May 2011 – Volume IX, Number 5

Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek & Ann Treacy

–Across the Field

–Training/Meetings

–Opportunities

–Miscellaneous

Across the Field – National Rural Assembly comes to St. Paul next month.

Join rural leaders and advocates from across the country gathering in Minnesota next month to build a stronger voice for rural America. The National Rural Assembly lands in St. Paul, July 28-30, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel–St. Paul Riverfront.

According to the meeting organizers, the meeting objectives are to:

  • Articulate a message that raises national awareness of rural issues.
  • Raise a call to action for members of the National Rural Assembly around the issues identified in the Rural Compact.
  • Provide opportunities for action planning on rural policy issues.
  • Create opportunities for participants to make connections that will forward their work on rural policy issues.
  • Educate policymakers and other leaders on issues prevalent in rural policy.

Registration is first come, first served. Applicants are expected to pay a $150 registration fee plus travel and hotel accommodations.  Meals are included in your registration fee. Some scholarships are available.

Registration and more information is available at http://2011.ruralassembly.org

FUNDING

The Department of Education has funding available to nonprofits, IHEs, LEAs and others to establish Education Opportunity Centers that provide information on financial and academic assistance to at-risk youth to enter a program of postsecondary education. Deadline: May 23, 2011. For more information, please go to: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-06/html/2011-8202.htm.

i6 Green Challenge – $12 million available.  The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship has announced the opening of its $12 million i6 Green Challenge in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

EDA will award up to $1 million to each of six teams around the country with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs. Its partner agencies will award more than $6 million in additional funding to i6 Green winners.

The Federal Funding Opportunity notice and application information on i6 Green is available at the web site above. The deadline to submit an application is May 26, 2011. Funding is contingent upon Congressional approval of the administration’s 2011 budget.   For more information go to:  http://www.eda.gov/i6

The Office of Rural Health Policy is pleased to announce the release of the Rural Health Information Technology (HIT) Grant Program (HRSA-11-137). HIT is critically important for rural communities and while a lot of the early innovation in the use of electronic records and HIT networks was done in rural communities, many challenges still remain.  Due to the unique broadness and flexibility of the 330a authorization, ORHP had a great opportunity to develop this grant program in response to these initiatives. The rural HIT program was developed out of the Network Development Program legislation (330a authority), keeping the focus on rural networks.

To download the funding opportunity, please visit the links below:

Link for Funding Opportunity Synopsis: http://tinyurl.com/6b97e38

Link to apply for Funding Opportunity: http://apply07.grants.gov/apply/UpdateOffer?id=50273

The deadline to submit an application in grants.gov is May 27, 2011. ORHP strongly recommends that applicants submit their applications prior to the due date to avoid any technological problems. All applications have to be submitted electronically in www.grants.gov  For further questions on this funding opportunity, please contact the program coordinator, Marcia Green at 301-443-3261 or mgreen@hrsa.gov.

— Healthy Foods Healthy Lives – Community Engagement Grants.  The HFHL Institute is requesting applications for grants to fund innovative community-university partnerships related to food, nutrition and health. Projects should include participatory action research1, or other creative strategies for addressing community-identified problems by bringing together academic and community partners. Both academic and community knowledge systems should be honored in these partnerships.

A total of 3- 4 proposals will be funded in response to this RFP. Each grant will be awarded to a project team for a maximum total cost of $50,000 for one year of funding, with the potential for renewal for one year, one time. Applications are due May 31, 2011.  For more details go to:  http://www.hfhl.umn.edu/

–The Department of Education is offering grants to provide vocational rehabilitation services to American Indians with disabilities who reside on or near Federal or State reservations. Eligible applicants are any Federal or State Indian band, rancheria, pueblo, colony, or community, including any Alaskan native village or regional village corporation. Deadline for applications: 6/7/2011. For an application and more information go to:  http://www2.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/grantapps/index.html.

–HUD has announced the availability of funds for the Housing Choice Voucher Family Self Sufficiency Program for PHAs to promote the development of local strategies to coordinate the use of assistance under the HCV program with public and private resources to enable participating families to increase earned income and financial literacy, reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance, and make progress toward economic independence and self-sufficiency. Deadline: 6/8/2011.  For more on this program see:  http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=89155.

