Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard


Across the Field: Summer conference season heats up!

by Jane Leonard & an assortment of contributors

In Minnesota, we know summer by road construction and road warriors on their way to various conferences here in the Upper Midwest.  I just returned from last week’s head-turning Symposium on Small Towns at the University of Minnesota-Morris, busting the myths and looking at the realities of rural migration trends and patterns. In short, rural areas and small towns are generally gaining population and experiencing Brain Gain, not Brain Drain.  Check out the full story at .

And this week some of our colleagues were in Kansas attending the 2014 Rural Grocery Summit at Kansas State University in Manhattan. It’s a chance for grocery owners and managers, and others interested in rural food access issues, to learn about this important field of study. There is actually a community of scholars, small business owners, grocery managers, planners and small town activists who study the importance of rural groceries, and what the best practices are to keep them thriving and serving their communities with fresh and healthy food.

The summit responded to the challenges facing rural grocery stores by offering the latest and best ideas for rural grocery operations. The event focused on the “triple bottom line” of rural grocery store benefits – nutritional health, economic development, and community sustainability and features the launch of the rural grocer “toolkit.”  Check out 

Next month, from July 20-23, just down river from Minnesota, the lovely city of Dubuque, Iowa, hosts the 45th annual international conference of the Community Development Society at the Grand River Center .

Early bird registration ends June 20; the conference is the annual gathering of CDS members like me and other colleagues from around the world who believe in and practice community development as a multi-disciplinary field

This year’s meeting features sessions devoted to communities and regions that are on the path to creating their own unique Renaissance. Dubuque’s downtown and waterfront will provide an ideal setting to share and learn innovative strategies in economic development, health, education, local facilities/services, transportation, planning, natural resources management, and more.   It’s also an amazing opportunity to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and network with community development professionals.

Finally, if you are not on conference overload, or even if you are, save time for the upcoming rural design & design thinking conference at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, July 30 & 31.

Thriving by Design II: Achieving Rural – Urban Economic and Community Health gathers people from diverse disciplines to experience design and design thinking as an essential creative catalyst and problem-solving approach for planning and development across the rural-urban continuum. It will emphasize connections, interactions, and inter-dependencies between rural and urban people and places. And it’s a bargain at the early bird rate of $60, with lodging in new on-campus residence halls for as low as $59/night.

Community leaders, elected officials, and planners, especially those from rural and small urban areas, designers, and anyone interested in learning about the use of design and design thinking as a problem-solving opportunity should attend. You’ll gain experience in visualizing and using design to achieve, sustain, and strengthen community vitality across our region. In doing so, you will help create, select, and frame ideas and goals that can inform Minnesota’s community development.

So get on the road with the rest of us this summer and learn something or share something. See Minnesota and the Midwest at its finest!


–USDA is offering funding for the Farmers Market & Local Food Promotion Program. The program offers competitive grants to promote local food and farmers markets. Deadline: 6/20/2014. Click here: for an application for farmers markets and here  for an application for local food promotion.

The Department of Justice is offering funds to nonprofit and public agencies to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance, the development of innovative community policing strategies, applied research, guidebooks, and best practices that are national in scope. Deadline: 6/23/2014. Click for funding guidelines.

–The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has opened the fiscal year (FY) 2014 application period for the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program. The NOGA makes up to $750 million in bond guarantee authority available to eligible CDFIs in FY 2014. Deadlines: qualified issuer applications must be submitted through www.myCDFIFund by 11:59 p.m. EDT on 6/23/2014; guarantee applications must be submitted through www.myCDFIFund  by 11:59 p.m. EDT on 6/30/2014. Application materials are available on the CDFI Fund’s website

–USDA is offering grants to cooperatives, CDCs, and other organizations devoted to helping rural producers to provide technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. Deadline: 6/24/2014. Click here for application guidelines.  

–HUD is offering grants to cities and other public agencies for rehabilitation of housing to remove or remediate lead-based paint hazards in privately owned housing owned or occupied by low-income families with young children. Deadline: 6/27/2014. Click  here for application guidelines.

–USDA has announced funding for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program for organizations that loan to small rural businesses. Deadline: 6/30/2014. Read the notice of funding availability here.

