April 2012– Volume X, Number 4
Compiled and edited by Deb Miller Slipek & Ann Treacy

–Across the Field





Across the Field:  Across the Country Connected Nearly All the Way by Mobile Broadband – by Ann Treacy

Editor’s note:  If you know Ann Treacy, you know she’s an amazing person who is never without her laptop, always helping widen the reach of community informatics in Minnesota and across the world to strengthen community and economic development. Ann recently got the chance to do her work in Alaska and we asked her to write about the on-the-road-across-America experience.-JL

I was honored when Jane Leonard asked me to write about my travels for the newsletter this month. Earlier this year I went on a serious road trip – 4,000 miles, 13 states, 3 kids, me, their Grandpa (one way) and their dad (the other way) in a week. In February, I got to spend almost a week in Anchorage. I learned (or relearned) a couple of things on the road:

  1. Distance is not the barrier it once was. Thanks to mobile broadband, I worked in the car over 4000 miles. Actually I probably worked over 3800 miles – there was one patch where I couldn’t get online. http://tinyurl.com/7znnuhs . For communities, this means that if you have broadband, you’re fair game for anyone with a job (or business) looking to relocate. If you don’t have broadband, you are off the map for most people.
  2. Turnpikes do not make it easy to visit small towns. I’m not sure what the game plan was in terms of promoting statewide community vitality but it seems as if opportunities may have been missed. However, the Internet offers a platform for small towns to tell their stories, which are often compelling enough to cause a traveler to find their way off the turnpike to learn more. Smart communities, looking for tourists, will tell their stories. (We took at least two diversions based on info we found online.)
  3. Many communities in the continental US may be rural, but they aren’t remote. You can drive to them – and generally you can drive to them in a reasonable amount of time. They aren’t necessarily convenient, but they are accessible.
  4. To quote Michelle Shocked – you know you’re in the largest state in the union when you’re anchored down in Anchorage. My overwhelming impression of Alaska was its huge size – and I saw a very small portion around Anchorage. I am part of a team that is working to promote broadband in Southwest Alaska. We are working with the string of islands streaming almost like a comet below the state. It is 1,700 miles from Anchorage to the farthest Aleutian Island (Attu). That is remote! Also their main industry (seafood harvesting and processing) is seasonal. So like many lakeshore towns in Minnesota, the population fluctuates greatly between summer and winter.
  5. People are passionate about their places – and they have good reason to be. >From the blue snowdrifts in Whittier AK, to the Tennessee Rockies, to the white beaches of Jacksonville, every community has something to make it worth the visit.


–Eileen Fisher is inviting applications for the Activating Leadership Grant Program for Women and Girls from nonprofits that show an innovative, holistic, effective, and direct approach to activating leadership among women and/or girls.  Deadline to apply is 4/25/2012.  To apply, http://tinyurl.com/7agsfth

MnDOT seeks applicants for Safe Routes to School grant funds.  Minnesota elementary and middle schools and their partners are invited to apply for

Safe Routes to School grant funds for projects that will help more children safely walk and bicycle to school.  Applications are due Friday, April 27, at noon and are available at www.mndot.gov/saferoutes/

Kindergarten through eighth-grade schools in Minnesota may apply for grants in

two categories:

* Planning assistance

– Schools will receive expert assistance to complete a Safe Routes to School plan, which will analyze existing conditions, gather public input and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions.

* Implementation grants

– Schools will receive grant funds to support education, encouragement, enforcement or evaluation activities related to safe walking and bicycling to school.

