Connect with us

Business and Finance

Virginia Small Business Owners Launch Coalition Supporting Skill Games, Opposing Illegal Gaming

Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition (VA MAC) advocates for regulating and taxing skill games and aiding law enforcement in tackling illegal gaming.



RICHMOND, Va. (Newswire.com) – Today, small business owners from a growing collection of restaurants, retail establishments, bars, convenience stores, truck stops, and other organizations proudly announce the formation of the Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition (VA MAC). The coalition’s mission is to support Virginia small businesses by protecting legal skill games and aiding law enforcement in combating illegal gaming.

Members of VA MAC are working to further educate Virginia lawmakers on how important skill games are to local businesses while urging the General Assembly to pass legislation that would regulate the games, producing tax revenue for the Commonwealth.

“This is about looking out for Virginia’s small businesses who count on skill games to create local jobs, generate revenue, and support economic growth in our communities,” said VA MAC President, Rich Kelly, owner of Hard Times Café with four locations in northern Virginia. “VA MAC is just the beginning of our efforts to support the regulation of skill games and to stand with law enforcement in their work to end illegal gaming.”

Skill games provide additional revenue to small businesses by supplementing their traditional income base. For many businesses, these games made it possible to recover from the income losses experienced during the pandemic, manage the skyrocketing price of goods, and meet higher-than-expected wages during the current labor shortage.

Skill games provide location partners with 40% of profits with no hidden fees or additional costs. Another 35% goes to a local operator. Virginia-based distributors also make a percentage of the profit, ensuring that over 75% of the revenue generated by skill games stays within the local community. Legal skill games have also generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the Commonwealth in additional tax revenue. 

“Our Commonwealth is at a crossroads. Until skill games are regulated, Virginia will continue to miss out on an estimated $130 million in tax revenue per year, and potentially much more,” added President Kelly. “Now our small businesses need your help to keep their doors open — and keep skill games in our locations. At VA MAC, we’re spreading that message across the Commonwealth, encouraging Virginians to contact their legislators and express the urgency in protecting legal skill games and supporting Virginia small businesses.”

Regulating and taxing legal skill games will also help law enforcement better identify bad actors and put a stop to illegal gaming operations. These entities harm communities and jeopardize the success of legitimate establishments.


In addition to advocating for the regulation of skill games, VA MAC members have made serving their communities a critical part of the organization’s mission. In the coming months, VA MAC members will give back in various ways, contributing to local causes such as homeless shelters, youth sports, and organizations that fight food insecurity.

To learn more about VA MAC, visit www.joinvamac.com.

Source: Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition

Continue Reading

College Life

U.S. News Releases 2024 Best Colleges Rankings

Latest edition places an emphasis on outcomes measures for graduating college students.



WASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ — U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in education rankings, today announced the 2024 Best Colleges. Serving as a guide for prospective students and their families, the rankings evaluate 1,500 colleges and universities using up to 19 measures of academic quality. This year’s rankings placed a greater emphasis on social mobility and outcomes for graduating college students, demonstrating the most significant methodological change in the rankings’ history.

More than 50% of an institution’s rank now comprises varying outcome measures related to success in enrolling and graduating students from all backgrounds with manageable debt and post-graduate success. In addition, five factors were removed: class size, faculty with terminal degrees, alumni giving, high school class standing and the proportion of graduates who borrow federal loans.

“For 40 years, students and their families have come to count on Best Colleges as a vital resource as they navigate one of the most important decisions of their lives,” says Eric Gertler, executive chairman and CEO of U.S. News. “The significant changes in this year’s methodology are part of the ongoing evolution to make sure our rankings capture what is most important for students as they compare colleges and select the school that is right for them.”

With these outcomes-focused methodology adjustments, the following schools saw significant increases in their rank:

  • Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (NC) +106
  • University of Texas at San Antonio (TX) +92
  • California State University, East Bay +88
  • Florida Gulf Coast University +80
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley +72
  • Gwynedd Mercy University (PA) +71
  • University of Nevada, Reno +68
  • Northern Arizona University +68
  • The University of Texas at El Paso +68
  • California State University, Fresno +65
  • The University of Texas at Arlington +63
  • Northern Illinois University +62
  • Aurora University (IL) +62
  • Texas Woman’s University +62
  • San Francisco State University (CA) +56
  • Florida Atlantic University +54
  • Augusta University (GA) +52
  • University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh (WI) +52
  • Texas State University +51
  • University of Houston, Clear Lake +51

For the first time, Best Colleges includes undergraduate economics degree and psychology degree rankings. This edition of the rankings also includes specialized rankings, such as the most innovative colleges and universities with the greatest commitment to undergraduate teaching.