—  Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge  Win a matching grant for your neighborhood–up to $2,000–with the Center for a New American Dream’s 2014 Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge. Apply by June 30, 2014.

The Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program (SSDPG) at USDA will make $3 million available nationwide to provide technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers through eligible cooperatives and cooperative development centers. Awardees will be able to conduct market research, product and/or service improvement, feasibility studies, training, and implement business plans. Applications are being accepted through June 30, 2014. 

–The Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program (RCDG) at USDA will make up to $5.8 million available nationwide to Rural Cooperative Development Centers, which in turn, provide technical assistance to individuals and entities improving the economic condition of rural areas by supporting start-up, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities. Cooperatives have often been the mechanism used by small and midsized producers to work together to access new markets or market value-added products. Applications accepted through June 30, 2014. 

Partners for Places builds partnerships between local government sustainability offices and place-based foundations. Partnership investments are between $25,000 and $75,000 for one-year projects or $50,000 and $150,000 for two-year projects with a 1:1 match. Apply by July 3. Read more.

–USDA has announced funding for the Rural Energy for America Program which offers grants and loan guarantees for rural renewable energy projects. Deadline: 7/7/2014. Click here for program guidelines and a grant application.

–USDA is offering grants to provide increased access to technology to foster education, training and health care resources for people living in rural areas of America. Deadline:  7/7/2014. Click here for funding guidelines.

–The National Science Foundation is offering grants to nonprofits, public agencies, and others for STEM Learning Projects. Deadline: 7/10/2014. Grants will be offered to advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments.  They will also provide multiple pathways for broadening access to STEM learning experiences, and provide other activities. Click here for guidelines and an application: 

— 2014 MPCA Environmental Assistance Grant Round.  Applications are now being accepted for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Environmental Assistance (EA) Grant Program.  Approximately $1 million is available for 2014 EA grant awards. Financial assistance is targeted towards nine (9) focus areas addressing pollution prevention, solid waste management, climate change adaptation, and resource conservation, among others. Eligible applicants, grant award amounts and minimum matching fund requirements will vary by Focus Areas and Preferred Proposals.

The deadlines for submitting grant proposals is July 16, 2014, for Focus Areas B-I and August 13, 2014, for Focus Area A (Volatile Organic Chemicals, or VOCs). All proposals are due by 2 p.m. on those dates.  The EA Grant Program RFP and application materials, as well as further information on the EA Grant Program, are available at 

— Community Economic Development (CED) Healthy Food Financing Initiative Projects awards funding to Community Development Corporations for projects designed to address food deserts and improve access to healthy, affordable foods. Bonus points will be given to projects that create jobs in a rural community. Application deadline: July 21, 2014

–The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service is offering funding for projects aimed at business development opportunities and creating employment for low-income individuals located in geographic areas with a demonstrated need. Deadline: 7/21/2014. Click here for an application package.

–National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is offering grants for nonprofit coalitions to improve community health through strategic partnerships. Deadline to apply: 7/22/2014. Grants are offered to healthcare organizations and government units to maintain a functioning multi-sectored community coalition. Click here to learn more and to apply.

–The USDA has announced a $150 million investment in a new Rural Business Investment Company. Advantage Capital Partners will be responsible for managing the new fund and eight Farm Credit Institutions will invest the $150 million: AgStar Financial Services (Mankato); AgriBank (St. Paul); Capital Farm Credit (Bryan, TX); CoBank (Denver, CO); Farm Credit Bank of Texas (Austin, TX); Farm Credit Services of America (Omaha, NE); Farm Credit Mid-America (Louisville, KY); and United Farm Credit Service (Willmar). Applicants have until July 29th to submit applications for FY 2014. Applications submitted after that time will be considered for subsequent years. Funding is intended to be available until FY2016. For more information, please go to: 

The HOME DEPOT Community Impact Grants Program provides support to nonprofit organizations and public service agencies in the U.S. that are using 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. Deadline: requests will be accepted through August 15, 2014. Visit the Home Depot website hereto submit an online application. 

–The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is offering grants to support community-based initiatives that provide dental care to underserved children. Deadline: 8/18/2014. Click here for program guidelines.  

— The Jerome Foundation’s 2014 Minnesota Film, Video, and Digital Production Grant Program will award grants to emerging film, video, and digital makers in the disciplines of experimental, narrative, documentary, and animation. Deadline September 26, 2014.

