Dear Readers:

If you are reading this, thank you, and you’ve noticed that  something has happened to the simple e-newsletter we’ve published for the     past 11 years.  Last month the free listserv we had been using bit the  dust.  She was reliable, easy to use, and we lament the loss. However, we hope you will stick with us with this slightly fancier Constant     Contact version. It costs us (Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc.) $35 per month to have a Constant Contact e-newsletter service.

And yes, MRP, Inc. is still alive as a volunteer-led non-profit organization. We kept going because people wanted us to keep the newsletter going. The     MRP Rural Round-Up is the only one of it’s kind we can find — a true compendium of brief, useful information, much like what inspired it 11 years ago — good old printed  agricultural journals from the 1800s.

Your subscription is free. Volunteers continue to make     this monthly newsletter possible to the existing 2540 readers across     Minnesota and the U.S. Please send any comments, ideas, additional subscribers,     etc. to Jane Leonard at Donations     are always welcome. If you would like to make one, send a check to     Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc., 1533 Grantham Street, St. Paul, MN 55108.

One more note:  this is a big issue — April & May     combined.

Thanks again!  — Deb, Ann, and Jane

Send the Rural Round-Up to a friend or     colleague.

Across the Field

Leveraging Arts & Culture to Build Thriving Communities

by guest contributor Arne     Kildegaard

Director, The Center for     Small Towns

The Center     for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM), along     with its partner Springboard     for the Arts (Fergus Falls), plays host to the 2013     Rural Arts and Culture Summit, “Leveraging Arts and Culture     to Build Thriving Communities,” June 5-6th on the University of     Minnesota Morris campus.

(Editors’     note: The conference is so popular, there is now a waiting list. 

Check     for updates at ,     Additional information on the Rural Arts and Culture Summit is available on Facebook 

The Summit will highlight the     practical power of arts-based development strategies in rural towns,     focusing on the experience of towns that have forged successful     partnerships with local artists and arts organization to address some of     the perennial problems in community development.

The conference features three     community-based keynote speakers: John Davis, June Holley, and Michael     Strand.

John Davis lives in     Lanesboro, a small town in southeastern Minnesota, where he has been     instrumental in transforming the community into a regional center for the     arts. His work has included founding the New York Mills Cultural Center,     The Great American Think-Off, and an International Kids Philosophy Slam.

June Holley, author of The     Network Weaving Handbook, provides consulting, training, and coaching to     organizations and communities around the world who are interested in     creating healthier networks through a better understanding of     self-organization, collaboration, innovation, and learning.

Michael Strand, a potter     whose mission is to build community through art, craft and design, is the     head of the Art Department at North Dakota State University. He has     traveled around the world combining art with social practice and community     development as he investigates the potential of craft as a catalyst for     social change in communities of all sizes.

In addition, the Summit will     feature a wide variety of presentations, panels, networking opportunities,     and hands-on workshops. Attendees will have the chance to hear about models     from leaders across the country, including Chris Beck from the USDA (Washington,     D.C.), Matthew Fluharty from the Art of the Rural (Missouri), Gwynn     Rukenbrod from Handmade in America (North Carolina) and Donna Neuwirth from     the Wormfarm Institute (Wisconsin).

Sessions will explore topics     such as creative place-making, building audiences through cross-sector     partnerships, planning, design and economic development, the intersection     of art and agriculture, funding challenges and opportunities, and case     studies of innovative models which foster community interaction or enhance     a region’s identity.


Editors’ note: The     Center for Small Towns is an amazing gem in our state, a resource     for rural areas and small towns, and urban people and places who want to     learn more about their rural, small town neighbors. Even if you can’t     attend the conference, check out the websites to learn more about the power     of arts to build and sustain community and economic development in our     state and nation. 


  • 3D PRINTING and          what it can mean for us in all walks of life:
  • Understanding          New Trends in Educational Technology.  If you don’t have a child in K-12 right now you need to read this!           If you do have a child in K-12 right now you need to read this even          more.  FINALLY, if you are going to continue to exist in this          21st century click and read on (and don’t let that word infographic scare you. It’s just a fancy word for a poster          that teaches you something!):


— Minnesota’s new     health care portal, MNsure, has released final     rules and updated funding information     for organizations interested in providing community-based education     and/or in-person application and enrollment assistance to individuals     using the MNsure marketplace.  The “navigator” and     “in-person assister” roles were created to inform consumers about     their options-including individuals with limited English proficiency and     individuals with disabilities-as the outreach function for federal health     care reform implementation. MNsure is launching a competitive grants     program      this month to fund organizations to serve as certified     navigators, certified in-person assisters, and certified application     counselors.

