Job Creation Through Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships


Uploaded by whitehouse on 22.09.2011

Transcript:
Joshua DuBois: All right. Good afternoon, everyone.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Joshua DuBois: Oh, come on, good afternoon.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Joshua DuBois: It's an exciting time to be in the White House, huh?
Amen, to talk about jobs and economic recovery in
our communities.
It is my pleasure to welcome you here for
this wonderful conversation.
My name is Joshua DuBois, and I'm Executive Director of the
White House Office of Faith-Based and
Neighborhood Partnerships.
And we are so delighted to have you all here in the room and
also joining us on the live stream at WhiteHouse.gov/Live
we're being streamed on the web today.
So please be on your best behavior, everyone, okay.
(laughter)
We are so thrilled to have this conversation about how the White
House and the entire Administration can connect with
you, community-based leaders and faith-based leaders,
to improve economic development and job
creation in our communities.
We have a packed house, as you see.
And the President is thrilled to have you here.
In fact, before he went on his current trip,
I let him know that we were going to be getting together
this afternoon in the south court auditorium,
and I let him know some of his good friends,
Desiree and Bishop and others were going to be here.
And he asked me to do something, so you're just going to have to
bear with me, and I'm sorry in advance.
I've been working for President Obama for about eight years now,
and when he asks you to do something, you do it.
So if you all wouldn't mind raising your hands
like this, please.
I'm sorry.
In the back there, too, please.
Thanks.
Could you move them like this, please?
Okay. I promised President Obama I'd shake everybody's
hand this afternoon --
(laughter)
I'm sorry, you all.
I did my job, though.
(laughter)
So listen, I want to begin by thanking a few great folks who
were really instrumental in pulling this wonderful event
off, and they deserve our acknowledgment.
First and foremost, we have Jerry Flavin.
Jerry is the Director of our Faith-Based and Neighborhood
Partnership Center --
(applause)
-- at the Small Business Administration.
He is not ordained, but I like to call him reverend or Bishop
Flavin because of his great work engaging the faith community.
And he was the visionary for this event and really drove
the entire event.
We also have John Kelly.
John is our senior policy advisor here in the White
House Office --
(applause)
-- who's been working to coordinate the entire team
that put this together.
And we have other federal partners,
and especially Marie Johns, who is a great friend of mine,
who I'll introduce in just a few moments.
But also, Assistant Secretary John Fernandez from the
Department of Commerce.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Roberta Gassman,
from the Department of Labor.
Under Secretary Doug O'Brien from the
Department of Agriculture.
And Manager Tricia Kerney-Willis from the Department of Treasury.
Let's give them all a round of applause --
(applause)
-- for pulling us together.
And most importantly, I want to thank all of you.
We simply can't accomplish what our country needs to accomplish
in terms of getting folks back in jobs and developing our local
economies if it wasn't for you, for community-based leaders,
for faith-based leaders, for folks who are putting folks
back on the right track in terms of employment,
and also looking out for the least of these,
those who may not have any other source of support.
So on behalf of the President, and I don't only want to welcome
you, I also want to thank you for the tremendous work you do
every single day.
So my office, the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood
Partnerships is really designed to be a supporter of you.
Our job is to come alongside and support local nonprofits,
both faith-based and secular, in your work of delivering services
to people in need.
Now, if you don't know about some of the key things that we
do, we need to plug you into them,
in addition to the jobs and economic recovery work we're
going to talk about today.
For example, we have an office of the Department of Agriculture
that helps local congregations plug into feeding programs and
helps feed hungry kids in the summertime in partnership with
local congregations.
The director of our Department of Agriculture,
this very excited young man back here, Max Finberg,
who would love to connect with you on that.
We have an office at the Department of Education that
helps local groups connect with their public school in
their neighborhood and provide resources to their
local public schools.
And I believe we have some folks from the Department of Education
that are going to be coming.
We have an office at the Veterans Administration
where our director, right here, Reverend E. Terri Lavelle --
Terri, raise your hand -- works with local organizations
and congregations to serve veterans in their communities.
So on and so forth.
All across government, there are these small offices that are --
really help navigate the federal government for local groups,
both faith-based and secular.
If you haven't already worked with us,
if you haven't already heard from us,
we want to connect to you.
If everyone wouldn't mind taking out your pen,
I want to give you an email address.
You're going to hear a lot of things today,
a lot of great information.
But please remember this one.
To connect to our office, make sure you're on our listserves
and make sure that we're sending relevant information to you.
That email address is WHPartnerships -- W-H as
in White House -- so WHPartnerships@who.eop.gov.
Again, that's WHPartnerships at
W-H-O-dot-E-O-P-dot-GOV.
Drop us a quick note when you leave here today.
Let us know that you were at this session and that you want
to hear more from our office and we'll add you to our relevant
listserves, let you know about upcoming opportunities
to connect.
So we're here today to talk about how we can work together
specifically to support economic development and job creation in
our communities.
We know that faith-based and neighborhood organizations have
a crucial role to play in economic development.
So we want to give you the tools you need to create jobs and
business opportunities for your parishioners,
your congregations, and your communities.
Now, we hope this is just the start of the conversation.
Our hope is that you will come away from today with a greater
understanding of the Administration's initiatives
and the resources that you can leverage in partnership with us.
Even more importantly, we hope you leave here with a set of
relationships, with the directors that I just mentioned,
and a number of other folks, that you can tap into in the
days ahead.
You'll meet Administration officials who truly want to
partner with you.
You'll learn about government programs that you can take
advantage of.
And you will hear importantly from your peers who have done
this work already.
So we're excited about the conversation.
But we're even more excited about what's going to happen
after we leave here today.
Now, I'd like to introduce Marie Johns.
Marie is a wonderful friend and the Deputy Administrator of the
U.S. Small Business Administration.
Marie has been a leader on the issue of jobs and economic
development in partnership with community-based and faith-based
organizations from day one.
She has spent her career working alongside and supporting small
businesses as a corporate executive and as a civic leader.
Marie founded the Washington, D.C. Technology Council,
which also works to support technology entrepreneurs here
in the nation's capital.
She chaired the D.C. Chamber of Commerce,
as well as its small business committee.
Now at the Small Business Association -- Administration,
that is -- Marie is leading the agency's efforts to expand its
reach and put more tools in the hands of small businesses in
underserved communities.
Please help me welcome Marie Johns.
(applause)
Marie Johns: Thank you very much, Joshua, for that kind introduction.
And it has been a pleasure working with your office on
putting together what for the SBA, at least,
is a first opportunity, and one that we have been so excited
about, and that is bringing together faith leaders of all
stripes to come to the White House to talk about what we
view as your critical role in building the economies in your
jurisdictions connecting with small businesses there,
and real driving forward the agenda on job creation that we
all know is such an important one for our country.
All of us in the Obama Administration are looking
forward to working more closely with the churches and the
mosques and the synagogues and the neighborhood-based
organizations that you represent to ensure that citizens
everywhere, in every corner of our country,
know about what the Administration is doing,
and what tools we have available for you for small business
growth and job creation.
Even though on your day of worship,
your conversations and sermons and points may focus more on
social issues, we all know that we really can't move the ball
on the social agenda in this country unless we also have a
very strong agenda for economic growth that includes everyone
and not just some.
I want to give you a great example of what I think is
the power that you have and what we're hoping to connect to and
capitalize on for the benefit of our country.
I was in Chester, Pennsylvania, not long ago,
with Mayor Wendell Butler and a group of his team as well as
other Administration officials to be part of the launch of an
initiative called SC2, Strong Cities, Strong Communities.
This great initiative is the work of Melody Barnes
and Derek Douglas from the Domestic Policy Council.
And what it does is to connect federal officials in partnership
with local leaders, there are six SC2 cities around
the country, Detroit is one, New Orleans, Fresno, California,
et cetera.
And it's a twist on federal/local partnerships
that I think is very effective.
It's not a case of the feds coming in,
saying we're from the federal government and we're going to
tell you how we're going to help you.
But, rather, here we are, Mayor Butler,
we know that you have a strategic plan for your city,
and so we want to work with you to help you implement that
strategic plan.
In other words, locally led, the local vision is the driving
force, and the federal partners are there to help
make that happen.
It was a great day with Mayor Butler and his team.
But one of the standout opportunities that I had that
day was to meet a woman, Cheryl Stevens, who has a restaurant.
Cheryl Stevens Southern Style Restaurant.
Cheryl was a powerful woman, a very spiritual woman,
and I have to admit that I got teary listening to her and to
her testimony.
Because she told me about how she ended
up starting her business.
She was in church one day and she was listening to the sermon.
And the pastor was preaching about how we all are required
to use our God-given gifts to help make the community better.
And that we need to focus on our gifts and how to develop those
gifts in order to give, to make our communities better.
And as Cheryl listened to the sermon and meditated on the
word, she decided at that moment that she was going
to start a restaurant.
And so Cheryl fortunately connected to the SBA.
She took advantage of our counseling programs that
we offer in nearly 1,000 -- over 1,000
small business development centers around the country.
And through the counseling and prayer and hard work,
she opened her restaurant.
And for Cheryl, it's not just about the restaurant.
Because through that restaurant, she's now
employing other people.
She is giving back to the community through mentoring
program, encouraging other young people to look at culinary arts
as a business opportunity.
That's the power of a sermon.
That's the power of a good word that somebody can hear and act
on and then turn around and do something great
for their community.
I am prayerful that we'll have the opportunity to share dozens
of those types of stories from our discussions here today.
We want to, as Joshua said, this is a start of a conversation
that we want to continue and grow over the coming
weeks and months.
And we also -- Joshua has introduced the various
faith-based leaders in the federal agencies
around the government.
And I want to, again, salute my colleague, Jerry Flavin,
who is a terrific partner and whose hard work is all through
this gathering and we're deeply grateful to him for
his leadership in pulling this together.
I also want to acknowledge Aaron Andrew,
who was his partner in that.
And Jerry, thank you again.
Jerry Flavin: Thank you, Marie.
(applause)
Marie Johns: A little bit about the SBA.
We at the SBA know that there really aren't a lot of direct
ways that you would connect to what we do.
Churches are not 8A companies.
You don't do federal contracting.
But we do have a number of initiatives where we think,
if you had more information about what we do,
that in turn you could provide that information to your
congregants and therefore allow us to deepen our reach
into your communities.
For example, we have a microloan program that is nationwide,
which is often the very important first opportunity for start-ups
in particular to get access to the capital that they need for
their businesses to grow.
And I've got a few example of organizations who are here today
who have connected with us and who are on the path to providing
this sort of -- just that sort of service in their communities.
For example, Rob Martin, is rob here?
Thank you, Rob, from United Virginia.
Rob is working with us.
Dolores Thomas from Joseph Center.
Welcome, Dolores.
Eduardo Millet is here from McAllen Chamber.
Hello, Eduardo.
And then Tony Cara, from the Disabled
Veterans Assistance Foundation.
We're very excited about -- where is Tony?
Hey, Tony.