Minnesota has $1.2 million available in these categories for 2012-13.  All SRTS grants use federal funds, and no local match is required. Grants for infrastructure projects, such as sidewalks and crosswalks, are not available at this time. 
All non-profit organizations and government entities in Minnesota may be eligible partners, including tribal nations, schools, school districts, cities, counties and regional planning organizations. For more information, visit www.mndot.gov/saferoutes/ or contact Lisa Bender at 651-366-4195 or lisa.bender@state.mn.us

–HUD has announced the availability of funding for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) for an array of activities encouraging innovative home ownership through “sweat-equity” affordable housing development or rehabilitation projects. Deadline: 4/30/2012. For more information, http://tinyurl.com/8ycb9kt

–HUD recently released the NOFA for the 2012 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grants competition.  HUD will award approximately $5 million in Planning Grants under this NOFA (12-17 grants of approx. $300,000). Deadline to apply is   5/1/2012.  Applications must propose a plan for the transformation of a severely distressed public and/or HUD-assisted multifamily housing project located in a distressed neighborhood into a viable, mixed-income community.  For an application, http://tinyurl.com/7dqoyf4

–The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is offering grants to nonprofits and tribal groups for the Roadmaps to Health: Community Grants program. Funding will support communities’ implementation of policy or system changes that address one of the social or economic factors that, as defined by the County Health Rankings, most strongly influences health outcomes in the community. These include: education; employment and income; family and social support; and community safety. Deadline to apply: 5/2/2012. To learn more, http://tinyurl.com/7jdh9af

–Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grants.  The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources seeks proposals from organizations and individuals interested in receiving a Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant.  The CARD Grant Program is intended to identify new technologies or strategies to maximize energy savings, improve the effectiveness of energy conservation programs, or document the carbon dioxide reductions from energy conservation projects. Up to $3 million in total is available for this grant opportunity.  The request for proposals and required forms are available at the web site above through May 7, 2012.  For more information, see http://tinyurl.com/7r9l4g6

–The Department of Labor has issued a NOFA for the YouthBuild program. The program funds vocational training and education in the construction trades for at-risk youth. Deadline to apply is 5/8/2012.  For more information, http://tinyurl.com/7x9xxp9

–The Department of Justice is offering funding to provide resources and coordination to increase the ability of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities to provide comprehensive and culturally appropriate services to crime victims, their families, and the community.  Application deadline is May 8, 2012.  To learn more about this opportunity, http://tinyurl.com/894y8df

Applications are being accepted for the traditional Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) program and the RCDI Rural Jobs Accelerator (RJA).   Applications are due May 9, 2012. In Minnesota, applications must be submitted to Terry Louwagie in our state office (375 Jackson St., Suite 410, St. Paul, MN, 55101).  USDA Rural Development plans to award up to $8.6 million through the RCDI program. Applications are sought for projects that: http://tinyurl.com/85emz5z

  • Provide technical assistance to improve the capacity of local organizations to complete successful housing, economic development and community facilities projects;
  • Help recipients complete pre-development requirements – such as architectural and engineering plans;
  • Help development organizations improve their board operations, management and knowledge of financial and information technology systems;
  • Provide homeownership education or training for entrepreneurs.

Part of the RCDI funds to be awarded may be used for projects associated with the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, http://tinyurl.com/6pg9wfj which was announced on March 8, 2012. Applications for Jobs Accelerator projects must be submitted to both USDA and the EDA. More information can be found at Federal Register and Grants.gov

–The Veterans Administration has grants available to nonprofits to provide services to specific homeless veteran populations that are identified in the NOFA, or to implement a new “transition in place” housing model to facilitate housing stabilization. Deadline to apply is 5/30/2012. For more information, http://tinyurl.com/784jzvb

— Environmental assistance loans program.  The Environmental Assistance Loan Program is accepting applications until June 30, 2013.  Applications should be submitted electronically to Grants-Loans.pca@state.mn.us. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it as an e-mail attachment. Faxed applications or applications received after the June 30, 2013 deadline will not accepted for consideration under this RFP.

Who can apply?

Priority eligible applicants: Minnesota-based small to medium-sized businesses and political subdivisions of Minnesota

Eligible projects and costs?

Priority eligible projects: green chemistry, pollution prevention, source reduction, recycling, and source-separated composting.