To ensure the quality of     services, and to minimize conflicts of interest and ensure integrity, the     MNsure program will screen for potential conflicts of interest during the     navigator, in-person assister and certified application counselor selection     process and will require (and provide) initial and ongoing training that     includes instruction on providing impartial education and in-person     assistance with consumer selection of a qualified health plan. Funding     decisions will start in July 2013, with an RFP to be released in     May.  For more information on MNsure, or to receive updates, visit     Stay tuned to the MCN events calendar – — for     information on free briefings sponsored by MCN with MNsure staff as     presenters.

–The Department of     Health and Human Services is offering funds to expand substance abuse     treatment and HIV services for African American, Hispanic/Latina, and other     racial/ethnic minority women who have substance use or     co-occurring substance use and mental disorders and are living with or at     risk for HIV/AIDS. Deadline: 5/14/2013. Learn more about the program and to     apply.

— The Blue Cross Blue     Shield of Minnesota Foundation, in collaboration with the Robert Wood     Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, seeks proposals for     health impact assessment (HIA) projects in Minnesota. Each     grant will fund an HIA that informs an upcoming decision on a proposed     local, tribal or state policy, plan or project. The Request for Proposals     is available on online     Initial applications are due May 15th.

–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 NCR-SARE Professional     Development Grant Program call for pre-proposals is now available.     Pre-proposals must be submitted by 4pm CDT on May 16, 2013.  The North     Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Professional Development Grant Program     supports state professional development programs and competitive grants for     training agricultural professionals.  Professional Development Program     (PDP) competitive grants emphasize training agricultural educators in     extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, private and     not-for-profit sectors, using farmers as educators and addressing emerging     issues in the farm community.  Generally:

*                   Professional Development Program awards range from $30,000 to $75,000

*                   Projects may last up to 36 months.

*                   About 5-10 projects are funded each year.

Applicants are educators who     often represent, but are not limited to, Extension, Natural Resources     Conservation Service, and non-profit groups.  PDP competitive grants     are awarded for state and multi-state PDP projects that emphasize     cross-agency training, using farmers as educators and addressing emerging     issues in the farm community.  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.

–The U.S. Department     of Health and Human Services Department of Children and Families has grant     money available through its Assets for Independence program, a     community-based approach for giving low-income families a means for     stepping up out of poverty through IDA programs. Deadline: 5/24/2013.

—-To promote technology and     early learning, Southern Minnesota Initiative     Foundation (SMIF) and IBM Corporation’s KidSmart Early Learning     Program is again offering to award Young Explorer computer systems     to local early childhood learning programs or organizations. SMIF is     seeking applications for 20 Young Explorers now through May 24, 2013.

In addition to awarding the Young Explorers, SMIF will provide     training so staff and teachers will know how to integrate this new     technology into existing curriculum to reap the full benefits for the     children. To apply for a Young Explorer, visit     and click on “Applications” or contact Lynn Smith at

lynns@smifoundation.orgor     507-455-3215. Applications are due May 24, 2013.

–Bikes Belong     Coalition is offering Community Partnership Grants which     are designed to support partnerships between city or county governments,     nonprofit organizations and local businesses that aim to improve the     environment for bicycling in the community. Grants range from $2,000 to     $10,000 and are primarily provided for the construction or expansion     of bicycle facilities such as bike lanes, trails, and paths as well as     advocacy projects that promote bicycling as a safe and accessible mode of     transportation. Deadline: 5/24/2013.

-HUD has released the NOFA for the     2013 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grants.     Applications must propose a plan for the revitalization of a severely     distressed public and/or HUD-assisted multifamily housing project located     in a distressed neighborhood into a viable, mixed-income community.     Deadline to apply: 5/28/2013. The NOFA can be viewed

— HUD is     also offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies for research     under the broad subject area of sustainability.  Deadline:     5/29/2013. Click to     learn more about these research grants.

— 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. Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis,     but all funds are expected to be allocated by May 31.

