December 2008 – Volume VI, Number 11
Compiled and edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
ACROSS THE FIELD – by Jane Leonard

Minnesota’s winter wonderland has arrived just in time for the holidays, perhaps one note of good cheer in an otherwise uncertain economy. At least Minnesotans can count on ice-fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing season to kick into high gear with the recent sub-freezing and subzero temperatures and snow on the ground.

Today we also await the formal announcement of President-Elect Barack Obama’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture, our neighbor to the south, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Governor Vilsack is a strong proponent for alternative energy development and rural economic development.

We’ll keep a watchful eye as the new national team comes together and what its effect will be on rural opportunities and challenges. In the meantime, read below for a great rundown of funding, learning, and resources that you might find helpful right now.

Happy Holidays!


–USDA Solid Waste Management Grants – $3.4 million is available from this annual USDA Rural Development program to fund approximately 35 local units of government, academic institutions and non-profits who propose to, among other work, provide technical assistance and/or training to help rural areas reduce their solid waste stream. Grants are restricted to areas not in a city or town with a population in excess of 10,000. Proposals are due December 31, 2008. Go to:

–Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program -The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will award up to $150,000 in grants through the 2009 round of its annual funding program. Up to $25,000 is available for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects in Minnesota. The purpose of the program is to fund practices that promote environmental stewardship and conservation of resources as well as improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas. Eligible recipients include Minnesota farmers, individuals at Minnesota educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and local natural resource agencies. Proposals are due January 16, 2009. For more information go to:
–The National Museum of the American Indian’s Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program offers support to a wide range of activities with the goal of increasing the understanding and appreciation of contemporary Native American arts. The Exhibitions and Publications grant category supports projects that interpret and present the work of contemporary Native visual artists to the public and encourage dialogue and critical commentary. The Expressive Arts category promotes the creation and presentation of new works through the collaboration of two or more Native artists. The Artist Leadership Program enables indigenous artists to research, network, and develop life skills to enhance artistic growth and strengthen career development. The Emerging Artist Program seeks to enhance the artistic growth of young artists in high school and college. The application deadline for the first two categories is January 15, 2009. Applications for the last two categories are due April 6, 2009. Visit the website for details on each of the program’s grant categories.

–The Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers program, administered by the National Science Teachers Association, recognizes K-12 science teachers throughout the United States for innovative projects that enhance science education in their schools and/or school districts. The grant categories are: Physical Science Application, Environmental Science Education, and Integrating Literacy and Science. Fifty large grants of up to $10,000 and a minimum of twenty mini-grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded in 2009. All applicants must have at least two years of science teaching experience in a K-12 school, not including the current school year. The deadline for the completion of the online application is January 21, 2009. Visit the website for program details and application information.

–The Toolbox for Education Grant Program, offered by Lowe ‘ s Charitable and Educational Foundation, provides grants of up to $5,000 to K-12 public schools and 501(c)(3) school parent-teacher groups associated with public schools that develop projects that encourage parent involvement and build stronger community spirit. Lowe’s will donate $5 million at more than 1,000 different schools throughout the U.S. during the 2008-2009 school year. Preference is given to funding requests which have a permanent impact such as facility enhancement as well as landscaping/clean-up projects. The upcoming application deadline is February 13, 2009. Visit the website to take the eligibility test and submit an online application.

–The Bowerman Track Renovation Program, administered by Nike’s Corporate Responsibility Department, provides matching cash grants to community-based, youth-oriented organizations that seek to refurbish or construct running tracks anywhere in the world. Matching grants of up to $50,000 are provided to nonprofit organizations, NGOs, government agencies, schools, and school districts. Requests are reviewed quarterly, and will be accepted on an ongoing basis through May 31, 2009. Application guidelines may be downloaded from:

–The Electronic Health Record Loan Program provides no-interest six-year loans to help finance the installation or support of interoperable health record systems. Funding is available to community clinics, rural hospitals, physician clinics in towns under 50,000, nursing facilities, and other health care providers. Applications are at: or contact Anne Schloegel at (651) 201-3850 or

–Micro-Energy and Conservation Home Improvement Loans. This month $10 million became available through 2008 state legislation to homeowners (whose annual income is under $93,100) for energy conservation and solar, wind and other renewable energy project loans to help cut energy costs. Loans of up to $35,000, for terms of up to 20 years, will be made by the Fix-Up Fund, a statewide program that offers low-interest loans through Minnesota Housing Agency’s large network of lending partners across the state, listed at For more information go to:
–The Foundation Center website provides a list of RFPs that get updated every day. Make sure to check it frequently to stay on top of funding opportunities. For more information go to:
HUD INTRODUCES IHBG LEVERAGING FINANCE PROGRAM, OFFERS TRAINING. The Indian Housing Block Grant Leveraging Finance Program allows a tribe or tribally designated housing entity to obtain financing for affordable housing by pledging a portion of its IHBG to repay the debt on a bond or a loan. Four free workshops for tribes, TDHEs, lenders, and other financial institutions will be held this fall. Contact the Office of Loan Guarantee Clearinghouse, 800-561-5913 or visit
HUD FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR EMERGENCY REPAIRS IN ELDERLY HOUSING. Nonprofits that own properties for elderly tenants are eligible for emergency capital repair grants, to be awarded first-come, first-serve; see Federal Register, 11/24/08, pp. 71023-30 or Contact G. DeWayne Kimbrough, HUD, 202-708-3000.


