News Briefs

Spending More, Bidding Less
A survey of 740 active small-business contractors, conducted by American Express OPEN, shows that these contractors invested? $103,827 in time and money to seek contracting opportunities over the past year, a 21 percent increase from the $86,000 they spent the previous year. At the same time, bidding activity by these firms declined by nearly half in the period, both in prime and subcontracting activity.?The average success rates for active small-business contracts in both prime and subcontracting declined as well, reflecting a more competitive and tighter environment. Small-business contractors said they had to submit 4.4 bids on average before they won their first prime federal contract. The federal government?s contract spending totaled $461 billion in fiscal year 2011, down 14 percent from the previous year.

Wanaqua Family Garden


Back to the Community
The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and natural areas, signed over the deeds to 32 gardens to New York City?s Brooklyn Queens Land Trust. The transfer comes more than a decade after the TPL purchased 62 New York City community gardens for $3 million, saving them from a city auction and eventual destruction. The TPL subsequently worked with local gardeners to establish the nonprofit Bronx, Brooklyn-Queens and Manhattan land trusts to ultimately own and manage the gardens. Forty of the gardens are situated in districts where most live farther than 10 minutes from a public green space, according to New Yorkers For Parks. A 2009 GrowNYC survey details that 80 percent of New York City community gardens grow food, and the most popular are tomatoes, sweet peppers, beans, eggplants and cucumbers.

Springboard Loan Fund
Small minority and/or women-owned business entrepreneurs in Community Boards 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11 and 12 of the Bronx, New York, may apply for low-cost microloans under the Springboard Loan Fund, a program administered by the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation that utilizes nontraditional lending strategies to assist developing businesses. The terms of the loan and interest rates are the maximum of 24 months at prime plus 4 percent. Fees include a $75 application fee for loans up to $2,999 and $100 for loans from $3,000 to $7,000. An additional commitment fee of 3 percent of the loan is charged at closing and all applicants are charged a $50 fee to cover the costs of credit reports and UCC filings. For additional information and applications, contact The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, 851 Grand Concourse, Room 123, Bronx, NY 10451, or call 718-590-6252.

Financial Literacy at MSIs
The Institute for Higher Education Policy says financial literacy is becoming an increasingly familiar resolution for minority-serving institutions (MSIs) struggling to achieve stronger student retention and completion and lower loan default rates. The institute?s research cites interventions such as faculty development, cross-departmental collaboration, mentoring, first-year experience, orientation, social media, workshops, entrance and exit counseling, and community engagement as helpful to both students and institutions. It says the concern about students who do not earn a postsecondary credential being more likely to default on their loan payments than those who complete is valid and strongly connected to inadequate institutional resources, processes and
policies, and calls for ?broader conversations related to developing and
managing programs that promote stronger financial literacy levels for students at-risk of defaulting.?

Learning Technology

Pearson Education Inc. says its MyLab and Mastering online learning technology helped the University of Memphis math department increase passing rates by 23 percent, decrease withdraw rates by 53 percent and slice the gap of performance disparities between Black and white students in half. Pearson?s statements come amid financial, achievement and retention pressure on higher education in the United States and a continued drop in the country?s world standing for education ? most recently from 12th to 16th in adults ages 25 to 34 who
hold degrees. Pearson?s suite of personalized learning technology comprises MyMathLab, MyMathLab-
Plus, MasteringChemistry, Master-ingBiology, MasteringEngineering, MyPsychLab, MySkillsLab, My-SpanishLab, MyEconLab, MyITLab, MyFoundationsLab and MyAccount-ingLab.

Health en Espanol
Lilly for Better Health?, a program of Lilly USA L.L.C., launched an expanded Spanish portal on The ?En Espanol? section now features a 60-page interactive health album with tips on healthy eating, physical activity and managing health conditions. It also features interactive health and wellness quizzes and risk assessments on topics such as weight management, stress, diabetes, cancer and mental health, and education resources covering a wide variety of health and wellness topics. Each source is offered in a digital publication format that may be viewed, downloaded, printed and shared through email or social networking. A popular resource is Buena Salud, Buena Vida. Su Gu?a de Recursos de Salud, a comprehensive guide with quick tips for overall wellness and a listing of local health resources in
all 50 states and the District of Columbia.