-The U.S.  Department of     Education has funding available to eligible local educational agencies     (LEAs) to address the unique needs of small, rural school districts.  The     program provides financial assistance to rural districts to assist them in     meeting their state’s definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP).     Applicants do not compete but rather are entitled to funds if they meet     basic eligibility requirements. Deadline: 5/31/2013. For more information     and an application,

–Gladys Brooks     Foundation will consider major grant applications in the fields of libraries,     education, hospitals and clinics. Deadline:     5/31/2013.  For more information, click

— Annie’s Grants for     Gardens offers funding to K-12 school gardens nationwide that connect     children directly to real food. Two types of grants are     provided. “Getting Started: Funds for Your New Program” offers     grants of $500 to start brand-new school garden programs. “Digging     Deeper: Funds for Your Existing Program” offers grants of $1,500 to     enhance current school garden programs. Deadline: 5/31/2013. Visit the ht to     learn more about the program.

–Farm Aid will provide     grants of $3,000 to $10,000 to organizations that work to maintain a family     farm system of agriculture and that promote solutions to the challenges     facing rural communities. Letters of inquiry are due by June 1, 2013. Grant     application guidelines are available on the Farm Aid website

–The Department of     Health and Human Services has announced the availability of funding for     community-based projects for the Social and Economic Development Strategies     (SEDS) program. The purpose of the funding is to support     Native American communities in their efforts to be self-determining,     healthy, culturally and linguistically vibrant and economically     self-sufficient. Deadline to apply: 6/6/2013. Click     for an application and to learn more.

— The     Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) has issued     its 2014 Request for Proposal (RFP) for funding from Minnesota’s     Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund beginning July 1, 2014.      Approximately $29.6 million is expected to be available for projects being     sought in environment and natural resource areas that will provide multiple     ecological and other public benefits. Proposals responding to the 2014 RFP     are due Friday, June 7, 2013.  Proposals are being requested in the     following seven areas:

1. Foundational Natural     Resource Data and Information

2. Water Resources

3. Environmental Education

4. Aquatic and Terrestrial     Invasive Species

5. Air Quality, Climate     Change, and Renewable Energy

6. Methods to Protect,     Restore, and Enhance Land, Water, and Habitat

7. Land Acquisition for     Habitat and Recreation

LCCMR staff are available to     review proposal drafts and assist in proposal development. Funded projects     can begin July 1, 2014.  For more information on the LCCMR funding     process or the 2014 RFP, please visit

–The Administration     for Children and Families is offering grants to nonprofit and public     agencies to help refugees develop microenterprises and to help mainstream     organizations serve refugees. Deadline to apply:     6/10/2013. Click     to learn more about this program.

–HUD is offering     grants to nonprofits and Fair Housing Organizations (FHOs) for the Fair     Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to build     capacity, conduct outreach, establish new fair housing enforcement     organizations and/or provide fair lending enforcement in underserved areas.     Deadline: 6/11/2013. For additional information and an application, click

–The Economic     Development Administration (EDA) is offering grants to nonprofits and     public agencies to provide strategic investments that foster job creation and     attract private investment to support development in economically     distressed areas of the United States. EDA solicits applications from both     rural and urban areas to provide investments that support construction,     non-construction, technical assistance and revolving loan fund projects     under EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. Next     deadline: 6/13/2013. To learn more about this program, click

— Medica Foundation     has two funding opportunities open. The foundation’s Early     Childhood Health priority seeks programs that focus on healthy families.     The Organizational Core Mission Support priority provides small grants to     regional and rural organizations to support health-related     programming.  Letters of Inquiry for both will be accepted until June     14.

–The Minnesota Housing     Partnership’s Sustainable Community Engagement Fund (SCEF) helps     communities develop sustainably by linking affordable housing to     transportation, jobs, and services.  SCEF encourages     collaboration and a comprehensive planning approach to address local     affordable housing needs.  SCEF awardees have access to direct     technical assistance, thereby helping them to become strong, successful     affordable housing providers.  To be eligible, projects must be     located outside the seven-county Twin Cities metro area and Duluth. The     maximum grant amount is $10,000 and requires, at minimum, a 1:1     match.  Remaining application due dates in 2013 are June 24, and     August 26.  For more information go to:

–The McKnight     Foundation is seeking proposals for community improvement initiatives.     Through its Region & Communities program, the foundation will award     grants totaling $750,000 to scale up market-based public/private     initiatives that benefit low-income people and communities in Minnesota.     Deadline: 6/28/2013. To learn more about the foundation and this     initiative, click

–The Wells Fargo     Housing Foundation is seeking applications for the Homeownership Grant     Program that supports local nonprofit housing organizations nationwide that     help create sustainable homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income     families. The program focuses on construction/rehab, homebuyer education     and counseling, foreclosure counseling and prevention, subsidies, and home     repairs. Deadline: 7/13/2013. Visit the Wells Fargo website     to submit an online application.

