Across the Field:

Capturing the Values of Civic Engagement

By John Hamerlinck

I grew up in Wadena, a small town in central Minnesota, with a rich history of civic engagement.  As a boy, I remember residents of all ages frequently and publicly working (and playing) to improve the community’s quality of life. Commonalities seemed to trump differences when it came to things like having great public spaces and reasons for people to gather in them.

In my town there was a sense of place and of shared ownership of the idea of what a community should be. That frequently resulted in the kinds of community-building opportunities that are made possible only through trusted, personal relationships. Call it karma, reciprocity, or just what goes around, comes around; we learned to support the public good by example because we knew the benefits of doing so. That strong civic ethic has seen Wadena through rural population declines, economic downturns, and a 2010 tornado.

Though it has been 37 years since I lived in Wadena, the experience of being reared there continues to inform my work. Our organization, Minnesota Campus Compact, is developing a free online resource to support civic education beyond what you may find in a traditional civics curriculum. This project is called CLIO (Civic leadership Institute Online), and it is funded in part with money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008; and by the Travelers Foundation, the charitable arm of Travelers. CLIO will help Minnesotans of all ages explore the state’s rich culture of community engagement.

In addition to curating some of the best things that are already available online, we are recording the voices of Minnesotans young and old, rural and urban, relatively new to the state or having roots here that precede statehood. We are asking people who have experienced the value (and the challenges) of community engagement to share their insights on questions like:

  • What does it mean to be a community member? a citizen? a leader?
  • What cultural traditions and values shape life in Minnesota?
  • What different strategies can we use to create positive change?
  • What skills are critical to effective civic leadership?

If rural communities are going to thrive, we know that it is going to take more than voting and influencing public policy. A robust rural quality of life comes from people with all kinds of positions and backgrounds contributing to others’ well-being through their work and their daily lives. CLIO will provide valuable insights and examples of advocacy, community building, community organizing, social entrepreneurship, and other ways that Minnesotans create positive change in their communities.  Anyone interested will be able to access the videos and other resources free online, and we hope that many will also share their perspectives, experiences, and stories of struggle and success.

If you know of an existing resource that CLIO might promote across the state, or if you know someone we should interview so their voice and wisdom can be heard more broadly, please contact me at  We would be more than happy to share your local community heroes with the rest of the world.

John Hamerlinck is the Associate Director of Minnesota Campus Compact.


The Medica Foundation is accepting letters of inquiry for Cycle 2 of its 2013 funding program. This cycle has two priorities: early childhood health and organizational core mission support. The core support grants are awarded to regional and rural areas of Medica’s service area (see the foundation’s Giving Guidelines for more information on geographic limitations). Letters of inquiry are due June 14th.

— The federal Office of Rural Health Policy seeks applications for Rural Access to Emergency Devices (RAED) grants. RAED supports community partnerships in purchasing automated external defibrillators (AEDs); providing defibrillator and basic life support training; and placing AEDs in local rural organizations. Applications due June 17th.

Minnesota Film and TV is currently accepting proposals from Minnesota filmmakers seeking finishing or completion funds for new feature-length narrative films and long-form documentary projects that align with Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund priorities.  With $240,000 available, selected recipients will be reimbursed for 50% of eligible post production costs up to $80,000.  In order to be eligible for this competitive reimbursement, projects must have a completed rough cut or rough assembly at the time of application.  Application deadline is June 21, 2013.  The complete Request for Proposals, application and guidelines are available at:  Questions may be directed via email to

Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG)
 Application deadline: June 28, 2013. Grants to improve the economic conditions of rural areas. Assistance provided to rural areas under this program may include technical assistance for business development and economic development planning.

 The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) strives to be a nationally recognized model for university-community engagement, and is founded on the belief that partnership between the university and the community is mutually beneficial. CURA supports research and technical assistance through a number of individual programs, each with their own deadlines and application procedures.   CURA has two community-based-research (CBR) programs—the Community Assistantship Program (CAP), which serves greater Minnesota, and the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, which serves the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. Both programs match the research and technical needs of organizations with student research assistants to carry out community-defined and guided projects. Both provide graduate or undergraduate student assistance for applied research projects, program planning and development, program evaluation, and other short-term projects.

