Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2014 Byrne Criminal Justice Grantees Announced

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the 2014 ByrneCriminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) grantees. With more than $7 million in awards, the 17 communities will use the funding for data-driven strategies to reduce crime and violence within their neighborhoods impacted by persistent violent and serious crime.

The 17 grantees include:
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida
  • Maine South Community Development Corporation, Massachusetts
  • Kettering University, Michigan
  • City of New Haven, Connecticut
  • County of Alameda, California
  • City and County of Denver – Denver Policy Department, Colorado
  • City of Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Colorado
  • Northwest NJ Community Action Partnership, Inc., New Jersey
  • Urban League of Essex County, New Jersey
  • City of Durham, North Carolina
  • City of Battle Creek, Michigan
  • City of Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Rockdale County, Georgia
  • City of Huntington/Huntington Policy Department, West Virginia
  • Board of Highlight County Ohio Commissioners, Ohio
  • Coahoma, County of – Sheriff’s Office, Mississippi 

BCJI awards are made to cross-sector partnerships in each city to establish a team of community partners made of law enforcement, neighborhood residents, a local research partner, and relevant community stakeholders that can design a collaborative, community-oriented plan to reduce crime within their neighborhood. Engaging stakeholders from various sectors can, together, share resources and develop comprehensive, interconnected solutions to the complex issue of crime and safety.

As mentioned in the announcement, BCJI is part of the Obama Administration’s Promise Zones Initiative, a part of federal government's commitment to invest in and partner with high-poverty urban, rural, and tribal communities to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, and reduce violent crime.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The 2013 Supplemental Poverty Measure

The Census Bureau recently released the 2013 poverty rate based on an alternative measure of poverty, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). In 2013, the supplemental poverty measure found that 15.5 percent of people are living in poverty, compared to 16 percent in 2012. Children were found to have a supplemental poverty rate of 16.4 percent compared with 20.4 percent using the official measure. The SPM found that adults over 65 have a poverty rate of 14.6 percent compared with 9.6 percent using the official measure.

The SPM differs from the current poverty measure because it takes into account the impact of non-cash benefits, necessary expenditures for families and geographic location. Though the official U.S. poverty measure is updated annually to adjust for inflation, it provides an absolute definition of poverty, with families either defined as living in poverty or above it. Alternatively, the SPM provides a detailed look into the lives of families living in- or near - poverty and provides information on the effectiveness of safety-net programs.

The SPM takes into account factors including:
  • unrelated people (like foster children and unmarried partners);
  • information on what people spend today for basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities;
  • housing costs, including related factors such as geographic location, if a family pays a mortgage, rents or owns their home; and 
  • non-cash benefits from the government that help families meet their basic needs, while subtracting expenses, such as health care, taxes, commuting costs, etc. 

The SPM also provides important information demonstrating the success of government benefits in keeping millions of families out of poverty. By including taxes, benefits, and other necessary expenses, the SPM provides information on what resources people need to make ends meet and measures the resources that are currently in place.

The findings from the SPM show how Social Security, refundable tax credits, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are three programs that have a strong impact on the lives of low-income people. Without Social Security, the supplemental poverty rate would be 24.1 percent compared to the current rate of 15.5 percent – a significant 8.6 percent higher. Refundable tax credits also demonstrate a significant benefit to children, reducing the supplemental rate of poverty by 3 percent across all age groups and doubles for children with a reduction of 6.4 percent. These numbers are clear - government programs alleviate poverty and can improve the quality of life for low-income families and children.

For more information on the Supplemental Poverty Measure, read the full report here.

To read our blog post on the 2013 Census Poverty Data, click here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Upcoming Webinar: Empowering Low-Income Families through Financial Literacy and Asset-Building

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has partnered with the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to host a webinar about financially empowering low-income families. The webinar will showcase a number of free online resources that you can use to assist the low-income families that you serve to improve their financial futures.
Presenters will include:

·    Louisa M. Quittman, Director of Financial Education at the Office of Consumer Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury

·    Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of Outreach and Program Development, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

·    Desmond F. Brown, Program Specialist, Financial Empowerment, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

·    Gretchen Lehman, Program Manager, Assets for Independence, Office of Community Services, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The webinar will take place on Thursday, November 13th at 1:30 PM EST.  You can attend the presentation by clicking here shortly before the webinar.  (Note: this link will not be available until 15 minutes prior to this webcast)

The presentation will also be archived and will be available in HUD’s Webcast Archives.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Living Cities Improves Usability of Resources

Living Cities works with twenty two of the largest foundations and financial institutions as well as cross-sector leaders in cities "to develop and scale new approaches to dramatically improve the economic well-being of low-income people" through investments, research, networks, and convenings. The organization launched new website upgrades, including a search bar that allows users to easily target their search and access content from the website.

