Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) Application Deadline is August 29, 2011

Applications are being accepted for grants to provide economic assistance to independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups through the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG).

Value-Added Producer Grants (http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html) may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.

Awards may be made for planning activities or for working capital expenses, but not for both. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $100,000 and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $300,000. Rural Development is encouraging applications that will support communities in urban or rural areas, with limited access to healthy foods and with a high poverty and hunger rate.

Matching funds. Grant funds may be used to pay up to 50 percent of the total eligible project costs, subject to the limitations established for maximum total grant amount. Applicants must certify the availability and source-verify all matching funds at time of application submission.

The application deadline is August 29, 2011. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, see the June 28, 2011, Federal Register (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-28/html/2011-16121.htm).

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency’s programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Timothy W. O’Connell | Assistant to the State Director
Rural Development

U.S. Department of Agriculture

154 Waianuenue Ave., Room 303
Hilo, HI  96720
(808) 933-8313| (808) 933-8326 (F)
Committed to the future of rural communities

www.rurdev.usda.gov

Support from Lanai to Molokai

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 By Molokai Dispatch staff

To the people of Molokai, our brothers and sisters. We were very excited to hear of your meeting with Pattern and Bio-Logical Capital. Copies of the event are showing up all over the island. If we don’t take care of the `aina, what will become of us? Thank you for your courage. The people of Lanai are with you!

We have limited land and a fragile environment. If we make the wrong decisions regarding our ecosystem, there is no recovery. Historically, industrial wind turbine complexes do not deliver as promised in the slick corporate brochures. They bankrupt countries with the burden of guaranteed loans, tax subsidies and higher utility costs. They kill jobs per studies coming out of Spain. If wind was a firm source of electricity, one might consider options regarding these structures. However, they are not. If they deliver even 12 percent of the capacity we would be lucky. This is so much less electricity than spending the same amount of money on solar voltaic, solar water heaters and installing small wind turbines on all tall buildings would produce. See the HEOC building on Lagoon Drive by the airport in Honolulu for small productive wind turbines.

Our tax dollars need to be directed to technology that works. Not only do these renewable energy projects cost less, but have little impact on the environment. If a unit fails, the grid is not affected. The money and jobs stay in Hawaii. Local businesses develop with the installation and maintenance of these local projects. Just look at the island of Nauru, smallest island in Micronesia, to see what happens when green wins out over the `aina. Nauru allowed corporations with promises of riches to mine the phosphate on the island. The phosphate ran out. The money has been spent and now they are left with environmental damage that may take thousands of years to restore. We cannot repeat that ecological disaster here.

Susan Osako
Lanai

Workshop with the King of Slack Key Guitar: Ledward Kaapana

Ledward Kaapana
July 2, 2010, Friday At the LEAD Center
Keiki Class
9am-10:00am FREE if registered at
LiveHawaiianLegends.com by July 1, 2010
$30 at the Door without preregistration.
To Register A Keiki: email us
Adults
10:30am-11:30am Adults, $65 pre registered
by July 1, 2010 at LiveHawaiianLegends.com
$75 at the door without preregistration.

Blessed Marianne Closer to Sainthood

The second miracle needed for Molokai’s Blessed Marianne Cope to be declared a saint was medically approved last week. The ruling marks a significant step toward her canonization.

The Vatican’s medical board pronounced that there is no medical explanation for the cure of a woman who had suffered from an illness previously believed terminal and incurable. The identity of the woman and other details have not yet been disclosed.

The announcement was made last week by the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, NY, home of Blessed Marianne’s religious community, the Sisters of St. Francis. The next step in the verification of the miracle is the examination and approval of the Vatican’s theologians, who will decide if the healing was the result of prayer to Blessed Marianne.

If they do attribute the incident to Marianne’s intercession, the case will be evaluated by a board of cardinals and bishops. The pope will then make the final decision whether or not to approve the miracle, which could be followed by Blessed Marianne’s canonization.

The first miracle attributed to Marianne, which resulted in her beatification (given the title “blessed”), was approved by the Vatican in 2004. The case involved the medically unexplainable recovery of a dying New York girl after prayers were said to Blessed Marianne.

Blessed Marianne came to Hawaii in 1883 to establish nursing care for patients of Hansen’s disease. She worked in Kalaupapa – alongside St. Damien at the end of his life – for 30 of the 35 years she served in Hawaii, and died on the peninsula in 1918.