–Mr. Holland’s Opus     Foundation is inviting applications for its Keeping Music Alive program. The     foundation will donate musical instruments to music programs that serve     low-income communities and have little or no budget for musical     instruments. Applications are made available by invitation only. If your     school music program meets the foundation’s criteria, you may submit the     pre-qualification form to be considered to submit a full application.     Deadline for pre-qualification: 8/1/2013. For more information, click

–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 to submit an online application.


— Minnesota’s nonprofit sector has a local resource to learn     more about the social enterprise field. The     national organization, Social Enterprise Alliance, based in Minnesota, will     host its national conference May 19 – 22 in Minneapolis. The Social     Enterprise Summit 2013     will convene hundreds of social enterprise practitioners, scholars,     and thinkers for focused networking, practical breakthrough sessions,     behind-the-scenes enterprise tours and inspirational speakers. Of special     interest is the Social Enterprise Marketplace on May     20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the City Center Marriott in Minneapolis. The     Marketplace is free and open to the public.

For the past decade, the idea of “social enterprise”     has gained considerable steam as a way of defining organizations that use     for-profit business methods to work toward the common good. The array of     social enterprise models ranges from for-profits supporting the community     (think Minneapolis’ Finnegans Beer) or nonprofits following market forces     (think Goodwill’s employment programs).  Nonprofits can benefit from     the social enterprise enthusiasm by exploring new business models for     generating revenue. This access to the market economy may provide new     revenue streams during a time when many traditional forms of nonprofit     funding, including foundation grants and government contracts, have     stagnated in growth potential.

—  PUBLIC ART:  Sculptures, Murals, and so much     more!!

  • Who: Artists,          County Administrators, Township Clerks, City Managers, Parks & Rec          Departments, Chambers of Commerce, Schools, Art Administrators,          and Library Directors
  • What: Public          Art 101 Workshop
  • When: Friday          May 24th, 2013, 9:00am – 11:30am
  • Where: East          Central Regional Arts Council, 112 Main St S, Braham, MN
  • How:           Register for this workshop by emailing your name and contact          information to
  • Why: Are          you interested in having more public art in your community? Are you          wondering how to involve artists in placemaking and public improvement          projects? The East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) in          partnership with Forecast Public Art invite you to learn about the          exciting field of public art and how you can get started with your own          public art projects. You can also share your own successful Public Art          projects with the group!  Forecast presenters will review recent          national and international public art projects, and provide a          step-by-step guided tour through the process of developing a public          art project. They will also review the Public Art Toolkit.           Participants will also engage in a discussion on the benefits that public          art can bring to your communities.  This introductory workshop          will provide you with opportunities to meet with others in the region          that are interested in public art, will help connect you with          resources as you explore public art possibilities, and will provide          inspiration to get your planning started.

— Thursday, May 30-     Webinar on Resources to Create or Expand Healthy Food Retail: Public and     Private Grant and Loan Programs – – 1     p.m. Central Time. This webinar will provide an overview of the “Find     Money” section of the Healthy Food Retail Portal and provide examples     of specific federal, state, and local resources that can be tapped to     create or expand healthy food retail opportunities in underserved     communities.


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

— Registration is now     open     for the annual Minnesota Rural Health Conference.  The     conference will be held June 24-25, 2013 at the Duluth Entertainment and     Convention Center (DECC). This year’s conference will take an in-depth look     at workforce issues, delivery models, patient and community engagement,     value and access. Visit the conference website     for more information and to sign up for conference updates.

— On June 25, existing     and emerging nonprofit leaders from across Minnesota will gather for the     2013 Nonprofit Leadership Conference at the     University of Minnesota, McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis.  This     conference will share strategies and solutions about how nonprofit     organizations, including yours, excel at engaging people, improving systems     and strengthening communities. Register no w     to ensure your space.

