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Home » Weekly federal grant roundup

Grant round up for August

By: 29 September 2010 2 Comments

We at First Arkansas News are working to provide readers with frequent updates of federal grants and other money that is being given throughout the state. Look for these updates to happen just about every other week using a similar graphic and headline. Obviously, in recent weeks we’ve been more lax but we are working to be more diligent.

The updates will include all the notifications we’ve received of federal grants, etc. since the last update. All of these monies are announced on behalf of Arkansas’ federal legislators: U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor; and U.S. Representatives Marion Berry (AR-01), Vic Snyder (AR-02) and Mike Ross (AR-04).


Here’s the federal grants that were awarded in August:

$40 million to improve low-performing schools

Arkansas will receive $40,196,637 million in Recovery Act funds to make improvements to its persistently lowest-achieving schools. School districts that will be eligible to apply for the funding must be defined by the state as “persistently lowest-achieving,” a determination that was based on a combined ranking involving the district’s benchmark testing scores from 2007-2009. The 14 lowest achieving districts according to the ranking system qualify for the grant.

When school districts apply for School Improvement Grants – which is expected to happen this spring – they are required to indicate that they will implement one of the following four models in their schools:

  • Turnaround Model: The school will replace the principal, screen existing school staff and rehire no more than half of the teachers. The school will adopt a new governance structure and improve the school through certain curriculum reform, professional development, extended learning time and other strategies.
  • Restart Model: A school will be converted or closed and reopened as a charter school, or under an education management organization.
  • School Closure: The school will be closed and students will be sent to higher-achieving schools in the district.
  • Transformation Model: The school will replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extended learning time and other strategies.

Educational institutions classified as Tier III will also be able to apply for funds once all of the persistently lowest-achieving schools have received their allocations. A Tier III school is one that has failed to meet adequate yearly progress for two years but is not identified as a persistently lowest-achieving school.

$97, 620 to support Arkansas History Day, African American cemeteries

The Arkansas Humanities Council will receive $97,620 from the National Endowment for the Humanities:

  • to support the annual statewide History Day in Arkansas, and
  • to expand the Council’s efforts to preserve and document African-American cemeteries throughout the state of Arkansas.

History Day in Arkansas brings together secondary students from across the state to share and study history. Held each year at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, History Day allows students to express what they have learned through creative and original dramatic performances, media presentations, research papers, exhibits, or websites.

The Arkansas Humanity Council’s long-standing African-American cemetery project works to preserve, document and interpret cemeteries and the histories of African-American communities throughout the state. Grant money helps with clearing cemetery sites and marking gravesites, as well as connecting local communities with a humanities scholar or archeologist who educates citizens about ways to maintain and protect cemeteries. The funds are allocated through the national We the People grant program.

$1.6 million to help Student Support Services at various colleges

Six different colleges in the state, five of which are in Northwest Arkansas, will receive grants to fund their Student Support Services programs, which provides academic and other support services to low-income, first-generation, or disabled college students to help them stay in school, graduate and achieve academic success.

The colleges are:

North Arkansas College (Harrison) – $372,212

372,212University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) – $358,915

University of the Ozarks (Clarksville) – $ 277,476

Arkansas Tech University (Russellville) – $220,000

University of Arkansas at Fort Smith – $220,000

John Brown University (Siloam Springs) – $238,496

Student Support Services is one of eight TRIO programs within the Department of Education that are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. In Arkansas, 23,132 students were served by 78 different TRIO projects in academic year 2008-09.

Student Support Services may encompass activities including

  • helping students gain basic study skills;
  • tutoring; academic, financial or personal counseling;
  • assistance to students hoping to gain admission and financial aid at a four-year institution, graduate school, or other professional program;
  • career counseling; and
  • mentoring and special services for students with limited English proficiency.