The 2024 Best Colleges methodology is calculated using 19 key measures of academic quality for National Universities and 13 indicators for the National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional Colleges. The formula uses data universally reported by schools or obtainable from third-party sources. As always, schools’ eligibility to be ranked is not contingent on participation in U.S. News’ surveys.

2024 Best National Universities – Top 3
1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. Harvard University (MA) (tie)
3. Stanford University (CA) (tie)

2024 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges – Top 3
1. Williams College (MA)
2. Amherst College (MA)
3. United States Naval Academy (MD)


2024 Top Public Schools: National Universities – Top 3
1. University of California, Berkeley (tie)
1. University of California, Los Angeles (tie)
3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

2024 Top Public Schools: National Liberal Arts Colleges – Top 3
1. United States Naval Academy (MD)
2. United States Air Force Academy (CO)
3. United States Military Academy at West Point (NY)

2024 Top Performers on Social Mobility: National Universities – Top 3
1. California State University, Long Beach
2. California State University, Fullerton (tie)
2. California State University, Riverside (tie)
4. California State University, San Bernardino (tie)
4. University of California, Merced (tie)

2024 Top Performers on Social Mobility: National Liberal Arts Colleges – Top 3
1. Lake Forest College (IL)
2. Agnes Scott College (GA) (tie)
2. Salem College (NC) (tie)
2. Spelman College (GA)

Alongside the rankings, U.S. News publishes editorial content related to the college selection experience. This includes advice on topics such as a complete guide to the application processhow to ask for letters of recommendationhow to apply to college for free and more.

On Sept. 28, U.S. News will host a free webinar on the new edition of Best Colleges and its methodology, with presentations from the lead ranking analysts. Those interested in attending can register here.

U.S. News’ education portfolio also includes the newly acquired CollegeAdvisor.com which offers expert support during the college admissions process. In addition, U.S. News College Compass provides students and their parents with access to the most complete rankings and data.


To order a copy of the “Best Colleges 2024” guidebook (ISBN 979-8-9864591-2-7), visit the online U.S. News store.

About U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives and communities. A multifaceted digital media company with Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars, News, Real Estate, Careers and 360 Reviews platforms, U.S. News provides rankings, independent reporting, data journalism, consumer advice and U.S. News Live events. More than 40 million people visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

SOURCE U.S. News & World Report, L.P.

Continue Reading

Business and Finance

Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman & CEO John Hope Bryant to be Honored by The International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute at 2nd Annual ‘We See You Awards’

Global collective of inter-generational women leaders to honor Brant on Wednesday, September 20 in Washington, D.C., aligning with the 52nd Annual Legislative Conference hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation



ATLANTA /PRNewswire/ — Operation HOPE today announced that The International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute (IBWPPI) will honor its Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant, during the second annual “We See You Awards International.”

A global collective of women leaders to honor Bryant at the Kennedy Center in D.C. for amplifying Black women’s voices.

John Hope Bryant- Founder, Chairman & CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Holdings

The black-tie event will take place at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday, September 20 in Washington D.C. Bryant will be recognized for his ongoing advocacy, commitment to inclusion and profound effect on amplifying Black women’s voices in national and international public policy issues. Bryant is one of six 2023 ‘We See You’ Award recipients. Terrence A. Adams, Tellis Bethel, Benjamin Crump, Robert Smith and Tyronne Stoudemire will also be honored.

Bryant is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Atlanta-based Operation HOPE, Inc., a leading national nonprofit dedicated to financial literacy and economic empowerment. Since its inception in 1992, Operation HOPE has served over 4 million people and directed more than $4 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities.

“John Hope Bryant has worked tirelessly to advance the status of Black women and served as champions for justice and economic well-being for all— especially Black women,” said IBWPPI President and CEO, Barbara A. Perkins.

“I feel humbled and grateful to receive this esteemed honor from IBWPPI and believe that Black women deserve to be heard in every room,” said Bryant. “Congratulations to each of my fellow honorees for their steadfast work toward this goal. Together, we will continue to serve as allies and help change the status quo.”