Nice to see you.
Tony leads the DVAF, and they are our first nationwide micro
lender with a particular focus on service disabled veterans.
And we're very excited about the work that we
will be doing together.
And then of course there's our friend Hilda Kennedy,
who I saw Hilda, who is here from California,
AmPacTriState CDC.
And Hilda really is a pioneer in this work.
She is the First Lady of a great church in California.
But her organization is connected with the SBA through
our 504 loan program, one of our largest loan programs.
And we're also honored that Hilda is serving
on our new Council on Underserved Communities.
So just wanted to point out these wonderful people to let
you know that these kinds of partnerships
are already happening.
We're looking for them to grow.
And that's the beauty of today's event.
So we have two panels today.
One with Administration officials who are going to
talk to you about the various programs that each of us have
in our respective agencies.
And then we're going to hear from a panel of your peers,
individuals who are doing important work in the community,
who represent institutions like yours so that they can tell you
what their experience has been and hopefully will get you to
thinking along the same lines.
Then following that, we'll have a breakout session that will be
an opportunity either to dig deeper in any of the subject
areas, as well as do some brainstorming.
And then we will talk about next steps at the end of the day.
So now, it's my pleasure to introduce our fine moderator,
Sheena Wright.
Sheena is the CEO of the Abyssinian development
corporation in Harlem, USA.
She's a terrific leader in the area of economic development.
She is a tireless advocate for the people of Harlem,
and nationally known for her tremendous work.
She is perfect to lead our panel because she does this
work every day.
And so we're so delighted and grateful that she accepted the
call to serve in this role.
She's a graduate of Columbia School of Law and a native of
the Bronx.
Sheena, thank you.
(applause)
Sheena Wright: Thank you.
If at this time I can ask the panelists for the first session
to come on up on the stage and join Marie Johns,
that would be great.
John Fernandez, Roberta Gassman, Doug O'Brien,
Tricia Kerney-Willis.
Thank you.
So we'll get settled.
And I'll keep an eye out for Jerry,
to make sure that we are on time.
I know we're a little bit behind.
So greetings, greetings this afternoon.
Definitely want to start off giving a hearty thanks to the
White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood
Partnerships for this convening, Joshua DuBois for his
leadership, and certainly Marie Johns and Jerry Flavin for
putting this altogether.
I was very excited to be asked to participate,
because I really feel as though this is going to be a different
type of discussion and a different type of panel.
We've all gone to lots of panel discussions and sometimes you
come away with some inspiration, some information.
But I think the goal today is to really walk away with some
practical actionable steps to implement on the ground.
This is a group of leaders who are doing tremendous
and amazing work.
You are justly inspired.
And you know a lot about what the needs are and what some of
the solutions are.
And I think this really is a higher level conversation about
how to move the needle a little bit further and what types of
strategic ways you need to extract some of the resources
that are going to be discussed here today
to move your agenda forward.
There are an enormous amount of policies and
programs and initiatives.
But the question that we seek to answer today is how exactly
do we exact what we need in order to get the work done
on the ground?
Faith without works is dead, right.
Speaker: Amen.
Sheena Wright: Amen.
And I just want to point out two more things before we turn over
to the panelists.
This body certainly represents faith and community leaders that
are on the front lines.
No one appreciates more the challenges of this global
catastrophic economy than the people in this room.
The people in this room lead organizations and institutions
that are the economic engines and life blood of their
community in many ways, as well as the major service providers
on the ground.
And so we appreciate that our parishioners,
our constituents are suffering, and they're coming to our door
step for the answers and the solutions.
So the goal, again, today is to get some munitions and armor for
the battle ahead, because we know it's going to be long and
we know it's going to be hard.
What the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood
Partnerships and the SBA has convened is really a group of
top officials in the government.
I mean, these are the folk that are making the decisions.
They're developing the programs and policies.
They know where all the resources are.
They know where all the challenges are
in accessing them.
And so they're really going to impart to us some very,
very specific knowledge about how we can work
together more effectively.
I'm going to introduce -- I'm going to tell you a little bit
about each of them and then we're going to just launch
in and allow them to let us know what specifically is going on in
their agency and what specifically we need
to do to access the resources that we need.
Marie Johns was introduced and we are so grateful for
her service and leadership.
Next on my list here is John Fernandez.
That's John.
John Fernandez was appointed by President Obama to serve as the
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic
Development in 2009.
That's part of the Commerce Department.
As the Administrator of the U.S. Economic Development
Administration, he has positioned the agency to
play a critical role in advancing President Obama's
national innovation policy and implemented fiscally
sound strategies to align EDA's resources and programs to drive
21st century development and increase job creation.
The U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of
Innovation and Entrepreneurship is under his charge,
in making smart investments that engage entrepreneurs,
promote innovation and accelerate innovation clusters.
And we're grateful for his presence today.
We also have Roberta Gassman.
There she is.
She is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and
Training in the U.S. Department of Labor.
Prior to her appointment, she served in the Cabinet
of Governor Jim Doyle as the secretary of the Wisconsin
Department of Workforce Development.
As Wisconsin's longest serving labor secretary,
she led over 1,600 employees in strengthening Wisconsin's
work force, providing training, employment and dislocated worker
services, working with employers to fill jobs,
enforcing workers' rights, and administering unemployment
insurance, apprenticeship and workers' compensation.
Under her leadership, Wisconsin received national recognition
for targeting training resources to regional industry
partnerships in areas such as advanced manufacturing,
health care, clean energy and technology.
Next up, we have Doug O'Brien.
Doug O'Brien is the Deputy Under-Secretary for Rural
Development at the United States Department of Agriculture where
he previously served as Senior Advisor to Secretary Vilsack and
chief of staff to Deputy Secretary Merrigan.
Before joining the USDA, Mr. O'Brien served as the
assistant director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
In this capacity, he assisted the director in administering
the day-to-day operations of that department in such areas
as plant industries, animal health and its laboratories.
In addition, he was responsible for developing the department's
biofuels, bio products and renewable energy policy efforts.
And then last, but not least, we have Tricia Kerney-Willis.
She is the Manager of the Office of Training and Outreach at the
U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial
Institutions Fund.
She oversees public and private sector stakeholders'
relationships to increase awareness of CDI fund programs,
and national outreach and training initiatives for
community development financial institutions at community
development entities, to increase awareness
of CDI fund programs.
Prior to joining the Department of the Treasury,
Ms. Kerney-Willis was a Vice President in Consumer Real
Estate Division of Bank of America Corporation in
Washington, D.C., and served as an Assistant VP and Relationship
Client Manager in the Community Development Division.
So as you can see, this is a great group.
They understand what needs doing and they have developed and
implemented tools to get it done.
So first, we're going to ask each of the panelists to just
provide a brief overview of some of the specific programs that
are available at your agencies that this esteemed group to take
advantage of.
Marie, we'll start with you.
Marie Johns: Thank you, Sheena.
Can you hear me in the back?
Audience Member: (inaudible)
Marie Johns: All right. I'm used to bellowing, so --
(laughter)
(cross talk)
(laughter)
At the SBA, we are -- first, to set a bit of context.
The economy, we know the story.
It's in a very trying state right now.
We are coming out of the worst economic downturn since the
Great Depression.
So we're coming out of the great recession, with a capital R.
And while some parts of the country have begun to post a
pretty good recovery, what we were watching at the SBA was how
that recovery was advancing.
And we saw clearly that it was uneven.
And so as a result, we focused on creating some new tools to
specifically help spur further economic development in
underserved communities.
And by that we mean communities of color, rural communities,
veteran-owned businesses, women-owned businesses,
Native American-owned businesses, et cetera.
So we've done a couple of things specifically.
Created a council for underserved communities that's
headed by Katherine L. Hughes, the founder of Radio One and TV One.
Kathy Hughes is an iconic business leader
in her own right.
And yet, she also was an SBA borrower early in her career,
so she knows our agency.
And we have assembled 20 terrific people from around
the country, as I mentioned, Hilda Kennedy is one of our
council members.
And they all bring their own expertise,
whether they are lenders, small business owners,
economists, et cetera.
The other thing we did was looking at access to capital,
which has been a constant lament from small businesses,
and particularly minority-owned businesses during this economic time.
We work with over 300 -- 3,000, excuse me -- lenders around the
country in our SBA lending.
But we knew that the commercial banks largely turn their backs
on small business lending once the credit crash of
2008 occurred.
So what we did was decided to, for the first time in history,
to expand our lending portfolio to include non-depository
lenders like CDFIs, which fall under Tricia's guidance,
credit unions, microloan intermediaries.
So that those lenders, who are often smaller,
much more connected to the small business community in their
jurisdictions, more knowledgeable about small
businesses, where they operate, and have a very high touch
approach to their lending style, we are now working with them and
they are part of our portfolio of lenders.
This is a new lending program, community advantage,
and we're looking forward to having these new lenders in our
portfolio really making a difference in providing access
to capital to small businesses around the country.
The final point I'll make is we are very focused on outreach.
Because as I travel the country regularly,
it's painful for me to hear how many people don't really know
what the SBA does, what we offer.
They think of us as a loan agency.
They have no idea about our -- the fact that we touch a million
entrepreneurs every year with our training and
technical assistance.
So a big part of my mission and leading the team in this effort
is to make sure that our outreach is expanded.
That's what today is about.
I'm happy to see L. Diane Bennett in the room.
I spoke to Kojik [phonetic], her aim conference earlier this year.
We want to come to you.
We want to make sure that you know everything that we're doing
so that your members can take advantage of the resources that
the taxpayers are providing.
Roberta Gassman: Great. Should I go next?
Sheena Wright: Yeah, I think.
Roberta Gassman: Okay. I'm going to come to the podium, if that's all right.
Get a little height.
When you're not even 5'1", you've got to stand up
when you can.
Well, good afternoon.
It's wonderful to be here with you.
It's wonderful to be a part of this program.
Thank you for being our moderator.
I am, as you heard, the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the
Department of Labor.
I bring you greetings from Department of Labor Secretary
Hilda Solis, and also the Assistant Secretary that
I work for, Jane Oates.
These are two passionate, engaged, committed leaders.
Our Secretary's mantra, and her vision,
is good jobs for everyone.
That's what the Department of Labor is committed to and about.
And I'm really glad that Phil Tom.
Where is Phil?
Phil is the Director, and also Ben Siegel is the Deputy
Director of DOL's Center for Faith-Based
and Neighborhood Partnerships.
And so they have been active, I know, with many of you.
What I want to just talk about a bit is comment on how I know
many of you have been participating in some
of our programs.
But I want to speak about the programs ahead that are going
to have available resources that I hope that you and those you
represent will take use of by forming
collaborations and partnerships.
And then I also wanted to speak to President Obama's
new American Jobs Act.
Because in there are some employment and training
initiatives that, if this legislation were to pass,
which we truly hope it does, it would offer some real
benefits in the area of training and employment.
And we worked on those initiatives in our department.