Eligible loan costs: limited to the capital costs of implementing waste or pollution prevention technologies in Minnesota. Capital costs are limited to the costs of acquisition of machinery and equipment, including freight and installation, and related improvements.  The EA Loan Program is offering two types of loans: Participatory and Direct. Participatory Loans provide for awards up to a maximum loan of $100,000 at zero percent interest. Participatory Loan funds must be matched by a minimum dollar-for-dollar match by loans from a participating financial institution. In addition to the competitive interest rate charged by the participating financial institution on its matching funds, an administrative fee may be added to the Participatory Loan to defray costs associated with the servicing of the EA Loan by the financial institution.

Direct Loans are limited to businesses/entities and provide for awards up to a maximum loan of $50,000 at four percent interest or one half the prime rate, whichever is greater. Direct Loans must be matched by a minimum one dollar for every two dollars received of funds from the applicant. Start-up businesses are not eligible for direct loans.  Visit the MPCA Environmental Assistance Loan Program website for more information. http://tinyurl.com/6p2ulu8

NREA Mini-Grant Program
- Available to rural classroom teachers who focus on rural classroom projects that feature an investigation of the science of energy or electricity. Application deadline is July 15, 2012. http://tinyurl.com/7vwfvqc

–Home Depot Foundation’s Community Impact GrantsGrants, up to $5,000, are available to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public schools, or tax-exempt public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their community.  Grants are given in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services.  The Home Depot Foundation’s Community Impact Grant Program is accepting proposals for grants through August 13, 2012.   More competitive grant proposals will specifically identify projects for veterans and will include housing repairs, modifications, and weatherization work.  Only proposals submitted through the online application process will be considered for funding. 
For more details, see http://tinyurl.com/6fj9tdv

Technology Grants for Rural Schools
Funding to help public schools in rural areas bring computers to every classroom, connect schools to the internet and to make sure that effective software and online resources are an integral part of the school curriculum. Application deadline: Nov 1, 2012. http://tinyurl.com/6o9kk83

–The Administration for Children and Families is accepting applications for grants to administer projects for the national Assets for Independence demonstration of the use and impact of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and related services.  Grantees must ensure that participants have access to financial literacy education and coaching.  For more information and program deadlines, http://tinyurl.com/4g3yuth

–TD Charitable Foundation is accepting grant applications for its Non-Profit Training Resource Fund on a rolling basis.  Grants of up to $1,000 are being awarded to employees of nonprofit organizations.  To read more about this program, http://tinyurl.com/83yloq7


— 13th Annual SADBOC Government Procurement Fair will be held April 25, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, MN.

Small businesses interested in doing business with government agencies and prime contractors are encouraged to attend this Trade Fair.  Coupling education with marketing strategies, this event will provide small businesses an opportunity to meet with representatives from Federal, State and local departments, commercial/prime contractors and nonprofit organizations; access available technical assistance; and learn about upcoming contracts.  Small businesses have the opportunity to be matched with a government or corporate buyer interested in their particular product/service. Online registration for a 10-minute appointment began April 2 at our online registration pagehttp://tinyurl.com/76rhmoj All appointments must be scheduled in advance. Matches will be posted on SBA’s website on April 23 at: www.sba.gov/mn  Cost:  FREE!  Registration is requiredYou may register at: http://tinyurl.com/76rhmoj

If you have questions please call 612-370-2324 or contact Randy Czaia (SBA) 612-370-2314 or randall.czaia@sba.gov 

–The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the U. S. Interagency Council on Homelessness will host a free live webinar from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EST on April 25, 2012.  The webinar will draw upon the OCC’s recent newsletter entitled Ending Homelessness: Funding Permanent Supportive Housing (http://tinyurl.com/87jr9f7)  and will focus on bank financing for the development of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Bankers will learn from experts how to finance permanent supportive housing by investing in low-income housing tax credits and pre-development loan pools. Community Reinvestment Act consideration and risk mitigation for this type of housing investment will also be discussed.  The webinar provides an opportunity for bankers and other interested parties to interact with OCC, government, and industry experts. Get more information and register online (http://tinyurl.com/7379j8l).