Both programs are accepting applications in June from community and/or government organizations for fall semester 2013 assistantships (September through early January 2014). The application deadline for both is June 30, 2013.  For more information on CAP or the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program or to apply for an assistantship, visit

Best Buy RFP for Teens and Technology.  Best Buy Children’s Foundation will donate up to $2 million in Community Grants to local and regional nonprofit organizations that provide teens with places and opportunities to develop 21st century technology skills that will inspire future education and career choices.  Proposals for grants up to $10,000 are due July 1, 2013.  For more information go to:

Bush Foundation is launching new Community Innovation programs. These programs support and reward efforts to create and implement great ideas that make communities better. Nonprofit organizations of all sizes are invited to apply for funding of up to $500,000.

Supporting communities to create innovative solutions to the problems they face.  The Community Innovation Grants support innovation through community-powered problem-solving: inclusive, collaborative processes focused on making the most of community assets. Applications due by July 11, 2013.

Showcasing organizations that drive innovation and inspire others.  The Bush Prize for Community Innovation honors and supports innovative organizations with a track record of making great ideas happen, and provides funding for the organizations to use however they choose. Applications due by August 15, 2013.

The Bush Community Innovation Team is hitting the road in June, visiting communities all over our region to talk more about these new programs and answer any questions you may have. Sign up or check out our Community Innovation resources page for additional information.

— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is accepting applications to its Tribal Public Health Capacity Building and Quality Improvement grant program. Eligible applicants include American Indian tribal governments and tribally designated organizations such as tribal health systems, tribal epidemiology centers and tribal colleges and universities. Letters of inquiry (optional) are due June 17th; full applications due July 15th.

Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG)Application deadline: July 15, 2013. 
Grants to improve the economic condition of rural areas by assisting individuals or entities in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities.

–MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, is accepting applications to its new Outreach and Infrastructure Consumer Assistance Partner Grant Program. A wide variety of entities are eligible to apply to provide outreach and/or establish infrastructure for in-person application and enrollment assistance. Applications due by July 19th.

Jerome Foundation Announces Minnesota Film and Video Program.  The 2013 Minnesota Film and Video Grant Program will award grants to emerging film and videomakers in the disciplines of experimental, narrative, documentary, and animated film and video making. Online applications must be submitted prior to 4:30 pm on July 19, 2013. Jerome Foundation is holding two educational workshops about this program on June 20 and July 9; attendance is strongly encouraged.  Go to:

— Application materials for the Minnesota State Loan Repayment Program (MN SLRP) are now available. The program provides funds for repayment of qualifying educational loans of up to $20,000 annually for full-time primary care providers and up to $10,000 annually for half-time primary care providers. For fiscal year 2013-2014, an estimated 5-10 loan repayment awards will be available. Applications due by August 19th.

The MPCA is now accepting proposals for projects that will reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS) in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Funding for selected projects will be provided by the Federal Clean Water Act Section 319 (Section 319) grant funds.  Proposals for nonpoint source development, education or applied research (DER) projects, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or Watershed Protection and Restoration Strategy (WRAPS) implementation projects are being solicited. The MPCA anticipates about two and a half million dollars will be available this year, contingent upon Congressional appropriation.

There is a maximum limit of $300,000 per project funding request. Projects must be funded with at least a 45 percent local cash or in-kind match. The Federal share of the total project cost can be no more than 55 percent. Grant funds are limited and MPCA urges proposers to request only those funds needed to complete a project by August 31, 2017.  For more information go to:

DOE offers funding for clean energy projects on tribal lands.  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is offering up to $7 million to deploy clean energy systems in tribal communities. Through the “Community-Scale Clean Energy Projects in Indian Country” funding opportunity, up to $4.5 million is available for projects installing clean energy systems that reduce fossil fuel use by at least 15 percent in either new or existing tribal buildings. The “Tribal Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Deployment Assistance” funding opportunity offers up to $2.5 million for projects installing renewable energy and energy efficiency that reduce fossil fuel use in existing tribal buildings by at least 30 percent. The full funding opportunities are described on the Tribal Energy Program website


Cultural competency is a necessary skill set for the 21st century planner. Where to begin? Engagement.  READ MORE >


The East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) will hold a public hearing during the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. to present and obtain feedback and comments on the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Biennial Plan.  The plan includes the needs assessment process and summary, overview of ECRAC outcomes and the programs and services provided.  The Biennial Plan can be found online at: A summary of the planned grant deadlines is also online at:

The hearing will be held at the ECRAC office at 112 Main Street South in Brahm. Please or call 320-396-2337 to R.S.V.P.