$3.4 million to work on I-540

A grant totaling $3,435,000 in U.S. Department of Transportation funds have now been released to continue construction on Interstate 540 between Fayetteville and Bentonville. The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department will use the funding to widen entrance and exit ramps at several interchanges along I-540 between Fayetteville and Bentonville. It will also create additional lanes that will help reduce traffic congestion and support the future Interstate 49, which will run from Kansas City, Mo., to Shreveport, La.

$13 million to rehabilitate a turbine unit

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will receive $13 million in Recovery Act funding to complete rehabilitation of a turbine unit at the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Powerhouse, a hydroelectric plant on the Arkansas River in Ozark. Funds will be used to complete rehabilitation of one of its five turbines, which will help make the plant more efficient.

The Ozark-Jeta Taylor Powerhouse provided electricity for approximately 27,000 homes in 2009 and is expected to be able to power an estimated 41,000 homes once repair work for the plant is complete.

$2.2 million to repair three national cemeteries

National cemeteries in Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Little Rock will receive a total of $2,254,693 in Recovery Act funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to do repair work on gravesites, purchase equipment and support additional projects. The graves of veterans, military personnel and their spouses are located at national cemeteries.

Fort Smith National Cemetery will use $2,069,611 of its funds to raise and realign headstones and repair about 12,000 gravesites throughout the cemetery. An additional $2,212 will go towards purchasing lawn mowing equipment.

Fayetteville National Cemetery will use $92,829 to reseal its roads; $16,415 to paint buildings; and $18,626 to purchase lawn mowing equipment.

Little Rock National Cemetery will use $36,250 to renovate the Minnesota Monument, which was unveiled in 1916 and is dedicated to 162 Minnesota soldiers who were killed in Arkansas during the Civil War. The cemetery will also use $18,750 to paint its administration and maintenance buildings.

$289K to research veteran drug abuse

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock will receive a $288,714 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant to research prescription drug abuse among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Researchers at UAMS and the Central Arkansas Veterans Health Care System will study six years of data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on the use of prescription painkillers known as opioids among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The study’s purpose is to identify factors associated with drug misuse and abuse and determine the effectiveness of the Veterans Administration’s guidelines on prescribing painkillers.

$1.4 million to purchase law enforcement equipment

Thirty-five local law enforcement agencies will receive a total of $1,441,672 in U.S. Department of Justice grants to purchase vehicles and equipment, which will enhance efforts to keep communities safe from crime. The funds are allocated through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.

The grants will go to:

  • Crittenden County and the city of West Memphis will share a $92,168 grant. West Memphis will use $80,152 to purchase computer software, a server, flashlights, SWAT team entry glasses, protective gear, a surveillance system, an alcohol sensor, night vision camera and tint meters. Crittenden County will use $12,016 to purchase bullet-proof vests and cameras.
  • Craighead County and the city of Jonesboro will share a $49,583 grant, which will purchase laptop computers, digital recording systems, and other electronic equipment.
  • Mississippi County, the city of Blytheville and the city of Osceola will share a $42,907 grant. Mississippi County will use its funds to purchase digital communication equipment. Blytheville will use its funds to purchase uniform hat badges, handheld breath alcohol analyzers, office chairs, digital audio recorders, vest carriers, storage containers, digital camera equipment, and patrol car storage bins. Osceola will use its funds to purchase rifles, handguns, video cameras and ammunition.
  • Lonoke County will receive $17,172 to purchase portable radios and flashlights for the sheriff’s office.
  • The city of Paragould will receive $16,343 to purchase computer servers and desktop computers for the police department.
  • Forrest City will receive $16,113 to purchase breath alcohol analyzers, an intercom system and handheld radar units.
  • The city of Cabot will receive $14,364 to purchase tasers, air cartridges and ammunition.
  • Independence County will receive $14,180 to purchase rifles, semi-automatic conversion kits and ammunition.
  • Pulaski County, the city of Little Rock and the city of North Little Rock will share a $569,532 grant. Little Rock will use $398,870 to purchase computer hardware and software, security camera systems, and network connectivity and communication devices. Pulaski County will use $56,120 to purchase a police vehicle, portable breath alcohol analyzers, tasers and rifles. North Little Rock will use $114,542 to purchase police vehicles.
  • Faulkner County and the city of Conway will share a $27,669 grant and use their funds to purchase camera systems, hard drives, software and a rechargeable battery pack.
  • The city of Benton will receive $14,410 to purchase Narcotics Management Software and portable breath alcohol analyzers.
  • The city of Sherwood will receive $14,410 to purchase breath alcohol analyzers, radio systems and modems.
  • Washington County, the city of Fayetteville and the city of Springdale will share a $108,419 grant. Fayetteville will use $48,478 to purchase a scanner, handheld e-ticket system, furniture, motorcycle communication systems, audio and visual equipment, a security door lock system and DVD burner. Springdale will use $41,342 to purchase a computer, handguns and lights. Washington County will use $18,599 to purchase a patrol vehicle.
  • Sebastian County and the city of Fort Smith will share a $106,946 grant.Fort Smith will use $75,000 to purchase computer software and Sebastian County will use $31,946 to purchase digital video equipment for patrol vehicles.
  • Benton County will receive $17,817 to provide overtime pay for officers.
  • The city of Rogers will receive $15,515 to purchase mobile digital recorders, firearms and ammunition.
  • Pope County and the city of Russellville will share a $14,364 grant.Russellville will use its funds to purchase rifles and Pope County will use its funds to purchase lights for police vehicles and siren control equipment.
  • Jefferson County and the city of Pine Bluff will share a $126,557 grant.Pine Bluff will use $115,370 to purchase laptop and desk computers, mapping software, a DVD burner, and other equipment. Jefferson County will use $11,187 to purchase ammunition, forensic equipment, surveillance equipment, bullet proof vests, rifles and other equipment.
  • Garland County and the city of Hot Springs will share a $82,637 grant. Hot Springs will use $67,491 to purchase audio and video recording devices. Garland County will use $15,146 to purchase first aid stations, a search mirror, breath alcohol analyzers, fingerprint kits, shotguns, and other equipment.
  • Miller County and the city of Texarkana will share a $66,755 grant. Texarkana will use $45,878 to purchase a new vehicle for its police department and Miller County will use $20,887 to purchase a new vehicle for its sheriff’s department.
  • The city of Hope will receive $13,811 to purchase a new patrol vehicle.

$3.4 million to support charter schools

The Arkansas Department of Education will receive a $3,425,578 U.S. Department of Education grant to support new public charter schools.

Most funding under the Public Charter Schools Program will be used to help launch newly-approved charter schools. Money will also be used to help schools inform other charter and public schools about successful educational programs and support planning efforts for new schools.

Public charter schools receive public funding and are given flexibility in implementing innovative and specialized instruction for students while being held accountable for student achievement. Public charter schools can offer longer school days and alternative schedules, as well as focus on areas such as foreign language instruction at an early age or specialize in the arts or sciences. The Arkansas State Board of Education grants and renews charters of up to five years for charter schools under contracts that detail school mission and student assessment.

Arkansas currently serves more than 11,000 students in its 17 open-enrollment charter schools, which are open to students across school district boundaries, and 13 district conversion charter schools, which operate within a school district.

$79K to provide mental health services

The University of Arkansas will receive a $79,250 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant for its Psychology Department to train graduate students studying clinical psychology for careers providing mental health services to underserved populations.

Funds will go toward stipends for two clinical psychology students each year for the next three years. Those students will work with mental health patients at Rogers and Springdale sites of Community Clinic—a medical center for low-income and uninsured people in Northwest Arkansas. Students will work at Community Clinic centers for one year and focus on research during the other year of the program.

The new clinical psychology program aims to increase the number of psychologists who provide mental health services to low-income, rural, Hispanic and Marshallese residents in Washington and Benton counties.

$500K to improve record-keeping systems

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department will receive a $500,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant to improve its record-keeping system on crashes and other traffic incidents that occur in the state.

The money will be used to develop a statewide system that accumulates traffic accident reports from Arkansas’s local law enforcement agencies and ensure they are stored in a single database.

The widespread use of electronic crash records will save the state money and resources compared to the former paper system. Funds will also be used to improve ambulance and emergency medical services record-keeping.

$1.7 million to enhance computer research capabilities

The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville will receive a $1,701,988 National Science Foundation grant to enhance computer research capabilities for students who study the sciences at the University and the other four-year, public universities in the state.

Funds will be used to improve the facility that houses the supercomputers at the U of A. Some of the money will purchase air conditioners for the supercomputers and equipment that ensures that electricity can run around the clock, since many research projects require programs to run for several days and cannot sustain a power outage. The supercomputers support science research requiring massive data files and advanced visualization programs.

The funding will also enhance the network speed available to U of A researchers, and will enhance the network speed from the state’s high speed optical network to the supercomputers. The high speed optical network, the Arkansas Research and Education Optical network, allows researchers using computers for advanced scientific research at Arkansas’s four-year universities to have better access to the state’s supercomputing resources. The Arkansas Research and Educational Optical Network is a high-speed network owned and operated by the Arkansas higher education community.

$950K to purchase vehicles for transportation organizations

There has been $950,000 in U.S. Department of Transportation funds released to purchase buses and vans at transportation organizations in Arkansas.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department will provide money for local transit authorities and transportation companies to purchase buses, vans and security cameras. Funds will support urban and rural transportation, including service for the elderly and people with disabilities.

The following transportation organizations will receive funding:

  • Mid-Delta Transit (Helena-West Helena) – $34,000, one 13-passenger van;
  • BRAD Public Transit (Pocahontas) – $37,256, one 21-passenger bus;
  • Jonesboro Economic Transit System – $16,337, one 7-passenger van;
  • Crowley’s Ridge Development Council Inc. (Jonesboro) – $18,383, one 12-passenger van;
  • David E. Puryear Center, Inc. (Jonesboro) – $15,875, one 7-passenger van;
  • Foundation Care, Inc. (Jonesboro) – $15,875, one 7-passenger van;
  • Centers for Youth and Families (Little Rock) – $18,383, one 12-passenger van;
  • Central Arkansas Transit Authority (Little Rock) – $251,720, security cameras for buses, shared with T-Line in Texarkana;
  • Independent Living Services, Inc. (Conway) – $15,875, one 7-passenger van;
  • Recovery Centers of Arkansas (North Little Rock) – $15,875, one 7-passenger van;
  • Yell County Special Service Center, Inc. (Ola) – $29,117, one 13-passenger van;
  • South Central Arkansas Transit (Benton) – $74,512, two 21-passenger buses;
  • Eureka Springs Transit – $29,600, one 13-passenger van;
  • Ft. Smith Transit– $36,000, one 21-passenger bus;
  • Abilities Unlimited of Fort Smith Inc. – $29,117, one 13-passenger van;
  • North Arkansas Transportation Service – $36,000, one 17-passenger bus;
  • Ozark Regional Transit (Springdale) – $15,875, one 7-passenger van;
  • Friendship Community Care, Inc. (Russellville) – $58,234, two 13-passenger vans;
  • Razorback Transit (Fayetteville) – $36,000, one 17-passenger bus;
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) – $16,000, maintenance vehicle;
  • Southeast Arkansas Transit (Pine Bluff) – $68,000, two 13-passenger vans;
  • Hot Springs Transit – $45,200, one 24-passenger bus;
  • Group Living Inc. (Arkadelphia) – $18,383, one 12-passenger van;
  • Southwest Arkansas Counseling and Mental Health, Inc. (Texarkana) – $18,383, one 12-passenger van; and
  • T-Line (Texarkana) – $251,720, security cameras for buses, shared with Central Arkansas Transit Authority in Little Rock.

$300K to help law enforcement agencies oversee sex offenders

The Arkansas Crime Information Center will receive a $300,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to purchase 400 web cameras and electronic signature pads for each of Arkansas’s 400 local law enforcement agencies that are responsible for overseeing convicted sex offenders.

The new equipment will enable Arkansas to maintain a completely electronic sex offender registry and transition away from submitting paper records through the mail. Electronic submission of sex offender data will make it easier for local law enforcement officials to update the state’s sex offender registry and make information about convicted sex offenders available to the public more quickly.

$2.3 million to further weatherization efforts

Local agencies in Benton and Fort Smith have been selected to receive a total of more than $2.3 million to expand their successful weatherization programs. The funding will allow the local agencies – the Central Arkansas Development Council, Inc. and Crawford-Sebastian Community Development Council, Inc. – to install new high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR-qualified items including air conditioning systems, clothes washers, and water heaters in residents’ homes. The award selections were part of nearly $120 million in awards announced nationally to complement and expand existing weatherization programs, drive innovation in the program, and deliver even greater energy bill savings for local families.

As of June 30, Arkansas had weatherized more than 2,000 homes under the Recovery Act, including nearly 300 homes in June alone, and supported nearly 160 jobs in Arkansas.

Under the weatherization program, local agencies provide whole-home weatherization services, including conducting an energy audit in the home to identify the most cost-effective improvements, and implementing solutions that range from installing additional insulation and weatherstripping, sealing windows and doors, caulking cracks in the building, and replacing inefficient heating and cooling systems.

Nearly $1.2 million to establish a Head Start council

A Head Start Council for the state will be established using $1,174,518 in Recovery Act funding. The money is allocated through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Arkansas Early Childhood Commission (AECC) has been named as the official Advisory Council and will lead the development of a high-quality, comprehensive system of early childhood education and care that ensures statewide coordination and collaboration among the early childhood programs and services state wide.

The money will support the Council’s ongoing efforts to accurately and thoroughly track data concerning the Arkansas Head Start network, including how many families are being served and how many licensed staff members each facility employs. The funding will allow the Council to compile statewide data in an easy-to-read, online map with statistics and information about the quality and availability of services at local Head Start facilities. This information will enhance and improve the overall program, while also helping the Council determine where there are gaps in services or other specific needs across the state.

Nearly $195K to recruit minority and female contractors

The Arkansas Department of Transportation will receive $194,864 to identify and recruit minority and female contractors, who are currently performing construction-related work, to encourage them to apply for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification. The funds will also help pay for outreach and education to benefit these contractors.

Funds will go the Arkansas State Highway Department, who will contract with the Arkansas Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Contractors Association, Inc. to carry out the intended tasks.

Law encourages federal surface transportation program to contract about 10 percent of the funds made available for projects to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. To qualify for the certification, which would allow a small firm access to these contracts, persons must own 51 percent or more of a “small business;” prove they control their business; and establish that they are disadvantaged within the meaning of Department of Transportation regulations.

In addition to helping identify and recruit socially and/or economically disadvantaged persons, this funding will help train certified firms in Department of Transportation expectations, rules and regulations, and provide business management assistance, technical assistance and other training and development to qualified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.

$68K for job training services

The Arkansas Department of Transportation will receive $68,478 for the On-the-Job Training Supportive Services Program, which is intended to move women, minorities and disadvantaged individuals into skilled positions to address the historical under representation of these groups in highway construction skilled crafts.

The program provides training and workforce development, education, tools and boots, transportation to and from work sites, and child care to those employed by the highway industry. Training and development activities are offered in association with surface transportation career awareness, student transportation career preparation, and training and professional development for surface transportation workers, including activities for women, minorities, and disadvantaged individuals.

The types of services/projects eligible for On-the-Job Training Supportive Services funding include: recruitment, skills training, job placement, child care, and outreach, transportation to work-sites, post-graduation follow-up, and job-site mentoring. These services are offered in relation to core programs: Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program;Highway Bridge Program; Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System; and Surface Transportation Program.

About: Jamie Smith:
Experienced reporter who is now an entrepreneur. Jamie's Notebook offers writing services including press releases, corporate blogging and feature writing.

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