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GRANTS AND FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES - 06.01.15

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Ribbons of Hope: Grants to Benefit Women and Girls

Ribbons of Hope/Invest in Women, Inc. is an Atlanta-based foundation that began as friends and family of the Coca-Cola Company who wanted to reach out and support organizations making a difference in women’s lives.

Its membership is now 50 women who together are committed to an annual grant to non-profit organizations that empower women and girls in the areas of education, health, economic independence, social well-being, or human rights.

Maximum award: $100,000.

Eligibility: 501 (c)(3) status organizations or agencies with at least three years of financial records and an annual operating budget of at least $500,000.

Deadline: May 31, 2015.


MLB: Baseball Tomorrow Fund

Major League Baseball’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund gives grants to nonprofit organizations involved in the operation of youth baseball and softball programs and facilities.

Funds may be used to finance a new program, expand or improve an existing program, undertake a new collaborative effort, or obtain facilities or equipment necessary for youth baseball or softball programs.

Maximum award: $40,000.

Eligibility: U.S.-based or international nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations involved in operation of youth baseball and/or softball programs and facilities.

Deadline: July 01, 2015.


RWJF: Healthy Eating Research Projects

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has issued an RFP for two types of awards aimed at providing advocates, decision-makers, and policymakers with the evidence needed to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic.

Round Nine Grants: grants of up to $190,000 over 18 months.

RWJF New Connections Grants will award up to $100,000 each for 12-18 months.

Eligibility: public entities or 501(c)(3) organizations.

Deadline: July 01, 2015.


American Legion Child Welfare Foundation: Grants for Children

The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation supports organizations that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual welfare of children.

The foundation awards grants for dissemination of information about new and innovative programs designed to benefit youth or information already possessed by well-established organizations.

Projects must have the potential to help American children in a large geographic area (more than one state).

Maximum award: Grant amounts are determined on a project-by-project basis.

Eligibility: 501(c)(3) organizations.

Deadline: July 15, 2015.

Pending U.S. Home Sales Jump to Strongest Level in 9 Years

The Gilmer Free Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans signed contracts to buy homes in April at the fastest pace in nearly nine years, evidence that steady job growth is strengthening the real estate market.

The National Association of Realtors said that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index climbed 3.4% to 112.4 last month. It’s the fourth consecutive monthly gain. The index now stands at its highest level since May 2006.

The upswing comes after a year of strong hiring, which has heightened demand to buy houses. Increased sales should help bolster the economy, but the surge could potentially destabilize the housing market. Inventories remain low, causing home values to rise at a pace that is eclipsing wage growth.

Signed contracts are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Pending sales increased in the Northeast, Midwest and South, while barely edging upward in the West. Greater demand has fueled sales growth this year after a lackluster 2014. Still, there is evidence that limited inventories are beginning to weigh on the market.

Sales of existing homes fell slightly between April and March to an annual clip of 5.04 million last month, the Realtors reported last week. The decrease may reflect complications in finalizing sales in addition to the shortage of listings.

The inventory of homes listed for sale has declined 0.9% over the past year, so would-be buyers have fewer choices and may face bidding wars.

On average, existing homes sold in 39 days last month, versus 52 days in March and 62 days in February.

Employers have hired 3.1 million new workers over the past 12 months. But wages are rising at a 2.1% annual clip, about four times slower than prices of existing homes.

Nationwide, the median price of an existing home surged 8.9% over the past 12 months to $219,400.

Unless home values level off because more supply comes onto the market, economists warn that buyers will be priced out of the market and sales will suffer.

Still, there is tremendous pressure on buyers to find homes quickly, since average rates for 30-year, fixed mortgages may start to climb from the relatively low sub-4% level.

A new analysis by Realtor.com indicates nationwide that waiting one year to buy will subtract $18,672 from the benefits of owning over the course of 30 years.

05.31.2015 (1) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

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By William Headley  on  06.30.2015

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Fuel and Potential Fires for the U.S. Economy Ahead

The Gilmer Free Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. economy should get better after a sputtering first quarter, but how much better? It’s complicated.

Steady hiring and low gas prices should help power solid growth through the rest of 2015. The harsh winter and a labor dispute that slowed trade at West Coast ports are both over. Home sales and construction are rebounding, along with business investment.

But risks remain: A stronger dollar will likely continue to keep the trade deficit wide. And further cutbacks in oil drilling could depress spending in the energy industry.

Here are three reasons the economy is likely to post solid grow this year, followed by three reasons growth might disappoint.


CONSUMER REBOUND

While the overall economy went into reverse, the labor market has been steaming ahead. The U.S. added 223,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% — the lowest level since the fall of 2008.

Theoretically, more people working means more income to spend. Economists are forecasting that the modest 1.8% growth in consumer spending in the first quarter will climb. And since consumer spending accounts for 70% of overall activity, the acceleration will lift economic growth back into positive territory.

Analysts project the overall economy to grow at an annual pace of around 2.5% in the second quarter and rev up to 3% in the second half of the year.


TEMPORARY SOFT PATCH

Economists believe a lot of the bad things that happened in the first quarter are fleeting.