Originating in 2009, the ‘We See You’ Award was initially a night to honor the contributions of women who have positively transformed communities in Los Angeles County. Since then, the event has become a celebration that aligns with the Annual Legislative Conference hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to honor those who make a global impact. The theme of this year’s event is “Celebrating a Legacy of Unity and Love.”

In addition to founding Operation HOPE, Bryant is also the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Bryant Group Ventures and Principal of The Promise Homes Company, which is the largest minority-controlled owner of single-family rental homes in the United States. Bryant has served as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. At the recommendation of Bryant, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew renamed the former U.S. Treasury Annex Building the Freedman’s Bank Building.

Operation HOPE’s mission promotes social justice through an economic lens. Today, the organization continues to experience significant growth with a focus on providing resources to historically underserved communities. With more than 230 ‘HOPE Inside’ locations across the country, HOPE’s team of certified coaches supports a diverse group of clients through initiatives that help improve financial wellness, increase homeownership and build small businesses. For more information, visit OperationHope.org.


About Operation HOPE, Inc.
Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to “Silver Rights” with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved—disrupting poverty for millions of low and moderate-income youth and adults across the nation. Through its award-winning community uplift model, HOPE Inside, which received the Innovator of the Year recognition by American Banker magazine, Operation HOPE has served more than 4 million individuals and directed more than $4 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities—turning check-cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners, minimum wage workers into living wage consumers, and uncertain disaster victims into financially empowered disaster survivors. Operation HOPE recently received Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award for driving entrepreneurship as well as its eighth consecutive 4-star charity rating for fiscal management and commitment to transparency and accountability from the prestigious non-profit evaluator, Charity Navigator. This year, HOPE also launched The 1865 Project, an initiative designed to help level the economic playing field for underserved Americans. For more information: OperationHOPE.org. Join the conversation on social media at @operationHOPE.

SOURCE Operation HOPE, Inc.

Continue Reading

Business and Finance

CDFI Fund Reminder: Annual Compliance, Certification and other Reporting Obligations



Reminder: Annual Compliance, Certification and Reporting Obligations

Are you the Authorized Representative of either a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) or an organization that has received a Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) Award and/or Allocation? If so, don’t forget that in order to maintain your organization’s CDFI Certification status, you must submit the Annual Certification and Data Collection Report (ACR). Additionally, to ensure compliance with your Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreement(s) you must complete and submit the annual report(s) specified in these agreement(s).  

Failure to file required annual compliance and Certification reports or advise the CDFI Fund of certain Material Events may result in default and/or noncompliance with your organization’s Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreement(s), or termination of your CDFI Certification.

The due dates to submit annual compliance report(s) vary by fiscal year end date and type of award, as well as by the specific terms within each organization’s individual Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreement(s). The due date for Certified CDFIs to submit the ACR also varies by fiscal year end date. This reminder is specifically for organizations with Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreements, as well as ACRs, which have an upcoming report(s) due by September 30, 2023.

While the CDFI Fund is still currently not accepting NEW CDFI Certification Applications, Certified CDFIs are still required to submit an ACR in accordance with their existing ACR reporting schedule, as listed in the Awards Management Information System (AMIS), to maintain their Certification status.

How to Check Your Report Date

  • CDFI Fund Recipients and/or Allocatees: The due date(s) for your organization’s required report(s) can be found in the Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreement(s) on the Reporting Schedule in AMIS. Please review the Agreement(s) applicable to your organization to check if you are required to report at this time and for additional information about annual reporting requirements.
  • All Certified CDFIs:  The due date(s) for your organization’s Annual Certification and Data Collection Report can be found in the ACR Reporting Schedule in AMIS. Please review the ACR Reporting Schedule in AMIS to check if you are required to report at this time.

Extension for CDFI/NACA/RRP and NMTC Transaction Level Report Due Dates

All CDFI/NACA/RRP Award Recipients and NMTC Allocatees with a TLR due date between 8/31/2023 and 11/30/2023 have a new due date of 12/31/2023. This due date change was done so that the CDFI Fund could implement changes in AMIS to the CDFI/NACA/RRP TLR and NMTC Allocatee TLR. At this time, the Organization Name Look-up Capability in AMIS for the TLRs is disabled until the CDFI Fund completes its deployment later this year of new features to the TLR for the CDFI, NACA, RRP, and NMTC programs. Users may still access the geocoding Import and Template download at the bottom of the TLR page in AMIS. If you have any questions, please submit an AMIS service request with “TLR Upload Lockout” as the subject heading. The CDFI Fund will send out an email once the TLRs have fully reopened in AMIS.

