AAPI Weekly Highlights: #SOTU

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AAPI Highlights, February 11, 2013

 

Welcome to this edition of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Highlights. Read about the President’s statement on the Lunar New Year; the sequester cuts; the departure of Subra Suresh, Director of the National Science Foundation; the AAPI Texas Regional Conference; and agency announcements and grant opportunities.  

Watch the State of the Union on Tuesday

On Tuesday, February 12th, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union Address from the Capitol. The White House will be hosting a State of the Union Social event, which broadcasts the President’s Address live from the White House, and participants sit in on a panel discussion with Administration officials about the vision and policies presented during the speech.

For those watching at home, The White House will be streaming an enhanced version of the speech on WhiteHouse.gov that features graphics, data and charts that help explain policies and the issues. You can also tune in live on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and through our mobile apps.

After the speech, stay tuned for a chance to ask White House officials your questions about the issues that were highlighted in the President’s address. Before, during and after the speech, you can submit your questions for the panel here, or on Twitter using the hashtags (#WHChat & #SOTU). 

Statement by the President on the Lunar New Year 

On February 8, 2013, the President made the following statement regarding the Lunar New Year: “Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those who will be celebrating the Lunar New Year this Sunday, February 10th.  Here in America and around the world, people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent will welcome the Year of the Snake.  In Chinese tradition, the snake represents wisdom, and a thoughtful approach to tackling the challenges before us – principles that I hope will continue to guide us as we perfect our union and create a more just and equal future for every American.  Our challenges may be great, but our diversity and the traditions that thrive here give us the strength to meet them.  To everyone celebrating the Lunar New Year, I wish you peace, prosperity and good health and fortune.” Read the official statement here.

President Obama to Honor Recipients of the 2012 Citizens Medal

On February 15, 2013, President Obama will welcome to the White House the recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.

 

“It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service,” said President Obama. “Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.” The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.

Among the recipients is Terry Shima of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Shima was drafted into the US Army on October 12, 1944 as a replacement for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This unit was composed of Japanese Americans who volunteered for combat duty. In November 2011, the US Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal collectively to the 442nd RCT, the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Shima served as Executive Director of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), a nonprofit organization that publicizes and assists Japanese American military veterans and their families, from 2004 to 2012 and is now chair of its Outreach and Education Committee. To see the entire list of recipients, click here.

President Obama Makes a Statement on the Sequester

On February 5, 2013, President Obama explained that while our economy is headed in the right direction, looming automatic budget cuts – known as the sequester – will cost jobs and slow down our recovery. The President has already worked with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to cut the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion through a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, but there's more to be done to meet the $4 trillion in deficit reduction needed to stabilize our debt. "I think this balanced mix of spending cuts and tax reform is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction," the President said. To watch the President’s full remarks, click here.

President Obama on the Departure of Subra Suresh

On February 5, 2013, the President issued the following statement, “We have been very fortunate to have Subra Suresh guiding the National Science Foundation for the last two years. Subra has shown himself to be a consummate scientist and engineer - beholden to evidence and committed to upholding the highest scientific standards. He has also done his part to make sure the American people benefit from advances in technology, and opened up more opportunities for women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. I am grateful for his service.” To read the official statement, click here.

President Obama Names Sally Jewell to Lead the Department of the Interior

On February 6, 2013, President Obama announced that he has chosen Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of the Interior. For the past eight years, Ms. Jewell has been the CEO of REI, one of America's most successful and environmentally conscious retailers. Previously, she worked in oil fields in Oklahoma and Colorado, and as an energy expert in banking -- experience the President highlighted as he introduced Ms. Jewell to the American people. To read the full statement, click here.  

WHIAAPI Announcements  

 

AAPI Texas Regional Conference - Houston, TX

 

On Saturday, February 23, 2013, at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, join senior Obama officials for a day of open dialogue, where the community and government will work together to empower the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Texas. The conference is free and open to the public. To attend, please register here.

 

Agency Announcements

Secretary Salazar to Unveil New Asian American Pacific Islander Initiative, Make Major Announcement about Wing Luke Museum in Seattle

On Sunday, February 10, 2013, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will join WHIAAPI Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, senior officials from his department, members of Washington’s congressional delegation and other local officials to tour the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience and unveil a new Asian American Pacific Islander heritage initiative that will be undertaken by the National Park Service. Secretary Salazar will also make a major announcement regarding the future of the museum. To learn more about this event, click here. 