–HUD has issued a NOFA for the Healthy Homes Production Program for nonprofits and others to identify and correct significant housing-related health and safety hazards in privately owned, low-income rental or owner occupied housing. Deadline: 6/9/2011. For more information visit: http://tinyurl.com/3mulfs3

–The Department of Justice is offering funds to Indian Tribes to enhance American Indian and Alaska Native communities’ capacity to provide high-quality multidisciplinary victim-center services and support for adult and child victims of sexual assault. Deadline: 6/14/2011. To apply go to: http://tinyurl.com/6927zpf

–HUD has issued a NOFA for the 2011 Indian Community Development Block Grant Program for the development of viable Indian and Alaska Native communities, including the creation of decent housing, suitable living environments, and economic opportunities primarily for persons with low and moderate incomes. Deadline: 6/15/2011. For more information and to apply see: http://tinyurl.com/3lwtyh3

–USDA has announced the availability of funds for the Rural Energy for America Program that will provide loans and grants for energy projects that benefit rural areas. Maximum grant size is $20,000. Deadline to apply: 6/15/2011. For more information see: http://tinyurl.com/3eoadj7

–HUD has issued a NOFA for the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program to nonprofits for the development and operation of supportive housing for very low-income persons with disabilities who are at least 18 years old. Deadline for applications: 6/23/2011. For more on this opportunity go to: http://tinyurl.com/3haj99n

–HUD has also issued a NOFA for the Public and Indian Housing Family Self-Sufficiency Program under the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) Program (PH FSS) for PHAs to serve residents of conventional public housing. Deadline: 6/29/2011. For more information visit: http://tinyurl.com/3bthn52

–USDA has announced the availability of funds for the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program projects that promote rural economic development and job creation. Deadline to apply is 6/30/2011. For more information, eligibility criteria, and an application go to: http://tinyurl.com/3dao2sa

HUD has issued a NOFA for the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) Service Coordinators program for PHAs, nonprofits, and others to coordinate supportive services and other activities designed to help Public and Indian housing residents attain economic and housing self-sufficiency. Deadline: 7/13/2011. For more information visit: http://tinyurl.com/3pxt3th

Roadside prairie planting funds availableThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Roadsides for Wildlife Program currently has a cost share fund available to help applicants plant native prairie wildflowers and grass seed along rural roads.  Through the Roadsides Program, road authorities, conservation groups, and landowners are reimbursed up to 75 percent of the cost of local ecotype native prairie seed, with a maximum cost-share rate of $300 per acre. For example, the applicant pays $100 per acre for seed and the DNR pays $300 per acre.

Grant applications are accepted year round. The DNR notifies applicants within 30 days if their projects are accepted. A roadside technician will assist the applicant in finding a reliable seed source and selecting species. The applicant will purchase the seed initially and the DNR will reimburse the applicant upon inspection of the seeding project. Seeding equipment is available in many areas of the state.  The Roadside for Wildlife program primarily targets the agricultural areas of the state, but funding is available statewide for habitat improvement.  Converting road right-of-way to native plantings helps reduce mowing and use of pesticides. Native plants are very durable, long-lived perennials that are naturally adapted to local growing conditions. Other benefits of native vegetation include enhanced biodiversity, improved natural buffer and increased infiltration of storm water runoff, as well as added beautification and visual stimulation, which reduces fatigue in drivers.

To request an application or for information, contact Pete.Schaefer@dnr.state.mn.us, 507-225-3572, fax: 507 225-3795, or write to: Roadsides for Wildlife Program, DNR Division of Wildlife, 261 Highway 15 South, New Ulm, MN 56073-8915, Attention: Pete Schaefer. Further information is at:  http://tinyurl.com/3qorcoe

TRAINING/MEETINGS

The 2011 Minnesota Indian Housing Conference is scheduled for June 1-3 at Grand Casino in Hinckley. The conference will bring together tribal leaders, tribal housing board members, tribal professionals from housing social services and health along with federal, state, and local government housing professionals and practitioners.  For more information go to: http://www.mnihc.com/

Fundamentals of Nonprofit Finance will be held Tuesday, June 7 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Bremer Bank’s Lower Level Conference Room in

Marshall, MN.  Nonprofit finance has unique rules, conditions, and terminology. This session will provide an introduction to financial reports, the accounting rules governing restricted funds, and nonprofit reporting requirements. You will learn to clarify financial roles and responsibilities and how to create effective internal controls and policies.

This workshop is perfect for those new to the nonprofit sector, or for board members, program managers, administrative staff, or executive directors looking for a financial refresher. Participants will gain the basic operating skills and confidence needed to achieve mission goals.  To register go to: www.nonprofitsassistancefund.org  Or contact Amanda at 612-278-7161 or adlouhy@nonprofitsassistancefund.org

–Minnesota Inventors Congress will hold its Invention and Idea show June 10 -11 at the Redwood Area Community Center in Redwood Falls.  For more information and to register go to: http://tinyurl.com/6ggtcu5

–The Minnesota Campus Compact’s Annual Summit and Awards will be held June 14th at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul.  This inspiring event, designed both to celebrate the outstanding campus-community partnerships and leadership across the state and to provide valuable opportunities for professional development and networking.  For more information and to register go to:  http://tinyurl.com/3nzyo3z

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Annual Conference is scheduled for October 6-7, 2011, at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. Visit the MCN website to learn more http://tinyurl.com/3lxa4o4

OPPORTUNITIES

–The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is now accepting applications for individuals interested in serving as an AmeriCorps member in MN GreenCorps for the 2011-2012 program year.  Positions are in the areas of:

* Energy Conservation
* Waste Prevention and Recycling
* Living Green
* Green Infrastructure

The MPCA hopes to place up to 30 full time positions with sites around the state. Full time positions may begin in mid to late September 2011 and last through August 2012, with members serving approximately 40 hours per week. Five reduced half-time positions may also be available with University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM), for current students only.

Member applications for MN GreenCorps positions are due May 26, 2011.

Some of the benefits of participating in the Minnesota GreenCorps program as a member include:

* Gaining valuable skills and experience in the environmental field

* Personal and professional development opportunities

* Giving back to your community and helping to improve the environment

* Living allowance of at least $12,100 spread over the 11-month term in bi-weekly payments

* Offer of health insurance

* Offer of child care assistance

* Loan forbearance

* Upon completion, education award of $5,350 to be used toward loans or tuition

Minimum qualifications:

* Must be a minimum of 18 years or older.

* Must be a U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or a lawful permanent resident alien of the U.S.

* Must not have a criminal history that precludes the applicant’s ability to work with vulnerable populations, such as the youth and elderly.

* Must be able to make a commitment to complete 11 months of service.

* Education: A two-year Associate of Arts degree or completion of sophomore year in a four-year college program is required. A four-year college degree with a major or significant course work related to environmental protection or other relevant aspect of the Minnesota GreenCorps program is preferred.

Candidates may be contacted as early as June for an interviewFor details and application materials, see http://www.pca.state.mn.us/tchy7a6 or     http://www.pca.state.mn.us/mngreencorps . Please direct questions to mngreencorps.pca@state.mn.us

MISCELLANEOUS

— Local and Regional Foods in Minnesota was published on April 4, 2011 in cooperation with the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. The report was prepared for the Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. Rural Urban Connections Project with funding from USDA Rural Development. In its 27 pages, it “highlights strategies currently employed throughout Minnesota to build and strengthen local and regional food systems through production, distribution, processing, consumer education, and marketing of local foods.”

The report is divided into the following sections:

* Production – Growing Food and Farmers

* Local Food Systems Planning

* Supply Chain and Agricultural Infrastructure

* Processing

* Consumer Demand, Education, and Outreach

From the report’s conclusions: “Minnesota has vibrant and growing local and regional food systems.”  “Enthusiasm for these local and sustainably produced foods is growing. Evidence can be found in the increasing number of community supported agriculture farms, the growing amount of local foods available in many grocery stores, increasing numbers of farmers’ markets, and the growing list of restaurants serving locally grown foods.”  “Despite the growth of the movement and the valiant efforts of those involved, many hurdles remain. The infrastructure system in place for agricultural commodities is inappropriate for local food producers…The existing local and regional agriculture systems in Minnesota are healthy and growing but still have vast unmet potential with which to expand.”  To download this report (free), visit: http://tinyurl.com/3fhq3ec