The Northeast has emerged from the frigid cold and record amounts of snow that hit the region in the first quarter. The winter blizzards that curtailed trips to the mall and auto dealerships could even lead to a surge in pent-up demand in coming months.

A labor dispute that disrupted shipping at many West Coast ports has been resolved, which should alleviate supply bottlenecks that depressed manufacturing activity.

Economists also believe they are seeing signs that business investment is starting to rise after falling for a number of months. Gains in housing construction and sales are also fueling hopes.


SEASONAL ADJUSTMENTS

The GDP decline in the first quarter this year followed a similar decline last year. In fact, since the country pulled out of the Great Recession in 2009, there have been three quarters when GDP has gone negative — all in the first quarter.

That has raised questions about whether the government is having trouble seasonally adjusting activity in the winter and is over-stating first quarter weakness. The Bureau of Economic Analysis, which prepares the GDP, has agreed to look into the issue and says it may adjust the figures later this year.

Any gains would make the start of this year look better and mean the economy had less of a hole to climb out of going forward.


STRONGER DOLLAR

A bigger-than-expected trade deficit was a key reason that the GDP was revised from a tiny 0.2% gain to the 0.7% decline.

The widening deficit is a reflection of the dollar’s increase in value against other major currencies since last year. The stronger dollar hurts U.S. exports by making American-made goods more expensive in overseas markets. It also increases the competition domestic producers face from foreign-made goods by making imports cheaper for American consumers.

It was a surge in imports that played the biggest role in widening the trade deficit in the first quarter. Economists believe the drag from the trade deficit will ease in coming months. But if they are wrong, that could mean their forecasts of a rebound will turn out to be overly optimistic.


ENERGY BUST

The big drop in oil prices since last year was supposed to be a net positive for the U.S. economy. But so far, the economy has felt more pain than gain.

Energy companies have slashed their spending on drilling activity, pushing it down by 48.6% in the first quarter — the sharpest fall since the depths of the 2007-2009 recession. While drilling rig counts are still dropping, economists hope that the drag from these cutbacks will begin to lessen.

Analysts are also hopeful that the gains they have been forecasting in consumer spending will start to emerge. They have been puzzled that consumers so far have chosen to bank their savings from lower gas bills rather than spend the money.

While gas prices have risen recently, they are still about $1 below the levels of a year ago. Economists believe these continued savings will spur stronger consumer spending in the months ahead. If they are wrong, then the expected growth in consumer spending may be modest.


UNWANTED SURPRISES

The economy has muddled through with sub-par growth averaging just 2.2% since the recession ended in June 2009. Economists have repeatedly forecast that the economy was on the verge of breaking out to faster growth above 3%, only to be disappointed.

When this year started, they were predicted 2015 would be the strongest in a decade, topping the 3.3% growth of 2005. However, with the surprisingly weak start to the year, they have scaled back those estimates.

There could be more unwelcome surprises. One of the biggest could be volatility in financial markets once the Federal Reserve starts raising interest rates. It has kept a key rate near zero since late 2008.

At the moment, rate hikes are expected to begin in September. While the central bank has done a lot to prepare markets, there could be a possible repeat of the 2013 “taper tantrum,“ which sent markets tumbling for a time. Turbulent markets might then undermine consumer and business confidence and push growth lower.

U.S. Jobless Aid Applications Rose Last Week; Total Still Low

The Gilmer Free Press

WASHINGTON, WV — More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, though the overall level remains low and points to a healthy job market.

Weekly applications increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 5,000 to 271,500.

The average had fallen to a 15-year low two weeks ago.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained below 300,000, a historically low number, for 12 weeks.

That suggests Americans are experiencing solid job security. It also indicates that employers are confident enough in the economic outlook to hold onto their staffs.

The total number of people receiving benefits increased 11,000 to 2.22 million.

That figure has fallen 16% in the past year, and represents roughly one-quarter of the total number of unemployed.

Many of those out of work have used up all their benefits.

Others, such as recent college graduates looking for work, aren’t eligible for unemployment aid.

On Friday, the government will issue an updated estimate of the economy’s performance in the first three months of the year.

Economists forecast that it will show the economy actually shrank at a 0.8% annual rate, according to a survey by data provider FactSet.

That’s even worse than its first estimate last month that it had grown just 0.2%. Both figures are far short of the 3.6% growth in the second half of last year.

The picture for the second quarter is mixed so far.

Consumers spent cautiously in April, according to a report on retail and restaurant sales released earlier this month.

Americans have not ramped up their spending so far this year as economists had predicted, despite strong job gains and gas prices that are about $1 a gallon cheaper than a year ago.

And sales of existing homes fell in April after picking up in March.

Yet builders broke ground on new homes in April at the fastest pace in seven years.

And those homes are selling: new home sales jumped nearly 7% in April from the previous month, the government said earlier this week.

Businesses appear ready to spend more: A measure of business investment rose for the second straight month in April after a huge drop in February, the government said Tuesday.

Employers are also hiring at a steady pace.

They added 223,000 jobs in April, lowering the unemployment rate to a seven-year low of 5.4%, from 5.5%.

That suggests employers think they need to keep adding jobs to meet future demand for their goods and services.

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