DeltaVision TV Show Features Mississippi Governor Barbour
Delta Region - The newest episode of DeltaVision kicks off with a one-on-one interview with Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Barbour candidly discusses the challenges that lay ahead in education and business development for the Delta Region.
“Our businesses in the Delta, or anywhere else, have three choices: They can innovate, they can immigrate, or they can evaporate,” states Barbour. The governor also brings up the issue of education. “K-12 is important, but we also need to look into pre-school and college education and workforce training.”
Also in this episode, DeltaVision journeys through Mississippi to explore the fascinating life of Tennessee Williams and to hear blues artist Cassandra Wilson performing music from her latest album, Belly of the Sun, in Clarksdale.
Finally, DeltaVision navigates the Arkansas byways to introduce viewers to hometown hero, Princella Smith of Wynne, who encouraged young people to become part of “Generation X-ample” in her essay that won first prize in MTV’s Stand Up and Holla essay contest.
In “Profiles of Progress,” DeltaVision profiles Beacons and Bridges of Jonesboro, Arkansas. This faith-based organization works to promote homeownership, entrepreneurship, and community engagement.
Watch DeltaVision online at www.msdi.org/delta_vision.
DeltaVision requires Window Media Player. If you don't have Windows Media Player, click here to download the free player.
$8 Million Policy Success Funds Continuing Education for Low-Income Adults
Little Rock, February 10 - The Arkansas Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA) Board has allocated $8 million to replicate Southern Good Faith Fund’s Career Pathways pilot program at nine other community colleges in Arkansas. Career Pathways is a nationally-recognized strategy to help low-income adults access a pathway of continuing education opportunities leading to college credentials up to an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree.
The TEA Board proposal emerged as part of a National Governors Association Policy Academy. Arkansas was the only southern state selected to participate in the policy academy focusing on improving access to and completion of college among low-income adults. Southern Good Faith Fund worked with the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office to apply for and manage Arkansas’ participation in the academy.
Participating colleges will use funds to cover tuition and child care expenses for the eligible population -- low-income adults, offer more evening and weekend courses and redesign these courses to improve student retention and completion. Learn more at www.goodfaithfund.org.
PolicyLink Connects with Mid South Delta Initiative
Greenville, MS - On February 8, representatives of PolicyLink met with Mid South Delta Initiative members to outline a plan for identifying and responding to policy opportunities that would benefit the region. PolicyLink is a national, nonprofit, advocacy organization based in Oakland, CA. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has enlisted PolicyLink to look for links between the work of MSDI participants and policy efforts in the region.
Joe Brooks, PolicyLink Vice President for Civic Engagement and project director for the Mid South Delta work, explains: "We want to understand how efforts are working. Is an effort successful because it offers more flexible resources than are currently available from state or federal government? Did [organizations] develop new methods and practices for reaching out and connecting people to the help they need? Are groups of organizations entering into partnerships to combine resources and serve larger numbers of people more efficiently across larger geographies? Understanding more details about how Delta people are innovating will allow us to spread the word about those strategies that are more effective and efficient."
In the coming months, PolicyLink will conduct interviews and collect data to develop a map of policy opportunities that will serve as a tool for regional discussions and MSDI planning. Learn more about PolicyLink at www.policylink.org
Networked for Change in the Delta
Greenville, MS - After nearly three decades of work in the Chicago broadcasting industry, Elijah Mondy and his wife Belinda came home to the Delta. Armed with 29 years of experience, Mondy returned to Helena, AR where he started his own business — a radio station — KJIW-FM.
KJIW-FM would become the leading station for gospel music in its market. Shortly after launching the station, Mondy became involved with the local community. He instituted a school-based radio broadcasting project to give students exposure to the broadcasting field.
Mondy's vision, however, did not stop at the Helena city limits. Mondy, along with his partners, Kirkland Burke and Darren Smith envisioned a network of radio stations serving the Delta. In addition to carrying a gospel format, the radio stations would participate in the local community and carry debates, news and community forums.
In the spring of 2003, Mondy and his partners, the Mondy Burke Broadcasting Network (MBBN), seized an opportunity to bring their dreams to fruition. After another station failed to uphold its agreements with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the FCC granted MBBN, the right to build a 50,000-watt radio station in Greenville, MS. Along with the rights, however, the FCC gave MBBN a 36-month deadline to complete the construction. Short on capital, MBBN approached the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (ECD) with a request for loan financing to build and outfit a 653-foot tower and accompanying studio.
Cassandra Williams, an ECD loan officer, worked with Mondy to package the loan. While Williams provided technical assistance to Mondy, ECD qualified the loan for a 75 percent Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan Guaranty. “I don’t think we could have gotten the deal approved without the loan guaranty,” said Williams.
Unlike many small banks in the region, ECD works with the SBA 7a Loan Guaranty Program to strengthen deals that may not otherwise qualify for financing. The loan guaranty program provides government backed "collateral" for up to 75 percent of an unsecured portion of a loan.
Through its growing network of stations, MBBN provides employment in Helena and Greenville. Additionally, MBBN is active in and accessible to its communities. Over 300,000 people live in MBBN's listening area. By carrying debates and community forums, the network offers an incredible opportunity to raise awareness about issues and to organize Delta residents around issues affecting them.
If you or someone you know is interested in a small business loan through ECD, please contact ECD Commercial Loan Officer Cassandra Williams at (601) 944-1100. Learn more at www.ecd.org.
“Let ‘em eat salad”
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
This isn't just about being a couch potato: As a direct result of obesity, the current generation of children can expect their life span to decrease by two to five years. Worse, California schools are still part of the problem, offering students junk food while not providing them with healthy alternatives or opportunities for physical activity.
Thankfully, efforts to improve the healthfulness of foods offered in California schools have started. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently proposed banning soda and candy from all public schools, and the state Senate's Education Committee last week passed SB12, the Healthy Schools Now Act (authored by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Los Angeles County), which regulates the fat and sugar content of all foods sold on school grounds.
But to truly promote health, California schools must go beyond bans and regulations. They must offer students healthy foods that are appealing and, above all, taste good -- in other words, foods that students will actually want to eat. School meals plans are currently designed to deliver minimum nutrients at the lowest cost to a clientele, with no recourse for complaints. It's no wonder vending machines and corner stores stocked with chips and sodas are popular. Kids eat junk food because it's affordable, available, appealing and convenient.
Moreover, the "healthy" foods schools dish up often don't taste as good. Mealy apples and wilted iceberg lettuce are no match for pizza and hotdogs. That these are the alternatives in California — one of the world's most productive agricultural areas — is especially embarrassing.
Experiments with salad bars, garden-based learning and direct purchasing from local farms through farm-to-school programs (including the Davis and Berkeley school districts) have shown great potential. When schools serve high-quality, delicious food that far exceeds minimum requirements, kids eat it and enjoy it — justifying any higher per-meal costs.
How does a school provide healthy food that students want to eat?
- First, it will have to invest in its meals programs. School cafeterias often lack kitchens, necessitating packaged meals that are reheated before being served. This inability to prepare food on-site and the ridiculously low per-meal reimbursement from the federal government limit the degree to which the food served to students can be improved. For healthier, more appetizing food, more will have to be prepared on-site, often from scratch. Building kitchens, changing ingredients and menus, and training staff will require time and money. But doing so will enable schools to prepare and serve better-tasting, healthier foods — and costs will likely decrease after an initial transitional period.
- Second, because costs associated with operating a meals program are in large part fixed — the cost per meal decreases rapidly with each additional meal prepared — serving better-quality food must be tied to higher participation among students, so schools will see revenues increase as a result. This has big implications for economically diverse districts, where kids from higher-income families can pay full price for a meal. When food quality is poor, higher-income kids don't participate. These paying kids must be enticed back.
For the California school districts with high percentages of low-income students, revenues from increased participation among higher-income students will be hard to come by. In these cases, the state and federal governments should step in to augment reimbursement rates.
- Third, revenue-generating strategies can result from these up-front investments in equipment and staff development: Catering services, in-house vending and concessions, and cafes serving adult staff (and even the public) all become possible and cost-effective. It should be obvious that healthier, tastier food needn't necessarily result in lower revenues. Costs may in fact be higher, but they're only one side of the equation. As long as the lunch component can approach breaking even, districts can make up the difference — and then some — with the other activities mentioned.
Our leaders — on school boards and in local and state government — should acknowledge that half-hearted efforts to improve the quality and healthfulness of school foods will result in increased costs, decreased revenues, unhappy students and few positive health outcomes. Committing the money, time and effort to completely rebuild meals programs from the ground up presents the best chance for both long-term economic sustainability and the future health of our children.
We should support the governor and Escutia in their efforts to make the food in California schools healthier. We must remember, though, that the goal is to make not just food but students themselves healthier, enabling them to lead long, productive lives. To accomplish that, we'll have to go beyond regulating vending machines.
Josh Miner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a policy fellow with the Food and Society program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and an analyst with UC Cooperative Extension in Alameda County.
Riverside Farm to School Program, a Partnership Between FAS Grantee, Center for Food and Justice, and the Riverside Unified School District Featured in California's The Press-Enterprise
The Farmer's Market Salad Bar Lunch Program marries the resources of local farms with schools, [Moira] Beery, [program coordinator of the California Farm to School Program] said. Other components of the program include teaching children about nutrition, taking them to local farms so they can see how food is grown, bringing chefs into schools to demonstrate how to prepare nutritious meals and having children grow their own produce in school gardens.
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The Message from Rural America: The Rural vote in 2004
This report analyzes how and why rural Americans voted the way they did in the 2004. The report was written by veteran political consultants and pollsters Anna Greenberg, vice president, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; David Walker, senior associate, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; and Bill Greener, partner, Greener and Hook, LLC. Published March 2005.
National Trust announces new Rural Heritage Development Initiative
On March 25, the National Trust announced new Rural Heritage Development Initiative funded in significant part through a $745,000 three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Rural Heritage Development Initiative will bring together various multi-disciplinary services of the National Trust for intensive work with partners in the pilot regions over a three-year period. Through preservation-based strategies including heritage tourism, local entrepreneurial and business development, barn preservation, rural land-use planning, and neighborhood housing revitalization, the project will utilize local assets to achieve economic gains in the pilot regions.
Read the full article at
Secretary of Agriculture unveils strategy for rural development
The Council of State Governments, Agriculture Weekly Update, March 25, 2005
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns unveiled his strategy for rural development at a conference sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Billed as his first statements on rural development, the secretary presented few new proposals. He stressed that rural development programs are a high priority for him but he urged cooperation between state, local and federal groups to make the most of what will be limited funding. "The president has proposed $12.8 billion for rural development in the USDA budget for 2006," Johanns said. He warned, however, that federal dollars would be tight and that some programs would have to be eliminated. He said these steps were necessary to address the deficit.
A transcript of Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns' March 21, 2005, speech to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's "The State of 21st Century Rural America: Implications for Policy and Practice" seminar can be read by clicking here.
Rural Voters Place Higher Priority on Moral Values, Study Finds
Philanthropy News Digest, March 23, 2005
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June 20, 2005