–Implementing Equity in Health in All Policies and Health Assessments:  From Concept to Action.  This webinar will be Wednesday, June 19 from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. PT/12:30-2:30 p.m. ET.  Growing evidence demonstrates that social and economic factors significantly influence health outcomes. Because of this, there is growing interest in considering health in decision-making processes that have social and economic implications, and tools such as Health Impact Assessments (HIA) and compelling approaches such as Health in All Policies (HiAP) are being explored and implemented by many.  Join this webinar, sponsored by PolicyLink and the National Association of City and County Health Officers (NACCHO), focused on why equity is critical to HiAP and HIA, and specific strategies to implement and ensure equity.  The speakers will discuss principles and frameworks for the inclusion of equity, as well as present examples of the principles in practice. In addition to those currently working with HIA and HiAP, the webinar is recommended for public health and environmental health practitioners, urban planners, equity leaders, and community groups looking to advance health and equity.

CommunityMatters® and the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design will co-host three calls this summer, designed to help any community working on a design or planning project get the skills they need to succeed and the inspiration to get started. These calls will help you learn to communicate effectively about your project, incorporate community values and local character, and successfully engage residents and other partners. 

Join us in June to learn how you can generate buzz about your project and get people to participate, including tips and tools for working with the local press, developing project messaging, and preparing an effective communications plan.

Next Call:
Spreading the Word About Your Community Design Project
, Thursday, June 20, 2013
3-4 PM EDT.  To register go to:

Also, Mark your calendars or register early for the July and August calls as well!

June 2013 – Healthy Food Access Portal Webinars

Register Today!

Thursday, June 20
Healthy Food Financing: From Advocacy to Implementation
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern

Thursday, June 27
Food Access and Economic Impacts: Trends and New Research
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern

–HOLD THE DATE for the 2013 PedalMN Bicycle Summit on Monday, September 30 – Tuesday, October 1, in the
Cuyuna/Brainerd Lakes Area.   New to the Summit schedule are experiential sessions on Mountain Biking at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area on Monday afternoon.  Connectivity will be a central theme for the Summit.

  • o Connecting trails and road routes
  • o Connecting partners within and across communities
  • o Connecting locally and nationally as we promote bicycling in Minnesota
….and more!

Get more information


2013 Tekne Award entry period now open!
 Innovative companies, organizations, non-profits and government agencies doing work within Minnesota are encouraged to apply. Applying for a Tekne can bring extensive visibility to an organization and provide great opportunities to celebrate and showcase products and innovations within the Minnesota technology community.  Applications will be open until July 15th.  Contact Erika MacCallum ( or 952-230-4553) with any questions. Thinking about applying for a Tekne Award, but have some questions – Join other interested folks June 26th for Tekne 101. LEARN MORE


Poverty and Income Data. New data on poverty and income in Minnesota is available through MDH’s Minnesota Public Health Data Access system. Interactive charts allow users to view data on median household income, childhood poverty and poverty by year and age.

State-by-State Snapshot of Poverty Among Seniors: Findings From Analysis of the Supplemental Poverty Measure Presents state-by-state poverty rates among seniors, based on the supplemental measure. Includes examples of seniors who are not classified as living in poverty under the official measure but who are considered to be living in poverty under the supplemental measure, due to high out-of-pocket medical or housing costs.

Condition of Education 2013 Presents 42 indicators on the status and condition of education including population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. Chapter 3 discusses The Status of Rural Education. Published annually.

U.S. Broadband Availability: June 2010 – June 2012: A Broadband Brief Supplies information on broadband availability and speed and some differences in rural compared to urban areas.

2013 National Telecommunications and Information Administration Broadband Adoption Toolkit Collection of best practices developed by grantees of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and designed to help other agencies and organizations enhance efforts toward offering broadband connections to their communities. Projects represent urban, rural and Native American communities.

Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative helps farmers, small businesses gain solar.  Are you considering a solar energy system to help power your farm or small business? If so, the Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative may be a great resource for you. The Initiative, led by Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, can help farmers and small businesses learn how solar can work for them. CERTs staff will provide one-on-one direction and guide you to resources to help plan and implement a solar energy project. To learn more and get started, see the Initiative flyer and view fact sheets and guides.

Free Energy Data “FRED” is a new open platform to help state and local governments, energy planners and policy-makers, private industry, and others to effectively visualize, analyze and compare energy-use data to make better energy decisions and sustainable strategies. FRED gathers complex, disparate energy datasets and distills them down into simple, easy-to-understand graphics, useful to a wide audience, from expert energy planners to non-energy professionals and the interested public.

FRED strives to become an open exchange where users can compare and share their own data against others in FRED, becoming a resource for energy policy decision-making.   FRED was developed by a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by a partnership between two non-profit organizations (Planetary Skin Institute and The Climate Group) and two national energy laboratories (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory).  For more information or to access the FRED platform visit

Amber Waves.  Amber Waves presents the broad scope of USDA ERS research and analysis. The May 2013 issue includes articles on the school lunch program, Indian mango trade, women-operated farms, disability and food insecurity, Sub-Saharan Africa, rural population loss, and ERS’s farm typology.

Rural Classifications. USDA ERS has updated two key county classifications that measure rurality and assess the economic and social diversity of rural America beyond the metro/nonmetro dichotomy. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Urban Influence Codes are part of a suite of data products for rural analysis available on the Rural Classifications topic page found on the ERS website.

Rural-Urban Continuum Codes.  The 2013 Rural-Urban Continuum Codes form a classification scheme that distinguishes metropolitan counties by the population size of their metro area, and nonmetropolitan counties by degree of urbanization and adjacency to metro areas. The official Office of Management and Budget (OMB) metro and nonmetro categories have been subdivided into three metro and six nonmetro categories. Each county in the U.S. and Puerto Rico is assigned one of the 9 codes.

Urban Influence Codes  The 2013 Urban Influence Codes form a classification scheme that distinguishes metropolitan counties by population size of their metro area, and nonmetropolitan counties by size of the largest city or town and proximity to metro and micropolitan areas. The standard Office of Management and Budget (OMB) metro and nonmetro categories have been subdivided into two metro and 10 nonmetro categories, resulting in a 12-part county classification.

SNAP Policy Database Includes information on State-level SNAP policies relating to eligibility criteria, recertification and reporting requirements, benefit issuance methods, availability of online applications, use of biometric technology (such as finger-printing), and coordination with other low-income assistance programs.

Economists Jason Henderson and Nathan Kauffman review a century of booms and busts in U.S. agriculture and concludes a new bust could be in the offing. Debt leverage has remained low in recent years, but that could change fast if prices and profits decline and interest rates rise.

Building Resilience Through Design.  Rural design is an important tool for rural communities to build upon existing assets and improve the way a community looks, its quality of life, and its economic viability. However, few rural communities have access to design assistance or the expertise to tackle these challenges on their own. The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) provides communities access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality.  For more information go to:

–The National Council of Nonprofits has rolled out the first online, comprehensive and nationwide guide to independent audits for nonprofits.  Created with support from the First Nonprofit Foundation, the Nonprofit Audit Guide© provides charitable nonprofits with the tools they need to make informed decisions about independent audits. The Guide was created with input from State Associations and designed to showcase the quality capacity building resources that are the hallmark of our collective network.

Aside from helping nonprofits understand what independent audits are, the Nonprofit Audit Guide also details the role of the board in the audit process and shares tips and tools to help charitable organizations manage the audit process—from hiring an auditor and preparing for the audit to evaluating the audit firm’s work.  Because state laws vary in the scope of their regulation of charitable nonprofits, the Guide includes a 50-state chart that shows whether there is an audit requirement in each state, and if so, under what conditions. Additionally, the Guide includes information about special audit requirements that apply to nonprofits that receive funding from the federal government.   For more information, visit