–The Community Development Society will hold its 2013     Conference “Beyond the Boundaries: Creating Innovation Through     Regional Collaboration” at the Francis Marion Hotel     in Charleston, South Carolina July 20-24, 2013. Click for     more information and to register.  Several teams from the Upper     Midwest, including MN and SD, will be presenting workshops

–The Department of Agriculture,     Rural Housing Service, has announced a series of Section 538 Guaranteed     Rural Rental Housing Program 2013 Industry Forums-Open Teleconference     and/or Web Conference Meetings to take place in July and     November this year. To receive notices of the meetings and to register,     please contact Monica Cole, Financial and Loan Analyst, Multi-Family     Housing Guaranteed Loan Division, Rural Development, U.S. Department of     Agriculture, phone: (202) 720-1251, fax: (202) 205-5066, or email:      To read the full notice in the Federal Register,

–Community Economic Development (CED), Office of Community     Services, is offering webinars to Community Development Corporations that     address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through     the creation of sustainable business development and employment     opportunities (grant deadline TBA). Two tracks are     available: Track 1 for any interested applicants, and Track 2 for Healthy     Food initiatives. CED’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative     grants support projects that increase access to healthy, affordable     food in communities that currently lack these options (grant deadline TBA).     For a full listing of webinars,


— CLIO (Civic     Leadership Institute Online) is an exciting new project under development     at Minnesota Campus Compact with support from     Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota     Humanities Commission. This free, open resource will provide original     content and curate existing resources that can be used to enhance civic     education and engagement–including interviews with diverse civic leaders     and young people, stories of civic engagement efforts that demonstrated     positive results, reflective exercises, and other materials to develop     students’ ability to act on issues that matter to them.  If you are     interested in learning more and/or sharing your suggestions (e.g., the     outcomes you’d like this resource to support, people you’d suggest be     interviewed, stories to highlight, resources to share), please join one of     two conference calls:  Fri. May 10, from 10:00-11:00 a.m., or Mon. May     13, from 3:00-4:00 p.m.  To register, please visit:

— The University of     Minnesota is seeking non-metro communities and townships of fewer than     1,500 residents for a special project over the next 18 months aimed at     boosting a community’s long-term destination appeal. This     project will help small communities across Minnesota discover opportunities     to develop community assets for sustainable tourism.  Why?      Expanding regional assets can attract more visitors or keep them longer in     your region.  The Minnesota Sustainable Tourism Assessment for Small     Communities project is sponsored by the University’s Tourism Center and     Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Applications are due by     noon on May 15, 2013.  More information and to apply go to:

–Have the next great     business idea? The ninth annual Minnesota Cup competition – the largest statewide     new venture competition in the country is now open!  The     Minnesota Cup supports and accelerates the development of breakthrough     business ideas from across the state to build the vibrancy of Minnesota’s     business community. Minnesota residents have until May 17 to submit entries     on the Minnesota Cup website to compete for $200,000 in prize money.

The competition is free to     enter and encourages entries from a wide range of businesses, entrepreneurs     and inventors in six divisions – Energy/Clean Tech, General, High Tech,     Life Science/Health IT, Social Entrepreneur and Student. Entrepreneurs     advancing in the competition will have the opportunity to advance business     ideas, gain exposure, learn about resources available to entrepreneurs, be     paired with mentors, meet members of the Cup’s review board – and win cash     prizes if their idea is judged to be among the best entries.      Submissions must contain a description of the product or service,     explanation of the market size or opportunity, a sales and marketing     overview, brief operating plan and high level financial projections and     assumptions.

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. 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.