Assistance Program Launched for Families with Vacant Lots to Build Homes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 30, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii – The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), a community development nonprofit is launching a construction assistance program for families with a vacant lot issued to them by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.  The Vacant Lot Owner Builder program will serve families who are holding homestead leases to unimproved lots under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, to help them through the owner-builder process of building a home.

“We’re really excited about creating this program, and working with families to build homes on their homestead land,” said Robin Puanani Danner, CNHA President.  “It’s something that community leaders brought to CNHA to focus on in order to help Hawaiian families keep their homestead leases and work on building a home as an owner-builder.”

The State of Hawaii, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, is the state agency charged with administering the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1920, to issue land leases for residential lots, farms and ranching purposes to Native Hawaiians.  After 90 years, fewer than 8,500 land leases have been issued, and many are issued as vacant lots.  The Vacant Lot Owner Builder program is directed at these lessees to provide construction assistance to build homes.

“The Vacant Lot Owner Builder program goes to the heart of the Department’s goal of providing different kinds of homesteading opportunities for Native Hawaiian beneficiaries,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Alapaki Nahale-a.  “We are appreciative of the valuable service provided by nonprofit partners like CNHA as we work together toward delivering on the mission of DHHL and meeting our obligations under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.”

CNHA will conduct a financial assessment on participating lessees, provide assistance in obtaining a home loan and construction financing, and help to put together house plans, cost estimates and ultimately construct a home.  “Building a home is not an every-day task and it helps to have specialized assistance to do it,” Danner said.  “Most families have never been through the process, and of course, it can be the most frustrating and the most rewarding experience ever.  What we aim to do with this product, is to work with families to get through the process of financing and construction, step by step, to get a home financed and built.”

Continue reading Assistance Program Launched for Families with Vacant Lots to Build Homes

Virtual Meeting Attendance: Not Present, But Still Here

In an ideal board meeting, all members are present and engaged in a structured and vigorous debate of the issues on the agenda. The chair leads the discussion, fine-tuned to the overall mood of the board, and ensures everyone’s participation. During planned breaks, chatter fills the boardroom, and when the meeting is over, some members hurry out with their carry-ons in tow while others linger to talk to the chief executive and their board colleagues. In reality, few board meetings are that perfect. For example, at times, even the most committed members are not able to attend every meeting. This is unfortunate because not only do they miss the meeting but the rest of the board misses their contribution. There is an option, however — meeting via tele- and videoconference. Telecommuting staff are accustomed to meeting this way. Why can’t board members do the same? “Virtual attendance” can accommodate individual board member’s needs, save time and money, and, under some circumstances, be an effective alternative to physical attendance.
Continue reading Virtual Meeting Attendance: Not Present, But Still Here

Can nonprofits lobby?

All nonprofits are encouraged to be active advocates of their mission. However, the IRS allows 501(c)(3)s to engage in lobbying as long as it is not a “substantial part” of their activities. 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations and 501(c)(6) trade associations may engage in lobbying activities without limits; in fact, that can sometimes be one of their main functions. As the “substantial part” definition is rather ambiguous, public charities that lobby should understand the monetary parameters for what constitutes “substantial.”

It is important to remember that political activity — campaigning in favor or against a candidate — is strictly prohibited for a charity. A violation of the IRS regulations may result in the organization losing its tax-exempt status or having to pay excise taxes on the money improperly spent.

References

ABC's for Exempt Organizations

IRS Exempt Organizations offers the following resources to help the manager of a new exempt organization navigate tax issues. These materials are not comprehensive; for further assistance, consult a tax adviser. 

Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards

The Source, By BoardSource
Exceptional boards add significant value to their organizations, making a discernible difference
in their advance on mission. Good governance requires the board to balance its role as an
oversight body with its role as a force supporting the organization. The difference between
responsible and exceptional boards lies in thoughtfulness and intentionality, action and
engagement, knowledge and communication. The following twelve principles offer chief
executives a description of an empowered board that is a strategic asset to be leveraged. They
provide board members with a vision of what is possible and a way to add lasting value to the
organization they lead.

