SEPTEMBER  2009 – Volume VII, Number 9

Compiled by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard








ACROSS THE FIELD – Thank You Communities! Thank You Minnesota State Fair!

By Jane Leonard


We don’t say thank you enough. We don’t share good ideas often enough. We did both at the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” – the 2009 Minnesota State Fair — which hosted and sponsored the 25th Anniversary Community Pride Showcase on September 6.


Over 20 Minnesota communities, large and small, from across the state, took home top honors and over $15,000 in cash awards courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair.  (For photos and list of winners and project descriptions, see

The contest was co-sponsored by the Minnesota State Fair,, the Blandin Foundation, and Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc., who worked together to organize the summer-long competition and the State Fair event as part of the Reinventing Minnesota initiative, to lift up innovations across the state that help Minnesota thrive.

“Connecting, creating, thriving” is the tagline of Reinventing Minnesota. It’s a way to think and act, to turn the current economic challenges into opportunities that encourage people to connect and share good ideas and resources to move us into a thriving future for all. It builds on Minnesota’s history of inventiveness, innovation and compassion to recognize the goodwill and good actions that communities, neighborhoods and organizations across our state are doing right now to help one another.

The purpose for the Community Pride contest first and foremost was to find a way to share the great ideas Minnesotans have for improving their communities in the midst of a challenging economic environment. So much good is happening in Minnesota’s communities that if shared, can help others across our state and country. The citizens and the projects honored at the State Fair embody the spirit of the Reinventing Minnesota initiative and the Community Pride competition.

That’s why the State Fair was the perfect venue to showcase the Minnesota Community Pride communities. Where else do all Minnesotans gather to see what improvements have been made since last year? The State Fair mission is to “educate and involve guests by providing a world-class showcase that is innovative, entertaining and fun.”

Many of the stories written about the State Fair revolve around what’s “new on a stick,” but the Fair roots go deeper than that, to 150 years of lifting up “Minnesota’s finest agriculture, art and industry” to “present an unparalleled forum for knowledge and ideas” that now includes community improvement knowledge and ideas.

Thank you, Minnesota State Fair, for showcasing Minnesota Community Pride at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. We love you – we really do.


The CHS Foundation is committed to investing in the future of rural America, agriculture, and cooperative business through education and leadership development. The Foundation supports national efforts related to its mission as well as programs within the CHS trade territory for regional, multi-state, or statewide projects. The Foundation’s funding focuses on the following program areas: Cooperative Education, Rural Youth and Leadership Development, Farm and Agricultural Safety, Returning Value to Rural Communities, and University Partnerships. All applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, with the exception of Cooperative Education applications, which are due September 30, annually. Visit the Foundation’s website for a description of each grant category and online application instruction at:  

There is an October 1 grant deadline for communities, schools, and organizations for the following arts grants.  Please note that the funds for these organizational programs are only for eligible applicants in Region 7E. 

 Art In Our Schools Grants– Schools may apply for up to $1,000 for special art projects sponsored by the School District.  The grant funds can support artist residencies, arts related field trips, or any arts focused special project.  Each school district is allowed up to two Art In Our School grants per school year. 
Small Grants – Grants of up to $500 are currently available for smaller arts projects for organizations.   Types of projects funded in the past under the Small Grant programs have been a visual art, theatrical, musical, dance, spoken word and literary art.  There is a required 1 to 1 dollar match for these grants. 
To immediately access the grant applications go to: or contact Mary Minnick-Daniels, Director East Central Regional Arts Council at: or 320-679-4065 ext. 30.

