January 2011 – Volume IX, Number 1

Compiled, edited and distributed by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, Emily Kissane

In this issue:

–Across the Field

Across the Field:  Rural Urban Interdependency Reports Coming Up in 2011!

by Emily Kissane

Happy 2011!  With the New Year comes more exciting developments with the Rural Urban Partnering project.  As we’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, the initiative has had an array of activities to involve people throughout the state in conversations and to build upon those connections.  From the videoconferences last winter and spring and the Rural Urban Gathering last summer to the current mapping system and blog, MRP Inc. has documented ways that Minnesotans are working together in innovative and productive ways.

Over the next month or so, we will release three reports authored by Kate Searls.  The reports summarize her research in the areas of business/economic development, education and work force development.

First to be released will be Pilot Study: Estimating Rural and Urban Minnesota’s Interdependencies, which uses cluster analysis (exploring a region’s interrelated industries) combined with input-output analysis (studying interrelated goods and services) to provide a starting point for measuring the interdependencies of rural and urban business/economic development.  The report has significant policy implications because it begins to quantify the importance of rural Minnesota’s economic strength to the economic well being of the state as a whole.

The education report, which will be released next, will survey the diversity of educational resources in Minnesota.  An applied economics approach analyzes investment strategies and how that funding has impacted student success.  The hope is that strategies with a high return on investment can be shared among school districts.  The workforce development report will describe programs currently in place and will include data showing the impact of rural-urban collaborations on the success of those programs.

We will keep you posted about opportunities to learn more about this valuable research—as well as share the reports themselves—in the coming weeks.  Please stay tuned. 


–The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) still has funding available for two economic development programs that could help your community.

Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program
Total available: $4.1 million —
Provides grants to Greater Minnesota cities for up to 50 percent of the capital costs of the public infrastructure necessary to expand or retain jobs in the area, increase the tax base, or expand or create new economic development. 

Application information, eligibility requirements and other details are available here.

Innovative Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program
Total available: $3.9 million — P
rovides grants to local governmental units on a competitive basis statewide for up to 50 percent of the capital cost of the public infrastructure necessary to expand or retain jobs related to innovative businesses.

Application information, eligibility requirements and other details are available here.

–Disaster Resilience for Rural Communities Grants.  In a joint announcement, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) call for proposals to advance basic research in engineering and the social, behavioral, and economic sciences on enhancing disaster resilience in rural communities.  At least $2 million is available to support total award sizes (including indirect costs) not to exceed $400,000 in size. Applications are due March 4, 2011.

From the Request for Proposals:  “Communities and their residents in the United States experience droughts, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions as well as accidents at facilities that handle dangerous materials such as explosive chemicals. These phenomena will continue, but their consequences need not be disastrous if communities and people reduce their vulnerabilities and increase their resilience. There is much research on vulnerability and resilience in urban communities, but much less about how rural communities and their residents are responding to natural and man-made hazards.”  For more information go to:  http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=59003

ShadeFund™ loans for innovative natural resource-based small businesses.   

The Conservation Fund’s ShadeFund™ is a new program that stimulates creative conservation and the green economy by investing in sustainable forestry and forest products, eco-tourism, natural and organic agriculture, and small-scale renewable energy.  Minnesota-based Dovetail Partners (www.dovetailinc.org) is a field partner in this new program which aims to spur a greener economy by financing entrepreneurs who use natural resources creatively and responsibly. ShadeFund™ provides small loans to promising green entrepreneurs that are putting America’s resources to work in responsible new ways.  Dovetail Partners is working to help identify sustainable and innovative forestry and forest products and other small businesses eligible for ShadeFund™ loans. 

ShadeFund™ pools contributions from individuals, companies and foundations across the U.S. to fund green entrepreneurs so they can grow their businesses and create jobs. The loans range from $5,000 to $50,000 and can be used for working capital, as well as for acquisition of materials, supplies, equipment and certification. As entrepreneurs repay their loans, these funds are recycled to provide new loans to green entrepreneurs. 

If you are a small natural-resource based company that would like to apply for a loan, see the ShadeFund™ web site www.shadefund.org  or contact shadefund@conservationfund.org (Subject: ShadeFund Loan Inquiry), or call Katie Fernholz, Dovetail Partners, at 612/333-0430. 

–Applications for the 2011 round of grants are now available from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Parks and Trails, and are being accepted for 11 grant programs including the following:

* parks and trails legacy
* regional parks (outside the metro area)
* outdoor recreation
* natural and scenic areas
* local trail connections
* federal recreational trails
* regional trails (outside the metro area)
* public water accesses
* clean vessel
* boating infrastructure.

