December 2012– Volume X, Number 12

Compiled, and edited by Deb Miller Slipek and Ann Treacy




Across the Field: We’re looking for guest writers to tell their stories of work and life across 2013!

Although Minnesota Rural Partners no longer exists as an official organization, we keep MRP going in spirit with this monthly e-newsletter, a Rural Round-Up of events, resources, meetings, and funding thanks to great volunteer editors like Deb Miller Slipek and Ann Treacy.

For 10 years (can’t believe it!) we’ve managed to keep the Rural Round-Up reported, written, edited, published and distributed through that old email technology called a list serv. We still have nearly 3,000 people on the list across Minnesota and across the country. We’ll keep it going as long as you, our readers, keep telling us you enjoy and use the news contained within – which you do thus far, so thanks!

We’d love to have a couple of guest writers for 2013.  If you are interested in writing something for the Across the Field column slot, please let us know via email: Deb at, or Ann at , or Jane at

If we don’t hear from you, we might start calling, give you a shout-out, and encourage you to have as much fun as we have had in sharing ideas, resources, events, or just plain good old storytelling within the Across the Field column.  Thanks again to Bernadine Joselyn of the Blandin Foundation for serving as guest columnist last month on the very timely topic of rural broadband.

–Deb, Ann & Jane


The Institute for Rural America is offering Seize the Moment Grants. These small (maximum $250) awards are intended to assist nonprofit organizations needing to take quick action on issues that arise or to send staff to training programs. The application deadline is rolling.

The federal Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) has released a FY 2013 Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement (Rural Quality) Grant Program funding announcement. The program supports rural primary care providers in implementing quality improvement activities that help develop an evidence-based culture and the delivery of coordinated care. A technical assistance call will take place December 18.  Applications due January 30.

— The Department of Agriculture is offering grants to support technical assistance or training to identify and evaluate solutions to water problems relating to source, storage, treatment and distribution, and to waste disposal problems relating to collection, treatment and disposal. Deadline to apply: 12/31/2012.

— Application materials for the Minnesota Loan Forgiveness Program, which supports recruitment and retention of health care professionals in communities experiencing a shortage of primary health care providers, are now available on the ORHPC Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs page. Applications due by January 2, 2013.

–The National Endowment for the Humanities is offering grants for projects in the formats of interactive digital media such as websites, games, mobile applications, virtual environments, streaming video or podcasts; film and television projects intended for national distribution; and radio projects intended for regional or national distribution. Deadline to apply: 1/9/2013. Learn more

— MDA 2013 Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program.  The Minnesota Department of Agriculture  (MDA) is now accepting applications for its Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program, which promotes environmental stewardship and conservation of resources and strives to improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas.  Grant applications and information are available on the MDA website at or by contacting the Agricultural Marketing and Development Division at 651-201-6012. Completed applications must be received by MDA no later than January 11, 2013.

Our Town Grants National Endowment for the Arts encourages rural communities to apply for the latest round of Our Town creative placemaking grants. Last year, 41 of the 80 grants went to communities with populations of less than 50,000 and five grants were made to communities with less than 1,000 residents (Teller, AK; Last Chance, CO; Star, NC; Uniontown, WA; Dufur, OR). For guidelines, The deadline is January 14.

— The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation’s Access to Coverage program seeks proposals for increasing health care coverage for low-income Minnesotans who are eligible for coverage but not currently enrolled. The foundation will fund each of the state’s six regions and encourages the development of regional coalitions of community partners who can identify and effectively reach out to all low-income individuals in their area. Applications due January 14.

–The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is accepting applications for Community Action Grants from individuals, AAUW branches, and AAUW state organizations as well as local community-based nonprofit organizations for innovative programs or non-degree research projects that promote education and equity for women. Deadline to apply: 1/15/2013. To learn more

HUD is offering funds through The Continuum of Care Program to support programs that address homelessness throughout communities. Deadline to apply: 1/18/2013.

–The Corporation for National and Community Service is offering funding to nonprofits and local and state governments to establish AmeriCorps programs that will offer AmeriCorps volunteers the opportunity to become involved in a range of community improvement activities. Deadline: 1/23/2013.

— The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) program is seeking applications from pediatricians and pediatric residents in the planning or initial implementation stage of a community-based child health initiative. The program is designed to help increase children’s access to a medical home or specific health services not otherwise available. Applications due January 31.

— Angel investor credits return next year. 
A total of $12 million in tax credits will be available in 2013.  The Certification Application is available now.  The Credit Allocation Application will be available in January. Minnesota’s Angel Tax Credit provides incentives to investors or investment funds that put money into startup and emerging companies focused on high technology or new proprietary technology. The Angel Tax Credit:

  • Provides a 25-percent individual income tax credit for qualified investors
  • Is refundable. Non-Minnesota residents, including residents of foreign countries, are eligible for the credit
  • Allows a maximum credit of $125,000 per year per individual
  • Allows a maximum credit of $250,000 for those married and filing jointly.

For more information go to:

–The Department of Veterans Affairs is offering grants to nonprofits to provide supportive services to very low-income veteran families, especially those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. Both initial and renewal grants are available. Deadline: 2/1/2013.

–The National Endowment for the Arts is offering grants through its Big Read program for community-wide reading programs. Seventy-five grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded to nonprofit organizations for community-wide reading programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Deadline to apply: 2/5/2013. Get an application and more details about the program

–USDA is accepting applications from nonprofits for the Higher Education Challenge Grants Program: Agricultural Sciences Education. The funding aims to increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue and complete a postsecondary degree in the food and agricultural sciences. Deadline to apply: 2/8/2013. For application requirements,

–The Gannett Foundation’s Community Action Grants support nonprofit organizations with funding priority given to programs that focus on education and neighborhood improvement, economic development, youth development, community problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged people, environmental conservation and cultural enrichment. Deadline to apply: 2/16/2013. For more information on these grants,


In response to Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 11-32, the Environmental Quality Board will convene a series of citizen forums as part of the Minnesota Environmental Congress. In the forums, participants will engage in a dialogue with other Minnesotans about the current state of Minnesota’s environment and the quality of life in Minnesota. The citizen forums are free and open to everyone and our goal is reaching as many Minnesotans as possible.  Dates & locations:

St. Cloud
Stearns County Service Center, Wednesday, December 12, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Minnesota State University, Friday, December 14, 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

For more information or to RSVP, visit:, or contact Anna Sherman with questions at 651-201-6607 or

Shared Waters | Shared Responsibility: Working Across Borders to Protect and Restore Lake Winnipeg and the Red River Basin.  The Consulate General of Canada, in partnership with the University of Minnesota, the Freshwater Society, Environment Canada, and the Province of Manitoba, invites you to a forum on regional transboundary waters, Thursday December 13, 2012 
from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM
at the Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of MN, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.  This half-day forum is designed for policy makers, students, researchers, business leaders, scientists, and others interested in global water issues to exchange information and best practices on regional water cooperation.  Our goals are to raise awareness of water quality challenges facing Minnesota’s and Manitoba’s waters within the Red River Basin, and identify existing and possible approaches for improving water quality throughout the Basin.
 Event is free and open to the public.

–SAVE THE DATE!  Minnesota Campus Compact’s 2013 summit and awards ceremony will be on Monday, April 1, at Hamline University’s new Anderson Center in St. Paul.

The 56th annual Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention Expo will be hosted in Redwood Falls MN on April 19 & 20, 2013. With change comes the opportunity for new ideas and ways of doing business. Stay tuned for updates about your opportunity to test market your products at the Invention & Idea Show hosted by the Minnesota Inventors Congress.

-SAVE THE DATE!  The next gathering of the National Rural Assembly will be held in the D.C. Metro area, June 23-26, 2013.

— The 2013 Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 24-25, 2013 in Duluth.


— Minnesota Department of Education Accepting Applications for National Green Ribbon Schools Recognition.  Throughout Minnesota, schools are making a conscious effort to promote energy efficiency – both in the classroom and in practice. For the second year, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Education to recognize these schools with the Green Ribbon Schools program.  The program seeks to highlight K-12 schools across the nationwho are working every day to set a great example by saving energy and reducing operating costs, creating environmentally friendly learning spaces, promoting student health and providing environmental education to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum.

To be considered for the program, a school will have achieved or made considerable progress toward the three pillars established in the program: 1) energy efficient buildings; 2) healthy students and school environment; and 3) environmental literacy of all graduates. The combined achievement in these three areas will be the basis for the Green Ribbon Schools award.

To apply, public and private schools in Minnesota submit their application to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). After reviewing all applicants, Commissioner Brenda Cassellius will nominate up to four schools and one district for the honor. If four schools are nominated, one must be a public school with a 40 percent disadvantaged population and one must be a private school. Schools must also meet high college- and career-ready standards, be in compliance with federal civil rights laws, and all federal, state and local health and safety standards and regulations.

Download the application for the Green Ribbon Schools program. Applications must be submitted to MDE by December 19, 2012. The U.S. Department of Education expects to make decisions on final awards in April on Earth Day and will host a national recognition award ceremony in Washington D.C. in early June.  For more information on Green Ribbon Schools, please visit For questions about MDE’s application process or program, please contact Jeff Ledermann, MDE’s Environmental and Outdoor Education Coordinator, at 651-582-8602 or .

The 2013 Minnesota e-Health Summit has issued a Call for Presentations. This year’s summit will be held June 12-13 in Bloomington with the theme “Minnesota e-Health:  Optimizing, Connecting, Transforming.” Applications due December 21.

— Resilient Communities Project 2013 – 2014.  The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is now accepting proposals from cities and counties to be the community partner for 2013–2014.  RCP is a year-long partnership between the University of Minnesota and one local community in Minnesota. Through the partnership, students and faculty from across the University collaborate with the partner community to address its self-defined sustainability-related needs through course-based projects. The collaboration results in on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more sustainable and livable future.

RCP provides the partner community with efficient access to the broad base of sustainability expertise at the University of Minnesota by matching community-identified projects with graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses that can address the needs of the community. The partner community supports the effort through dedicated staff time and a local funding contribution.

RCP has the capacity to address 15 – 30 local projects during the partnership year, matching each project with one or more courses to complete the necessary work. Project work will be completed primarily by graduate students, with direct oversight by faculty members and RCP staff.  Expertise is available related to all aspects of sustainability (e.g., environmental health, economic opportunity, social equity, and community livability) and all stages of sustainability efforts (analysis, planning, design, implementation, and evaluation).

RCP serves communities addressing sustainability at the local or regional scale. Cities, counties, and clusters of communities along a transportation corridor, around a regional center, or within a watershed are eligible to apply. To minimize travel time and costs, applicant communities should ideally be located within a two-hour drive of Minneapolis. Communities located further away from Minneapolis may be considered if additional funds are contributed for overnight travel costs.  Deadline for proposals: February 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm.  Visit the RCP website  for a complete RFP packet and more information on how to apply.

— Free Energy Assessments for Small Businesses and Institutions.  Are your small business’ or institution’s furnace, door seals, recycling program, and lighting working at their best?  If you answered ‘I don’t know’, consider contacting RETAP.  The Retiree Environmental Technical Assistance Program (RETAP) provides no-cost, non-regulatory energy efficiency and waste reduction assessments for small businesses and institutions in Minnesota.  When you have an assessment done, an experienced team of retired professionals will:

* Analyze your utility bills,

* Visit your facility, and

* Send you a written report with high priority changes and estimated financial and environmental savings.

Recommendations range from simple behavioral changes to maintenance improvements or retrofits.  While you are under no obligation to implement the recommendations, a high percentage of surveyed clients do implement many of them. Average savings from RETAP recommendations implemented last year is over $2,000 per client.  Since RETAP’s start in 2001, over 200 businesses and institutions – including dry cleaners, coffee shops, and fire stations – have benefited from RETAP assessments. To find out more or to request a free assessment, visit or contact Mike Vennewitz, RETAP Coordinator, at 612-781-1307 or

Methodology for Designation of Frontier and Remote Areas– This notice from the Health Resources and Services Administration announces a request for public comment on a methodology derived from the Frontier and Remote (FAR) system for designating U.S. frontier areas.


The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines is celebrating the 80th birthday of the Federal Home Loan Bank System with the launch of a new public policy network – Strengthening Communities Together!  This non-partisan network is designed to bring together individuals and organizations with a shared belief in the importance of strong communities. Our goal is to encourage our supporters to join and become advocates with policymakers for the continuation of a safe and sound FHL Bank System.  A key component is access to an exclusive website that will serve as a resource for information and stories that demonstrate how we work together to strengthen communities across the country. We invite you to check it out at and visit often for updated news and events.  Sign up now and start receiving the benefits  of your Strengthening Communities Together membership.

— LegalCORPS Inventor Assistance Program is looking for organizations or individuals with Minnesota connections (resident or business located in MN) and a patent application already pending to contact us to apply for free legal assistance.  LegalCORPS Inventor Assistance Program offers pro bono representation to low income inventors seeking to patent their inventions on their own. For more information and to apply for free help in seeking a patent, see

— Workforce Recruitment and Retention. A new Clinician Retention Toolkit is now available on the ORHPC website. The National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) and the National Rural Health Resource Center, working in partnership with ORHPC and its state counterparts in Wisconsin and Indiana, developed the multi-part toolkit to support health care recruitment and retention efforts, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

— Asset-Based Economic Development and Building Sustainable Rural Communities Part 1: Industry and Industry ClustersA briefing paper from the ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities defining asset-based economic development that includes several case studies on industry and industrial clusters.

–Asset-Based Economic Development and Building Sustainable Rural Communities Part 2: Natural Resources and AmenitiesA briefing paper from the ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities that looks at natural resource strengths and working landscapes, which often provide the basis for rural economic activities. Includes one successful case study.

— Asset-Based Economic Development and Building Sustainable Rural Communities Part 3: Existing Infrastructure, Historic and Cultural ResourcesA briefing paper from the ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities that examines assets connected to a communities’ history: existing infrastructure, such as their traditional compact development patterns and Main Streets; and historic and cultural resources.

Broadband for Rural America: Economic Impacts and Economic Opportunities 
Reports on broadband emphasizing that the great technology challenge for rural areas is to keep pace with Internet transmission speeds.

–“Wind Energy: Rural People Hold the Power” is an article from the Center for Rural Affairs that shows how two rural communities made wind power work for them. Read the article

–The Ford Foundation’s Wealth Creation in Rural Communities initiative has published a report documenting the fourth year of the initiative that captures lessons learned so far. You can download this report as well as other documents relating to the Wealth Creation in Rural Communities initiative

–“Fear of Affordable Housing: Perception Vs. Reality” is an article in Shelterforce, published by The National Housing Institute. When a housing development containing affordable units is proposed, neighbors, other town residents and public officials often oppose it, claiming that a series of negative outcomes will result. But, the article asks, once affordable units are built, does anyone even realize they are there?  Read the article

–RUPRI Rural Futures Lab has a new monthly blog titled “The Rural Differential: Drilling Down into the Data”.  Each month, the blog will focus on a particular social, economic, or demographic indicator and examine what the data shows about rural America. While most national data sets do include some geographic comparison level (mostly metropolitan and nonmetropolitan), it is often necessary to focus on data from a smaller area, usually at the county level, to really understand the conditions and trends in rural America.  Visit the blog

Community Network Analysis You can’t engage diverse groups in your community if you don’t know who they are, where they hang out, and whom they’re connected to. Get started with the Orton Family Foundation’s Community Network Analysis tool, which can help you map out the stakeholders in your community and figure out the best ways to reach them.

— The Concentration of Poverty Is a Growing Rural Problem Though generally perceived to be an urban problem, concentrated poverty is on the rise in rural areas.

— 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.

Food Environment Atlas An update to the Food Environment Atlas. Highlights include new food access measures; 2012 farmers’ markets data; updated food insecurity measures, with state-level estimates for 1999-2001, 2006-08 and 2009-11, and child food insecurity for 2003-2011; and SNAP stores and redemptions for 2011.

— The 2012 drought has reignited the food versus fuel debate.  After an examination of ethanol mandates as well as market-based demand for ethanol, the latest issue of the Main Street Economist concludes that it is markets, not mandates, that ultimately determine the scale of ethanol production and its use of scarce corn.  Please visit the website at:

Potential Farm-Level Effects of Eliminating Direct Payments A number of Farm Act proposals call for ending the direct payment program. ERS analysis suggests that for the majority of farms receiving direct payments, this would not result in substantial decline in financial well-being.

— Multi-Enterprising Farm Households: The Importance of Their Alternative Business Ventures in the Rural Economy
Describes additional business ventures of farm households and the impact these have on the surrounding rural community.

Disaster Resiliency and Sustainability Workshop Program 
Presents papers from a workshop held in March of 2012 on disaster resiliency and sustainability. Investigates how communities, particularly rural communities, can become more resilient to natural hazards and disasters.