–Join the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) of Central and Southwestern Minnesota on Thursday, April 26, 2012, for “The Art of Asking,” a half-day workshop that will address your fears of asking prospects for their support, as well as provide road-tested strategies to increase gifts to your organization. This educational opportunity is open to non-AFP members for a fee of $50.00 per person.   Pre-registration is required by contacting Alice Coudron at: acoudron@gw.stcdio.org or 320-258-7656.

Bank of America will host a webinar in their Nonprofit Impact Series on Thursday, April 26th at 2:00 pm (Eastern Daylight Time). Rodney Christopher (Nonprofit Finance Fund) will present a program entitled Sound Financial Planning. The session will provide participants with concrete tools for assessing risk and preparing for opportunity.  To sign up for this webinar, http://www.cybergrants.com/boa/webinars.html

Free Google Map Training Available for Communities along the Great River Road.  The Blandin Foundation, University of Minnesota Extension, and the Minnesota Mississippi River Parkway Commission are offering a free workshop on Friday, April 27 from 9-11 a.m. at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School, to help all communities along the Great River Road map their community attractions on Google Maps. Not only will you be able to learn the process to map all of your community attractions, you will get a good start on doing so at the workshop. So, gather a team from your community/county, (chambers, CVBs, park and recreation, public lands, interns, etc.), identify your key community attractions, and bring their addresses to help residents and visitors find your key assets and things to do in your area. A small registration fee may be required to hold your computer seat, but will be returned upon attendance.  Registration information is available from: Kari Schugel, Sauk Rapids – Rice Community Education, 320-258-1569, kari.schugel@isd47.org.

The Minnesota Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (MNCARH) will host its 2012 Annual Conference and Meeting http://www.mncarh.org/upcoming.html on May 8-9, 2012, at the Grand Conference Center and Casino in Hinckley.  Please contact Katie Langer at 800-944-3078 or mncarh@gmail.com for more information.

Minnesota Inventors Congress’s Invention & Idea Show.  You never know who you might meet at an invention show…. Register today to test market your products June 8 & 9, 2012, at the Redwood Area Community Center. Download registration brochure here: 2012 Registration Brochure http://tinyurl.com/7s44dyy

Participant and exhibitor registration is now open for the 2012 Rural Health Conference, “Bringing It All Together,” taking place June 25-26 in Duluth.  Visit the Rural Health Conference website to register and find more conference details. https://secure.ruralcenter.org/conference/

— Existing and emerging nonprofit leaders from across Minnesota will gather for the 2012 Nonprofit Leadership Conference, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. It will be held Tuesday, June 26 from 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, MN.  This conference will share strategies and solutions about how nonprofit organizations, including yours, excel at engaging people, improving systems and strengthening communities. http://tinyurl.com/7dbgksr


— MPCA GreenCorps now accepting host site applications.  Minnesota GreenCorps is now accepting applications from organizations interested in hosting an AmeriCorps member for the 2012-2013 program year!  MPCA may place up to 27 full time members with various host sites for the 2012-2013 year. Members serve approximately 40 hours a week for 11 months beginning in mid to late September 2012 through August 2013. Members will be placed either individually or in teams of two at selected host sites.

Eligible organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Organizations may apply for Minnesota GreenCorps members who will serve on projects in the areas of:

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

Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by 5:00pm on April 19, 2012.

Host site application packets (including an application and guidance document) are only available by e-mailing your request to mngreencorps.pca@state.mn.us. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Please direct all questions to this email.  Operation of the Minnesota GreenCorps program is dependent on funding. Visit the MPCA Greencorps website for more information. http://tinyurl.com/6bjqc7b

— Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Earth Day is a day to show how important the environment is to you. Whether you organize an event in your community or teach a peer about environmental issues, Earth Day is about uniting voices around the globe in support of a healthy planet. 

This year for Earth Day 2012, the focus is on Mobilizing the Earth. People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and seek its protection. Together people will work for a sustainable future and call upon individuals, organizations, and governments to do their part. For ideas on how you can get involved, visit http://www.earthday.org/2012

Free technical assistance is now available from Envision Minnesota for between 4-7 Minnesota communities to implement sustainability and livability strategies that will help to advance a clean environment, improved public health, greater job creation and economic opportunities, and enhanced overall quality of life.  Applications must be received by April 30, 2012.