MPCA Environmental Loan Program. Consider applying if you’ve been thinking about a project in green chemistry, pollution prevention, source reduction, recycling, or source-separated composting. Eligible applicants for the EA Loan Program include Minnesota-based, small- to medium-sized businesses and political subdivisions of Minnesota. Candidates that are contemplating smaller projects are particularly encouraged to apply this spring. Since the amount that is available fluctuates, it is recommended to contact the program with questions on fund availability.

Eligible loan costs are limited to the capital costs of implementing waste or pollution prevention technologies in Minnesota. Capital costs are limited to the costs of acquisition of machinery and equipment, including freight and installation, and related improvements.

The EA loan program is offering participatory and direct loans. Participatory loans provide up to $100,000 at zero percent interest. Participatory loan funds must be matched by a minimum dollar-for-dollar match by loans from a participating financial institution. Direct loans are limited to businesses/entities and provide for awards up to a maximum loan of $50,000 at four percent interest or one half the prime rate, whichever is greater. Direct loans must be matched by a minimum of one dollar for every two dollars received of funds from the applicant. Start-up businesses are not eligible for direct loans.

Priority eligible applicants are Minnesota-based small to medium-sized businesses and political subdivisions of Minnesota. Applications are being accepted until June 30, 2015. Visit the MPCA Environmental Assistance Loan Program for more information.

Blandin Foundation trustees voted to extend broadband work and allocate $1.5 million more for broadband grants. More information here. 

— MPCA Small Business Environmental Loan Program. To qualify, a borrower must:  be an existing small business corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership or association and have less than 50 full-time employees, have an after-tax profit of less than $500,000 and a net worth of less than $1,000,000, demonstrate an ability to repay the loan

The types of projects that qualify need to involve pre-approved capital equipment purchases that meet or exceed environmental rules and regulations, or pre-approved site investigations and cleanups. Please note – projects that were begun or completed prior to receiving approval from the MPCA through the application process are not eligible. Loans are awarded on a competitive basis throughout the year and are based on available funds and number of applications received. It typically takes a minimum of 45 days to complete the process once a loan is awarded.

For Auxiliary Power Units (APUs), diesel truck engines need to be older than 2007.  The EPA maintains a list of verified idle reduction technologies, including APUs. These can be found on EPA’s Verified Idling Reduction Technologies page.

The general terms are as follows:

  • a loan amount not less than $1,000 or more than $50,000
  • an interest rate of four percent or one-half the prime rate, whichever is greater at the time the loan is awarded,
  • a repayment term of not more than seven years for environmental improvements, collateral is required.

In addition, once the project is completed, borrowers are asked to complete an evaluation of the project’s realized environmental and economic benefits. The MPCA uses this information as ongoing feedback to evaluate and enhance the program.

To receive an application, contact the MPCA’s Small Business Ombudsman, Mike Nelson at  or 651.757.2122.

The Toro Company’s Centennial Legacy Grant Program is currently accepting applications from non-profits that are located within 30 miles of a Toro community (in Minnesota: Shakopee, Windom, and the Twin Cities). Grants will support non-profit organizations in their efforts to beautify and preserve outdoor environments and enhance green spaces at home, work and play. The objective of the program is to provide funding for projects in these focus areas that will serve the community for many years to come.  Grants will be made to qualified organizations in the communities where Toro employees live and work.

The project funded should:

  • Enrich outdoor landscapes for environmental benefits & enjoyment through outdoor physical activities by improving and beautifying parks, playgrounds, landscapes and community gardens
  • Encourage efficient use of water in outdoor and agricultural applications by ensuring productive and sustainable practices and protecting our natural resources
  • Involve children and adults in education programs on managing your water resources.

For more information or to apply go to:

The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation is offering general support grants to nonprofit organizations for general support for religious, charitable, scientific, literary and education causes. Deadline: letters of inquiry may be submitted at any time. Click  here to visit the website for application guidelines.

— The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it has set a goal of investing $50 million to increase access to mental health care in rural areas over the next three years. The funding will be used for the construction, expansion or equipping of rural mental health facilities and will be provided through the USDA’s Community Facilities direct loan program.