The Laura Jane Musser Fund’s Rural Initiative Program encourages collaborative efforts among citizens in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions. This program supports projects in rural regions of Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, and Wyoming that target a number of civic areas including economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education. The applicant community must have a population of 10,000 or fewer and must be able to demonstrate the rural characteristics of its location. Planning grants of up to $5,000 and implementation grants of up to $25,000 are provided. The application deadline is October 15, 2009. Visit the Laura Jane Musser Fund’s website for application guidelines and forms at:

–Building Healthy Communities Fund.  Next Deadline:  December 15, 2009.  Grants from the Home Depot Foundation are awarded up to $2500 for community improvement projects that include construction or refurbishment of affordable or transitional housing, building, rebuilding, painting, refurbishing, increasing energy efficiency or sustainability, landscaping, planting of native trees, community facility improvements, and the development and/or improvement of green spaces. Grants must support work completed by community volunteers in the United States.  For more information, go to


–Community Relief Fund.  Kresge Foundation is offering 24- to 36-month, interest-free program-related investment fund offering bridge loans to high-performance non-profit organizations so that they may be better able to meet the ever-increasing demand for their services.  For more information, go to


– offered a series of Webinars on accessing grants available through the Recovery Act (ARRA).  You can hear recordings of the events on their website at:   

For information on ARRA Funds, go to:  

 –The Target Field Trip Grants program provides funds for K-12 field trips in order to give students throughout the country the opportunity to explore more of the world outside the classroom. For the 2009-2010 school year, 5,000 grants of up to $800 each will be awarded to educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, and classified staff who are employed by accredited K-12 public, private, or charter schools. Types of eligible field trips include art, science, and cultural museum visits; community service and civic projects; and career enrichment opportunities. Funds may be used to cover trip-related costs such as transportation, ticket fees, resource materials, and supplies. Online applications will be available from August 5 through November 3, 2009. Visit the Target website to learn more about the program at:

Instrument Donations for Music Programs Nationwide – The mission of the Fender Music Foundation, formerly the Guitar Center Music Foundation, is to support nonprofit music programs across America that offer instruction so that more people can experience the joys of making music. The Foundation accepts grant applications from music academies, schools, local music programs, and national music programs throughout the country that teach people of any age who would not otherwise have the opportunity to make music. Almost all of the grants provided are comprised of traditional instruments and the equipment necessary to play them. Online applications may be submitted at any time and are reviewed three times per year. Visit the Foundation’s website to access program guidelines and the online grant application form at: 



–“Resilient Leaders – Resilient Organizations” will be held Tuesday, September 22, 2009 from 8:30AM – 4:00PM at the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls.  Resilient Leaders – Resilient Organizations is a convening of nonprofit leaders who seek ways of increasing their organization’s health and resiliency during an extended economic downturn.  The day will include lively activity and networking and will conclude with a preview of capacity building resources available.  The goal is for you to leave ready to take action based on an increased understanding of how you can use capacity building resources to improve the health and resilience of your organization and partnerships.  Who can attend?  All area nonprofit organizations are welcome.  Each organization is encouraged to have staff and board leadership represented (up to 3 people total).

If you are unable to attend on September 22nd in Little Falls, this convening will also be held on September 21st in Redwood Falls,  (Note: at the workshop registration link you’ll see reference to follow-up capacity-building grants through the Resilient Organizations Fund – this particular funding is available only to current Blue Cross Blue Shield grantees.  Other capacity-building assistance is available directly through the Initiative Foundation –  No cost for attendance, but space is limited.  Pre-registration is required ASAP at:  For more information, email

14th Annual Minnesota Development Conference – Opportunity in Crisis: Reality, Reinvent, Revitalize will be held October 1-2 at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel.  For further information go to:

Federal Issues Briefing comes to Bemidji on Tuesday, October 6, 8:30 – 11 a.m. at the Beltrami Electric Community Meeting Room, 4111 Technology Drive NW, Bemidji.  >From health care reform to climate change, from economic stimulus to tax and budget policy, Congress has a full agenda this year. The decisions made by our Minnesota Congressional delegation and their colleagues on Capitol Hill will affect all Americans for years to come. Join us for a Federal Issues Briefing: A look at what’s happening in Congress & how it will affect our clients and our communities, where we will take a closer look at what the 111th Congress is doing on these and other issues. Fee: Free, but advance registration is required.  Register online now by logging in (password assistance available) and selecting “RSVP for Free Events, Briefings and Convenings.”

Cultural Heritage Tourism Workshops in Your Region. The workshops are an opportunity to learn together with others in your region to develop new ways of promoting the great arts and cultural activities in each community. Dates and locations are: Two Harbors – October 1, 2009; Saint Paul – October 5, 2009; New Ulm – October 14, 2009 and Paynesville – November 9, 2009.  To register and get more details on session topics and speakers go to:

Register now for the nation’s largest convening of nonprofits and foundations – right here in Minnesota. At the Minnesota Council of No nonprofits/Minnesota Council on Foundations Joint Annual Conference, you’ll be able to rub shoulders with national leaders, award winning nonprofits and experts from across the field.  Transforming Our Work: From Challenging Times to Hopeful Futures will be November 5 & 6, 2009 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.  To learn more and to register, visit the Transforming Our Work website or Register Online at:


–The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) is inviting proposals for the spring 2010 semester for three of it’s Community Based research programs: Neighborhood Planning for Community Revitalization (NPCR), Community Assistantship Program (CAP) and Communiversity (CMV).

 CURA Community Based Research Programs provide applied research assistance to community-based groups located outside of the Twin Cities area, neighborhood groups within the metro area, and other nonprofit agencies and groups. This research is administered by three separate programs: the Community Assistantship Program, which works with groups in greater Minnesota; Neighborhood Planning for Community Revitalization, which works with neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and first-ring suburbs; and Communiversity, which works with nonprofit organizations, particularly those serving communities of color. These community research projects typically place students in part-time research assistantships for one semester or over the summer. Students are selected by and report to the community organization. Organizations define and direct their research projects.

 The goals of these programs are to:

 1) Enhance the capacity of community-based groups in Minnesota to meet their goals by giving them an opportunity to accomplish relevant applied research;

2) Provide students and faculty with useful community-based applied research and learning opportunities.

Applications should come directly from community organizations. The deadline for project proposals is October 30th, 2009. Approved projects will run from January 14th, 2010 to May 30th, 2010. Please follow the link below to find out more or to apply on-line.  or contact Jeff Corn, CURA Community Program Coordinator, (612) 625-0744


RURAL AMERICA AT A GLANCE, 2009 Edition – Update of an annual series, the 2009 edition of Rural America At A Glance deals with effects of the major recession on rural America. Initially, effects of the recession were mitigated in nonmetro areas by high commodity prices throughout much of 2008, but as the recession deepened, prices fell. Both nonmetro and metro areas experienced rising unemployment as manufacturing and other major employment sectors contracted, and they were similarly affected by the mortgage foreclosure crisis. However, even before the current recession, nonmetro poverty rates had risen in the growth years after the 2001 recession, against the usual trend during a time of economic expansion; the nonmetro poverty rate has exceeded the national poverty rate since 2001. The nonmetro population continued to grow in 2007 and 2008, but at less than half the rate of the metro population. Nonmetro growth is largely due to a rise in births, offsetting a decline in net migration from metro to nonmetro areas. Go to:

Broadband Internet’s Value for Rural America – As broadband—or high-speed—Internet use has spread, Internet applications requiring high transmission speeds have become an integral part of the “Information Economy,” raising concerns about those who lack broadband access. This report analyzes (1) rural broadband use by consumers, the community-at-large, and businesses; (2) rural broadband availability; and (3) broadband’s social and economic effects on rural areas. It also summarizes results from an ERS-sponsored workshop on rural broadband use, and other ERS-commissioned studies. In general, rural communities have less broadband Internet use than metro communities, with differing degrees of broadband availability across rural communities. Rural communities that had greater broadband Internet access had greater economic growth, which conforms to supplemental research on the benefits that rural businesses, consumers, and communities ascribe to broadband Internet use. Go to:

Rural Digital Economy – This Briefing Room offers a synthesis of ERS research about the rural digital economy, including the provision of telephone and Internet services, where these services are used, and their role in economic development. This Briefing Room also explores rural Internet access, the characteristics of Internet users and their means of access, and government communication and information policy. Go to:

Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America – Members of the baby boom cohort, now 45-63 years old, are approaching a period in their lives when moves to rural and small-town destinations increase. An analysis of age-specific, net migration during the 1990s reveals extensive shifts in migration patterns as Americans move through different life-cycle stages. Assuming similar age patterns of migration, this report identifies the types of nonmetropolitan counties that are likely to experience the greatest surge in baby boom migration during 2000-20 and projects the likely impact on the size and distribution of retirement-age populations in destination counties. The analysis finds a significant increase in the propensity to migrate to nonmetro counties as people reach their fifties and sixties and projects a shift in migration among boomers toward more isolated settings, especially those with high natural and urban amenities and lower housing costs. If baby boomers follow past migration patterns, the nonmetro population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between now and 2020. Go to:

Full Throttle U.S. Ethanol Expansion Faces Challenges – Constraints to future growth of the ethanol industry will present challenges to meeting the ambitious mandates for expanded biofuel use set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Challenges exist on both the supply and demand sides of the market. Go to:

–Broadband Internet Service Helping Create a Rural Digital Economy – Broadband—high speed Internet—is less commonly used in rural than urban settings due to higher provision costs and more limited availability in rural areas. Rural counties with broadband Internet service in 2000 had greater subsequent employment and income growth than similar rural counties without service. Rural citizens, businesses, and communities credit broadband Internet use with providing social and economic benefits. Go to:

–Taking the Pulse of Rural Health Care – Rural households have higher rates of mortality, disability, and chronic disease than urban households, after taking into account the different age distributions of the two populations. Rural households have less access than urban households to affordable, nearby, high-quality health care. Adoption of new health information technologies, promoted by a $19 billion allocation in the 2009 economic stimulus package, holds promise for improving coordination among geographically dispersed health care providers. Go to:

–Baby Boom Migration Tilts toward Rural America – The size and direction of migration patterns vary considerably by age, and baby boomers are migrating to rural destinations. If baby boomers follow migration patterns similar to their predecessors, the rural population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. Local economic development strategies aimed at attracting more jobs will likely have little effect on the migration decisions of baby boomers searching for a better quality of life. Go to:

–AMBER WAVES Amber Waves presents the broad scope of ERS’s research and analysis. The magazine covers the economics of agriculture, food and nutrition, the food industry, trade, rural America, and farm-related environmental topics. Available on the internet and in print, Amber Waves is issued in print four times a year (March, June, September, and December). The internet edition, or “eZine,” includes links to web- only resources, such as podcasts and additional articles. Go to:

–Health Status and Health Care Access of Farm and Rural Populations – Rural residents have higher rates of age-adjusted mortality, disability, and chronic disease than their urban counterparts, though mortality and disability rates vary more by region than by metro status. Contributing negatively to the health status of rural residents are their lower socioeconomic status, higher incidence of both smoking and obesity, and lower levels of physical activity. Contributing negatively to the health status of farmers are the high risks from workplace hazards, which also affect other members of farm families who live on the premises and often share in the work; contributing positively are farmers’ higher socioeconomic status, lower incidence of smoking, and more active lifestyle. Both farm and rural populations experience lower access to health care along the dimensions of affordability, proximity, and quality, compared with their nonfarm and urban counterparts. Go to:

-- "Coming Home to Rural America: Demographic Shifts in the Tenth District" is now on the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s website.  This article examines whether rural areas should focus more on the recent trend of middle-aged families coming home to rural America.  Go to:

USDA Launches New Website for Obama Administration’s Rural Tour The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a new website designed to enhance discussions and facilitate innovation for issues facing rural America as part of the Obama Administration’s Rural Tour. Go to:

--The recent recession has wounded the livestock industry. In the latest issue of the Main Street Economist, economists explore the industry's recent performance and prospects for a rebound.  Go to: