March 2013– Volume XI, Number 3

Compiled and edited by Deb Miller Slipek and Ann Treacy


Across the Field:  Understanding & Measuring Complex Community Change Work

— by Jane Leonard

When I was working at the Bush Foundation on leadership and community development, I learned about a subject of intense interest by grant makers, community and leadership development researchers, and project evaluators alike:  How do you understand and measure complex place-based community/systems change work?

Sometimes the work is called comprehensive community initiatives, or more generally social or community innovation – but the question about it is similar: How do you find out if the investments you’ve been making are actually working to improve community vitality amidst so many other factors, and how can you make adjustments along the way to help increase chances of success?

There are myriad strategies, methodologies, tools, and sheer willpower on the part of many passionate people working hard in their communities to help create and sustain community vitality. However, it’s been just recently that we’ve started to tap into the depths of several generations of contemporary leadership and community development field knowledge, research and practice to answer the questions posed above. (See “Voices from the Field III, Lessons and Challenges from Two Decades of Community Change Work” – from the Aspen Institute)

What makes our opportunity to understand, strategize, and measure even more powerful today is the ability to combine leadership and community development know-how with other fields that help interpret human, community, economic, and social dynamics. These include systems thinking, community indicator research and analysis, and developmental evaluation.

Over this next year I’m excited to be a part of a community change project in South Dakota called the Regional Systems Engagement Pilot  that is exploring how all these elements can intersect, to ultimately help increase community engagement and advance regional and community vitality. (Thanks for support of this effort go to the continuing commitment of the Bush Foundation working alongside community & regional partners in NE South Dakota, South Dakota State University, the SD Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Dakota Resources, and leaders in the systems thinking, developmental evaluation, and community mapping fields.)

In addition to using community engagement techniques in the South Dakota project, including the Art of Hosting to enlist all voices/ideas at the table, here’s a run-down on some of the key elements in motion:

The Community Capitals Framework (CCF), developed at Iowa State a decade ago by Cornelia & Jan Flora, Susan Fey, Mary Emery and researched by many others, is really just now hitting its stride as a tangible way to map, strategize, and evaluate more comprehensively a community’s or region of communities’ assets, gaps and potential across sectors and multiple dynamics.

(From one of the early descriptions: (CCF) is a conceptual model for evaluating a community’s overall health and capacity for community and economic development. The framework resulted from an observation that “entrepreneurial communities” that were sustainable and successful also paid attention to seven types of capital: natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial, and built.)

Combine CCF with systems thinking, developed at MIT by Peter Senge and others to map, understand and strategize how parts of a corporation could work better together (or don’t work together), and you expand your ability to understand, strategize for, act on, and measure community vitality. CCF and systems thinking recognize and work with the reality that everything relates. Life, work, family, economy, community, everything — whether we choose to acknowledge it or not — exists in webs of interdependence.

(From the MIT website: Senge’s work articulates a cornerstone position of human values in the workplace: namely, that vision, purpose, reflectiveness, and systems thinking are essential if organizations are to realize their potential….The fundamental rationale of systems thinking is to understand how it is that the problems that we all deal with, which are the most vexing, difficult and intransigent, come about, and to give us some perspective on those problems [in order to] give us some leverage and insight as to what we might do differently.)

Combine these notions with our heightened ability to gather community indicator data and do community indicator research and analysis (such as the data research that keeps Minnesota Compass – “Measuring Progress – Inspiring Action” so useful). And then combine it all with developmental evaluation, pioneered in the Midwest by evaluation experts Michael Quinn Patton, Diane Morehouse, Becky Kroll, and others to better understand, manage, and adapt strategy as you work through complex community change work.

(Developmental evaluation (DE) offers a powerful approach to monitoring and supporting social innovations by working in partnership with program decision makers. It draws on insights about complex dynamic systems, uncertainty, nonlinearity, and emergence. DE can be used for a range of purposes: ongoing program development, adapting effective principles of practice to local contexts, generating innovations and taking them to scale, and facilitating rapid response in crisis situations.” – from the review of Michael Quinn Patton’s book, Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use.)

Finally, since 2011, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has operated an action research group, known as “Embrace Complexity,” on evaluating comprehensive place-based initiatives. The projects typically involve multiple stakeholders across many community sectors. These philanthropic and federal agency funders explore defining indicators, engaging community members, and collecting data across multiple organizations and platforms.

This year, I’m working to bring together all of these players. They hail from different disciplines yet strive to understand and measure the same thing: complex community change work. It is said that innovation happens at the intersections. Combining these unique and related insights will help community members, leaders, and grant makers jump deep into community complexities to make wise, innovative, and sustainable investments that bolster community vitality for all.

Jane Leonard is an independent consultant helping communities thrive. She can be reached at


The Healthy Communities/Healthy America Fund of the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation is accepting proposals for diabetes management and education projects serving patients at free clinics. The program will award $10,000-$25,000 grants. Letters of inquiry are due by March 15.

–Farm to School Grants available – deadline March 15.  The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2013 Farm to School Grant Program. MDA anticipates awarding $250,000 in competitive grants to increase sales of locally grown and raised food products to K-12 institutions.

Two categories of grants will be considered:

1) Grants for the purchase of equipment and/or physical improvements that will allow schools to purchase, prepare and serve more locally grown and raised food. The grant will cover 50% of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $50,000. Recipients must contribute the remaining 50% of the total project cost as a cash contribution.

2) Grants for the cost of feasibility plans that identify specific equipment, tools, training, or policies that a school or school district needs in order to purchase more locally grown or raised food. This grant will cover up to 75% of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $30,000. Recipients must contribute the remaining 25% of the total project cost as a cash contribution.

As part of this RFP, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is providing partial support to help schools meet the requirement for matching funds. This funding is part of Blue Cross’ long-term statewide public health initiative to reduce preventable chronic disease by tackling its root causes: tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating.

Applicants who are interested utilizing the Blue Cross contribution as part of their proposal should contact David Weinand at 651-201-6500 for instructions on how to include a Blue Cross contribution in the application.

All proposals must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on March 15, 2013. Proposals may be delivered by mail, in person, or by email. The complete RFP and instructions for submittal are located online at

–Local Initiatives Support Corporation is accepting applications for the NFL Youth Football Fund Grassroots Program. The program provides matching grants of up to $200,000 to nonprofits working to make capital improvements to football fields in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods lacking clean, safe and accessible football fields. Deadline: 3/15/2013.

–The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is accepting applications from nonprofits and public entities for Targeted Capacity Expansion Peer-to-Peer (TCE-PTP) grants. The purpose of this program is to expand and enhance service capacity through the provision of addiction peer recovery support services for those individuals with substance use disorders. Deadline: 3/15/2013.

–HUD is offering Comprehensive Housing Counseling grants to housing counseling agencies (including local housing counseling agencies, intermediaries and multi-state organizations) that are directly approved by HUD and State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs). Deadline: 3/18/2013. To get an application,

–HUD has issued a NOFA for the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program. The purpose of the ICDBG program is 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: 3/18/2013. To read the notice,

HUD has issued a NOFA for the Healthy Homes program which will fund technical studies to improve existing methods for detecting and controlling key housing-related health and safety hazards to develop new methods to detect and control these hazards and to improve our knowledge of key housing-related health and safety hazards. Deadline: 3/19/2013. To learn more and to apply,

–The Department of Labor has issued a NOFA for the YouthBuild program for nonprofits, state and local governments, and tribes. YouthBuild grants will be awarded through a competitive process to organizations to oversee the provision of education, occupational skills training and employment services to disadvantaged youth in their communities while performing meaningful work and service to their communities. Deadline: 3/19/2013.

–The U.S. Department of Justice is offering Coordinated Tribal Assistance Grants to federally-recognized Indian Tribal governments, including Alaska Native villages and Tribal consortia consisting of two or more federally-recognized Indian Tribes. This solicitation provides federally-recognized Tribes and Tribal consortia an opportunity to develop a comprehensive and coordinated approach to public safety and victimization issues. Deadline to apply: 3/19/2013. For more information and to apply,

–The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a request for proposals for the Ethnic Community Self Help Program Grant. The objective of this program is to strengthen organized ethnic communities to ensure ongoing support and services to refugees within five years after their initial resettlement. National, regional (multi-state) or local refugee ethnic-based community organizations that address community building and facilitate cultural adjustment and integration are invited to apply. Deadline: 3/22/2013. To learn more about this opportunity, click

Assets for Independence Grant Deadlinesare March 25 and May 24, 2013.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Community Services administers the Assets for Independence (AFI) program, which provides five-year grants to nonprofit organizations and government agencies that empower low-income families to become economically self-sufficient for the long term. Grantees provide financial education training on money management issues and assist participants with saving earned income in individual development accounts (IDAs). Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, qualified state and local governments, low-income designated credit unions, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and other community organizations. Applications for AFI grants of up to $1 million are being accepted.

–The eWOMENNETWORK Foundation is accepting grant proposals from nonprofit organizations working to improve the emotional and financial well-being of women and children. The foundation awards individual grants of $6,000 to small entrepreneurial organizations working to address the health, wellness and/or safety of underprivileged women and/or children. Eligible organizations must have been in existence for more than three years and have an annual budget between $25,000 and $1 million. Deadline: 3/31/2013.

–LAND O’LAKES Foundation is accepting applications for projects that benefit rural communities. Grants will be awarded to organizations working to address hunger, youth education, and arts and culture in rural communities. Deadlines for 2013: 4/1, 7/1 and 10/1. For more information and an application, click

The Department of Labor is offering grants through The National Farmworker Jobs Program that provide support for training, employment services, and related assistance to increase economic opportunities for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their dependents. Deadline: 4/2/2013.

— The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) seeks proposals for Community Service/Community Services Development (CS/SD) grants through its Aging and Adult Services Division. The purpose is to expand and integrate home and community-based services for older adults that allow local communities to rebalance their long-term service delivery system, support people in their own home, expand the caregiver support and respite care network and promote independence. Applications due April 5.

The Department of Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration is offering grants to rural nonprofit and public agencies to support formal rural health networks that focus on activities relating to the recruitment, education, training and retention of Healthcare Information Technology specialists. Deadline: 4/15/2013. For guidelines and an application, click

–HUD has issued a NOFA for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP).  SHOP funds are awarded to national and regional nonprofit organizations and consortia to facilitate and encourage innovative homeownership opportunities on a national, geographically diverse basis through the provision of self-help homeownership housing programs. Deadline: 4/24/2013.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for the Farm to School program. This year, three different kinds of grants will be available. Planning grants are intended for schools just getting started on farm to school activities, while implementation grants are available for schools seeking to augment or expand existing efforts. Additionally, eligible nonprofit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers may apply for support service grants to conduct trainings, create complementary curriculum or further develop supply chains, among other activities. Deadline: 4/24/2013. A series of webinars is planned to guide applications.

Libri Foundation’s Books for Children Program donates new, quality, hardcover children’s books to small, rural public libraries in the United States. Application deadline is May 15, 2013. For more information go to:

–The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is accepting applications for youth literacy grants of up to $4,000 from schools, public libraries and nonprofits located within twenty miles of a Dollar General store that are working to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading. Deadline: 5/23/2013.

— Looking for resources to support discussion around a community health assessment or other issue? In partnership with the Meadowlark Institute, InCommons is offering small grants for facilitated conversations around an issue, opportunity or project. The Request for Proposals is available on the InCommons website. Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but all funds are expected to be allocated by May 31.

The Home Depot Community Impacts Grant Program is offering grants to nonprofit organizations, public schools and public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their communities. Priority is given to projects for veterans that include housing repairs, modifications and weatherization work. Grants of up to $5,000 are made in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials or services. Applications will be accepted from 2/1/13 through 8/13/13. Visit the Home Depot website


Recreational Homes, Gateway Communities, and Rural Development Webinar Coming Up .  North Central Regional Center for Rural Development is offering a free webinar on March 13 at 3p.m. designed to assist community leaders in addressing the set of issues surrounding recreational homes and their use.