–Applications are     being accepted until May 31st for the 2013-2014 Policy Fellows program at     the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Join     a 35-person cohort to focus on enhancing leadership skills, understanding     their role in public policy, and developing a diverse personal and     professional network.  For more information go to:

— 2013 Rachel Carson     Poetry, Essay, Photography, Dance and Music Contest.  The     7th Annual Sense of Wonder Contest invites entries by Monday, June 10,     2013.  The U.S. EPA, Generations United, the Dance Exchange, Rachel     Carson Council, Inc., the Legacy Project and the National Center for     Creative Aging announce a poetry, essay, photo, dance and songwriting     contest. Entries must be from an intergenerational team of two or more     persons that are not the same age– a young person and an older     person. For more details about the contest and to download entry     forms, go to:

— The Minnesota     Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is launching a project to assist     hospitality businesses with the switch to paperless receipt systems. The     goal is to reduce paper waste and generation of the chemical bisphenol A     (BPA), which is used in thermal receipt papers as a color developer that     emerges when heated. The program is currently open to Minnesota     businesses and organizations in the hospitality sector, such as     restaurants, resorts, and hotel groups.  To learn more about the     project, or to enroll your business as a participant, visit the MPCA’s BPA     in Thermal Paper Project     webpage or send an email to Mark Apfelbacher (

— 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

·             Send you a report with high-priority changes and estimated financial and     environmental savings

Recommendations may be simple     behavior changes, maintenance improvements, or retrofits. While you are     under no obligation to implement the recommendations, a high percentage of     clients surveyed 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



–USDA Rural Development has released a report on the     definition of “Rural.” (Finally! Now we     will all really know what it is…;) Download a copy here:

— The Community     Development Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has     released a new issue of Community Dividend that     features articles on contracts for deed, the federal government’s Healthy     Food Financing Initiative, the Federal Reserve Consumer Help department,     and the revival of the Native Financial Education Coalition.

–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: State Fact Sheets.

— The Spring 2013     issue of Community Connections highlights new research by the Kansas     City Fed on how the low- and moderate-income (LMI) community is still     struggling in the recovery to find affordable housing,     jobs and credit. The issue also explores workforce development and how     nonprofits can enhance their banking relationships with a better     understanding of the Community Reinvestment Act. In addition, readers     are invited to take an online survey on ways to continue to improve the     three-year-old Community Connections.  To access the current issue, go     to:

–The Carsey Institute     has released a brief on migration trends in the United States among four     age groups: emerging adults, young adults, family age and older adults. The     authors discuss how migration patterns have important implications for     people, institutions and communities of both rural and urban America, as     well as for the design of policies and practices that foster the     development of sustainable communities.

-Population & Migration      Nonmetro areas in some parts of the country have experienced population     loss for decades. However, the 2010-12 period marks the     first years with estimated population loss for nonmetro America as a whole.     Opportunities for population growth and economic expansion vary widely from     one nonmetro county to the next, and new regional patterns of growth and     decline have emerged in recent years.

— Deaths and Births in     Rural Counties Uses a map and chart to show that 46% of rural counties had     more deaths than births from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.

–Updated data from     Minnesota Compass:

  • Fifty-four          percent of Minnesota’s total population is concentrated in the          Twin Cities 7-county region, and that proportion is projected to          remain about the same through 2040.
  • Outside          of the Twin Cities, Minnesota’s Central and Southern          regions are home to the most residents and are          the fastest-growing.
  • At          nearly $57,000, median household income in Minnesota is higher than          the national median income, but is about $6,600 less than it was in          1999 (an 11% decline).
  • Recent          article on article on “Is bigger better? A look at the new          Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan statistical area.”  Todd          Graham, Metropolitan Council’s principal demographer, explains          the MSA and shares his view of the recent expansion of the Minneapolis-St.          Paul-Bloomington MSA from 13 counties to 16 counties.

 — The National     Low Income Housing Coalition has published the 2013 edition of Out of     Reach. The Housing Wage in Out of Reach captures the gap between     wages and rents across the country, and is the estimate of the full-time     hourly wage that a household must earn to afford a decent apartment at the     HUD estimated Fair Market Rent (FMR), while spending no more than 30% of     income on housing costs. Access Out of Reach

-The National American Indian     Housing Coalition released the 2013 revised edition of the Indian Housing     Development Handbook, which is a guide for tribal housing     programs, federal and state government agencies, lenders, contractors,     investors, attorneys and other housing professionals. Get a free copy

— Bipartisan Policy     Center’s Housing Commission released a report that recommends change in     many areas: rental housing, homeownership, rural housing, mortgage     finance and the housing and medical needs of an aging population. Get a     copy of the report

-The National Housing Conference     and Center for Housing Policy have launched a suite of materials     exploring lifecycle underwriting — a new way of     thinking about the costs of affordable multifamily rental housing. All of     the materials can be accessed

–Housing Assistance     Council’s Winter issue of Rural Voices magazine highlights data for rural     housing.  Articles provide resources, insights and tips for ways     to access and use data to improve local rural housing conditions. Get a     copy

— A Harvard Joint     Center for Housing Studies working paper cites the critical role nonprofits     play in the home improvement and repair industry. The     nonprofits listed were: NeighborWorks America, Enterprise Community     Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Rebuilding Together and     Habitat for Humanity. Get the paper by clicking 

–NeighborWorks America     has published new research on the effectiveness of NeighborWorks     pre-purchase housing counseling and education. Using     data from a national credit reporting agency, and analyzing more than     75,000 homeowners, the research found that homeowners who received     pre-purchase housing counseling and education were one-third less likely to     become seriously delinquent on their mortgages within two years of     origination, compared to homeowners who didn’t receive such assistance. The     full report can be downloaded

–The National Alliance     to End Homelessness released its third annual assessment, “The State     of Homelessness in America 2013.”

— A new report that     may be used to advance health equity in communities is available from     Policy Link.  The report, “Promoting Equity     through the Practice of Health Impact Assessment” aims to broaden the     understanding of Health Impact Assessment as a tool for improving health     and advancing equity in communities of color and in other vulnerable     communities across the country. Get a copy of the report

–The Community     Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund is expanding the     Capacity Building Initiative to critically needed community development     financing. The new “Financing Community Health Centers” series     will focus on building the capacity of CDFIs to finance and support     community health centers in underserved communities. Opportunity Finance     Network has been selected as the training provider. Check the website for     more information on this initiative.

—     explains how the Affordable Care Act affects each state. From     the new Health Insurance Marketplace to benefits for seniors to preventive     services for women and programs for families and children in need, the     website displays information that explains how the Affordable Care Act is     helping people.

–Suicide     Prevention Online Training Listing of free online courses for     training service providers, educators, health professionals, public     officials, and community-based coalitions to develop effective suicide     prevention programs and policies.

– Since 2009, wealth in the U.S.     farm sector has surged along with booming farmland values.  In     2013, historically high farm incomes are projected to keep U.S. farm     debt and leverage low.  Yet, longer-term projections suggest that     farm incomes could fall dramatically in 2014.      This issue of the Main Street Economist from the Kansas City Federal     Reserve Bank explores the historical wealth effect in agriculture and what     it could mean for farm debt and leverage if farm incomes fall dramatically.

–USDA has released a     report on the growing importance of food hubs in rural America. The     new report is titled “The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food     Marketing” and finds that the success of food hubs is rapidly     expanding, with well over 200 hubs now operating in the United States.     Download a free copy

–The University of     Vermont has published “The Guide to Financing the Community Supported     Farm”. The guide details options and considerations for crafting     unconventional financial arrangements that have been used in other sectors     of the economy, but might be new to the agricultural sector. The 62-page     guide addresses legal, accounting, environmental and social considerations     relevant to pursuing customized financial agreements, and contains examples     of farms that have used alternative financing. Download a free copy

— Food Access Research     Atlas provides access to downloadable county-level data and an interactive     map presenting information on food access indicators for low-income and     other subpopulations.

— If you operate a     commercial kitchen, you probably use a pre-rinse spray valve to manually     remove food waste using a high-pressure water spray before     the dishes go into a dishwashing machine.  Here is a simple test that     could save you big money:  If you can fill a one-gallon container in     thirty seconds or less, you should probably invest in a new pre-rinse spray     valve. Older units typically use three gallons of water a minute, while     new, efficient models use just 1.28 gallons per minute (or less).      Depending on how often and how long you are using the sprayer, this     difference can result in big energy and water savings.

The Clean Energy Resource     Teams (CERTs) is now     offering reduced-price spray valves for $28 (typically $68     retail). There are over 20 utility rebates available throughout the state     that could bring the cost closer to $15 in some areas.  It has     been estimated that a commercial kitchen switching to an efficient sprayer     that uses it one hour a day for 350 days could save around $475 a year. The     spray valves also couldn’t be easier to install – simply turn off the water     to the spray unit, unscrew the old unit, screw on the new unit, and turn     the water back on! To order a unit or learn more, visit