The assistance is made possible through a competitively awarded grant to the Building Sustainable Communities Consortium (of which Envision is a member) from the EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities’ Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program (http://tinyurl.com/66mzq3n).  MN local governments and tribal governments, as well as nonprofits that are partners with and have strong support from local governments, are eligible to apply for technical assistance. Collaborative partnerships are encouraged.  Additional information, including how to apply and the criteria for selection, are available at http://tinyurl.com/8a37h85. Read more about the Building Sustainable Communities Consortium at http://buildingsustainablecommunities.org/.

— CALL for PROPOSALS!  The Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) welcome your proposals for sessions during their Joint Annual Conference, to be held on November 1-2, 2012, at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.  The 2012 conference theme is Allied for Action: Bridging Differences for the Greater Good.  Our state faces increasingly complex problems that defy simple answers. Exceptional solutions will emerge only after we consciously harness the power of our differences and truly work together toward a greater good. To successfully tackle tough problems, we must value the diversity of our relationships, understand the intersections of our efforts, intensify our cross-sector connections and build on our collective desire for action. 

This conference will bring together nonprofit and philanthropic leaders to focus on how we can embrace inclusion as a powerful strategy for building a new Minnesota together. You’ll leave with new networks, renewed energy and powerful tools to work in our increasingly complicated world.  Submitting a proposal is easy! Simply follow this link to an online Survey Monkey proposal form. The deadline to submit a proposal to present at the conference is Friday, May 4, at 5 p.m.

If you have questions about submitting a proposal for the 2012 MCF/MCN Joint Annual Conference, please contact Stephanie Haddad, Program Director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits at 651-757-3071 or shaddad@minnesotanonprofits.org; or Stephanie Jacobs, Director of Member Services, Minnesota Council on Foundations at 612-335-3556 or sjacobs@mcf.org.

The Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide new venture competition in the country, is once again seeking to support and accelerate the development of the best breakthrough ideas from across the state.  This year $200,000 in cash awards is up for grabs along with other prizes in six divisions: Clean Tech & Renewable Energy, BioScience & Health IT, Student, General, High Tech and Social Entrepreneur. Anything from an idea to a new venture generating less than $1 million in revenue is eligible to enter. The 2012 competition is open at minnesotacup.org and entrepreneurs may enter through 11:59pm on May 18.

— The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits welcome nominations for the 2012 Nonprofit Mission & Excellence Awards. Nonprofit organizations make outstanding contributions to Minnesota’s high quality of life and we ask that you help us honor these contributions! http://minnesotanonprofitawards.org/

2012 Nonprofit Mission Awards:  Since 1987, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has been showcasing the work of Minnesota’s outstanding nonprofits through the Nonprofit Mission Awards in the categories of:

  • Innovation
  • Advocacy
  • Anti-Racism Initiative
  • Responsive Philanthropy

MCN encourages you to nominate http://minnesotanonprofitawards.org/ a nonprofit that you know has achieved tremendous results in one of these four areas. A full list of past recipients http://tinyurl.com/7ykq5la and their award videos are available online. Nominations must be submitted by May 31, 2012.

2012 Nonprofit Excellence Awards:  Minnesota Nonprofit Excellence Awards began in 2003. Since then, many of Minnesota’s best nonprofit organizations have proudly accepted and displayed their Nonprofit Excellence Awards. http://minnesotanonprofitawards.org/

Two Nonprofit Excellence Awards are presented each year, one to an organization with less than $1.5 million in annual operating expense, and one to a large organization with $1.5 million or more in annual operating expense. These awards are based upon how closely organizations align with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence. http://tinyurl.com/873×679

Applications http://tinyurl.com/7ogpmza for Excellence Awards must be self-submitted by the organization and require advance planning and board involvement. A full list of past recipients and their award videos are available online. Please submit your application materials to MAP for Nonprofits, 2314 University Avenue West, Suite 28, St. Paul, MN 55114 by May 31, 2012 at 4 p.m. http://www.mapfornonprofits.org/

— The Policy Fellows program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs is accepting applications for 2012-2013. The Policy Fellows program brings together rising leaders from business, government and nonprofit sectors to hone their leadership skills, build their professional networks, and learn how to tackle the “common good” challenges facing our state and nation. As part of a 35-person cohort, Fellows meet monthly between September and June for full-day workshops and seminars; design and implement group projects on topics of their choosing; and participate in a three-day study trip to Washington, D.C. Emerging and mid-career leaders throughout the state of Minnesota are welcome to apply. The application and two recommendation letters are due June 1, 2012. Scholarships are available. http://tinyurl.com/8yn6w9b

–CALL for PROPOSALS!!  A Leadership Chautauqua (hosted by Bush Foundation) and the 2012 Symposium on Small Towns are coming up on June 12, 13 and 14in Morris, MN.  Here is the link to the webpage for these events: http://tinyurl.com/7xldh5r

We are looking for your participation in the Symposium this year as a presenter, storyteller, convener, or showcase presenter.  To learn more about the CALL FOR PROPOSALS, including presentation topic areas and formats, click on the link below (or just click on “CALL FOR PROPOSAL” which is on the top right of the Symposium page) http://tinyurl.com/7yj4f84


— RCAP Releases a New Guide for Board Members.  The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) http://rcap.org/  has released a new guidebook to assist members of the board of directors or governing body of small, rural drinking water and wastewater systems.  The Big Guide for Small Systems: A Resource for Board Members is a comprehensive guide to the oversight role a board member has in governing a small utility.  This is the newest in a series of guides that RCAP has recently published. Copies of all guides, including this newest one, are available in PDF format on the RCAP website, or by visiting MAP’s Guides and Publications page. http://tinyurl.com/6ucrqrq

Rural Wealth Creation: Concepts, Strategies, and Measures.  This report presents a conceptual framework for rural wealth creation, drawing upon the U.S. and international development literature. The framework emphasizes the importance of multiple types of assets (physical, financial, human, intellectual, natural, social, political, and cultural capital) and the economic, institutional, and policy context in which rural wealth strategies are devised. The report discusses the role of wealth creation in the rural development process, how wealth can be created in rural communities, and how its accumulation and effects can be measured.  See: http://tinyurl.com/7w7fthv

— In early 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the creation of the Sustainable Resource Center web site (http://tinyurl.com/6o65269), which functions as a one-stop resource that highlights projects and best practices from sustainability projects around the country.  According to the web site, the “Sustainable Communities Resource Center is intended to provide the public with a comprehensive set of information that supports local and regional strategies, with a particular emphasis on sustainable housing and planning.” Categories in the Resource Center include: economic competiveness, housing and transportation choices, regional planning, green building, and rural and tribal sustainability.  In conjunction with the unveiling of the Resource Center, HUD announced the debut of Sustainable Communities Enews, which “highlights information on emerging best practices that America’s communities and regions are generating to make our communities more economically competitive, inclusive, and energy efficient.”

— Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   As our society ages and there is an increasing need for access by our senior community and others with disabilities, portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act were developed or updated to address this issue. Many of the new sections directly affect places of lodging. New language has been developed on reservation requirements, pool lift requirements, Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices and revised language regarding service animals. The attached material provides information on topics related to places of lodging. For additional information or assistance, please contact the Minnesota State Council on Disability at www.disability.state.mn.us or contact me directly at margot.imdieke@state.mn.us or 800.945.8913 toll free or 651.361.7800(v/tdd).  2012 Tourism Conference Presentations included:

SmallBusiness Primer 2010 http://tinyurl.com/82yqxwl

Reservations Made by Places of Lodging http://tinyurl.com/6nl4zhy

Highlights of Specific ADA Revisions for Lodging http://tinyurl.com/7pr2gzr

Other Information: Accessible Pools: Means of Entry and Exit http://tinyurl.com/7afswuw

–The Center for Housing Policy released its annual Housing Landscape report, which tracks the affordability of housing for America’s working households. The report found that, despite falling home sale prices, housing affordability worsened between 2008 and 2010 for both working renters and working owners.  To read more, http://tinyurl.com/7zw87ph

–Policy Link reports that the final fiscal year 2012 budget was approved with $32 million for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative through the U.S. Treasury and Health and Human Services departments. The legislation provides $22 million from the Treasury Department for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to work on healthy food access in low-income communities, and an additional $10 million will be available through the Community Economic Development Program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for CDCs doing this work.  To learn more and to sign up for updates, http://tinyurl.com/3v28tvt

–The Carsey Institute has released a new report titled “Rural Demographic Change in the New Century: Slower Growth, Increased Diversity.”  The report looks at rural demographic trends in the first decade of the twenty-first century using newly available data from the 2010 Census.  To get the report, http://tinyurl.com/6tujxcz

–A paper from NeighborWorks America and The Joint Center for Housing Studies describes the management, financial and political challenges that nonprofits may face in developing and operating scattered-site rental housing. The paper emphasizes that rental strategies with cross-sector partnerships and strong local government support can have a positive impact on communities.  Get the paper http://tinyurl.com/79jy7on

–In a new Carsey Institute publication, “The Local Agricultural Community Exchange: Outcomes and Lessons Learned from a Public-Private Initiative to Revitalize a Downtown Community,” author Michele Cranwell Schmidt presents the evaluation of a revitalization project in Barre, Vermont.  The project created a community market, cafe and gallery, and was led by a public-private partnership involving the Agricultural Community Exchange, the Central Vermont Community Action Council and local private businesses. But, after four years of operation, the market, café, and gallery closed due to economic hardship. Schmidt, the 2008 recipient of the Nancy Nye Fellowship in Rural Community Development, examines the impact the initiative had on community revitalization and economic development, and she cites the recommendations offered by the staff and vendors.  You can access the publication http://tinyurl.com/7bhj7vu

–ROC-NH™ (formerly Manufactured Housing Park Program) helps residents of manufactured housing parks come together to buy the land under their houses, build value and security in their homes and create stronger, more vibrant communities. In much of rural America, manufactured housing is a primary form of affordable housing for lower-income families. Most families who buy a manufactured home rent a lot in a housing park, and that makes them vulnerable to excessive rent increases, poor maintenance by the park owner and failing infrastructure. To learn more, click http://tinyurl.com/7uzh738

–The recent Los Angeles NeighborWorks Training Institute symposium, “Reclaiming the Vision of Homeownership: Challenges and Solutions”, featured an innovative conversation on homeownership and a webcasted town hall meeting. To download resources and watch the webcast, click http://tinyurl.com/824nmhe

Healthiest and Least Healthy Counties Ranked in Every State  — The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announce the release of the 2012 County Health Rankings. Published on-line at www.countyhealthrankings.org, the rankings assess the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.

HHS and Education Launch New Stop Bullying Website — Building on the momentum the Obama administration started more than a year ago to stop bullying in schools and communities, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan today unveiled a revitalized Stop Bullying website – www.stopbullying.gov – to encourage children, parents, educators, and communities to take action to stop and prevent bullying.

US Patent and Trademark Office and NIST MEP.  The new Intellectual Property Awareness Assessment Tool developed by NIST MEP in collaboration with the US Patent and Trademark Office is now available for use: (http://tinyurl.com/7nposa5).   The tool is designed to help business owners and inventors consider critical intellectual property issues specific to their needs. It addresses Trademark, Copyright, Patent, Trade Secret, Licensing and International Rights as well as asset management, tracking and strategy issues.  Once the simple assessment is completed the user gains access to a customized menu of educational materials on intellectual property developed by the USPTO and information on additional resources that offer helpful assistance.  The intent is to help smaller manufacturers establish and employ an informed strategy to create value and protect their valuable IP assets.