Farm to Cafeteria Workshops.  Eight regional Farm to Cafeteria workshops will take place in Minnesota between February and April, 2013.  Farm to Cafeteria aims to build strong communities, healthy people, and resilient local farms. These workshops are designed to cultivate strong partnerships between growers and buyers and offer educational opportunities to increase capacity for local food purchases by institutions.

Workshop highlights include:

* Purchasing local on a budget

* Farmer/ Buyer Relationships: facilitated networking with Renewing the Countryside

* On-farm food safety and marketing local food

* Nutrition education in the classroom and beyond with Extension’s Simply Good Eating program

Cost: $20 (includes a meal).  Workshop content will vary by region. For more information or to register, visit

Third Annual Minnesota Entrepreneur Kick-Off Connects Entrepreneurs with Statewide Resources.  Minnesota’s entrepreneur community will come together once again at this year’s third annual Minnesota Entrepreneur Kick-Off on March 20, 2013 at the Boy Scout Base Camp in Fort Snelling MN.  New features to this year’s event include a spotlight on the entrepreneurial mindset and student entrepreneurs. Minnesota is home to an international student entrepreneur competition top-five finalist and it is soon to be home to Venture Academy, an entrepreneur mindset fostering charter school, to launch this fall. These firsts are joined by a panel of state entrepreneurship financing leaders: Rep. Tim Mahoney, Jeffrey Robbins, Doug Cameron and Bjorn Stansvik for a discussion about the pace and financing of technology in our state and an unforgettable keynote from a Minnesota inventor, entrepreneur and community lifter, Andy Wells, Sr. of Wells Technology, Inc. and Wells Academy.

Entrepreneur advancing competitions that will be present at the event include the Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention & Idea Show, Minnesota Cup, Midwest Cleantech Open, Idea Competition, TiE Cons , Acara, Global Student Entrepreneur Awards as well as accelerators Innové and the MN Angel Network.  For more information visit:

— Minnesota Campus Compact’s Annual Summit, Awards Ceremony, and Meeting of Presidents:  Civic Engagement and Entrepreneurship will be April 1, 2013, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Hamline University’s new Anderson Center in St. Paul. How can civic engagement and entrepreneurship be integrated in different academic areas?  Why and how should we work across sectors to advance civic-minded entrepreneurship?  What entrepreneurial skills and approaches can benefit existing civic organizations and partnerships?  What creative funding opportunities and other resources can support such efforts?   How can institutions support local entrepreneurs who might not have access to traditional capital or training?  Plan to join colleagues from across the state in considering such questions and learning about good practices and models.  The lunchtime awards ceremony will also honor student, community, and staff and faculty leaders in civic engagement from around the state, as well as winners of the Driving the Message Home contest.  See the full agenda and register by March 22.

The 2013 Nonprofit Technology & Communications Conference will be held Wednesday, April 10 from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Hilton Minneapolis at 1001 Marquette Ave. S, in Minneapolis.  This is the place to go for cutting-edge content on many of the technology opportunities and challenges facing nonprofits today.  Sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits, this full-day event is the place to go to stay up to speed with tools and trends now and looking into the future. You’ll dive into nonprofit strategies for everything from mobile marketing to cloud computing, from digital inclusion to website design, and much, much more.

So, what’s new at this year’s conference?

  • An engaging and thought-provoking keynote from tech gurus Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker of the Geek Girls Guide.
  • A re-worked schedule to allow the same in-depth networking experiences and easier access to the great workshops that you’ve come to expect.
  • Four full sets of breakout sessions, including a packed schedule of early morning sessions.


Team Registration Send more people and get more out of the conference – register 3 and your 4th is free.

Scholarships MCN strives to ensure this conference is accessible to all nonprofits, regardless of size or ability to pay. Full and partial scholarships are available for small nonprofits, organizations from Greater Minnesota, and immigrant and refugee-led organizations.

The 56th annual Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention Expo will be hosted in Redwood Falls MN on April 19 & 20, 2013.  For further information and registration go to:

SAVE THE DATE! The next gathering of the National Rural Assembly will be held in Bethesda, Maryland, June 23-26, 2013. 

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


The Saint Paul Foundation and the Minnesota Idea Open are asking all Minnesotans to answer the question: What would you do with $1 million to make Saint Paul great A first of its kind, the Forever Saint Paul Challenge invites all Minnesotans to share their best and brightest ideas-and vote for the best one-that will help make our capital city forever strong. The winning idea receives a $1 million grant for implementation. For more information, visit the Challenge website.  Idea submission period is from February 13-April 3.

— The MHTA Foundation has opened applications for their 2013 Scholarship program. Scholarships ranging from $2,500 – $5,000 are available to students studying STEM disciplines.  Applications are due March 31, 2013

 Virginia McKnight Binger Awards.  The McKnight Foundation invites nominations for the 2013 Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service. Each year The McKnight Foundation recognizes up to six Minnesotans who have demonstrated an exceptional personal commitment to helping others in their communities but who have received little or no public recognition. Deadline: April 3, 2013.  For more information go to:

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits welcome nominations for the 2013 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!

2013 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:

MCN encourages you to nominate a nonprofit that you know has achieved tremendous results in one of these four areas. Nominations must be submitted by May 30, 2013.

2013 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.  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.   Applications for Excellence Awards must be self-submitted by the organization and require advance planning and board involvement. Please submit your application materials to MAP for Nonprofits, 2314 University Avenue West, Suite 28, St. Paul, MN 55114 by May 30, 2013 at 4 p.m.


— 2013 Compass Points.  A new statewide dashboard provides current data and recent trends for key measures in 13 topic areas that affect Minnesota’s quality of life. It also points out regional differences and racial disparities.

New Video Spotlights Value of Tourism Industry  Explore Minnesota Tourism has produced a new three-minute video highlighting the economic impact of tourism.

Report on the Definition of “Rural” 
Discusses the various definitions of the term “rural” and “rural area” that are used with respect to programs administered by the Secretary of Agriculture and the effects those variations in definition have on USDA-RD programs. Recommends ways to better target funds provided through rural development programs.

2012 Small Business Profiles for States and Territories Supplies data on small businesses in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and limited data on the U.S. territories. Topics covered include: the number of firms, demographics of business ownership, small business income, banking, business turnover, industry composition, and employment gains and losses by size of business.

–The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank has published a “Nonprofit Executive Succession-Planning Toolkit”. The toolkit is free and is designed for nonprofit boards of directors and executive leaders to effectively implement succession planning and overcome barriers. To get the toolkit, click

–“Immigrant Worker Owned Cooperatives: A User’s Manual” provides information to immigrant communities about how to create, finance, manage and grow worker cooperatives. Written by Minsun Ji of El Centro Humanitario and Tony Robinson of the University of Colorado, Denver, the manual gets into the nitty-gritty of organizing and managing a cooperative.

–If you are looking for entrepreneurship education resources, you may want to check out the “Roadmap for Entrepreneurship Education” from the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education

The U.S. Bioenergy Statistics are a source of information on biofuels intended to present a picture of the renewable energy industry and its relationship to agriculture. Where appropriate, data are presented in both a calendar year and the relevant marketing year timeframe to increase utility to feedstock-oriented users. The statistics highlight the factors that influence the demand for agricultural feedstocks for biofuels production; for instance, numerous tables emphasize the relationship between energy and commodity markets.

–Healthy Food Access Strengthens Local Economies.  It’s not just about healthier eating. From farmer’s markets to federal food assistance, increasing access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods can also stimulate local economies. A new report by PolicyLink explains how equitable food programs and policies are creating jobs, supporting new business opportunities, and keeping dollars circulating locally.

— PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and The Reinvestment Fund are excited to announce the Healthy Food Access Portal. The new portal connects community leaders, healthy food retailers, policymakers, and advocates to an extensive array of resources, strategies, and ideas to improve and increase access to healthy food retail—from grocery stores to corner stores, farmers’ markets, and mobile produce trucks—in underserved communities. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the three organizations created the nation’s first comprehensive healthy food access retail portal and learning community designed to promote healthy food retail efforts in regions across the country.

The portal is different from a simple website. It is a clearinghouse of information that aggregates content from many organizations and websites in order to present a single, coordinated information source for users. We would like to thank many of you for sharing quality content with us as we continue to develop content to serve new audiences.

What Happens When Community-Based Farms, Markets and Eateries Work Together? is the title of an article in E-The Environmental Magazine that talks about how planners and community activists are beginning to think in terms of “food hubs” that go beyond a single retail outlet. The article describes how a café flows into a teaching kitchen and meeting room where a local community development corporation holds health screenings and cooking classes. Read more

–The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has published a report on how banks can participate in Healthy Food initiatives. The report describes how national banks and federal savings associations are helping to finance projects that bring fresh produce and healthy food choices to underserved, low-income neighborhoods. Read more

Conducting Homeless Counts on Native American Lands: A Toolkit
Highlights steps, tools, and methods that can be used to complete an accurate homeless count on American Indian, Alaska Native, and Hawaiian Home Land (AIANHH) lands. Toolkit is based upon past research as well as interviews with key stakeholders in the field.

— Charging While You Work: A guide for expanding electric vehicle infrastructure at the workplace.  In December 2012, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released this new resource to help spur the development of charging infrastructure throughout the state for electric vehicles (EVs).

“Charging While You Work: A Guide for Expanding Electric Vehicle Infrastructure at the Workplace” is a graphically-rich 23-page document written by John Bailey, MPCA consultant, and available for free at:

It is designed to help employers and employees in Minnesota navigate the process of developing EV charging spots specifically for use at businesses.  The report presents findings on best practices for establishing a workplace EV charging program and case studies of existing programs in Minnesota.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University has released a paper titled “The Past, Present, and Future of Community Development in the United States” that appeared in the book “Investing in What Works for America’s Communities” a joint project of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund. Today thousands of nonprofit community development organizations operate in the poorest urban and rural areas of the country. They have helped stabilize community life and help individuals and families in some of America’s most forsaken neighborhoods. Download a copy of the paper

Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities report.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a first-of-its kind report showing how low-income, minority and tribal communities can apply smart growth land use and development strategies to create healthy communities, spur economic growth and protect the environment.

The February 2013 Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities report describes how low-income, minority, and tribal communities can employ smart growth strategies to clean up and reinvest in existing neighborhoods; provide affordable housing and transportation; and improve access to jobs, parks and stores. The report also provides smart growth practitioners with concrete ideas on how they can better meet the needs of low-income residents as they promote development or redevelopment in underserved communities.

The report also features case studies on seven communities across the country that have used the strategies described in the report. These strategies include:

•    designing safe streets for all users

•    cleaning and reusing contaminated properties

•    reducing exposure to facilities with potential environmental concerns

•    fixing existing infrastructure before investing in new projects

•    preserving affordable housing

To download the report go to:

2012 USDA Progress Report describes how USDA’s investments in rural communities helped to improve the economic stability of rural towns, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. It also explains how Federal employees across America are partnering with local citizens to help rural communities at large. Get a free copy

USDA ERS State Fact Sheets provide information on population, income, poverty, food security, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports, for each State in the United States. The State Fact Sheets have been updated with 2007-11 education levels from the American Community Survey; 2011 poverty rates; and 2011 per capita income, earning per job, and number of jobs. Links to county-level data are included when available.  Go to:

Amber Waves presents the broad scope of USDA ERS’s research and analysis. The magazine covers the economics of food, farming, natural resources, and rural America. The March 2013 issue includes articles on food access, farm income, U.S. pork production, and crop rotation.  Go to: