Job Creation Through Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships

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 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
[email protected] 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, 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 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,, 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)

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