— 2013 Community     Supported Agriculture (CSA) Directory Available Free Online.  At     their most fundamental level, Community Supported Agriculture farms provide     a weekly delivery of sustainably grown produce to consumers during the     growing season (approximately June to October). Those consumers, in turn,     pay a subscription fee. But CSA consumers don’t so much “buy”     food from particular farms as become “members” of those farms.     CSA operations provide more than just food; they offer ways for eaters to     become involved in the ecological and human community that supports the     farm.  To download a free PDF copy of the approximately 88-page 2013     Edition of the Twin     Cities, Minnesota & Western Wisconsin Region Community Supported     Agriculture Farm Directory – which lists dozens of CSA farms,     go to:

–“Receiving     Communities Toolkit,” developed by Welcoming America with the     assistance of the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning, provides     detailed examples and resources on how to go about helping integrate     immigrants into a community. The toolkit can     be accessed here:     Welcoming America is a national, grassroots-driven collaborative that works     to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and     U.S.-born Americans. The ultimate goal of Welcoming America is to create a     welcoming atmosphere – community by community – in which immigrants are     more likely to integrate into the social fabric of their adopted hometowns.     Read more about the initiative

An article in the Berkeley     Planning Journal, a student publication of the University of California,     discusses the racial wealth gap for people that live in rural and     small town America. “The Color of Elsewhere: Identity     and Wealth in Rural America” can be downloaded

— The Nonprofit     Finance Fund (NFF) recently completed its 5th annual State of the     Nonprofit Sector Survey and has now made it available to nonprofits across     the nation for review. The largest survey of its     kind in NFF’s history, this year’s report digs deeper than ever into the     financial trends and issues that will matter in the nonprofit sector in     2013.  In this year’s survey, nearly 6,000 respondents from nonprofits     across the country shared the details of how they are adapting their     organizations and finances to economic conditions. Topics explored in     this year’s survey include: Demand for Services, Financial Health,     Funder and Board Engagement, Government Funding, Data Management and much     more.

The survey, which was     supported for the third year in a row by the Bank of America Charitable     Foundation, reveals that 2012 was a year in which organizations either made     or planned to make significant changes in order to cope with mounting     economic stress. The survey report now includes a new online     survey analyzer     designed to help nonprofits dig more deeply into the survey data most     relevant to their work.

–AARP Public Policy     Institute has released a report called “Weaving it Together: A     Tapestry of Transportation Funding for Older Adults.” The report     identifies major sources of federal funding that providers can tap to fund     transportation projects geared toward older adults and adults with physical     disabilities. It includes seven case studies (including four from small and     rural communities) showing how they combine federal, state and local     funding to support their projects. Download a copy of the report

–“Charging While     You Work: A Guide for Expanding Electric Vehicle Infrastructure at the     Workplace” is a free guide designed to help Minnesota employers and     employees navigate the process of developing electric vehicle charging     spots at businesses. The Minnesota Pollution     Control Agency guide presents findings on best practices for establishing a     workplace EV charging program and case studies of existing programs in     Minnesota.

 — Children’s     Defense Fund Factsheets for each state provide basic stats and rankings     regarding poverty, health, hunger, child welfare, early childhood     development, education and youth at risk.      To view the factsheets go to:

–Minnesota Department     of Employment and Economic Development results of a survey of employers     focusing on hiring difficulties in nine nursing, engineering, and     production occupations.  Go to:

— Minnesota Office of     Higher Education Annual Report provides facts about higher education in     Minnesota including data on preparing for and entering college, during     college, and outcomes of college.  Go     to:

— Hamline University and     Opportunity International recently presented reSOLUTION ’13, a Community     Economic Development Symposium. Some materials from that     event are available online.

IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR, we thank you for sticking     with it!  Deb, Ann & I try to find the timely info that we think     will be most helpful to you, our readers who work daily to improve quality     of life in communities.  Deb filters gems from the rock pile of info     bombarding all of us, Ann is the community informatics whiz who keeps us     sane, and I write and edit pieces to bring context to the seemingly random     thoughts that fly by.

Please,     send us your comments, your announcements, and consider being a guest     columnist for the Across the Field section. Share this newsletter with     colleagues and friends.  We firmly believe in     multi-disciplinary learning, multi-sector collaboration, and     working across geography. No matter if we live in rural, urban, exurban, or     suburban places, we are all neighbors who can and should work     together to help each other and help our communities, state, and country     thrive.


Jane Leonard, chair of MRP, Inc.