2013 Lunar New Year, Statement from Secretary of State John Kerry

On February 6, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry offered his wishes in welcoming the 2013 Lunar New Year. He said “On behalf of the American people, I am delighted to send my heartfelt wishes for good health, good fortune, happiness, and prosperity to all those around the world celebrating the arrival of the Lunar New Year this February 10. This week, millions of people will make the journey – some across great distances – to reunite with their loved ones to mark the Lunar New Year. Here in the United States, many families will likewise gather to welcome the New Year. These public and private celebrations, held by multigenerational immigrant communities, highlight the diversity of American society and the deep and complex bonds that link the American people with peoples from around the world. President Obama and I look forward to strengthening our commitment to building ever-stronger relations with the people of the Asia-Pacific through initiatives that foster economic growth, improve regional security, and advance cooperative friendships among our peoples.” Read the official statement here.

USCIS Vietnamese Public Engagement – How to Become a U.S. Citizen

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to attend a free Vietnamese language engagement on the naturalization process. Representatives from USCIS will be on hand to answer your questions in Vietnamese about becoming a U.S. citizen. The training will take place on Thursday, February 21, 2013; 2:00 – 3:30 PM PST, at USCIS Santa Ana Field Office, 34 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, CA 92701. A teleconference is also available at 1-888-989-4980 with passcode: “Giao tiep” and a live stream at www.uscis.gov/live/giaotiep.

For more information regarding this event, email public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov and write “Giao tiep” in the subject line or click here. To learn more about USCIS’s multilingual resources, please visit www.uscis.gov/multilingual.

 

OPIC Workshop at MDBA Business Center Cleveland, OH

 

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has helped hundreds of American small businesses with its finance and insurance products to gain access to emerging markets overseas.

OPIC and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Cleveland, Ohio, will host the MBDA Business Center-Cleveland Conference, a two-day event that provides established minority businesses the opportunity to network, participate in informative discussions and hear from influential speakers regarding achieving professional success. The workshop will be on March 14, 2013. For more information and registration, click here.

 

HUD Issues Rule Formalizing Standard on Discriminatory Effects in Housing  

 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it is issuing a final rule to formalize the national standard for determining whether a housing practice violates the Fair Housing Act as the result of discriminatory effect. The rule provides clarity and consistency for individuals, businesses, and government entities subject to the Fair Housing Act.  HUD anticipates the rule also will make it easier for individuals and organizations covered by the law to understand their responsibilities and comply with the law. View the final rule here.

 National Health Service Corps Expands the Primary Care Workforce

The National Health Service Corps awarded more than $10 million in funding for loan repayment to 87 medical students in 29 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who will serve as primary care doctors and help strengthen the health care workforce, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on February 6, 2013. Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, the National Health Service Corps’ Students to Service Loan Repayment Program provides financial support to fourth year primary care medical students in exchange for their service in the communities that need them most. Read more here. 

White House and Department of Homeland Security Officials’ Meeting with Law Enforcement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC) Director Cecilia Muñoz, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Alan Bersin and Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West met with law enforcement officials from across the country on February 6, 2013 at the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building to discuss the need for commonsense reform to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. DPC Director Muñoz outlined the principles at the heart of the President’s proposal: continuing to strengthen border security, cracking down on employers that hire undocumented workers, creating a pathway to earned citizenship, and streamlining our legal immigration system. Secretary Napolitano highlighted the Department’s work with local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws while securing our borders, and noted that in order to continue making progress; we need to modernize our immigration laws. Read more here.

Medicaid Affordable Care Act FAQs

On February 6, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted a set of frequently asked questions to the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) Medicaid.gov website discussing a range of issues including the Basic Health Program, the new federal medical assistance percentages and how states qualify, and the coverage of pregnant women and children. To view the frequently asked questions, click here.

States Continue Progress During Second Year of Race to the Top

On February 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education released state-specific reports for 12 Race to the Top grantees, detailing their progress on transforming education at the local level. The reports highlight the second-year work and accomplishments of states awarded funding through the first two phases of Race to the Top: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee. “Race to the Top has sparked dramatic changes, and in only the second year of the program we’re seeing those results reach the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. To read more, click here.

Energy Department, Treasury Announce Availability of $150 Million in Tax Credits for Clean Energy Manufacturers

As part of President’s Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy, the U.S. Departments of Energy and the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced on February 7, 2013 the availability of $150 million in Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing projects across the United States. This important tax program is focused on strengthening America’s global competitiveness in clean energy manufacturing, increasing our energy security and creating new jobs and opportunities for American workers. To learn more, click here. 

EPA Provides Technical Assistance to 43 Communities to Meet their Sustainability Goals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 7, 2013 that 43 communities -- rural, urban and suburban -- will receive technical assistance to pursue sustainable growth that encourages local economic development while safeguarding people’s health and the environment. EPA consulted with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to select this year’s 43 recipients from 121 applicants through a competitive process. EPA staff and national experts will conduct one to two-day workshops that focus on the specific sustainability goal each community chose in their initial application to EPA. To read more of EPA’s green initiative, click here. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act: Then, Now and Next

Acting U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris, made the following statement on February 5, 2013, regarding the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): 

Today, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of FMLA, the Department of Labor (which next month will celebrate its own 100th anniversary) is releasing the results of a survey on the act’s use and impact. Plain and simple: FMLA is still good for workers and their families — and yes, it’s good for business.

The report tells us that, over the last 20 years, FMLA has had a positive effect on the lives of millions of American workers and their families, without imposing an undue burden on employers as detractors once warned. In truth, employers report little to no difficulty complying with FMLA and actually credit the law for reduced turnover and increased workplace morale. Read the entire statement here and the results of the FMLA survey here.

  

SBA Triples Surety Bond Guarantee Ceiling; Helping Small Businesses Secure Larger Contracts and Grow

 

A major revision in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Surety Bond Guarantee (SBG) Program more than triples the eligible contract amount, from $2 million to $6.5 million, the Agency will guarantee on surety bonds for both public and private contracts. The higher surety bond guarantee limits are expected to help construction and service sector small businesses gain greater access to private and public contracts and secure larger contracts vital to small business growth. To read the full announcement, click here.  

Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on Proposed 2014 Military Pay Raise

The U.S. Department of Defense will propose a one percent pay raise for service members in calendar year 2014 as part of the forthcoming fiscal 2014 defense budget request to Congress. The proposal provides a pay raise for U.S. forces in an era of slowing defense spending. In addition to this pay increase, the department will maintain important benefits for active duty service members and families, including housing and subsistence allowances, special pay, tuition assistance, health care, commissaries, child care and youth development programs, and military retirement benefits. Further details will be made available in the fiscal 2014 budget submission. To read the official statement, click here.

Grant Opportunities

 

National Institute of Health Announces Intent to Fund Workforce Diversity Planning Grants  

 

In 2012, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce provided concrete recommendations toward improving the recruitment and retention of individuals from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research, including persons from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds  across the lifespan of a research career from undergraduate study to acquisition of tenure in an academic position or the equivalent in a non-academic setting. In response to these recommendations, NIH is establishing the "Increasing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce" program to unify and strengthen institutions and faculty that are dedicated to the recruitment and retention of diverse scientists.  This program, to be launched and piloted through the NIH Common Fund, will extend from and enhance the many existing programs that currently support students, faculty, and institutions.  For more information on the planning grants for this program, click here.

 

National Institutes of Health Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Grant

The National Institutes of Health announced the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program Grant. The purpose of the IMSD Program is to develop the pool of a diverse group of highly trained undergraduate and graduate students who go on to research careers and will be available to participate in NIH-funded research. The program provides institutional grants to research-intensive institutions that propose well-integrated developmental activities designed to increase students' academic preparation and skills that are critical to the completion of the Ph.D. degree in biomedical and behavioral sciences. Eligible applicants include: Public and State controlled institutions of higher education; Private institutions of higher education; Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions; Hispanic-serving Institutions; Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs). The application deadline is March 14, 2013. To learn more about the grant opportunity, click here.

Post Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) Grant

The National Institutes of Health has announced the Post baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). PREP encourages Research Education Grant applications from institutions that propose to develop recent baccalaureate science graduates from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences so that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue PhD or MD-PhD degrees in these fields. The program provides support for well-designed academic enhancements and extensive research experiences aimed at preparing individuals from diverse backgrounds to complete PhD or MD-PhD degree programs in these disciplines. Eligible applicants include: Public and State; controlled institutions of higher education; and Private institutions of higher education. The application deadline is March 14, 2013. To learn more about the grant opportunity, click here.

US Department of Labor Announces Grant Competition to Provide Career Training to Farmworkers

The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Feb 7, 2013, a grant competition for the National Farmworker Jobs Program. Funds will be used to provide career training and employment and supportive services to improve economic opportunities for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families. The National Farmworker Jobs Program helps farmworkers upgrade their agricultural job skills or acquire new skills in industries that offer higher wages and more stable employment. In addition, the program provides supportive services such as child care, housing assistance and transportation, which remove barriers to farmworkers pursuing training, and enable them to begin new careers or retain their employment. To read more about the grant program and application process, click here. 

USDA Announces Request for Applications for FY 2014 Farm to School Grants

On February 6, 2013, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the release of a request for applications (RFA) for the latest round of USDA's Farm to School grants. These grants will help eligible schools improve the health and wellbeing of their students and connect with local agricultural producers. This year, three different kinds of grants will be available. Planning grants are intended for schools just getting started on farm to school activities, while implementation grants are available for schools seeking to augment or expand existing efforts. Additionally, eligible non-profit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers may apply for support service grants in order to conduct trainings, create complementary curriculum, or further develop supply chains, among other activities. Proposals are due April 24, 2013. USDA will host a series of webinars related to the application process. For details on the grants and the dates for the webinars, click here.