I'm very glad to be here with my colleagues from other agencies,
because I want you to know we are very committed to breaking
down silos, working together to advance economic development.
And so we work on that every day and it's very important to us.
So I know that some of you have participated
in different programs.
The Pathways Out of Poverty Program,
our Transitional Jobs Program.
You have worked on some of the special funding we've made
available to work on reintegration for ex-offenders
and job clubs that our faith-based folks have
been leading.
So I really thank you for that.
And in fact, in our program I know that one of the speakers is
very active in one of those programs.
And so I'm glad we're going to get to hear from him.
I had my agenda out and I just kind of lost it for the moment.
But let me tell you about some of the upcoming opportunities
where funds will be available and partnerships coming together
to seek those funds can make a real difference.
First, I want to talk about what short hand is REXO,
which stands for reintegration of ex-offenders.
And at our department, at the Department of Labor,
we have had various rounds of funding made available.
And these have gone particularly to faith-based and community
organizations to help adults and youth ex-offenders get the
training, the support, in the case of youth,
community service experiences, that will help them get on a
path to what our Secretary and we at DOL believe in,
pathways to good paying jobs.
At DOL, our Administration, the Employment and Training
Administration, is where the country's work force
system is led.
So it's a federal program that works in partnership with the
states and with regional work force development
boards and agencies.
And that partnership runs the hundreds of one-stop centers
in the country.
And then we use discretionary funds where we can to make these
special initiatives available.
So we're an important place for you.
So in the REXO program, grants have been made.
And what is coming ahead is what we will see will be a series of
grants that will make $20 million available for adults.
We are anticipating to see 17 grants that can last for about
27 months each.
And for the adult population, we would see 1.2 million available
for each of those grants.
So that is something to be watching for and the publication
of availability we see happening this winter.
That will be followed in spring by grants that have training in
service learning for young ex-offenders,
or those who have been in the juvenile justice system.
And out of that funding, we would anticipate that 15 grants
would be made, they'd be about 1.5 million each,
and they would last for 30 months.
So these are some real opportunities for faith-based
organizations to come together and go after
those opportunities.
And then I wanted to mention a new initiative that you're
going to be hearing more about very, very soon,
but the trade adjustment assistance community college and
career training grant program, through this program which was
first funded through the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act, total $2 billion are to be made available
over four years, and the first round of grants is very, very,
very soon to be announced.
And it will be very important that as these dollars go to
colleges, to traditionally black colleges, to community colleges,
that partnerships come together and that folks work with
community organizations to help make these dollars available to
advance training and career paths for workers in needs.
So that will be an important opportunity to be looking for.
And then I also wanted to mention the workforce innovation
fund, because through this fund, $125 million has been
made available, and it will go to states and to regional
partnerships, but it will be in the best interest of this
program if community groups are partnering with states and
regions in the execution of those grants.
And so I want to make sure that that is on your wavelength.
Very briefly, programs that we run that can be a great service,
the Job Corps program is a residential mostly training
program that serves disadvantaged young adults,
young people, 16 to 24, as they live on site, most of them do,
some commute, but most are on site, they get training,
they get GED work, and they get real skills training.
So I hope that you will consider the Job Corps a resource for the
folks that you work with, as well as the
apprenticeship program.
And the apprenticeship program is a partnership,
labor and management, and we reach out and provide training
where people can move into the skilled trades and other
occupations that are demand occupations.
Right now, we have a great focus and apprenticeship of trying to
focus on pre-apprenticeship, how do we give people even
the skills to be able to be successful in apprenticeship,
and how do we enhance the diversity within the country's
apprenticeship program.
As I close, let me mention President Obama's leadership
on helping to put America back to work,
and his strong support for all of these initiatives,
and the new American Jobs Act, as I mentioned,
we worked very closely with the President's advisors in DOL,
and two initiatives that we are excited about,
one is a $5 billion package called Pathways to Work.
Some of the money through that package would be made available
on a competitive basis through the states on a formula basis
for the employment of youth during the school year,
disadvantaged youth, and also during the summer,
and some would be for adults.
And then also there would be, on a competitive basis,
dollars made available to spark in communities,
particularly of areas of high need,
particular innovations in training.
So this would be bring more resources out around
the country.
Additionally included in the package and one of the programs
the Department of Labor runs in the Employment Training
Administration is unemployment insurance,
and the President has proposed an extension of
the emergency unemployment compensation benefits.
That would be a very good thing for the many people who are out
of work in our country.
And he's also proposing enriched reemployment services for folks
who have been unemployed for a long time to help them
reintegrate back into the workforce and to their next job.
And then also a special $4 billion package which we are
excited about, one is bridge to work.
I can talk about more of them during the Q&A.
But to help people who have been out of work get connected
through work experience while they get their unemployment
insurance, but to be considered employees with
labor protections, and to get the work experience needed to
be successful in work.
There's also an initiative in there to allow people on
unemployment to start their own businesses,
which really fits into this forum today that's been used
successfully in some states.
And we, the President, would like to see this happen all over
the country, where you could use your unemployment and help use
that to support a business plan with your regional small
business resource to get your own small business started.
So we at DOL and the Employment and Training Administration are
here to work with you.
We believe you are a key part of putting America back to work,
we consider you our partners.
I did bring with -- and I'll put them I think at the front of the
stage here, I brought resources that give you information about
some of the perhaps that can be available to the people you
serve, and also our website, as well as a telephone number that
you can call where we can get you all the help that you need.
We look forward to working with you.
Thank you so much.
(applause)
Sheena Wright: Thank you so much.
Roberta Gassman: You bet.
Sheena Wright: Thank you.
What did I tell you?
This getting the whole thing.
The nitty-gritty. Wonderful.
John Fernandez: I'm just going to hang here.
Sheena Wright: Okay, that's great.
It will save us a little time.
John Fernandez: I'm short, too, but, you know.
Anyway, thanks for coming.
I'm really happy to be a part of this.
And as Sheena said, this administration has worked
very hard to breakdown silos, and there's a tremendous amount
of collaboration.
And I do panels it seems almost about every other week with Doug
and our friends at Labor and elsewhere.
In fact, at 2:00 o'clock, I may have to bug out a little
bit early to do a call with Secretary Solis
and administrator Karen Mills on another joint initiative.
So there's a lot of collaboration going on,
because we know that's a smarter way to do business.
And I also want to acknowledge, you know,
that Sheena said that most important thing today is to
learn from others.
Well, I can tell you, there's a few people here that you can
really learn from as it relates to EDA.
One of them is Willy Taylor who's in the back here.
He runs the regional office for EDA out of Philadelphia.
The way EDA works, we work through six regional offices.
We're only as good as our stakeholders on the ground.
Everything we do is bottom up, locally-driven initiatives.
We don't have formula dollars, everything is a competitive
process, but it's all very flexible.
So we have a tremendous amount of latitude to work with you on
the priorities you have for your communities,
and then we can make our dollars work for you,
not the other way around.
So Willy is here.
Della Clark is here, she's in the back,
she runs the Enterprise Center, she was an EDA grantee.
I know Reverend Robert Lee is here as well, Fresh Ministries.
I think you may be hearing from some of these folks later.
He also knows how to work with the EDA.
Another thing Sheena said was, you know,
you need to learn how to work with us,
but also where the money is.
These guys got the money.
And they have some money.
All joking aside, I mean we do also want to acknowledge
Cedric Grant from the faith-based office at
the Department of Commerce.
Some of you may know Cedric.
We really do understand the challenges in the
communities we serve.
Really by law EDA works in communities that have high
levels of distress.
Our eligibility requirements are based on unemployment rates,
on per capita income.
And the goal is do help build assets in communities where you
can be productive, create jobs, create new businesses,
and most importantly create opportunities for our people.
And, you know, as we do this work, you know,
I know how challenging it is.
I used to be a mayor, and I know that people trying to do
economic development, it's always hard.
In this economy, it's really hard.
Not only do we have the pressure of just what's going on in the
economy, but trying to raise money,
the fund raising that you do, putting, you know,
all the time into that in a climate like this,
it's really difficult.
So I sincerely appreciate the work you're doing.
And our job is to be a good partner for you and to help
you do your work each better.
And to the extent that we can, we looking forward to doing
that with you.
I wanted to acknowledge, or at least use a couple of examples
of some projects that we've been involved in that maybe sparked
some interest.
One, I had mentioned, was the Fresh Ministries.
Back in 2002, EDA awarded about a $850,000 grant to
Reverend Lee's group to build an incubator,
help people start businesses.
The project has been very successful,
and I know he'll tell you more about it later.
In fact, it was so successful, this April we awarded an
additional grant to his organization to expand it.
It was a $472,000 grant.
That's going to enable them to grow,
they expect to be able to create another 100 jobs,
and create even more businesses.
And these -- you know, they're serving, you know,
a very targeted, low-moderate income folks in the community,
very impactful.
We're very grateful for the work that they're doing and glad to
be a partner there.
Another project I want to mention is in St. Louis,
it's called the St. Patrick's Center.
And unfortunately they couldn't be with us today,
but recently we awarded a grant to the St. Patrick Center for
$3.5 million for their Begin Center.
And it's a fascinating place to visit,
because it's almost a vertically integrated system helping the
homeless folks, helping folks on the verge of being homeless,
with job training, employment opportunities,
they run -- created their own businesses,
they have an incubator as well.
And it's just a real powerful place to see the kind of work
that's going on there, and they're doing just tremendous,
tremendous work.
In fact, that was one of the first places I visited after I
was confirmed in 2009 and went out there where we made the
grant award and got to meet the folks running that organization.
And it's a really powerful group.
Another example I wanted to bring up is Respond, Inc.
in Camden, New Jersey.
Had an opportunity to visit with them as well when we invested
1.5 million for a -- it's a new worker development center,
and they have an automotive technology program doing just
-- I mean, you talk to the employers in that sector,
there's high demand for those jobs.
And Respond was able to get a pipeline of community members
to train, to go right into employment.
It's been very successful.
And again, it's a very powerful place to visit.
In addition to the auto training center,
they've developed a culinary arts program that's linked to
their justice system to target recidivism.
And they've got one of the best commercial kitchens
in that area.
And they've been able to recruit some of the top
chefs from that area.
And when we were there, the chefs who were there, you know,
they're from around the world.
One of them I think is from Italy? Willy?
This Italian guy just passionate about helping people,
but also about food and nutrition,
and they're just cranking out some incredible stuff,
but most importantly, they're creating opportunities and
trying to tackle this recidivism issue.
Now, in my job at EDA, you know, as Sheena mentioned,
we do a lot of work in the innovation space.
I travel all over the country, I get to see really cool stuff,
you know, all kinds of biochemical stuff, sustainable,
you know, energy, really high tech, just wonderful,
powerful stuff.
But I got to tell you, when I visit Respond and when I was at
St. Louis, I was never prouder of my agency.
This is the hard work, and we're glad to be a partner.
Sheena Wright: Thank you, thank you so much.
(applause)
Doug O'Brien: Thank you.
And again, I'm Doug O'Brien, and I'm with the Department
of Agriculture.