These grants help local governments, organizations, and individuals throughout the state partner with the DNR to fund projects such as natural area acquisition, recreational trails, water-based recreational facilities, and recreation opportunities at parks. Application deadlines range from January 31 to August 1, 2011, with details at the DNR website: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/assistance/grants/assist_programs.pdf   (Note that Solar Energy Legacy Grants are also available to provide funding to local units of government for solar energy projects within parks and on trails of regional or statewide significance, with applications due January 31, 2011.)

–Minnesota Sea Grant College Program Grants program is soliciting preliminary proposals for projects to begin after February 1, 2012. Projects will be funded for up to two years, with amounts typically ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 in direct costs per year, excluding the costs of a graduate student and ship time.  Minnesota Sea Grant is particularly interested in receiving proposals on social and/or economic research to help formulate public policies that minimize the ecological impacts of coastal development as well as fostering sustainable economic use of coastal resources. A goal of the Minnesota Sea Grant Program is to address resource management issues with multidisciplinary, integrated solutions based on science, and with respect to economic, societal, and political concerns.  Pre-proposals are due 5:00 p.m., January 28, 2011.  For more information go to:  http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/projects/rfp  or call Valerie Brady, Minnesota Sea Grant research coordinator at 218/726-8714 or e-mail vbrady@umn.edu

–USDA Conservation Innovation Grants.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants to stimulate the development, adoption, and evaluation of innovative approaches and technologies related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and carbon sequestration on agricultural lands. For the purpose of this funding, NRCS seeks to stimulate the application of greenhouse gas benefiting practices on agricultural land.  Applications are due February 11, 2011.  For more details see:  http://tinyurl.com/22nh99t 

Last call for Project Green Fleet – Don’t Miss the Bus!  Five years ago, Project Green Fleet set out to make every eligible school bus in the state cleaner and greener.
From Rochester to Roseau, and Minneapolis to Morris, school bus fleets all over Minnesota have partnered with Project Green Fleet to retrofit over 2,100 buses, keeping our air clean and our kids healthy. We’ve worked with nearly every school bus fleet in the state, and are now beginning to turn our attention to other types of vehicles.If your school district or local school bus fleet hasn’t partnered with Project Green Fleet yet, act now!

Project Green Fleet purchases and installs pollution control equipment on school buses to reduce diesel emissions. These funds will only be available for a short while longer, so participate now or you’ll miss the bus! In a few weeks, Project Green Fleet will be traveling around the state to spread the word about what we do. If we’ve worked with you before we’d love to meet you – and if you haven’t, we’d love to tell you more – so contact us to set up a meeting (lunch is on us!).  Visit www.projectgreenfleet.org or contact Jordan Hansen at 612/334-3388 x104 or jhansen@mn-ei.org to learn more.

–HUD has issued a NOFA for the 2010 Emergency Capital Repair Grants for Multifamily Housing Projects Designated for Occupancy by the Elderly. Grants are available for capital repairs that present an immediate threat to the health, safety, and quality of life of elderly tenants. Grants are available through 11/29/2011. For more information and to apply go to: http://tinyurl.com/2b6t6j6

–The Department of Education is offering funding to IHEs and nonprofits to help migrant and seasonal farm workers and their children obtain a general education diploma (GED). For more information visit:  http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-29993.htm.  The Department is also offering grants to IHEs and nonprofits for academic and financial support to help migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their children complete their first year of college. For information on this opportunity, go to: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-29987.htmDeadline to apply for either of these two grant opportunities: 1/19/2011.

–The Corporation for National and Community Service has funding available to establish AmeriCorps programs. Deadline to apply: 1/25/2011. Grants are for programs that will offer AmeriCorps volunteers the opportunity to become involved in a range of community improvement activities. For more information go to: http://tinyurl.com/2cp73tb.

–HUD is accepting applications from nonprofits, CDCs, and Indian Tribes for the Rural Innovation Fund. Grants will be made for projects dedicated to addressing the problems of concentrated rural housing distress and community poverty. Deadline: 2/22/2011. For more information and to apply, see http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=60715.

–The Department of Veterans Affairs has grant money available to nonprofits for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program to provide supportive services to very low-income veteran families, mainly for those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. Deadline: 3/11/2011. To apply, go to http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-31742.htm.


The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is inviting registrations for the 2011 Minnesota Organic Conference, which will be held January 14-15, 2011 at the St. Cloud Civic Center.  Organizers expect hundreds will again turn out because of the conference’s appeal.  Keynote speakers are award-winning public radio host and food authority Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Organic Valley cooperative founder George Siemon, and organic pioneers Martin and Atina Diffley, co-operators of one of Minnesota’s first certified organic vegetable operations.  The conference also includes 36 educational breakout sessions and a trade show featuring 62 seed, fertilizer and equipment dealers, organic buyers, certifying agencies, and organizations that provide information and assistance to farmers.  The full conference program and registration forms are available at:

http://www.mda.state.mn.us/organic/conference  or by calling MDA at 651/201-6012. 

  Back to Basics – For the Next 7 Generations will take place Saturday, January 29, 2011, 8:00 am – 4:15 pm, at the Pine River-Backus School. School-aged (K-6) children’s programming runs concurrently – bring the family and enjoy the day together! Continuing education credits are available. Event sponsored by Happy Dancing Turtle, Pine River-Backus Community Education, and Central Lakes College.  Keynote by Winona LaDuke, speaking on The Green Path – Indigenous and Rural Self Reliance in This Millennium.  Registration forms including details on all of the workshops can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/2c8755g (best printable on legal paper).  Those interested in reserving a vendor/exhibitor booth at this event (for $25/space) can download a Vendor/exhibitor registration form at http://tinyurl.com/29bt7rq Registrations can be submitted up until the event, space allowing.  See www.happydancingturtle.org for more information.  Note: Inclement weather will result in cancellation. Call day of event, 218/587-2303.  

Managing Your Reputation: Media & Communications for Nonprofits will be held on Tuesday, February 15, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. in the Second Floor Training Room at Bremer Bank

500 Willmar Ave. SE in Willmar.  Pre-registration is required.  Space for only 35 people, so if you can come, sign-up today by calling or emailing Lois Schmidt at 507-537-0273 or LCSchmidt@bremer.com


Siemens Sustainable Community Awards program provides a national platform for recognition and information-sharing for community sustainability efforts. Nominations for the 2011 awards are due January 21, 2011.  There are three categories for these awards:

* Small Community (less than 50,000 residents)
* Midsize Community (50,000 – 500,000 residents)
* Large Community (more than 500,000 residents)

Nominations require one short essay addressing three elements of a sustainable community: Overarching Sustainability, Economic Sustainability, and Environmental Sustainability.  Winning cities will receive a donation of $20,000 of trees. These awards are a partnership between Siemens USA and the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center.  For information go to:  http://sustainablecommunity.uschamber.com/

Minnesota businesses interested in reducing waste and improving efficiency can apply for a Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) intern with a deadline of February 1, 2011Each summer, six to eight companies in Minnesota participate in MnTAP’s intern program. This program aids companies in adding an extra engineer to address waste and energy issues without the added payroll expense. The interns are supported by MnTAP staff who provide technical guidance and pollution prevention and energy efficiency resources. MnTAP funds two-thirds of the student’s salary; the company covers the remaining one-third ($2,500).

Proposed projects are evaluated for their reduction potential, specific goals achievable in three months, repetition of previous projects, and application of results to other Minnesota businesses along with company interest and commitment. Projects should focus on identifying specific options for reducing wastes and increasing efficiency.  In 2010, the interns recommended solutions that could save eight companies more than $1.7 million and result in significant environmental reductions: 85,000 lbs solid waste, 410 lbs wastewater loading, 27 million gallons of water, 14 million kWh, and 1 million therms.  For more information about the intern program or the application process, see http://mntap.umn.edu/intern/business.htm or contact Krysta Larson at MnTAP at 612/624-1300 or 800/247-0015.

–College Health Corps VISTA Positions Available for 2011-12.  The CNCS state office has approved 10 VISTA positions for the College Health Corps program run by Minnesota Campus Compact.  Member institutions and their partners may apply to host a full-time VISTA for a year of service to begin in June 2011.  The RFP will be available at http://www.mncampuscompact.org/ and proposals will be due February 18th.  For more information please contact Meghan at meghan@mncampuscompact.org or 612-436-2080.

–HUD Research Grants.  Three to five grants of $150,000–$500,000 are expected to be awarded through the Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program. http://tinyurl.com/28prwq7  This grant was created to fill key data and information gaps and to begin to develop and evaluate policy alternatives that will help target community investments. This program will also help HUD broaden its sustainability agenda and any future efforts or initiatives based on the results of the research. Applications for this grant are due February 4, 2011.

The second grant, the Homeless Families Demonstration Small Grant Research Program http://tinyurl.com/24wce4r, provides a vehicle for conducting a number of small research projects aimed at collecting additional/supplemental data. Applications for this award, ranging from $75,000–$150,000, are due February 18, 2011.


Momentum Magazine is published three times per year by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. (See http://environment.umn.edu to learn more about the work of the Institute). Available free in printed form or online, this colorful 36-page magazine contains a wide range of interesting and timely articles related to the environment.  Among the topics featured in the Fall 2010 issue of Momentum:
* acknowledging the value of biodiversity and factoring it into economic decision-making
* exploring why Americans aren’t more energy efficient
* discussing the concept of the water footprint: the amount of freshwater used in a product’s manufacture, including producing its ingredients

To access the current issue, visit the web site above or go directly to: http://environment.umn.edu/momentum/issue/3.1f10/index.html 

If you’d like to subscribe to Momentum, you can do this online by visiting http://environment.umn.edu/forms/contact_VisitorForm.php At this web site you can also sign up for a number of other useful e-newsletters and electronic alerts from the Institute on the Environment. (It easier to access this web site using the Firefox browser.)

–Federal Funds – this product contains information from the Census Bureau’s Consolidated Federal Funds Reports on Federal expenditures and obligations for grants, salaries and wages, procurements, direct payments, direct loans, guaranteed loans, and insurance obtained from Federal Government agencies. ERS screens the data for each Federal program for accuracy at the county level and then presents the data by function and type of program for each county and State. Data for fiscal 2009 are now available at:  http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FederalFunds/

In 2010, rural America was at the forefront of the economic recovery. As sluggish job growth reined in the U.S. economy, rural firms harnessed stronger global demand and raced ahead of their metro peers. The latest edition of the Main Street Economist reviews developments in the rural economy and discusses prospects for the year ahead. Find the issue at: www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/mse/mse_0510.pdf?ealert=MSE1230

–The 2010 Guide to Greening Your District was created for the Iowa Department of Economic Development / Main Street Iowa to provide summary information and resources for communities about green/sustainable approaches to building or reconstructing historic commercial districts (downtowns).   The 12 page guide, downloadable at the web site above, can also be useful for communities in Minnesota and elsewhere who are seeking to integrate sustainable practices into their historic downtowns.

Brief sections of the guide discuss green infrastructure practices (such as green roofs, porous paving, bioswales, and rain gardens), district energy systems, signage, lighting, public art, and the need for integrated systems. Useful as a summary document, the guide also includes an up-to-date selection of relevant resources and case studies.  Go to: http://tinyurl.com/2buvwrz

–Yellow Wood Associates has released a series of papers on its website that focus on renewable energy and restructuring of energy distribution systems as ways of creating wealth in rural areas. To get these, as well as a host of other papers focused on wealth creation in rural areas go to:  http://www.yellowwood.org/wealthcreation.aspx.

–Healthy Food Financing Initiative. A bipartisan coalition in the House and Senate have introduced bills that will invest $500 million to dramatically reduce the number of low-income Americans living in so called “food deserts” – and helping to combat the childhood obesity crisis nationwide, and potentially creating 44,500 full-time jobs and 50,000 construction jobs. To read the press release go to: http://www.thefoodtrust.org/pdf/HFFI%20Release.pdf.

–The Institute for Comprehensive Community Development has launched the first edition of its Journal as a national forum for debate on ideas, research and policy in community development. To download a copy, please go to http://tinyurl.com/3y94dhg.

–The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Healthy People 2020, a website that features its 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans, with a focus on the role that environments play in health outcomes. To visit the website go to:  http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx.

–The Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations has released a report called “Community Development Goes Green” which identifies fifteen green strategies employed by CDCs through their green projects, programs and initiatives. To get the report visit:   http://tinyurl.com/3yewnk2.

–Special Report: Social Media Adoption and Success. The Chronicle of Philanthropy undertook a study of nonprofits to see how they are using social media in their fundraising and outreach activities. The results of responses from 1295 people are included in a report that can be downloaded at: http://tinyurl.com/3an8fr9.

–The Center for Rural Affairs released a report called “Rural Grocery Stores: Ownership Models That Work For Rural Communities” which examines examine examples of common ownership models used by individuals and communities to address the need for local grocery stores in rural communities, and analyze how the models address the challenges facing rural grocery stores. To read and/or print the report visit: http://files.cfra.org/pdf/rural-grocery-ownership-models.pdf.

–USDA ERS State Fact Sheets provide information on population, income, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports for each state in the U.S. Links to county-level data are included when available. The State Fact Sheets now include data on 2009 poverty and median household income. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/.

MyMoney.gov: http://www.mymoney.gov/  MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government’s Web site dedicated to teaching the basics about financial education. The redesigned, interactive site offers information from 20 federal agencies and bureaus about planning for life events that have financial implications, such as buying a home, balancing your checkbook, or planning for retirement. The site also provides money management tools, including financial calculators and worksheets.