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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Senator Fontana joined members of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, EPIC Insurance Brokers, and the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank on Saturday in McKees Rocks to distribute turkeys, ham and produce to families in need.
Senator Fontana joined members of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, EPIC Insurance Brokers, and the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank on Saturday in McKees Rocks to distribute turkeys, ham and produce to families in need.

PAsmart Grants Available to Connect Employers, Create New Job Training Opportunities

PAsmartThe Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is administering nearly $4.6 million in PAsmart grants that are available to create more opportunities for Pennsylvania workers to increase their job skills and earn quality wages.

A part of the overall $40 million PAsmart initiative, PAsmart Next Generation Industry Partnership grants of up to $250,000 per partnership, are available through L&I to connect employers in the same industry to support job training in: advanced manufacturing; agriculture and food production; bio medical; building and construction; business services; education; energy; healthcare; hospitality; leisure and entertainment; logistics and transportation; real estate, finance and insurance; and wood, wood products and publishing.

Eligible applicants include local workforce development boards (LWDB), labor organizations, economic development organizations, industry associations, local education agencies, education intermediaries, post-secondary education providers, community-based organizations, libraries, and nonprofits. Any entity may serve as fiscal agent for all grant awards. Applicants are required to partner with an LWDB on their application.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 3, 2020. Additional details, the grant application, and information about the bidder’s webinar can be found on L&I’s website by clicking here or visiting https://www.dli.pa.gov/Businesses/Workforce-Development/grants/Pages/default.aspx.

Did You Know…

Did you know that since the Next Generation Industry Partnerships program launched in 2017, 19 partnerships among 600 businesses and 400 public and community partners have rolled out across 19 workforce development areas and are operating in Logistics & Transportation, Advanced Manufacturing, Health Care, Agriculture & Food Processing, Energy and Hospitality and Leisure & Entertainment?

Farm to School Grant Program

Farm to School Grant Program

As a part of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill that became law earlier this year, elementary schools have the ability to apply for funding to improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade through the Farm to School Grant Program. The new program aims to enrich the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early childhood education sites.

An online application is available by clicking here or visiting https://www.esa.dced.state.pa.us/login.aspx and schools have until Jan. 15, 2020 to apply. Any school district, charter school, or private school with pre-K, kindergarten, or elementary through fifth grade is eligible to apply for up to $15,000.  There is $500,000 available for the Farm to School Grant Program and grants will be awarded on a funds-available basis.

Eligible applications should include the following:

  • A list of PA farmers who have agreed to supply products from their farms
  • Nutrition and agriculture education, including integration into regular classroom subjects
  • Training of teachers and other educational staff on nutrition and agriculture education
  • Inclusion of parents, caregivers, and community groups in educational activities
  • Field trips to PA farms or other direct agricultural experiences which teach children about sources of food and PA agriculture

Applicants with questions about the program and application process can contact Patrick Andrews at 717-772-1429 or patriandrew@pa.gov.

Protect Sensitive Data during Holiday Shopping Season

holiday scamsThe Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is encouraging all Pennsylvanians to protect themselves against identity theft as the holiday shopping season is underway. Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell reminded Pennsylvanians that this time of year is a prime time for identity thieves to steal financial and personal data.

Here are some basic steps provided by the Department of Revenue that people can take to protect themselves from identity thieves:

  • Shop at websites where the web address begins "https" – the "s" is for secure communications.
  • Don't shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in malls or hotels, where thieves can tap in.
  • Secure your home Wi-Fi with a password.
  • Use security software for computers and mobile phones; keep it updated.
  • Protect your personal information; don't hand it out to just anyone.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for your accounts.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Back up your files on computers and mobile phones.
  • Watch out for scam emails during holidays, tax season

The most common way thieves steal identities or account passwords is simply by asking for it through phishing emails. Remember, don't take the bait. Recognize and avoid phishing emails. These tricky scams often involve:

  • Identity thieves posing as companies or government agencies you know and trust. That includes the IRS and the Department of Revenue.
  • Emails telling an urgent story to trick you into opening a link or an attachment. Doing this can add a virus or spyware onto your computer.

And, no, that's not the IRS or the Department of Revenue calling to demand a tax payment on a gift card. Remember:

  • The IRS and the Department of Revenue do not call demanding immediate payment and making threats of jail or lawsuits.
  • The IRS and the Department of Revenue will not demand payment via gift or debit cards. 
  • The IRS and the Department of Revenue do not send unsolicited emails about refunds or payments, requesting your login credentials, Social Security numbers or other sensitive information.

The Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers that it has a Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit dedicated to assisting victims of identity theft and combating tax refund fraud.  If you are a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent Pennsylvania personal income tax return was filed using your identity, please contact the Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit at 717-772-9297 or RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov.  For more information on ways to protect yourself, visit  Revenue's Identity Theft Victim Assistance webpage. You can also find further information about protecting yourself online at PA.gov/Cybersecurity.

LIHEAP

LIHEAPThe Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) began accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) on Nov 1.  The program helps low income families pay their heating bills.  You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website (www.compass.state.pa.us).  You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to the Allegheny County Assistance Office, located at 5947 Penn Avenue, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.

Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.  The income limits for this season are as follows:

Household Size Income Limit
1 $18,735
2 $25,365
3 $31,995
4 $38,625
5 $45,255
6 $51,885
7 $58,515
8 $65,145
9 $71,775
10 $78,405

After your application is received you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive.  Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and will be credited to your heating account.  Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat.  For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.

Snow Angels

Snow AngelsThe City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Community affairs is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 Snow Angels Program. This program pairs older adult residents and residents with disabilities with nearby volunteer Snow Angels to help them shovel and salt their property throughout the winter.

In order to request help from a Snow Angel, neighbors must:

  • Be at least 60 years old or have a physical disability
  • Live within City of Pittsburgh limits
  • Lack other resources (financial or family/friends nearby) to assist with snow removal

Volunteers and neighbors in need can register for the program online at https://pittsburghpa.gov/snowangels/ or by calling the City’s 311 Response Center. The 2018-2019 program saw over 210 neighbors matched with volunteers to help them manage the hardships of winter.

The Office of Community Affairs will offer incentives throughout the winter season for individuals to volunteer on their social media accounts on Facebook (facebook.com/ocapgh), Twitter (@ocapgh) and NextDoor. Community-based organizations, companies or employers are encouraged to assist with volunteer recruitment in their communities by having volunteers mention the organization’s name when they register. The organization that recruits the most volunteers will win the 2019-2020 Golden Shovel award and other incentives that will be announced later.

For more information or to find out more about how to help with volunteer recruitment, contact the Snow Angels Program at snowangels@pittsburghpa.gov or 412-255-0846.

Fontana Fact

winter solsticeThe first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is this Saturday, Dec. 21. The day of the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, meaning the one in which we experience the least amount of daylight in 24 hours. It is also the time when the Sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky. Although this part of Earth is cooling, its great thermal mass still retains some heat from the summer and fall. As the gradual cooling process continues over the next two months, temperatures will continue to fall, and the coldest temperatures will be recorded.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
1039 Brookline Boulevard
Suite 2
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol | Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – First Tuesday of each month or by appointment