And I'll keep my comments very brief.
First I want to just echo all of my colleagues here,
and thank you for the work that you do.
It's really a privilege to be with you today.
And I'm humbled by it actually.
I get to also work with these people who, like you,
are committed to serving their different communities.
And I want to mention a few people from the USDA in sort of
a transition to the second point of I just want to focus on where
are points of contact for USDA, and then I'll just talk a little
bit about some specific programs and kind of general things that
we can do to partner with you and to support your mission.
The first person I want to mention is Max Finberg who
is back here.
He's the director of the USDA Office of Faith-Based
Neighborhood Partnerships, and an excellent contact.
They have a good web presence, and for anything that might peak
your interest, please make sure to check with them.
Denise Scott is sitting back here,
she works with me in the Office of the Under Secretary.
And if she's still around here today,
she's a great point of contact.
One other person that I want to mention who was a colleague and
served in the administration recently and now is serving his
home community is Victor Vasquez who is over here.
And we got to work together at USDA for some time,
and now he's serving his community in a different way.
So it's great to see Victor.
So we at USDA, I will mostly talk about the rural development
programs, but I'll take just one minute to talk about some of the
other programs at USDA.
It's a big organization.
Most of our focus and authority is on rural places.
And that's places under 50,000, some of our programs,
under 20,000, or even under 10,000.
But actually the biggest program we have at USDA is our food and
nutrition service programs, primarily our supplemental
nutrition assistance program.
So that's -- that comes out of USDA.
Obviously we partner with the states and local folks
to deliver that program.
We also work with farmers obviously,
that's not a big surprise.
But small farmers, big farmers, and urban farmers.
Della, I just got to sit next to at the beginning whose utilized
EDA programs, she's also utilized some USDA programs
on urban gardening.
We also work with people who do conservation on working lands,
farmers or other land owners.
And the USDA is the home to the forest service who actually has
a huge footprint and has its own version of Job Corps and does
some great things.
But I'll only talk about rural development,
the missionary that I get to work with.
We do -- our mission is very complementary to all of the
folks up here, but focus more exclusively on rural places.
We do community development and economic development is one way
to think about it.
And on community development, we help small towns and
municipalities do basic infrastructure stuff.
So in most really small towns that have a sewer problem or
need a new water tower or new water system,
most times we're somewhere back there doing some grants and
loans for them.
We do broadband now, it's a relatively new program for us,
helping build out that critical infrastructure
to meet today's demands.
And important on broadband that I want to highlight,
not only do we help finance building out that system,
but we have grants to help nonprofits and communities
do telemedicine, do educational type of work,
so if you wanted to set up a classroom so that -- so that
your folks in your local community could access the
training that's only available, you know,
at the university or the capital or something like that,
we have funds that can help you do that.
Same -- that telemedicine is really a key program for remote
areas, so they're able to get to that technology,
get to the experts that might be in bigger places.
So that's a program you wanted to highlight.
Another program I want to highlight
is community facilities.
Now, while we don't have the authority to help someone build
a church, if you want to build a clinic, a shelter,
a food pantry, another -- another building or facility
that's critical to the community's needs,
that's an eligible purpose.
These days it's mostly loan side that we have,
but they're very favorable terms.
And a lot of times it's just a piece of the puzzle when
you put it all together that we can be there and help you
get that done.
I -- the other work we do is much like SBA,
we work with small businesses, we have guaranteed loan
programs, we have revolving loan programs that nonprofits many
times will be the steward of that revolving loan that will
give you a grant or a loan to kind of start that up in
a rural place.
We have sort of a burgeoning micro entrepreneurship program
that can help provide both technical assistance and
revolving loan, so all of those tools.
And I'll -- I'm actually going to stop now,
except I want to mention where can you access our programs.
Max is a great resource.
Rural Development, though, has 500 offices throughout
the country, in -- you know, in every state.
And -- and those local folks that we have out there who
actually -- and the one big set of programs I didn't mention is
housing, and we have direct housing,
guaranteed housing for both multi-family and single family.
We have perhaps for self help housing.
And our people out on the ground provide that face-to-face direct
sort of credit counseling and getting people into their --
into their first home and begin to build some assets.
Our people in those 500 offices also know these business
programs, they know the community development programs.
So they're really at the end of the days,
if you're from a rural area, if anything has gotten -- sort of
peaked your interest, I really commend you to find our local
office, give them a call.
It's not going to be too far away,
and they might -- they very well might come and see you and just
really dig deep into these programs.
So again, thanks for letting me spend some time with you today.
Thank you.
Speaker: Thank you.
(applause)
Tricia Kerney-Willis: Good morning.
Again, I'm Tricia Kerney-Willis, and I manage the Office of
Training and Outreach at the United States Department of the
Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.
And it's my great honor and privilege to be here today on
both of a professional and personal level.
And before I tell you a little bit more about the CDFI fund and
programs that would be relevant to you,
there are a few people in the audience that I would be
remised if I didn't acknowledge.
One person in particular, Mark Pinsky.
Mark Pinsky is the President and CEO of the trade association
that represents CDFI's Opportunity Finance Network.
I was so inspired last year by his keynote address during their
national conference in which he chose to focus on the importance
of the faith-based community in terms of the work in the early
history of the community development financing.
So thank you, Mark, for being here.
Also Edwin Hong who is the President and CEO of Seedco
Financial, those are two people, if there's not anyone else in
this audience, I'm sure that there are many people you need
to know from my point of view, you need to know those two
people, because they are very big leaders,
they have a great presence in this industry,
and they can probably lead you to many more resources well
beyond what we actually offer.
Also I mentioned that this was so important to me on a personal
level, because the reason why I do what I do,
why I chose the career that I chose is because of the early
teaching that I actually got in the church.
I'm originally from buffalo, New York,
and I was reared at St. John -- did someone say burr?
It's not that cold.
At least not this time of the year.
I was raised at St. John Baptist Church under the leadership of
the late Reverend Dr. Bennett W. Smith who was a -- just a
foremost leader and a pioneer in community development finance,
and I was so touched today when I saw the President of PMBC,
Carol Baltimore here, as well as Charles G. Adams.
I -- I was around these esteemed leaders as a very young,
young person, and so I'm just very inspired to see you here
today, and I'm glad that you're here.
The CDFI fund was established in 1994 as a bipartisan initiative
to increase access to capital in low and moderate income
communities nationwide.
We provide funding to community development financial
institutions as well as community development entities
in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam,
as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands.
We're able to do that by providing monetary financial as
well as technical assistance and tax credit allocations to those
entities after they become certified through our program.
CDFI's can fall under so many different categories in terms of
providing financial assistance, they can be banks at the local,
regional and national level, they can be loaned funds,
they may be micro lenders, credit unions.
And I know many faith-based institutions actually operate
credit unions in under-served communities,
so it's a great opportunity for you to do that.
Our CDFI program actually offers financial and
technical assistance.
Those are awarded each year through a competitive round
which you can apply for.
And one thing that I think it's important to note,
if you are thinking about getting into this industry,
we actually provide up to $100,000 in technical
assistance that can be used for you to purchase
new computers or to hire staff or to conduct market research to
justify why you actually should be getting and more funding from
us once you become certified.
So that's something that a lot of people don't know exists,
but it's something you can certainly take advantage of.
And then certainly through our New Markets Tax Credits Program,
that provides tax credit allocations to community
development entities that are also certified,
and allows them to then, for us, spur further investment in
under served communities by deferring the taxes on
qualified community development investments in under-served
communities for up to seven years.
So it's a really great opportunity.
But even beyond that, I'm sure that many of you are also aware
of the First Lady's Let's Move Initiative to end
Childhood Obesity.
An additional component of that is also the Healthy Food
Financing Initiative which we are a part of.
Just recently we awarded $25 million to community development
financial institutions for the sole purpose of
them ending food deserts.
So many of the communities that you serve don't even have a
grocery store within a decent radius of people to be able to
go and just buy fresh produce.
That's something that everybody should be entitled to and has an
opportunity to take advantage of.
Also, earlier this year we launched a capacity building
initiative, because one of the things that we found,
and actually OFN is one -- one of the CDFI's that are actually
leading that effort for us, but what we found was that in so
many cases, lesser known CDFI's or CDFI's who perhaps may not
have been as successful over the years in terms of accessing our
capital, need to understand and learn from those CDFI's that are
more established and more seasoned in that space.
So if you go on to our website which is www.CDFIFund.gov,
you can find out more about where those trainings are
actually being offered, they're being done around the country,
and it will continue for a good while,
so you can actually learn how to expand capacity.
And I would also encourage you to go to our website and find
out who the certified community development
financial institutions are in your communities,
who the certified community development entities are,
and contact them.
Because they have the resource, they want to work with you.
We know that communities have needs so far beyond housing,
reentry programs I think were mentioned.
Also small business lending.
So there's just a variety of issues and concerns that impact
under-served communities, and that's what our programs were
set up to -- to help alleviate.
Sheena Wright: Thank you so much. Thank you.
(applause)
Wow! I think I can speak for the entire group here,
we're really grateful.
I mean, there are a few things I just want to point out.
The commitment and passion of the people on this stage,
I mean, they believe in this work,
and that makes all of the difference.
If you could hear in their voices the excitement and
the commitment around providing these resources
to get the work done.
I want to do two things, and then I know we want to -- okay.
Wrap up.
But we want certainly to hear questions from the audience.
And we'll have -- we'll have thee questions?
Three questions.
And then also I just want to ask some of the panelists in your
kind of closing remarks if you could give a nugget,
what is a real challenge in accessing all of the wonderful
things that you talked about and what kind of advice would
you leave us with and how to overcome that challenge?
So do people have questions in the -- there's a microphone,
there's one right here.
Speaker: Thank you.
Speaker: Oh, there's one there?
And there's one right there.
Audience Member: Good afternoon. I have a question.
My question is --
Sheena Wright: Could you introduce yourself and your organization?
That would be great.
Audience Member: Yes, good afternoon, my name is Sheila Miller and I am a
member of hope Christian church in Beltsville, Maryland.
And I am -- my question goes to the lady representing Department
of Labor.
You mentioned several programs and you have a handout.
And my question is are those funds -- will they be earmarked,
when you say the money goes to the states,
because you never -- you never hear about that funding or any
of these programs when you're on the local level.
So are those funds earmarked specifically
for faith-based organizations?
Roberta Gassman: Thank you for asking that question.
Some of our funds go to states on a formula basis,
and that's the bulk of the workforce investment act money.
And in the President's American Jobs Act package,
those funds will go to states on a formula basis,
except for a competitive part.
But some of the programs I mentioned,
which we fund with our discretionary dollars,
an announcement will be made that can get posted,
it will be on our website, communications will go out.
I'll speak to that, because that is one of the challenges of how
to make sure that you all have access to learning about the
availability of these discretionary dollars.
We work hard to have a network.
Those dollars will be granted based on the strength of the
proposals that come in.
So there are opportunities, just as many groups already have
gotten funding through some of these programs, for example,
for reentry.
The stronger the proposals are, we have a set of criteria,
we have neutral people who evaluate them based on the
criteria, and then the grants are made.
So it's a combination, some are formula in that that all states
get the money, but some are on a competitive basis.
And I would really encourage you -- and I've also included my
email address, by the way, on the handout.
I can connect you with the people who can get you any
specific information on eligibility for any
of the programs.
I encourage you to take advantage of that resource.
Sheena Wright: Thank you.
And the next panelists are going to have successful faith and
community-based organizations who have actually accessed
these funds --
Roberta Gassman: Yes, and Father Greg Boyle, that was the name I was looking
for, has been one of our great leaders, yes.
Sheena Wright: Okay, thanks.
Audience Member: Hi, my name is Robin Barnes, and I'm with Greater New Orleans,
Inc., and have been a recipient of EDA funds.
Previously actually worked with Edwin at Seedco Financial and we
had SBA, Department of Labor, EDA, CDFI.
And I think it's fantastic, first of all,
that you're all here together, and that there have been a few
award opportunities, Jobs and Innovation Accelerator,
i6 Challenge, but these proposals have been, I think,
challenging, to say the least.
They've offered the opportunity to put together partnerships and
apply for funds, and when they're awarded there will
be multiple sets of compliance issues and match requirements
and that sort of thing, and I'm just wondering how as you're all
moving forward, how you're looking at possibly streamlining
some of this and making it more accessible to smaller
organizations and partners to be able to manage all of this.
Speaker: Great question.
Speaker: I get that one.
Sheena Wright: Yeah. She gave it to you, that's great.
Speaker: Like I say, we feel your pain,
and I mean that with all sincerity.
You know, the grants that were just mentioned,
they're all interagency where we have multiple funding streams
coming together.
What we hear the most from our stakeholders and, you know,
we just know this intuitively, is the federal government is
this massive institution, there's a tremendous amount
of resources and opportunities to help communities move their
initiatives forward, but figuring out how to get a
seamless point of entry into that system is difficult.
And even if, you know, we know that a lot of the work that
matters in the economy, it's multi-disciplinary,
so to try and cobble together, you know,
funding and resources from this vast government becomes
very difficult.
There's high transaction costs, it takes a lot of time,
so the administration has made a concerted effort to try and
bring together some of these funding streams when possible
to make it easier to get to a broader portfolio support.
The two grant competitions that were just mentioned,
they're number three and four in this effort,
there's other efforts going on across the government as
well that I've been involved in, and each one of them has gotten
a little bit better.
We're not to the holy grail, what we'd like to do is have
a single application, one form, one set of documents,
one administrative process to make that easier.
There's real challenges for us to do that.
It seems like it would be a simple thing to do,
but from the Cabinet agency perspective,
there's another branch of government that makes that hard.
There are hundreds of oversight committees and subcommittees of
Congress, every one of them has a little piece of jurisdiction
over all of us, and trying to bring these funds together into
a flexible pool creates all kinds of regulatory issues.
We're trying to work through that,
and we've had some strong interest from some of the
leadership on both sides of the Houses trying to enhance some of
the authority we have to make it simpler and flexible,
more flexible.
That's where we want to go.
We know we have -- further to do in that area.
Speaker: One point. I agree with everything that John said,
I wanted to also acknowledge that the SBA along with many
of our federal partners, Commerce, Treasury, et cetera,
were part of a nationwide process reducing barriers
discussion, where we met with leaders on the front line to
hear directly from you what is it that we are doing as a
federal government that's getting in your way.
And so all of those results have been compiled,
just very recently, in a report that's available on the web,
I believe.
So that's one thing I wanted to -- I'll make sure that before we
end that you know where the report can be found if you
have an interest.
And also for the -- as far as the SBA is concerned,
what we've done is retooled our website to act as more of
a navigator, if you will, to help at least those who were
interested in small business start-ups to help you move
across the federal agencies and be able to enter through our
portal, if you will, and then get to where you need to go.
Through our SBA Direct feature if you go to the www.SBA.gov and
then find SBA Direct and you input your ZIPcode,
then that leads you to all of the resources in your area that
you may find useful.
Sheena Wright: Thank you. We have one more.
I don't want Jerry to fire me.
(laughter)
Audience Member: Hi. Actually, the question is directed toward you.
Hilda Kennedy from AmPac Tri State
Certified Development Company.
And I really appreciate the work and the opportunities for the
New Markets Tax Credits and the benefits that they can provide
to communities, especially low and moderate income communities
and opportunities for faith-based leaders.
Is there an expectation that the recent round of New Markets Tax
Credit applications will -- is there a concern that that may
not be funded and where is that process?
And what's the vision for the use of those
credits for this term?
Do you know?
Speaker: Well, we don't have a concern that it's not
going to be funded.
I mean, each year our programs are up for re-discussion and up
for re-appropriation, so this year funding is slated to occur.
As far as the second part of your question,
I don't really know if I can answer that because it just gets
into a gray area that we really wouldn't discuss openly,
just for proprietary reasons.
(laughter)
But certainly, you know, to your point,
the New Markets Tax Credit is a program that actually offers
just wonderful resources, whether you're looking to do
housing development or charter schools, grocery stores,
creating jobs in your community.
It's a wonderful resource to take advantage of, and so again,
I would just encourage you to log on to our website,
www.CDFIFund.gov, and look into who your certified community
development entities are around the country,
as well as who the certified CDFIs are,
because they're looking for new ways to invest,
they're looking for new ways to partner,
and they will support many of the activities
in your communities.
Sheena Wright: Thank you.
I want to thank all of our panelists heartily for all
of the information that you gave.
I hope you get to stick around for a little while.
(applause)
And for the hard work that you do.
Thank you so much.
I think immediately next we have a panel of practitioners,
folk on the ground who have successfully utilized many of
these programs, and they have some things to share.
So I'm going to ask -- I'm going to ask our panelists to make
their way as we take a couple of minutes break.
We are getting started, we've started.
We have panelists that have come from across the country to share
with us their learnings and their good work and some tools
that we will find useful.
And I know we are a bit behind, so we're going to try and be
very focused, because your time is precious.
So I'm going to start off introducing our panelists very
briefly, and I think some of their information you can find
in the materials for today.
So I'm going to briefly do that, and then we're going to just
launch right into it.
We want to hear what they have to say,
all the fantastic things that they've accomplished.
First we have Wendy Baumann, President and Chief Vision
Officer of the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative.
I love that title.
I think I'm going to change my title.
(laughter)
The Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation is a
state-wide economic development corporation.
Her leadership ensures the achievement of WWBIC's mission,
and upholds the philosophy of serving businesses owned
by women, minorities, and low-wealth individuals
in Wisconsin.
She's the former director of the Small Business Development
at the Milwaukee Enterprise Center, and her credentials
and experiences and enthusiasm have been key in obtaining the
objectives set forth for WWBIC in developing new and innovative
models for business assistance programming
and small business development.
She also served as the Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber
of Commerce of Wisconsin.
During that time the Chamber was honored as the Hispanic Chamber
of the Year by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Under her direction the organization was recognized
on a state and national level, increasing membership by over
500 percent.
Baumann has worked at the Council for the Spanish Speaking
as Director of Development and Research,
and prior to that as a Program Coordinator for the Job
Placement Program for disadvantaged individuals
at Goodwill Industries.
Next we have Father Greg Boyle, best known as Father Greg by all
who meet him.
He has been an advocate for at-risk and gang involved youth
in Los Angeles and around the world for over 25 years.
Born in LA as one of eight siblings,
Father Greg entered the order of the Society of Jesus and
was ordained a priest in 1984.
Before founding Homeboy Industries,
Father Greg taught at Loyola High School and worked with
Christian-based communities in Cochabamba -- I hope I said that
right -- Bolivia.
He was appointed as pastor of Dolores Mission in the Boyle
Heights neighborhood of LA in 1986,
where he served through 1992.
Homeboy Industries traces its roots to a Jobs for a Future
Program created in 1988 by Father Greg at Dolores
Mission parish.
In an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet
needs of gang-involved youth, Father Greg and the community
developed positive alternatives, including establishing an
elementary school, a day-care program,
and finding legitimate employment for young people.
JFF's success demonstrated that many gang members are eager to
leave the dangerous and destructive life on the streets.
In 1992, as a response to the civil unrest in LA,
Father Greg launched the first business Homeboy Bakery,
with a mission to create an environment that provided
training, work experience, and above all,
the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side.
The success of the bakery created the groundwork for
additional businesses, thus prompting JFF to become an
independent nonprofit organization.
Today Homeboy Industries' nonprofit economic development
enterprises include Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen,
Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, and Homegirl Cafe.
Next we have Dr. Robert Lee, III.
After serving as rector of Church of Our Savior in
Jacksonville, Florida, Dr. Lee was called to establish a new
kind of ministry.
Having created the concept for FreshMinistries in 1988 and
incorporating it into a working 501(c)(3) in 1989,
Dr. Lee elevated the organization to a full-time
ministry in 1994.
It was his dream to bring his ministry out of the church and
into the community to serve all faiths and races.
His interfaith, interracial outreach unites people in need
and the people who have resources to share with
those less fortunate.
Dr. Lee's mission for FreshMinistries and its partners
is to utilize all available resources as tools to empower
individuals in need with opportunities to improve
their lives and those of their families.
Those opportunities provided through the many programs of
FreshMinistries include work through education,
economic redevelopment, health initiatives,
and housing in communities throughout the world.
Currently serving as a non-stipendiary Canon for
Outreach and Ecumenism in the Diocese of Florida,
he has also served parishes in Connecticut and Florida.
He has served as the Chairman of the Interfaith Subcommittee
of the 2005 Super Bowl Host Committee in Jacksonville,
and as a Director for St. Mary's Outreach Ministry in
Jacksonville, the Samaritan Center, Dignity-U-Wear,
Christian Healing Ministries, the Jacksonville Interfaith
Council, Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville,
Jacksonville Urban League, and the Florida Council of Churches.
Next we have Sister Corrine Florek.
For the past 31 years, Sister Florek,
an Adrian Dominican Sister, has been working in the field of
community and economic development as a manager,
educator, consultant, financial administrator,
and strategic planner.
Whether administering a 50-member craft cooperative
in Appalachia or managing an international loan fund,
her work has focused on using capital innovatively to empower
low-income people.
Corrine received an MBA from the University of Notre Dame,
and has worked with a number of loan funds,
including the Institute for Community Economics in
Massachusetts, Keystone Community Ventures,
and Women's Initiative in San Francisco,
the Adrian Dominican Sisters' Alternative Investment Fund in
Michigan, and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,
a program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops loan and economic
development grants program.
Currently Corrine manages the Mercy Partnership Fund for Mercy
Investment Services, Inc., and the Religious Communities
Investment Fund, a collaborative fund sponsored by 11 Catholic
women's religious congregations.
She's served on a number of boards,
including the Community Initiative Subcommittee of
Catholic Healthcare West Transfair USA and WAGES,
a nonprofit organization that develops eco-friendly
housecleaning cooperatives with low-income Latina women.
And then I think last but not least,
we have Theda McPheron Keel, who is a registered nurse
with advanced specialization as a rehabilitation nurse.
She holds additional degrees in sociology,
psychology, and biology.
Ms. McPheron Keel also has a Master of Arts degree in
American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona,
and has also earned Master's degrees in Community Health
Education and Applied Social Research,
Sociology/Anthropology, both at West Virginia University.
She's presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Public and
Community Health at the University of Maryland,
with emphasis in survey research methodology and statistical
database development.
In addition, Ms. McPheron Keel has founded the -- uh-oh.
Here we go.
The nonprofit organization Wind Hollow Foundation,
which focuses on American Indian needs nationally.
She teaches, lectures, and writes nationally on cultural
awareness issues, health care policy, health education,
traditional medicine, and spiritual beliefs of American
Indians, access issues for minority populations,
and community consensus and coalition building.
Ms. McPheron Keel is an enrolled member of a Southeastern
Cherokee tribe, and a hereditary member of the Lower/Poarch Creek
Nation of Alabama.
She has currently -- concurrently attended Johns
Hopkins School of Public Health with a focus on a second Ph.D.
in Biostatistics and Epidemiological Studies.
Wow. This is a great group.
I mean, I'm impressed.
We should just applaud them.
(applause)
All right.
So I think what we want to do -- and we want to try to keep it as
brief as possible because we do want to get to the work group
sessions where we can really roll up our sleeves and dig in.
But very briefly, I want to ask each of the panelists to provide
a brief overview of some of their direct experiences with
some of the federal government programs that we have heard
about and maybe some that we haven't,
and give us a sense of the type of impact it has had on your
communities that you serve.
Wendy Baumann: And I, like Roberta, am from Wisconsin,
but not every woman from Wisconsin is five foot two
and under, just so you know.
Thrilled and honored to be here with all of you today,
and I think Jerry Flavin for the introduction.
So I sort of start out the brief comments about jobs, jobs, jobs,
and jobs.
And anybody who creates his or her own job,
much less creates other jobs via micro business or small business
are truly our cities', our counties',
our rural communities', our states' and our nation's heroes,
and that's sort of the center of our table and the work that we
do at the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation.
I will talk about some of the initiatives we do very briefly.
Data tells, stories sell, and so I have to start out with
a few stories.
But if we have to center our organization -- and next year
we'll be 25 years old -- every single day with our 35-some
member staff, we center that, and what we get up and do every
single day is try to provide hope and opportunity to
individuals who again want to start a business,
improve their economic well-being,
create jobs or what have you.
And we do that through a variety of different things that I will
share with you.
I'll weave at first through a couple stories.
The first one is Daphne Wilson.
I've known Daphne now for almost 18 years.
I've been at the organization going on 18 years,
and she came very early on and came in a business incubator
that at the time we managed, a high-touch empowerment incubator
in the heart of Milwaukee.
She came in, she was an electrical engineer,
and she started her business.
We helped her get centered, we helped her create the
professionalism around that industry and around that
business, and she slowly began to get contracts and was really
being quite successful.
She moved out and moved to a suburb called West Allis,
and about three years ago, so about 15 years later after we
first had touched her as a small business, she turned back to us,
partially because of the global economic crisis,
and turned to us for a microloan.
We provided that microloan to her,
she employs about six individuals,
and we got her through that difficult period of time.
That's one snapshot.
Another snapshot is Delilah Suder [phonetic] and her
husband Dana.
Delilah's a nurse and lives in Racine,
actually one of our highest unemployment areas in the
State of Wisconsin.
She was a nurse and worked with many elderly individuals,
and she saw a niche for a business providing a
community-based residential facility, or CBRF,
within the community.
Excellent experience being a nurse,
but didn't really know how to start a business.
She went through our business education classes to get that
acumen, and then turned to us for a loan.
She opened up her first community-based residential
facility and employed about 15 people.
She came back for a second loan, opened up her second
community-based residential facility,
employed about 45 people.
Came back for her third loan, and now she employs close to
70 individuals through three distinct microloans in the
City of Racine.
It's a great story.
Third one, not all things work out or sometimes things
take longer.
This woman's name is Lisa Crum, and believe it or not,
she owns a bakery.
It's a great name for a baker, Lisa Crum.
And she came to us, again, 15-some years ago,
was a great baker and baking for the local Starbucks or coffee
shops of the world, but really wanted to have that own shingle
hung out with her name on it.
So we provided her a microloan.
Very difficult again, the baking industry.
If you know bakers, it's weird schedules, it's weird stuff,
but she was an excellent, sweet baker.
So opened up a retail shop and struggled.
Struggled for two years.
We bought from her, we promoted, she had some business education,
we helped her with financial acumen, but she struggled.
She had to close it.
She kept on paying the microloan back,
went back to doing the wholesale bakery.
Came to us again with a partner.
Could you help us out.
She kept on paying her loan, we said yes, we will.
Went into a new location with a partnership,
we provided a second loan to her.
In this case, the partners that she went with were not
necessarily above table partners,
and that business also failed.
She started paying us back and eventually couldn't.
We wrote the loan off for about $13,000.
Four or five years passed, Lisa Crum came back to us and said I
have a great opportunity in the Milwaukee Public Market.
Brand new Public Market with EDA funds, by the way, to go.
And there we thought there was promise because she was going to
be embraced in something that was already happening with 16,
25 other businesses we thought, but there was no way on Earth I
could bring it to my loan committee, much myself,
you know, look at another micro loan when I wrote off $13,000.
So we said Lisa, this is the deal.
And of course she needed more money.
So we looked and leveraged contacts and information,
networks we had in the community,
and we came back with a package where she was going to take on
and pay back that loan of $13,000.
We got her a bank loan with a co-signer.
So now five years later, she still runs Lisa Crum's Bakery,
C. Adams Bakery in the Public Market.
And if you ever go to Milwaukee you have to go there for these
great pastries.
If you were -- if I were in Milwaukee you'd all be eating
them right now.
And paid back our loan of $13,000,
did not miss a payment on that new loan,
and one year ago came back to us again for another micro loan to
open up her second location.
Combined she employs about 25 full-time individuals.
So those are the snapshots, those are the stories that sell
of weaving these programs together.
As I shared, we've been around for a little bit, 25 years,
but we started out, we were one of the first SBA-funded women's
business centers.
We were in the very first round of SBA microloan funds.
Jody Raskind is in the room today -- wave your hand,
Jody -- who heads up the SBA microloan program.
We were in one of the first rounds to be a CDFI in the State
of Wisconsin and still have that.
We have USDA funds through (indiscernible).
One program we don't, we do have some EDA funds but through a
subcontract, and one program not mentioned here today is
Department of Health and Human Services and the Assets for
Independence Act related to financial literacy and financial
awareness education, as well as the Office of Community Service
providing businesses to low-income individuals.
So we've been able to take those programs and not only try them
out but really withstand the test of time and stay in these
meaningful programs.
We've borrowed millions and millions of dollars from the SBA
microloan program, have lent it out to hundreds and hundreds of
entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the
State of Wisconsin, and the program really works.
So it is taking those different programs and pulling them
together and leveraging them.
When I came 18 years ago, we really were singly a women's
business center.
It was me, myself and I and a one-person individual,
we had the lower level sort of -- I called it the lower level,
it was the basement of an old mansion,
and I got there at a little desk and said I think we're going to
do something about it, and began to study these federal programs
and leverage them with the local CDBGs of the world and local
state funds, corporations, foundations, individuals.
So 18 years later I'm really proud to say we
have four offices.
Our budget is $3.2 million.
Our loan portfolio is $6 million.
In 2010 we had 413 live applications for loans,
we approved 103 of them that totaled 3.2 million,
and every single day we believe and we know we're impacting
lives on an economic basis.
I want to talk just a bit briefer about the SBA microloan
program specifically, but again really encourage you
to weave those programs together, and they can.
And in my years I've seen even more of those heads working
together and saying that it's great to be an SBA micro lender
and to be in the microloan program with USDA,
so you really can merge them together.
And I would -- I would think of doing that.
So the SBA program, specifically the microloan program,
you're basically borrowing from the federal government,
low interest, very, very, very reasonable low interest funds
over a long period of time, patient capital.
Loans go out ten years, approximately, right, Jody?
Some of them at zero percent, I think the highest we've ever
paid for a SBA microloan -- and we've had 11 SBA microloans --
is 2.5 percent.
So it's long-term patient capital that you in turn lend
it out on the streets of your city, county,
state or rural community from 1,000 to $50,000.
Our loans right now because of different programs are $1,000
to $100,000, but our average loan size is $27,000.
In addition to the borrowing the money from the federal
government, you receive, depending on how much you have
outstanding borrowed, technical assistance grant dollars that
allow you to employ the good people at your organization to
find those micro borrowers and entrepreneurs,
to work with them on getting the loan closed,
and to service that loan through the life of that loan.
So I just wanted to sort of make a brief piece on that.
So again, I close with thanks and I close with I know all of
you are about providing hope and opportunity.
And again, without those two things in our world we don't
have anything.
So thank you for all the work you do.
(applause)
Sheena Wright: All right.
We need to be very brief so that certainly we can hear some
specific questions, so with just about two or three minutes each,
if you could just kind of -- I know, it's tough,
we started a little late, unfortunately.
Give us some good nuggets of information.
And we have next Father Greg Boyle.
Father Greg Boyle: Thank you very much.
Testing, test -- there we go.
It's a privilege to be with you, with all of you.
I represent -- Homeboy Industries was born 1988
when I was a pastor of the poorest parish in the City
of LA, nestled in the middle of two public housing projects,
Pico Gardens and Aliso Village.
We had eight gangs at war with each other there,
making it the place of the highest concentration of gang
activity in the whole City of LA,
where we have 1,100 gangs and 86,000 gang members.
I buried my first young person killed because of this sadness
in 1988; I buried my 176th a month ago.
So we started to do a lot of things.
We started a school, and that brought gang members to the
church, and then they said if only we had jobs, and then we,
myself and the women in the parish marched to all the
factories that surrounded the housing projects in search of
felony friendly employers, and that wasn't so forthcoming.
So we started businesses in 1992,
first with Homeboy Bakery and then a month later Homeboy
Tortillas, and once we had plural we came up with the
highfalutin Homeboy Industries, as if there was any industry
involved in this.
And not everything worked, Homeboy Plumbing was not a
huge success, as I recall.
(laughter)
Who knew, people didn't want gang members in their homes,
you know.
(laughter)
I did not see that coming.
(laughter)
So now we're the largest gang intervention rehab and reentry
program in the country.
We didn't intend to do that, but we've just sort of evolved
into that.
And so we have 15,000 folks who walk through
our doors every year.
We serve the entire county of LA,
wherever there's a ZIPcode where there's a gang,
members from that gang have wandered in.
We always have about 300 employees, rivals,
enemy gang members working side by side with each other in a
bakery and a silkscreen, a diner in the City Hall,
the only place you can get food, Homegirl Cafe,
we're in 27 farmer's markets.
But it's also a therapeutic community,
which was sort of an important part that we added probably in
the last five years.
Therapy, we get a SAMHSA grant from the Department of Health
and Human Services, about a million two over three years.
It's kind of substance abuse focused for young people
recently released from detention ages 14 to 25.
We get a grant from the Department of Office of
Disability Employment Policy, we're a sub grantee that,
an Add Us In grant, it's helping physically and emotionally
disabled gang members who work for us.
And I got an earmark Congressional appropriation
through the Department of Labor ETA,
Employment and Training Administration.
I'd like to think Homeboy Industries
is a bridge to somewhere.
And then we got $200,000 for that.
But that's helped us to have our solar panel installation
training program, which is an interesting thing.
You know, I have to tell you, one of the challenges is that
we had two homies who were supposed to come with me,
but apparently their resumes were too long for the Secret
Service, so --
(laughter)
But I mention that only because they run Homeboy Industries,
you know, and I couldn't get them in.
And so I think in New York City it's something like 50 percent
unemployment for ex-offenders.
In Los Angeles it's 70 percent unemployment for ex-offenders.
If I can't get them into this meeting I don't know what hope
we have, honest to God, you know, because this is,
it's not just an economic issue, it's a public safety issue,
and we just had a court order to relieve the overcrowding in
our prisons in California, and so lots of prisoners are
going to be released.
They've been prepared for nothing in prison.
Nothing awaits them when they get out.
At least in my state we've lost our right to be surprised that
we have the highest recidivism rate in the country.
I mention that because we had the solar panel installation
training program.
We're very grateful to the EDA and the Department of Labor for
funding, for giving us $200,000 for that.
What it offers to contractors are nationally certified trained
people who know how to install solar panels.
Here's the rub: They're all felons.
But contractors need these people because they don't know
what they're doing.
They don't know how to do this.
And I'm handing them felons who do.
And so finally it's kind of a breakthrough, you know,
I think we placed 47 just year-to-date who have been able
to be hired and it's because contractors are able to finally
say, all right, we'll look past this and know that everybody is
a whole lot more than the worst thing they ever did.
So thank you very much.
Sheena Wright: Thank you.
Thank you.
(applause)
Dr. Robert Lee.
And certainly I think people appreciate all of the amazing
work and really want to try and understand better the how,
you know, what resources were you able to wrangle,
how were you able to do it and get it done.
I think that will be very useful.
And just three minutes.
Dr. Robert Lee, III: Looking for miracles, I guess.
Sheena Wright: That's right.
Dr. Robert Lee, III: Well, let me just say by way of editorial,
we have run across some of the same issues with convicted
felons, those are felonious records who we've taken through
welding programs, to others who can work and shipyards and do
like programs and jobs.
Jobs provided for them but they're running into problems
with regulatory agencies, et cetera, et cetera.
So that's collectively something that we need to work on.
Let me say that I'm really heartened to see so many folks
from the faith-based community here and working,
because we have so much that we can do.
For so many generations we didn't do it or didn't think we
could do it.
We did things out of our congregations, et cetera,
but together there is so much that we can do.
And Joshua DuBois and others who are enabling this, many,
many thanks.
We do things at Fresh Ministries in our international arm,
Be the Change International Initiatives all over the world
from health initiatives, housing, economic employment,
all of that.
But I want to focus for our purposes today on economic
development and some of the help that we got from the various
agencies and particularly EDA.
One of our folks came to me about ten years ago and said,
you know what?
We don't have a business incubator in the core city
neighborhood of Jacksonville.
And Jacksonville is an unusual city because it has --
it's very, very large.
They consolidated the city and the county years ago.
So it's a big issue.
One of the issues is there is this old myth that most of the
violent crime and most of the issues that take place in the
core city neighborhoods are done by minorities to minorities so
it's easiest just to wall off that area, ignore it,
let them take care of themselves.
And then expand and provide economic opportunity to those
outside that core city neighborhood.
And we took that on with some fear and trembling but also with
some passion and appeared before,
I made a speech before the City Council of Jacksonville Economic
Development Council that said we believe that there are assets in
the core city neighborhoods.
We believe that there are people who want to work.
We believe that they can provide a lot and we think we can get
these kids back off the streets.
Father Greg touched on it.
You know, you can't judge people by the worst thing they ever did
or the worst thing that they ever got involved with.
And if you have ever been on the streets,
and a lot of us have here, you know how they get there.
So we took that on and decided that we're going to try in the
worst part of town, a business incubator,
and we got a lot of people -- partnering is critical to the
establishment of this.
Not only with the federal government, but with each other.
You know, the faith-based groups.
For people to come into this crazy idea,
we had to have other faith-based pastors throughout the community
sponsoring it, talking in their congregations about it,
getting people to have faith in it and to come.
We had to get business leaders.
We put together a board that was comprised of lawyers,
accountants, PR people, government officials,
who could hold accountable these people in their businesses.
The SBA, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce,
the university systems, all combined to help us choose,
select people who were ready to go into the business incubator.
Then we went to EDA and Willie Taylor,
and they gave us an initial grant, a leap of faith,
of $850,000.
That was eight years ago.
And I just want to read to you now in that time we have created
1,602 new jobs.
We expect in the next two years 600 more jobs.
Over $80 million in new revenue.
And the return on that investment,
that initial $850,000 is more than an 11 to 1 return.
And guess what else?
It was all established in a forgotten neighborhood.
And what happens in a forgotten neighborhood,
when you put a business incubator in there,
the statistics show that 80% of those folks will be successful
if you do it the right way and 80% of those folks who are
graduated from there will move within a mile and a half radius
of that place.
So what happens to that neighborhood?
You recover it.
You get a tax base back.
You get people back.
You restore people, community, and hope.
And hope is critical in all of this.
Now we have people coming in from all over.
Last year we were the International Business Incubator
of the year.
This year we have a Number 1 Business Client of the year and
I'm saying this just to show you I'm very proud of our folks and
what they've done, but to show what you a community working
together from an initial idea of faith can do.
We also, on the other end of things,
created what's called the Jacksonville Hospitality
Institute and taking a page out of a last chapter I just
described, created a board that's made up of CEOs and
managers of the hotels, major restaurants, et cetera,
and got them to help us set up training programs for people in
the hospitality industry where they could come in as maids,
front desk people, concierge, whatever it is, and it could be,
and this ended up being a feeder station for folks.
Well, this has been extremely successful also.
We've graduated hundreds of people in the last
couple of years.
Until the economic downswing there was a retention of jobs of
over 80%.
It's over 60% now.
Everything is cutting back.
But we're very proud of that.
Those are short-term, short-term results of some very
intentional, very focused efforts in economic development.
And I can tell you story after story about who it's affected.
But let me say this and I just want to close with this:
We can't just look, we can't get siloed,
and I am appreciative of the fact that John Fernandez was
speaking about this, we must do things in an interagency sort of
a fashion.
I was honored to be serving on a Presidential committee in the
last few years and spoke of this to the President.
And he spoke of the same issues that Secretary Fernandez spoke
of, how difficult it is to do the interagency work,
but we must find ways to do this.
Because in the long run what we've got to do is raise up a
generation of children who have an equal chance to live healthy,
happy, productive lives.
And it can't just be economic focus.
They have got to have a house that supplies a stable platform
for their families to live in.
Yes, they have to have jobs to pay for the house.
They have to have health initiatives that help them.
They've got to have solid education where they didn't have
education before, et cetera.
This all works together.
And my goal in Washington in the next few years is to make sure
that as we take what we're doing in Jacksonville to our other
areas around the world, in Haiti and Africa and wherever,
that we begin to really function as partners,
not only amongst ourselves, but as an interagency group here in
Washington that enables us to come to a pile of money
somewhere where we have an idea that's holistic.
Not having to just patchwork different grants together.
But that's my soapbox for today.
Thank you very much.
Sheena Wright: Thank you so much.
(applause)
Sister Corrine Florek.
Okay, we just want to make sure we --
Sister Corrine Florek: I'll be short.
I'll be short.
You can leave all of that up there.
I just do better standing as well.
I'm an old teacher, you know?
I'm sister Corrine Florek and I'm a little bit of an anomaly
on this panel because I'm here in front of you as an investor.
I'm not running a nonprofit.
I'm not on the streets.
I'm standing in front of you representing Catholic religious
women in this country who have built Catholic school systems,
who have built Catholic hospitals,
who have reached out and helped build Catholic parishes.
And through their labor, through having to sell some of those
assets, had to create retirement funds because nobody was going
to take care of us and have committed some of those
retirement funds to community investing.
We put our lives on the line because not only do we believe
in charity, which our whole life was giving,
but we believe in justice.
And we knew that we had to empower people.
But it takes both.
So you have to keep doing the charity.
You have to keep doing the grants.
But we took our retirement moneys and we invested it.
And we invested it when there were no loan loss reserves,
there was no collateral, there was no track record.
You ask Cliff Rosenthal of the Credit Union National Federation
Association when we made him a $30,000 loan and he had nothing.
You ask Mark Pinsky, all the community development loan funds
that had nothing and we were their first investors.
You ask the number of nonprofits that we have invested in because
no bank would look at them.
We put our retirement money on the line.
And I'm standing in front of you today --
I'll let go of the rest of my speech --
our money came from our labor.
People laugh at bingos but they built a lot of schools!
(laughter)
(applause)
My own community is only 800 women.
The Mercy Sisters, whose fund I run, is 5,000 in the U.S.
There are 59,000 women religious in this country.
Not all of them can afford to do this investing,
but those of us who can are.
We need to have programs like the government putting in that
equity to leverage.
I'm not saying that's not an important role.
But you know where my sadness is?
That I have a hard time talking to parishioners about
taking this risk.
That I have a hard time talking to diocese about
taking this risk.
That I have a hard time talking to other levels saying
take the risk.
I'm sorry, but it's time for us to not be the only ones
taking this risk.
I want you to be talking to your retirement trustees.
I want you to be talking to all those trustees who say this is
dangerous and say how much more of a track record do you need?
I worked with Bishop McGee in the Episcopal Fund to get a fund
going in Detroit, Michigan.
The hardest part was talking to those parishes and getting
people to open their hands and invest in projects that had
track records.
Oh, my gosh!
We talk about put your security, know your treasures where your
heart is, put your security in God, not here,
and people are hanging on to their retirement funds like I
can't let go, I can't let go.
Don't let the principal erode, oh, my God, it's the golden egg.
Why aren't we saying this in our churches?
Why aren't we saying open your hands?
Yes, keep giving us charity because I know you need them to
support your churches but also look at that retirement fund,
give some of that money.
You will get it back.
There's also something that's happening right now and it says
do well and do good, you can make so much percent interest.
Oh, baloney.
Come on.
Do good.
Forget earning interest.
Yes, we do.
We charge 2%, 3% because we're looking at, you know,
present value of the money.
The reality is one of my funds is an asset allocation in a
retirement fund.
It's an actual asset allocation.
I have to meet a benchmark.
I have to meet allocations.
I'm standing up there with investment managers.
But I'll tell 'ya, who was the winner in the last
couple of years?
My portfolio.
I haven't lost a cent!
(applause)
So that's my three minutes.
I'll forget all the rest of the talk.
But I want you to back, start talking to the trustees of your
retirement funds and get them to invest in community development.
Thank you.
(applause)
Sheena Wright: Fantastic.
We could be here all day.
They're going to have to kick us out of the White House because
this is really fantastic.
And last up.
Are you ready?
Okay.
Do you want to come up here?
Theda McPheron Keel: Here you go.
And I won't be short!
Sheena Wright: Uh-oh.
Theda McPheron Keel: I'm an American Indian.
I'm a rural person.
And we deserve our time at the podium, too.
(laughter)
Siyo.
Greetings in our native language of Cherokee.
How many of y'all here are enrolled tribal members in a
federally or state recognized tribe?
That's why I'm not going to be short.
As American Indians we're still here in this country and there
is a very stereotypical belief about us.
Bingo, lotteries, casinos, oil monies, revenues.
Yes, those things exist.
But they don't fund us.
Some of the highest rates of poverty in this country or in
the world exist on our reservations.
The stereotypical belief about substance abuse, it's real.
Our worst enemy is ourselves.
Most of us don't live on reservations.
Only 30 -- 27 to 33% of the American Indians live
on reservations.
The rest of us are mainstream.
We leave the reservation, we come to a city or a town to get
a job, it doesn't work out, and we go back and we keep repeating
the cycle over and over.
We're considered transient in many tribal groups because we
travel from our reservation and then come back.
And we do it cyclically.
Around jobs.
Seasonal work.
We have a lot of issues and problems and one of those is we
have got to, as American Indians,
utilize what we have and leverage it.
We have funds, we have resources,
we have special programs that exist for our use only under our
treaty rights.
They aren't a gift.
They're our right.
It's under our monies.
It's up to us to use it wisely.
But we are very narrow-minded in the aspect that we look at just
that program and we don't look at all these others that are out
there that you saw the panelists about today because most of us
our tribal monies don't reach into the cities and the other
places we go to get jobs or where we move when we get
an education.
Most of us who leave and get educations don't go back.
There's nothing to go back to.
If I wanted to go and practice as a lawyer on most
reservations, I would have to know Indian law because we have
a different set of laws, sovereign laws.
I'm not going to go get an education and come back to a
place that has nothing for me to work at and to bring my
family to.
We've got to build the infrastructures.
As American Indians we have a culture to be proud of and most
of us are rural.
There is a large percentage that were moved to the urban areas so
there are large urban Indian centers.
Every one of y'all that are from a large city west of the
Mississippi with the exclusion of New York and Memphis --
and I think Memphis is a large city but I'm from Alabama,
what do I know?
(laughter)
We have large Indian populations in those cities.
So what I'm talking to you about today is relevant to you because
nine out of ten of you will have some American Indian people in
your communities who will come to your incubators and will ask
you how can they access programs.
They can access them just like anyone else.
They aren't restricted to just Indian programs.
Wind Hollow Foundation is my foundation that my husband and I
founded and fund and have for almost 20 years.
We work nationwide on American Indian issues in four areas:
Health, economic development, education and culture.
He passed away five years ago.
My kids were grown.
And, you know, I guess it's that middle-aged itch,
like seven-year itch, you decide, well,
you can go do some things you haven't done before.
Normally I live here in Washington, D.C. and go and work
different projects around the country.
I was asked to come to Anadarko, Oklahoma,
which has the largest concentration of Indian tribes
in the world.
Seven tribes are there in one county.
It's also one of the, listed in the federal registry and on the
ranking system as one of the poorest counties in America.
The Delaware Nation had me come and I helped them with two
projects and got them funded under the Department of Energy,
because what we do at Wind Hollow is help leverage money.
Help you develop the resources.
We help put together the pieces for you at no cost and have for
almost 20 years.
I went there and worked with the Delaware Nation and I helped
them get a grant from the Department of Energy for solar
panels on the tribal administration buildings and
with the Department of Transportation for a compressed
natural gas-powered bus that would take people in their
tribal areas to jobsites in the town.
While I was there I realized that I could take everything I
was doing around the country and bring it to Anadarko, Oklahoma.
It is a rural area that is primarily ranchers and farmers.
The peanut factory went out of --
closed down due to subsidies and peanuts being moved more and
more overseas so that whole region of the country,
Southwest Oklahoma, the Panhandle of Texas,
the corner of New Mexico peanut industry ended.
So a lot of the farmers and ranchers who had invested in
irrigation equipment to grow peanuts wound up upside down
owing a lot of money.
With the subsidies gone and no way of repaying it.
They have now experienced extreme drought,
cattle are being sold off.
The farmers and ranchers in our area have gone by census data
from $50,000 a year profit to less than $15,000 a year being
the average income there.
And those are the nonIndians.
The Indians are worse.
There was a factory there that made carpet.
They outsourced and went overseas.
The town is dying.
The oil industry, despite what we're paying at the pumps,
it's in a decline.
So the whole area is in a decline.
It's not just tribal people.
But it's a rural area.
We don't have transportation.
We don't have street corners that much.
A lot of the things that you use in your programs we don't have.
So we have a different perspective.
And that was why I went to Anadarko.
I took everything I knew, pulled up roots,
went down to Anadarko and put Wind Hollow in there.
I hired local people.
I bought a building for $1, it was hit by a tornado.
There was some damage.
They had to pick up pieces of it, but we put it back together.
Local workers.
The people who couldn't get jobs.
When y'all talk about felons and people who can't get jobs,
that's what we target.
Because a large percentage of our people have records.
And they can't get jobs.
If there are jobs they would go to people who didn't have
records there.
So the ones who have come back and they have no other place to
go because they have to go home back to their tribe,
that's the only choice they have.
We have 60% unemployment or more.
And that's normal people.
So Wind Hollow went there and I went there 18 months --
about two years ago.
Last spring, the Department of Human Services,
the State of Oklahoma, came to us and said we have a lot of
chronically unemployed people, the state got some stimulus
money, would you take some of our work,
some of these people under a work program.
Go to work for you.
Because we had just finished the building and opened it,
the office building that I got for a dollar.
I said, sure!
I could use two or three people.
I wound up with 139.
(laughter)
Needless to say, we were overwhelmed.
But we took those stimulus dollars and we put
people to work.
But we did it with a difference.
My background is social science and rehab.
We put in where if you came to us and you were under court
order or you had counseling sessions or substance abuse
problems, we let you off work to go to those meetings.
We helped support you in them.
We helped with networking the community.
There are 34 organizations we have networked into helping on
our projects and programs.
We took that stimulus funding and put those 139
people to work.
And we have handouts down here that y'all can get and read and
see how we did it.
And used that one source of funding and developed those jobs
to where we took the training program,
the city gave us some old houses to tear down that were
condemned, there are 400 in the town of Anadarko alone that are
condemned and derelict and in need of being torn down and the
people don't have the money to do it nor does the town.
The town is 6,000 people.
So we put our people to work doing that.
We found out, guess what?
Seems there is things like asbestos,
mold and lead paint and we couldn't meet OSHA and EPA
requirements, so we had to develop training and go out and
get OSHA-level training brought in to train our workers to go in
and tear down these houses.
Well, we found out there's no one really doing that under
these certifications in our area!
So we built in a training program.
We've trained 90 people now in asbestos removal.
Approximately 30 in lead-based paint removal.
We've got 17 through the mold certification and fixin' to take
the BU class.
The people that are with us we asked to stay a year to go
through all the training and get their certifications which they
own and can take with them anywhere and get a job.
We found out with this, because of their felony convictions
and all or other things, most of our people are under DUIs,
driving under the influence, and that's what their criminal
record is and sometimes it's repetitive.
So we started a company of our own to put them to work,
a for-profit company.
We're now woman owned, American Indian owned, minority,
small business, HUB based zone, economically disadvantaged,
Enterprise, I fit every profile there is but a veteran.
And I just ain't had time to go join anything yet.
(laughter)
And we're now fixin' to take 35 of those workers within the
coming year and put them to work at federal wage level on
military bases.
(applause)
We're fixin' to take the next intake of workers into our
program for the year cycle.
We've networked with the tribes and while we were doing all
this, true to my background, I did a survey.
And since I have the qualifications to interpret the
data, I came up with this: There were 84 people in our small
community that filled out our questionnaire when we asked them
would they be interested in a small business.
And most of them already had one.
Because what they were doing was out of their house.
And most of it was women supporting their families and
children and their family members working with them making
food stuffs, selling in the area as tribal people at powwows and
also in regalia.
You all know what regalia is?
That's what y'all expect us to look like with the feathers and
the bustles and all.
(laughter)
Well, that's what they were making.
We make and sell it.
And so they were selling that, too.
And then we had other businesses,
like we have nonIndians as well.
Upholstery company that needed help.
Other things that if they had a little impetus,
people told us that for as little as $300 and a sewing
machine, because theirs was broke, they could make a living.
Not rich; just make a living.
So we set down and went to work and we wrote a grant with the
USDA and we're funded for a small business incubator.
And we took those 84 and we started working with them.
We then wrote another grant for a rural business enterprise
grant that we were funded for from USDA,
we're putting in a commercial kitchen now so they can produce
and sell those foods because they can't sell them under the
new laws without having a commercial kitchen.
We're partnered with Oklahoma University in designing that.
And Oklahoma State University in providing the health laws
training and compliance issues that are needed.
We also wrote and were funded -- and by the way,
we're doing this as a nonprofit, not as a tribe.
I am not a tribe.
It's just me; I'm the Indian.
We're doing it as a competitive grant system.
We were funded under the Department of Justice for a
second chance reentry program and then we partnered with the
WIA programs, work incentive action programs,
and put people to work.
We then took that and saw that our opportunity also,
because we were working with OSHA standards and others,
we wrote a grant and got partnered with the EPA to where
we're providing training to local contractors to get them to
the level that they are the supervisory staff and can
oversee our workers and hire them when we finish training
them because we can't hire every one ourselves.
And we've done all of this in 18 months.
(applause)
So I want to leave you with one word: Leverage!
Leverage.
Thank y'all.
(applause)
Sheena Wright: Thank you all so much for your vision, your commitment,
your innovation, your courage.
We are grateful.
For the folk in this room who have some similar experiences,
I think this has been a great opportunity to hear and learn
from one another so that we can continue to do the work
on the ground.
I don't think we have time for any questions.
Joshua DuBois: You know what?
I don't think we do either.
But just kind of an announcement here.
We're going to be breaking right now and we're going to move in
to the breakout rooms.
And all these wonderful people, and I think they did a
terrific job.
Let's hear it for them again.
Sheena Wright: They did.
(applause)