–The Food Desert Locator provides a spatial overview of low-income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people who are far from a supermarket or large grocery store. This mapping tool will allow users to map food deserts—areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods—and view census tract-level statistics on population groups with low access to healthy and affordable food. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodDesert/

The Greater Minnesota Telehealth Broadband Initiative (GMTBI) is Minnesota’s FCC Rural Health Care Pilot Program project connecting 144 hospitals, clinics and mental health centers on a dedicated broadband network for health information exchange. For more information, contact Karen Welle at karen.welle@state.mn.us or attend the GMTBI session, Building a Dedicated Network for Rural Health Care, at the Minnesota Rural Health Conference. http://tinyurl.com/439afsl

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Data on Population Distribution and Change in the U.S. Based on Analysis of 2010 Census Resultshttp://tinyurl.com/5tuabep In this first in a series of 2010 Census briefs, Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010, http://tinyurl.com/4yvpfyd the Census Bureau analyzed the nation’s population change for the United States as a whole, as well as its regions, states, metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, counties and places.

–The USDA ERS State Fact Sheets provide information on population, income, poverty, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports, for each State in the United States. Links to county-level data are included when available. The State Fact Sheets now include 2010 State and county unemployment data.  Go to: http://wwwers.usda.gov/StateFacts/

The Community Development Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has released a new issue of Community Dividend that features articles on workplace-based financial education, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center’s response to the foreclosure crisis, and Hispanic entrepreneurs in the Ninth Federal Reserve District.  To read more, visit Current Issue page.

Housing Assistance Council has issued an update on its initial report and assessment of the foreclosure situation in rural America called Foreclosure in Rural America: An Update. To download a free copy go to: http://tinyurl.com/3h7wofo

The Water Resources Center at Minnesota State University Mankato is accelerating cleanup of the Minnesota River through a project that will dramatically increase collaboration among all stakeholders in the basin. The project includes a video documentary about the history of the river from Glacial Lake Agassiz to the present, including an overview of current pollution problems and restoration activities and an updated and expanded Minnesota River Basin Data Center website (http://mrbdc.mnsu.edu/) to serve as a clearinghouse for information about the river and a means of communication for all stakeholders.  A wide range of stakeholders is supporting this effort, including a number of nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies. For more details, see http://www.mnriver.org/

Guide to Measuring the Benefits of Green Infrastructure.  In its 80 pages, The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits aims to inform decision-makers and planners about the multiple benefits green infrastructure delivers to communities, and to guide communities in valuing the benefits of potential green infrastructure investments.”

This 2010 publication from The Center for Neighborhood Technologies defines green infrastructure as “a network of decentralized stormwater and permeable pavement that can capture and infiltrate rain where it falls, thus reducing stormwater runoff and improving the health of surrounding waterways.” The guide discusses a number of green infrastructure practices, including green roofs, tree planting, bioretention & infiltration, permeable pavement, and water harvesting.

The guide then includes sections related to measuring the benefit and value of green infrastructure in the following areas:

* Water

* Energy

* Air Quality

* Climate Change

* Urban Heat Island

* Community Livability

* Habitat Improvement

* Public Education

A number of brief community case studies are also included, as well as descriptions of several useful calculators and an extensive bibliography.  To download this report for free, visit http://www.cnt.org/repository/gi-values-guide.pdf

The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) has published a brief called “Rethinking Federal Investments in Rural Transportation: Rural Considerations Regarding Reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Act”. The brief looks at rural transportation issues and focuses on the ongoing nature and scope of transportation investment in the United States. To get a copy of the document go to: http://tinyurl.com/44cwf9e.

–Plan now to pick up your free copy of the 2011 Minnesota Grown Directory packed with hundreds of places to find great locally grown foods.  The 30th Anniversary edition makes it convenient to locate orchards, farmers’ markets, berry farms and garden centers where you can purchase products directly from the grower. A free printed copy of the Minnesota Grown Directory may be ordered online at: http://tinyurl.com/3qd83t8 or calling Explore Minnesota Tourism at 1-888-VISITMN (1-888-847-4866).

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