–Nonprofits Tax Reporting – the IRS has completely overhauled the Form 990 effective for years begun after December 31, 2007. The new 990 goes well beyond the Form’s previous and narrow focus on organizational finances. Now, more than 75% of the form asks for non-financial information, and it is essential that filers (and their advisers) understand the multiple aspects of the new Form. All nonprofit organizations, regardless of size, should begin planning to accommodate the many operational changes the new Form either demands or encourages. You are invited to attend one of several trainings being held around Minnesota to help nonprofits prepare for these changes. 990’s Do Matter will be held on the following dates in the following locations:

January 15, 2009, Mankato (half-day, 1 – 4:30 p.m.)
January 20, 2009, St. Cloud (half-day, 1 – 4:30 p.m.)
January 27, 2009, Bismarck (half-day, 1 – 4:30 p.m.)
February 4, 2009, Minneapolis (half-day, 1 – 4:30 p.m.)

For more information contact Stephanie Haddad at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits: 651-757-3071 or

–Reducing Energy Costs in Local Government Conference will be held January 22, 2009 at the St. Cloud Civic Center from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. Minnesota local governments are facing serious economic challenges because of increased costs as well as decreased revenue. Volatile and unpredictable energy costs are also adding to these stresses on local government budgets. This conference seeks to give public entities a head start in preparing for an uncertain energy future. Learn about actions that local government has taken in Minnesota and can take now to reduce energy costs.

Attendees will hear from public entities that have successfully reduced their energy bills: what steps have been effective, and what benefits have been realized. There will also be an opportunity to hear from and talk with assistance providers that can help local governments reduce their energy costs. This conference is for officials, staff, or citizens connected with cities, counties, school districts, and townships. The early registration fee is $40 up until January 15, 2009, and $50 thereafter. For more information and for registration instructions go to: .

–Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference “2020 VISION Creating Tourism for Tomorrow” will be held January 27 – 29, 2009 at the Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park. “Early Bird” registration of $259 is available until January 9, 2009; additional attendees from the same organization receive a special rate of $235 per person. The all-suite Northland Inn room rate is $115 + tax single occupancy and $130 + tax double occupancy per night. Watch for more details at:

— Harnessing Resources & Teamwork for MN’s Energy Future will be held February 10-11 at the St. Cloud Civic Center. Sponsored by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and their partners, this conference is for everyone interested in being a part of Minnesota’s clean energy future – farmers, utility representatives, school staff, local officials, students, business owners and members of any community. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn what people are doing across the state on energy issues, and to connect and share resources. Conference topics are wide ranging and include:
• Local Foods
• Cities Leading the Way
• Biogas Digesters
• Geothermal
• Energy Efficiency
• Small-Scale Wind
• Solar
• Affordable Housing
The opening keynote speaker is Randy Udall, energy expert from Colorado and board member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas – USA. The event also includes a legislative forum moderated by Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio. Registration is $50 for the conference and $30 for the pre-conference workshops. For details visit:
–Minnesota Marketplace for Entrepreneurs will be held on Monday, February 23 from 8:30 to 4:30 at the Alltel Center in Mankato. The event will bring entrepreneurs together along with other business and service providers. There will be displays of entrepreneurs’ new ideas, training sessions and speakers. The event is free for entrepreneurs and the public. For more information please visit

–CFED – the Corporation for Enterprise Development – has created an exciting new learning community called innovation@cfed. Starting immediately, online nominations of Innovative Ideas are accepted, and starting January 2009 online applications will open for a select number of individuals to become Innovators-in-Residence with a $50,000 stipend. CFED is a national nonprofit that since 1979 has been promoting innovative approaches to expand economic opportunity. Visit for details.
–The Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Program is accepting applications until January 15 from nurses in senior executive roles in health services, public health and nursing education.
–Applications are due February 11 for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars Program to develop the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing.
–2008 Farm Bill: Leaving Rural Development Behind. On June 18, 2008, Congress completed action on the 2008 Farm Bill, editing the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (HR 6124, Public Law 110-246). It contains $35 in commodity subsidies and $25 billion for conservation programs. In comparison it allocates just $150 million in mandatory spending for three rural development programs. To read more about the Farm Bill, go to

–New Tool for EITC and Asset-Building programs by the Aspen Institute. This shared platform provides group discounts, products and resources for programs that do EITC outreach, free tax preparation and asset-building. Membership is free and has many benefits. While the site is geared to programs that provide free tax preparation, others can still benefit from the Staples discounts, volunteer scheduling software and other resources. The platform is a partnership with the National Community Tax Coalition with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. was launched last year with an on-line training course for free tax site quality reviewers. The training was a great success, with over 360 users and an evaluation that found a 75% reduction in tax return errors by programs who used it. Building on that initial success, they have expanded the platform to offer a more comprehensive set of tools. These include volunteer scheduling software, group buying, and partnerships with One Economy and the D2D fund. More details are described below. I would encourage you to go to their website ( ), register and check it out for yourself.
–The Health Workforce Analysis Program just released three new fact sheets: Registered Nurses Facts and Data 2008; Dental Hygienists Facts and Data 2006-07; and Greater Minnesota Health Professional Demand Survey (PDF: 76KB/8pgs)
–The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care tracks Minnesota’s health care workforce. Information is online or contact Jay Fonkert at (651) 201-3846 or
–MarketWise, a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Spring/Summer 2008 includes resources and analysis to help communities deal with the foreclosure crisis. The bank has a Foreclosure Resource Center at:
–Study Identifies Commonalities in Concentrated Poverty Areas – The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America examines 16 communities with poverty rates over 40%, from Cleveland, Ohio to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, and makes recommendations. Visit
–Youth Entrepreneurship in America – A Policymakers Action Guide. The world economy is changing rapidly, and this brings enormous challenges and opportunities for educating America’s youth. With the right portfolio of skills, especially in science and math, as well as the development of creativity, young Americans can become the world’s next generation of enterprising and innovative business people. But we have not yet created an educational environment that fully develops these critical skills in young people. As a result, America’s youth–especially the growing numbers of high school dropouts–lose the opportunity to enjoy successful and rewarding careers, and our nation loses the opportunity to lead in an increasingly competitive world.
We can change this course. Lacking in our youth is an entrepreneurial mindset — a critical mix of success-oriented attitudes of initiative, intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and opportunity recognition skills. With the pace of innovation, many of the jobs our children will hold don’t even exist yet. Not only will the traditional skills of reading, writing, and math be needed to thrive in this economy, but also technological savvy and self-direction. More than ever, we need to educate students to be dynamic, lifelong learners.
We believe that expanding the availability of youth entrepreneurship education resources should be a critical part of this solution. Through the process of starting their own ventures, young minds are engaged, talent is explored, and youth, particularly at risk youth, become empowered.
Engage young minds in entrepreneurship: Every 29 seconds, another student drops out of school. Research shows that the dominate cause for student drop out is a failure to interest students in the curriculum. Entrepreneurship programs have a proven track record of keeping children in school.
Explore young talent and creativity. The goal of the Aspen Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group is to ensure that each graduate from a high school that serves in a low-income community has educational opportunities to explore his or her entrepreneurial potential. (
Empower youth to take ownership in their communities and their lives. More than ever, we need to educate students that they should –and can be– continual learners in dynamic environments. Entrepreneurship education not only teaches students about the world, but teaches students about themselves. This is empowerment at its most basic level.…..So what can you do?
I’m a local policy maker:
• Introduce entrepreneurship training in all schools, with special emphasis on those with large populations of low-income youth.
• Increase funding to support teacher training, curriculum and professional development, and to evaluate program design and outcomes.
• Develop strong partnerships between schools, businesses, and other community organizations
I’m a state-level policy maker:
• Adopt statewide standards for youth Entrepreneurship Education.
• Create formal Entrepreneurship Education partnerships between primary and secondary schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions.
• Create a State Advocate or State Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship Education
I’m a federal level policy maker:
• Revise existing education statutes, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Higher Education Act, and Workforce Investment Act to include entrepreneurship skills as a desired competency in educational standards.
• Consider adding Entrepreneurial Literacy to the President’s Council on Financial Literacy.
• Expand funding for youth entrepreneurship in key programs operated by the Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, and other appropriate agencies.
• Create a federal Office of Entrepreneurship Education and provide it with resources to share best practices in the field and also serve as a nationwide advocate for youth entrepreneurship.
I’m a business leader:
• Be a role model and speak to aspiring youth entrepreneurs in your community.
• Partner with local youth entrepreneurship programs with proven track records. Help them scale in order to play a part in the youth entrepreneurship education process.
• Donate your time and advice to schools in your community so young people have a clear vision of the success that stems from perseverance and an entrepreneurial mindset.
While this objective sounds simple, achieving it will require extensive cooperation at all levels of government and key involvement from the private sector. These recommendations for policymakers are outlined in the full report that was presented November 18th during Global Entrepreneurship Week and is available at or contact: or (202) 215-6383 or (212) 232-3333 x 331.