or reduced-cost school lunches, only 16 percent of eligible kids are participating. Want to learn more about how kids in your community can benefit from SFSP? As part of their webinar series, the USDA will be hosting a webinar, Make your Summer Meals Site the Talk of the Town, to learn how to get more involved. The webinar will be hosted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM EST. To register for the webinar, click here

Choice Neighborhoods: Critical Community Improvements Promising Practice Guide

The goals of Choice Neighborhoods, the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative program operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, go beyond simply revitalizing distressed public housing. The program is aimed at transforming entire communities by bringing together stakeholders such as residents, local leaders, schools, private developers, nonprofits and cities to create and execute a vision for the entire neighborhood surrounding public housing or HUD-assisted housing. To this end, Choice grants provide Implementation grantees with up to 15% of their total award to create critical community improvements, projects that will improve community assets and transform blighted conditions.

The city of Boston’s innovative use of their critical community improvement funds is the topic of a recently released Choice Neighborhoods Promising Practice Guide. Boston’s grant award totaled $20.5 million, giving the city $3,075,000 to spend on neighborhood improvements in the Quincy Corridor community. The consensus-driven process Boston used to select the projects funded with these dollars goes beyond Choice Neighborhoods and is an inspiring example of city leadership and collaboration.

After receiving one of the five initial Choice grants in 2011, Boston’s mayor created an advisory committee comprised of city officials and community based organizations to determine how to use the critical community improvement dollars. The mayor encouraged the committee’s collaboration and required the group to fund projects that were transformational, had a physical presence in the neighborhood and did not replace money the city would have otherwise invested in the community.

Ultimately, the city funded a diverse group of projects that represented the interests of each community partner. Boston’s critical community improvement funds supported the following projects:
  • Bornstein and Pearl Food Production Small Business Center (aka Pearl Meats) – A former meat packing plant, Pearl Meats is being transformed into a community kitchen that will support over 50 food production businesses and create 150 jobs in its first five years.
  • Fa├žade Improvement Projects/Main Street Revitalization – The city is expanding its existing Community Development Block grant resources to improve the store fronts of local businesses along the city’s main corridor.
  • Facilities Improvements for Nonprofits – A portion of the funds will be used to rehabilitate facilities that serve neighborhood residents.
  • Community wi-fi – Free wireless internet service will be expanded with a stronger signal.
  • Playgrounds – Two playgrounds are being renovated and expanded to address the neighborhood’s limited play space for children.
Boston’s neighborhood improvements are helping to transform Quincy Corridor into a thriving community. Their diverse group of projects demonstrates how innovative ideas can emerge when a variety of stakeholders are given the opportunity for genuine collaboration.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Changing Course: Improving Outcomes for African American Males Involved with Child Welfare Systems

As the Obama Administration joins with philanthropic and business leaders to launch a national initiative designed to provide opportunities for boys and young men of color, a new Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) brief begins to examine the disparate experiences of African American males involved with the nation’s child welfare systems.

The brief - Changing Course: Improving Outcomes for African American Males Involved with Child Welfare Systems - is designed to spur dialogue and action by examining what we know and identifying promising policy and practice strategies that can help to improve experiences and outcomes among this highly vulnerable group.

“The child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems can, at their best, offer the pivotal opportunities that help young men move along the pathway to education, employment and healthy family relationships,” said Frank Farrow, director of CSSP. “Conversely, if these systems are not effective, they can be way stations on the cradle-to-prison pipeline that blights too many futures.”

With a greater spotlight on the needs of this often misunderstood population, the paper outlines a framework for action – now and in the longer-term. Specifically it includes:
  • A summary about what is known about the situation of African American males involved with the child welfare system.
  • An outline of a more effective approach for improved outcomes for African American males.
  • Specific steps that system leaders, policymakers and funders can take now to make a difference in the outcomes for African America males in state and local child welfare systems.
Published by CSSP as part of the broader work of the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, the paper was produced with support from The California Endowment and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Ultimately, we want optimal outcomes for African American males who are involved with child welfare and juvenile justice systems in the same way we do for all children. And we are absolutely confident that this is achievable,” said Oronde Miller, senior associate at CSSP. “This paper offers perspective and guidance informed directly by young African American males, as well as some of the professionals who have been most effective in supporting them. We hope this work inspires the urgent course change we envision.”

Read the report: Changing Course: Improving Outcomes for African American Males Involved with Child Welfare Systems by Oronde Miller, Frank Farrow, Judith Meltzer and Susan Notkin.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Child Welfare Finance Reform: The Cost of Doing Nothing

Why is child welfare finance reform so important? Because we want federal financing to reinforce good practice and provide incentives to ensure that children and youth grow up in safe, stable and loving families and communities.

Currently, there are numerous prevention programs and evidence-based practice models being implemented across the country to keep children safe and families together. As a result, fewer children and youth are entering foster care. Consequently, as fewer children and youth enter foster care, states receive less federal funding to support child welfare practices.

In order to encourage healthy development for children and youth, it is essential to support and fund efforts to keep families together and reunite them quickly and safely when children do enter foster care. To achieve these results, federal financing must support the services and best practices that have a positive impact on children, youth and their families. Reforming federal financing to provide dollars for prevention and post-permanency services will incentivize child welfare systems to implement best practices that support the healthy development and well-being of children and youth.

A new infographic from The Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights the decrease in two key federal funding sources, Title IV-E and Title IV-B, over the last decade and provides projections for the funding decreases if federal financing does not change. The Cost of Doing Nothing will result in this projected decrease in federal financing for children, youth and families in need of supports and services to live in safe, stable and loving families.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ready By 21 National Meeting: Speakers and Topics

What have communities learned about implementing collective impact strategies? How do we give youth not just expanded learning time, but more "better learning time?" How do we bring change to scale?

Those are just some of the exciting discussions you'll hear at the Third Annual Ready by 21 National Meeting on April 22-24 in Northern Kentucky. The Forum for Youth Investment has just announced the topics and speakers, including the following renowned thinkers and practitioners:

Readiness, Equity and the Need for Scaled Change
Ralph Smith, Managing Director, Grade-Level Reading Campaign

Pursuing Effective Partnerships, Practices & Policies
Karen Pittman, President & CEO, Forum for Youth Investment

Emergence and Collective Impact
John Kania, Managing Director, FSG
Stephen Fawcett, Ph.D., Professor, University of Kansas

Taking Proven Practices to Scale
Patrick McCarthy, President & CEO, Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Role of Policymakers in Youth Readiness
Jose Esquibel, Director, Colorado Interagency Prevention Systems for Children & Youth
Kathy Moan, Executive Director, Joint Initiatives for Children & Families (El Paso County, Col.)
Bill Purcell, Former Mayor of Nashville and Former Majority Leader of Tennessee House of Representatives

More "Better Learning" = More "Ready Youth"
Fred Frelow, Program Officer, Ford Foundation
Jane Quinn, Vice President, Children's Aid Society
Hillary Salmons, Executive Director, Providence After School Alliance
Charles Smith, Executive Director, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality

The Ready by 21 National Meeting is a great opportunity to join hundreds of leaders from across the country who are committed to getting all young people ready for college, work and life.

Want to learn more? Click here to read more about the meeting and to review registration details. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 i3 Grant Competition Launched

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has announced the start of the 2014 Investing in Innovation (i3) program. The announcement invites pre-applications for Development grant funding. With a total of $134 million for the 2014 i3 program, Development grants are expected to provide up to $3 million each in funding.

Focused on improving student achievement, the i3 program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and to support the expansion of effective solutions across the country. As in past years, the i3 program will continue to fund innovative strategies within three distinct categories:
  • Development grants fund the development or testing of practices that are supported by evidence of promise or theory (as defined by ED). Development grants will support new or substantially more effective practices for addressing widely shared challenges.
  • Validation grants fund the expansion of projects supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness (as defined by ED) to the national or regional level.
  • Scale-up grants fund the expansion of projects supported by strong evidence of effectiveness (as defined by ED) to the national level. In addition to improving outcomes for an increasing number of high-need students, Scale-up grants will generate information about the students and contexts for which a practice is most effective. 
Pre-Applications for Development grants are due April 14, 2014. Applications for the Validation and Scale-Up grant opportunities will be announced in late spring 2014. For more information, check out the ED website.

2014 Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program Funding Announced

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has announced funding for the 2014 Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI).

BCJI is focused on transforming neighborhoods of distress into neighborhoods of opportunity. Specifically, BCJI recognizes that public safety is a vital component of healthy, vibrant communities that provide residents with opportunities to thrive. As a grant program, BCJI targets neighborhoods that have significant crime challenges and strives to help these neighborhoods use data to identify the local drivers of crime and develop evidence-informed strategies that address the needs of the local community.

As part of Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which includes initiatives such as the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, BCJI recognizes that comprehensively addressing community safety is the role of the entire community. With strong support and guidance from criminal justice agencies, this work must be completed with all relevant stakeholders, including education, housing, health and human services, community-based organizations, faith organizations and residents. Together, a diverse group of stakeholders from various sectors can share resources and expertise and develop holistic, interconnected solutions to the complex issue of crime and safety.

As a key NRI program, BCJI is part of a network of place-based initiatives. Due to similarities in geographic targets and the inextricable link between housing, education, health, economic development, and public safety, applicants should develop a plan to coordinate BCJI with other existing neighborhood revitalization efforts—such as Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods, Community Health Center grants, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) funds, or a Promise Zone’s designation—where possible.

Two categories of BCJI grants are available:
  • Category 1: Funding will support communities in the design of a strategic, collaborative, and community-oriented plan to reduce crime in a target neighborhood. BJA anticipates making 15 awards up to $100,000 in this category.
  • Category 2: Funding will support communities in the completion of a new or existing strategic, collaborative, and community-oriented plan to reduce crime and begin implementation of the plan during the project period. BJA anticipates making up to 5 awards up to $1,000,000 in this category.
Grant applications are due May 6, 2014. Eligible applicants include states, unit of local governments, non-profit organizations (including tribal non-profit organizations), and federally recognized Indian tribal governments.

UPDATE - Monday, March 31, 2014
Want to learn more about the 2014 BCJI grants? The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) at the U.S. Department of Justice is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, April 2 from 3pm-4:30pm ET highlighting the core elements of BCJI, as well as an overview of the 2014 solicitation. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. Click here to register.