CONSTRUCTIVE PARTNERSHIP1
Exceptional boards govern in constructive partnership with the chief executive, recognizing that
the effectiveness of the board and chief executive are interdependent. They build this partnership
through trust, candor, respect, and honest communication.
MISSION DRIVEN2
Exceptional boards shape and uphold the mission, articulate a compelling vision, and ensure the
congruence between decisions and core values. They treat questions of mission, vision, and core
values not as exercises to be done once, but as statements of crucial importance to be drilled
down and folded into deliberations.
STRATEGIC THINKING3
Exceptional boards allocate time to what matters most and continuously engage in strategic
thinking to hone the organization’s direction. They not only align agendas and goals with
strategic priorities, but also use them for assessing the chief executive, driving meeting agendas,
and shaping board recruitment.
CULTURE OF INQUIRY4
Exceptional boards institutionalize a culture of inquiry, mutual respect, and constructive debate
that leads to sound and shared decision making. They seek more information, question
assumptions, and challenge conclusions so that they may advocate for solutions based on
analysis.
INDEPENDENT-MINDEDNESS5
Exceptional boards are independent-minded. They apply rigorous conflict-of-interest procedures,
and their board members put the interests of the organization above all else when making
decisions. They do not allow their votes to be unduly influenced by loyalty to the chief executive
or by seniority, position, or reputation of fellow board members, staff, or donors.
Excerpted from The Source: Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards. Washington, DC:
BoardSource 2005. For more information or to order a copy of the complete book, please visit
www.boardsource.org or call 800-883-6262.
ETHOS OF TRANSPARENCY6
Exceptional boards promote an ethos of transparency by ensuring that donors, stakeholders, and
interested members of the public have access to appropriate and accurate information regarding
finances, operations, and results. They also extend transparency internally, ensuring that every
board member has equal access to relevant materials when making decisions.
COMPLIANCE WITH INTEGRITY7
Exceptional boards promote strong ethical values and disciplined compliance by establishing
appropriate mechanisms for active oversight. They use these mechanisms, such as independent
audits, to ensure accountability and sufficient controls; to deepen their understanding of the
organization; and to reduce the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse.
SUSTAINING RESOURCES8
Exceptional boards link bold visions and ambitious plans to financial support, expertise, and
networks of influence. Linking budgeting to strategic planning, they approve activities that can
be realistically financed with existing or attainable resources, while ensuring that the
organization has the infrastructure and internal capacity it needs.
RESULTS-ORIENTED9
Exceptional boards are results-oriented. They measure the organization’s progress towards
mission and evaluate the performance of major programs and services. They gauge efficiency,
effectiveness, and impact, while simultaneously assessing the quality of service delivery,
integrating benchmarks against peers, and calculating return on investment.
INTENTIONAL BOARD PRACTICES10
Exceptional boards purposefully structure themselves to fulfill essential governance duties and to
support organizational priorities. Making governance intentional, not incident al, exceptional
boards invest in structures and practices that can be thoughtfully adapted to changing
circumstances.
CONTINUOUS LEARNING11
Exceptional boards embrace the qualities of a continuous learning organization, evaluating their
own performance and assessing the value they add to the organization. They embed learning
opportunities into routine governance work and in activities outside of the boardroom.
REVITALIZATION12
Exceptional boards energize themselves through planned turnover, thoughtful recruitment, and
inclusiveness. They see the correlation between mission, strategy, and board composition, and
they understand the importance of fresh perspectives and the risks of closed groups. They
revitalize themselves through diversity of experience and through continuous recruitment.

What are the legal responsibilities of nonprofit boards?

By: BoardSource

Under well-established principles of nonprofit corporation law, a board member must meet certain standards of conduct and attention in carrying out his or her responsibilities to the organization. Several states have statutes adopting some variation of these duties which would be used in court to determine whether a board member acted improperly. These standards are usually described as the duty of care, the duty of loyalty and the duty of obedience.

Duty of Care

The duty of care describes the level of competence that is expected of a board member, and is commonly expressed as the duty of “care that an ordinarily prudent person would exercise in a like position and under similar circumstances.” This means that a board member owes the duty to exercise reasonable care when he or she makes a decision as a steward of the organization.

Duty of Loyalty

The duty of loyalty is a standard of faithfulness; a board member must give undivided allegiance when making decisions affecting the organization. This means that a board member can never use information obtained as a member for personal gain, but must act in the best interests of the organization.

Duty of Obedience

The duty of obedience requires board members to be faithful to the organization’s mission. They are not permitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with the central goals of the organization. A basis for this rule lies in the public’s trust that the organization will manage donated funds to fulfill the organization’s mission.

References