–Competitive Grant To Establish a USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research.  USDA ERS in partnership with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is inviting proposals to establish the USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. The USDA Center will apply behavioral economics to food choice behaviors, including consumer, food industry, and retailer behaviors that are relevant to USDA policies, with special attention to the SNAP and WIC programs. 


–Meet the Broadband Policymakers. The Humphrey Institute and Blandin Foundation are hosting a TISP Broadband Roundtable on June 17 in Minneapolis. The inclusive Roundtable brings together main leaders in the broadband policy debate. Join to learn from this past year as well as next steps in implementation of the Broadband grant program. Much remains to be done;this Roundtable discussion will help clarify where we are going. 

–The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities is hosting a series of free webinars. The next two offerings are: Convening the Conveners: Working with Economic Development Organizations, Thursday, June 19; and Civic and Social Engagement: Why Community Development Partnerships Matter, Thursday, September 18. MORE

Principles and Practices: Key Changes. The Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence provides guidelines that set a foundation of excellence for Minnesota nonprofits. Over the past 12 months, Minnesota Council on Nonprofits staff worked in partnership with 40 nonprofit leaders from across the state to review and revise this important document.

Join this free webinar on Thursday, June 19 from 10-11a.m. to hear about key changes made to the Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence as a result of this review process, including the addition of new principles on Volunteer Management and Leadership and Organizational Culture. Staff will also highlight MCN’s plan to redevelop the Principles and Practices’ presence online, including a significant build out of tools and templates to help nonprofits manageably accomplish the practices for their organization. Learn more and RSVP here.

–The 2014 Minnesota Rural Health Conference: Weaving the Threads of Rural Health, will be held June 23-24 in Duluth.

— A Rural Design Conference event, titled “Thriving by Design II,” will bring together people from diverse disciplines to experience design and design thinking as essential to catalyze planning and development for rural economic prosperity. Emphasizing the connections, interactions, and interdependencies between rural and urban people and places will be held at the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) on Wednesday-Thursday, July 30- 31.

Community leaders, elected officials, and planners, especially those from rural and small urban areas, designers, and anyone interested in learning about the use of design and  design thinking as a problem-solving opportunity should plan to attend.  Conference organizers include the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, a part of UMN Extension; the UMN Center for Rural Design; University of Minnesota Crookston; and the EDA Center at the University of Minnesota Crookston.  For more information on this conference, visit the event website. Also included in this design thinking conference is the breakout on “Extension Reconsidered.”

Market Your Destination to Corporate Meeting Planners in Minneapolis, Aug. 2-5Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the leading global association for corporate meeting and event professionals. 

— The Minnesota Mentoring Conference is the region’s only annual conference focused exclusively on supporting quality mentoring. In celebration of its 20th Anniversary, the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota (MPM) is hitting the road and offering Minnesota Mentoring Conferences in  Cloquet (September 22) and Maple Grove(October 20). In an effort to better serve a vast network of mentoring programs, MPM made several great changes to its conference based on feedback, including:

  • Three conference dates and locations
  • Reduced conference fee
  • Contracting highly-rated workshop presenters
  • Format changes to dive deeper into key issues
  • Lunchtime open for networking.

With a mission to lead the state in building and sustaining quality mentoring for every child, MPM’s conference is not to be missed by all youth mentoring program practitioners, AmeriCorps members who work to support youth through mentoring and tutoring, policymakers and funders. Register now. 

-The 2014 Many Faces of Community Health Conference: Community Centered Care and the People We Serve, will be held October 23-24 in Minnetonka. 

–The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering aquatic invasive species (AIS) training to owners of lake service provider businesses so they can legally work in lakes and rivers throughout the state. Businesses such as resorts and outfitters that rent, lease or decontaminate boats and other water-related equipment are now required to attend AIS training and acquire a permit. These businesses are considered lake service providers, which means that every three years they must attend a training session, apply for a permit, and pay a $50 application fee to comply with Minnesota law.

Seventeen AIS training sessions are planned around the state. Registering for the winter and early spring sessions will give businesses time to attend training and get a permit before ice-out. Registration deadlines are one week prior to each training. To register for training, find out if the business needs a permit, or for more information, visit the DNR website. A list of all 2014 training sessions is also available. 


–CURA Kris Nelson Community Based Research Program.  The Kris Nelson Community Based Research Program builds partnerships between community-based organizations and suburban government agencies and local colleges and universities. The research needs of organizations are matched with students to carry out community-defined and guided projects. Applications are due June 30th. Projects will run from August 25, 2014, to January 7, 2015. 

The application process for the 2014 Tekne Awards is 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 science and technology community. There is no fee to apply.  Applications will be open until July 11th. APPLY NOW

The Minnesota Tekne Awards honor the individuals and organizations that play a significant role in discovering new technologies that educate and improve the lives of Minnesotans and people around the world. Now in its 15th year, the Teknes have honored hundreds of companies and leaders who continue to make Minnesota a home to cutting-edge innovation.  Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges with experience and expertise in each of the categories.  Contact Erika MacCallum ( or 952-230-4553) with any questions.

Recognize innovative clients, partners and customers – Nominate them for a Tekne. The Minnesota High Tech Association announced it has opened the entry period for the 2014 Tekne Awards earlier this month, and is now looking for your help. MHTA is asking the science and technology community to recognize the innovative partners, clients and vendors they work with by nominating them for a Tekne Award. READ MORE

Learn about the Tekne Award application process at Tekne 101. Thinking about applying for a Tekne Award, but have questions on how to best complete the application? Wondering what category fits your initiative best or exactly what the selection committee looking for? Just want to run your thoughts by someone before you begin? This is your opportunity to do just that. LEARN MORE

Festival of Farms™ on July 12th, 2014 is an opportunity to learn about sustainable agriculture, network within the community, and have fun at various farms across the state. The Festival is a project of the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA); individual SFA chapters are arranging activities unique to their regions, including farm tours.  For detailed information on Festival of Farms tours and other events scheduled around Minnesota, visit 

–The American Hospital Association (AHA) is accepting applications for the Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award. The award provides an educational stipend to a small or rural hospital administrator or chief executive officer to attend an AHA Annual Meeting or Health Forum Leadership Conference. Applications due July 25.

—-Savings Innovation Cluster. CFED, in partnership with the MetLife Foundation, is soliciting applications from organizations serving low- and moderate-income households to join a yearlong learning cluster and receive extensive technical assistance to design and implement innovative savings products or strategies for their clients. Click here for more info.

MnDOT Seeking Input for Statewide Bicycle System Plan.  MnDOT is hosting a series of workshops around the state to discuss the development of a Statewide Bicycle System Plan.

–Leadership Growth & Development Scholarships  The Northwest Minnesota Foundation recognizes nonprofit organizations (NPOs) and small businesses are experiencing dramatic changes in their current environments. In an effort to best meet the changing needs of the area’s NPOs and small businesses, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation is offering Leadership Growth and Development Scholarships

Rural Health Fellows Program. A year-long, intensive program designed to develop a community of rural health leaders. Application deadline: Aug. 31, 2014.

Jim Meeks, PA-C, DFAAPA Memorial AFPPA Student Scholarship. Offers a scholarship to a physician assistant student who display a commitment to family practice and rural health. Application deadline: Sept. 1, 2014.


Four Counties offer free GIS data.   Ramsey County in February became the first metro county to adopt a policy making all its public data from geographic information systems (GIS) technology available to the public free of charge. The technology enables data from public records to be layered like a giant cake and precisely analyzed in hundreds of combinations to reveal new insights. Ramsey County’s lead was followed by Hennepin, Dakota and Carver counties. Similar measures are under consideration in Anoka and Scott counties. Ramsey County made the decision to improve public service and meet public demand. 

Who lives in your city?  With support from the Bush Foundation, Minnesota Compass has expanded its geographic profiles to include snapshots for all cities of 1000+. Find the median income, job outlook, commute time, and much more. Check them out now.

— Creative Class County Codes  The USDA ERS creative class codes indicate a county’s share of population employed in occupations that require “thinking creatively.” This update to the creative class codes is based on a special tabulation from the American  Community Survey and represent averages over 2007-11.

2013 NCHS Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties. Updates the 2006 NCHS urban-rural county classification. Uses the classification to analyze selected National Vital Statistics System and National Health Interview Survey data, to show the utility of this classification method in identifying rural-urban differences. 

Long-Term Trends in Rural Depopulation and Their Implications for Community Banks.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recently published an article exploring the trends in rural depopulation in the United States and the implications of these trends for rural community banks. Read the full article here.

–The Community Development Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has released a new issue of Community Dividend that features articles on arts and communities, CDFIs (community development financial institutions), and rural development. To read the issue visit: 

–Agbioscience strategy implementation update.  AURI staff are working with others across the state on the implementation of the Minnesota Agbioscience Strategy, a report completed by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, which finds that Minnesota has tremendous growth opportunity in the area of agbioscience. Along with several meetings that are happening about the recommended strategy, AURI staff presented at the 10th Annual Regional Bioscience Conference. 

–Housing Assistance Council has published a report on rural veterans’ housing. “From Service to Shelter: Housing Veterans in Rural America”, funded by the Home Depot Foundation, covers the challenges of housing rural veterans, and summarizes available housing resources. Click hereto download the report. 

–The National Housing Conference – Center for Housing Policy has published a report called “Aging in Every Place: Supportive Service Programs for High and Low Density Communities”. The study identifies ways successful programs in rural places offer transportation to medical services, shopping and social activities, or bring various services to the homes of older adults who are unable to travel while keeping them in their homes as they age. Download a copy here.

–The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report called “Native American Housing: Additional Actions Needed to Better Support Tribal Efforts”. The report discusses the housing challenges faced by tribal entities and suggests actions that could address those challenges. To read the report, click

 Supportive Housing Outcomes in Minnesota.  A Wilder Research study of supportive housing in Minnesota, including time-limited transitional housing and permanent supportive housing. The study looked at the characteristics of the programs and the populations they serve, outcomes achieved by participants over time, and the program models that appear to work best for participants.

–The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Ninth District Insight: A Front-line Perspective on the Economic Health of Low- to Moderate-Income Communities presents findings from a semiannual survey of community development and service organizations that is designed to provide insight on key indicators related to the economic health of low- to moderate-income communities. State-level data are available for states in the ninth district, including Minnesota and North Dakota.

–A new CFED study reveals challenges facing microbusiness owners. “In Search of Solid Ground: Understanding the Financial Vulnerabilities of Microbusiness Owners” sheds light on the many factors that contribute to or detract from microbusiness owners’ financial capability-a combination of knowledge, behaviors, and access and use of safe, appropriate financial products and services. Download the study

–Stratis Health has released new Health Information Technology toolkits for local public health, social service, home health and behavioral health settings to help providers select, implement and use electronic health record systems (EHRs) and other health information technology solutions.

–A video and accompanying discussion guide, “The value transformation of rural health care,” is available from Rural Health Value, a collaboration between the Office of Rural Health Policy, the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis, and Stratis Health. The 10-minute video describes the shift to value-based purchasing of health care, and is intended in part to stimulate discussion among key stakeholders, clinicians and staff.

Extent of Telehealth Use in Rural and Urban Hospitals. Provides discussion with statistics on the use of telehealth in rural hospitals and the opportunities telehealth can bring to supporting health care in rural communities.

2013 Healthy Minnesota Partnership Annual Report.  Healthy Minnesota 2020 is a framework for creating and improving health throughout the state of Minnesota, based on the statewide health assessment, The Health of Minnesota, and adopted by the Healthy Minnesota Partnership on July 30, 2012.

The framework features three themes that reflect the importance of social and economic determinants for health.

  • Capitalize on the opportunity to influence health in early childhood
  • Assure that the opportunity for health is available everywhere and for everyone
  • Strengthen communities to create their own healthy futures.

The framework also identifies nine core indicators to monitor and provides examples of a range of strategies that relate to each of the three themes.  Each year the Healthy Minnesota Partnership compiles an annual report reflecting the progress made on the Healthy Minnesota 2020 Framework.  The 2013 Annual Report can be found online: 

It includes an update on the progress towards changing the conversation about health, new narrative frames developed by the Partnership’s Narrative Strategy Team, updated Healthy Minnesota Indicators, and 2013-14 plans for the Partnership.

Affordable Care Act and Insurance Coverage in Rural Areas. Examines differences in urban and rural populations and health insurance coverage patterns and assesses how ACA coverage reforms will affect rural and metropolitan areas in different ways.

Guide to Understanding the Variation in Premiums in Rural Health Insurance Marketplaces.  Discusses several factors to consider when comparing health insurance plans in the health insurance exchange marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act across geographic areas.

–Survey helps tech companies benchmark employee benefits. One of the key emerging questions of the health care reform era is how are companies evolving their benefit plans. The annual Health Benefits Benchmarking survey is designed for mid-market employers and offers comparison of their unique plans to other companies in their geographic area and size.  READ MORE

Rural veterans at a glance developed by the USDA Economic Research Service.

 University of Minnesota Tourism Center Posters Available.  Eight new informational posters are available for download on the University of Minnesota Tourism Center website.

Rural MN broadband access is 57%; Statewide access is 75% — Connect Minnesota unveils results from their latest survey. They found that 74.93% of Minnesota households can access fixed broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload; however, only 57.07% of rural households can access these broadband speeds.

–Conquering the Challenges of Broadband Adoption reports that rural Americans are more than 13 times more likely to lack access to fixed broadband than Americans in non-rural areas. Authors report that the Internet is increasingly important in the distribution of high-quality healthcare. The Internet can allow patients to interface directly with healthcare professionals a great distance away, but this requires a robust broadband connection.

— Last month Blandin Foundation hosted a webinar on Making 700 MHz Wireless Work in Rural Minnesota with Kevin Larson. The archive is available online.

–Connect Minnesota recently offered a webinar on Federal broadband policy updates. And archive is available. 

–Video of May 6th Spring Conference Sessions available now! Did you miss a session at Minnesota High Tech Association’s annual Spring Conference in May or want to re-watch your favorite session? Thanks to a partnership with Implex, all educational sessions from MHTA’s annual Spring Conference held at the Minneapolis Convention Center are available online now. Don’t miss next year’s event -mark your calendar now for Weds, May 6, 2015. VIEW SESSIONS HERE

Federal Grant Writing Manual, developed to help grant applicants write federal grant proposals. Includes basic information on how to evaluate if an applicant is qualified to apply for a federal grant. Manual also focuses on the different components of a grant application: goals and objectives, budget, work plan, project sustainability and how to evaluate the proposed project.

–PowerCheck: A Tool for Assessing Community Organizing Capacity. The Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy is out with an advocacy tool designed to help organizations assess their capacity to accomplish community organizing goals. It consists of assessment of 24 core indicators that include pre-organizing goals, power analysis, and planning; empowerment or constituent leadership; organizing for change; community consensus building; and organizational operations and infrastructure.

Third National Climate Assessment Report Released 

The following is adapted from the May 9th, 2014 edition of EPA Climate Change and Water News, a bi-weekly e-newsletter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water.  For more information or to subscribe, see 

On May 6th, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Third National Climate Assessment. The report summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future.  A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Third National Climate Assessment describes the impacts of climate change across ten geographic regions of the United States, and in economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, and health.  The descriptions translate scientific insights into practical information that can help decision-makers and citizens anticipate and prepare for climate-change impacts.

The report is available for download and can be explored in an interactive format through the new U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program website – .  An important feature of this interactivity is the traceability of the data and other information in the report, giving users the means to refer back to this data for analysis and decision support.

To view the National Climate Assessment as a full report, highlights, or an overview, visit:

For links to key resources such as the adaptation chapter of the report and federal adaptation resources, visit: .

For a calendar of events surrounding the National Climate Assessment, visit the NCAnet Partners Calendar: .


— Explore Minnesota Tourism Marketing Manager Position Is Open. Explore Minnesota Tourism has an opening for a tourism marketing manager to direct travel trade programs.

Red Wing VCB Seeks Executive Director. The Red Wing Visitor & Convention Bureau is looking for an executive director.

— Visit Bemidji Seeking Executive Director. The full-time executive director position at Visit Bemidji is responsible for planning, directing and managing marketing and sales efforts to generate overnight visits to Bemidji from leisure and group tour travel, including meeting and convention business. 

Visit Mankato CVB Seeking Brand Manager. Visit Mankato CVB is seeking an experienced professional to plan, drive and grow the performance of Mankato’s tourism brand. 

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