Annual Certification and Data Collection Report Deadline Reminder


All Certified CDFIs are required to submit ACRs on an annual basis. CDFIs must submit their ACRs, in AMIS, within 90 days of the end of their organization’s fiscal year, unless directed otherwise by the CDFI Fund. 

For the 2023 reporting cycle, all Certified CDFIs, regardless of their date of Certification, will be required to submit an ACR. Currently Certified CDFIs will NOT lose their Certification or be placed into a cure based on accurate analysis or responses to the 2023 ACR. However, an organization may have its Certification terminated if they fail to submit their 2023 ACR by the required deadline. Submission of the ACR on an annual basis is a requirement of CDFI Certification.

The AMIS ACR Reporting Schedule displays the due date for the ACR based on the organization’s fiscal year end, unless directed otherwise by the CDFI Fund. If an organization received its initial CDFI Certification after the 2023 ACR reporting cycle opened in December 2022, then its 2023 ACR due date is more than likely not within the 90 days of the end of the organization’s fiscal year window. The ACR Reporting Schedule section is located at the bottom of the Certification Related page in AMIS. Additional information on the AMIS Reporting Schedule can be found in the AMIS Training Manual – Annual Certification and Data Collection Report available on the CDFI Fund’s website. Be sure to check whether your organization’s fiscal year end is correct on your AMIS Organizational Detail Page.

Failure to file the required ACR will result in a loss of status as a Certified CDFI and may lead to additional sanctions for CDFIs that are program Recipients.

Advise the CDFI Fund of Material Events

As specified in the terms of your organization’s Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreement(s), please remember that your organization is required to advise the CDFI Fund of an occurrence of a Material Event, which should be submitted via a Service Request initiated in your organization’s AMIS account. CDFI Fund Recipients with active awards are required to submit a Material Events form within 30 days of the occurrence of a material event. New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) Allocatees are required to submit a Material Events form within 20 days of the occurrence of material event, including all necessary supporting documentation with the Material Events form submission. Please refer to your Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreements(s) for guidance regarding submission of a Material Events form.

The CDFI Fund is reminding all Certified CDFIs, Certified CDEs, as well as program Recipients and/or Allocatees to review their recent organizational history to determine if a Material Events form should be submitted. Certified CDFIs that do not have an Award, Assistance and/or Allocation Agreement should report changes in their organization’s fiscal year end through the AMIS Service Request portal.


Submission of Audit Confirmation Requests

Hard copy submissions of CDFI audit confirmation requests for information should no longer be mailed to the CDFI Fund. CDFI Recipient auditors should now submit all audit confirmation requests via email to [email protected]. This includes but is not limited to verifications, validations, and confirmation of balances of financial assistance received from the CDFI Fund.

The CDFI Fund will respond to all audit confirmation requests by email, only. As such, requests must include an email address and instructions of where the CDFI Fund should deliver the requested information. Questions regarding the process for submitting audit confirmation requests can also be submitted via email at [email protected].

Updates for CDFI Program Healthy Food Financing Initiative-Financial Assistance Award Recipients

All CDFI Program Healthy Food Financing Initiative-Financial Assistance Recipients (HFFI) are now required to enter aggregate HFFI data in their Performance Progress Report (PPR), just as they enter aggregate data for the other deployment performance goals. Keep in mind, HFFI Recipients must continue to enter individual HFFI data in the CDFI Transaction Level Report (TLR).

For More Information

The CDFI Fund has developed training materials to help users better navigate AMIS. All AMIS training manuals and information can be found on the AMIS Training Materials page at https://amis.cdfifund.gov/Training. Information and instructions on submitting annual compliance and certification reports, as well as Material Events forms can be found on the CDFI Fund’s website at the following links:


If you have questions about the annual compliance and certification reports, or Material Events please submit a Service Request via your organization’s AMIS account. For more information about the CDFI Fund and its programs, please visit www.cdfifund.gov.

Continue Reading