As a resource that aims to create open source space to leverage knowledge sharing for social change, the website provides real-time articles, reports, videos and toolkits from others working on similar issues. New features allow users to shape the conversation and the usage of terms. A user can click on a term framed in an orange ‘definition box’ within the article to clearly define or add context to the terms Living Cities uses to write and talk about their work, allowing for an inclusive community approach to ongoing dialogue. Issues range from concrete to more theoretical topics, from lessons for helping formerly incarcerated Americans access quality jobs to reimagining the civic infrastructure that brings different sectors together to address complex social problems. The variety of resources serve to expand collaboration among organizations working at different levels and areas of social change.

To learn more, visit LivingCities.Org

Monday, October 20, 2014

The National Endowment of the Arts Invites Creative Placemaking Proposals

Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts' (NEA) annual program to support creative placemaking projects that “contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core.” Grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 are available for projects in arts engagement, cultural planning, design and - a new category this year - projects that build knowledge about creative placemaking.

To be eligible for arts engagement, cultural planning and design grants, Our Town proposals must come from a partnership with two lead organizations—a nonprofit organization and local government entity. One of the primary partners must be an arts or design organization. Additional partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors are encouraged. Only one project per local jurisdiction can be submitted, and the application must include an endorsement level from the highest ranking official of local government. To watch a pre-recorded grant guidelines webinar on Arts Engagement, Cultural Planning, and Design Projects, click here. To learn more about past grant recipients, click here.

The new project category - building knowledge about creative placemaking - is being piloted to "expand the capacity of artists and arts organizations to work more effectively with economic and community development practitioners, and vice versa, to improve the livability of the communities and create opportunities for all." To be eligible, applicants in this category must include a partnership between an art-based membership organization and a place-based knowledge consultant/organization. To watch a pre-recorded grant guidelines webinar on Projects that Build Knowledge About Creative Placemaking, click here.

For more information about the two-part application process, click here. Basic information about your organization and project are due by December 15, 2014 through Between January 8 and January 15, 2015, the second part of your application must be submitted through the NEA online grants system. For more information on all aspects of the Our Town program, click here.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Now Accepting Applications for Public Art Challenge

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced that they will be awarding grants of up to one million dollars over 2 years to at least three cities for temporary public art projects that will achieve the following outcomes for a city:
  • Celebrate creativity
  • Enhance urban identity
  • Encourage public-private partnerships
  • Drive economic development 
Eligible cities much have 30,000 or more residents and the application has to come from the Mayor or the Chief Executive of the host city in collaboration with artists or a local art organization. Initial applications are due on December 15, 2014. Once the finalists are selected, they will be notified in February 2015 and will be asked to submit a full, detailed proposal. You can access more information and the online application here.

The Public Art Challenge is part of Bloomberg’s commitment to supporting the arts, which also includes their involvement in ArtPlace, an initiative we posted about last month that supports art as a powerful economic force in community development. Recognizing the decline in funding for the arts by both the government and private funding sources, Bloomberg Philanthropies has taken on the arts as a cornerstone of their work and provides grants and support to cultural organizations hoping to improve their operations and access to sustainable funding sources.

My Fresh Page Project Offers a Chance to Win up to $5,000 for a Community Project

My Fresh Page Project, a national contest run by the YMCA of USA, is accepting entries from individuals and groups to submit a project geared toward improving your community. The Y is a national nonprofit that offers a variety of social services including fitness classes, affordable afterschool care, financial assistance and more. The contest intends to inspire community members to imagine big and small ways to help a community. Submission entries range from community art centers, to mentor programs, to health education classes, to many more fresh ideas.

Community members from across the nation will be able to vote for their favorite idea once a day, now through October 24, 2014.

Seventeen semi-finalists will be chosen based on participants that receive the most votes during the voting period. From those 17 Submissions, a panel of judges from YMCA of USA will then review the entries with the most votes and select ten winners to receive prize money designed solely for the completion of the project in the winning submission. Three (3) Winning Participants will be awarded $5,000, three (3) Winning Participants will be awarded $1,000 and four (4) Winning Participants will be awarded $500, for the completion of their projects.

The judging criteria are as follows:
  • merit
  • creativity
  • communication of the Contest theme
  • appropriateness of project, and
  • whether the Submission adheres to these Rules

Visit the website to learn more, submit a project, or vote for your favorite idea. The Winning Participants will be announced by October 31, 2014.