June 2015 – Volume XIII, Number 5

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


ACROSS THE FIELD (from Ann Treacy this month)

I’m on a summer road trip! First stop was Kansas City – to see the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV). It’s a hotbed of broadband (thanks to Google Fiber) and entrepreneurship (thanks to the KCSV)

Kansas City isn’t rural – but I learned a few things that I think might benefit rural communities

First lesson – broadband came first. There were a couple of entrepreneurs, but broadband brought them out of the woodwork and to the area. It’s a tired analogy, but broadband is the super highway. Get on it and you’re in – it doesn’t matter where you are, you’re online. That’s a boon for remote, rural communities.

Second lesson – entrepreneurs led the effort to promote and support entrepreneurship through the KCSV, which is a primarily volunteer-effort. Our tour guide, Matthew Marcus was a key founder. Entrepreneurs beget other entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs know what startup entrepreneurs need. For example early stage startups need free rent – like a Home for Hackers (free rent for entrepreneurs for up to 3 months). And entrepreneurs know what other entrepreneurs need. Part of the pull for entrepreneurs is the opportunity to network with each other. To bounce ideas off each other. To see if someone has a brand new key to fit your roller skate.

Third lesson – entrepreneurship starts at home. Both Matthew and I were lucky enough to have parents who supported entrepreneurship and recognized that a job isn’t for everyone

What does that mean if you’re a community or economic developer? Broadband is an investment worth making. Reaching out to local entrepreneurs and supporting them is a good way to draw out and in more entrepreneurs. Never too early to start that reach – grade schools and high schools are full of entrepreneurs in the making!

Ann Treacy


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is offering grants through the Assets for Independence (AFI) Demonstration Program. Deadline: 6/15/2015. AFI enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement and demonstrate an assets-based approach for supporting low-income individuals and their families. View information about resources, trainings, and other assistance for grantees and potential applicants on the Assets for Independence Resource Center website here.

–The Tony Hawk Foundation is offering grants to nonprofit and public organizations for funding the construction of new, quality skateparks located in low-income communities throughout the United States. The Foundation primarily supports projects that can demonstrate a strong grassroots commitment, particularly in the form of planning and fundraising by local skateboarders and other community groups. Deadline: 6/17/2015. Visit the Foundation’s website here to review grant criteria and submit an online application.

–The HOME DEPOT Foundation’s Veteran Housing Grants Program is offering grants to nonprofit organizations nationwide that address the development and repair of veterans housing. Grants are provided for single family or multifamily housing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing projects. Grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 are awarded solely for the physical construction or repair of housing for veterans. Organizations that have previous experience developing, and either currently manage or own, veteran specific housing are eligible to apply. Deadline: 6/23/2015. Visit the Foundation’s website here for online application instructions.

The Best Buy Community Grants Program provides support to community-based organizations that are located within 50 miles of a Best Buy facility. Grants promote programs that create hands-on learning opportunities for underserved teens to engage them in learning, experimenting, and interacting with the latest technologies to build 21st century skills. Eligible programs must build technology skills utilizing cutting-edge technology such as computers, digital cameras, video cameras, and professional software; deliver community-based youth programs for teens, ages 13-18, during out of school time; and serve a diverse population. Grants typically range from $4,000 to $6,000, and will not exceed $10,000. Public and nonprofit community-based organizations (e.g., community centers, schools, and libraries) are eligible to apply. Online proposals may be submitted until June 29, 2015. Visit the Best Buy website to review the program guidelines.

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants and Guaranteed Loans Provides financial assistance to agriculture producers and rural small businesses to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems. An example of a potential funded project may be the installation of solar panels for hospitals or clinics to improve energy costs.  Application deadline: June 30, 2015.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program Grants Application deadline: July 6, 2015. Provides grants to improve telemedicine services and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telemedicine, computer networks, and related advanced technologies. Sponsor: USDA Rural Development.

USDA Housing and Community Facilities Programs is offering Rural Housing Preservation Grants (Section 533) to organizations that work to assist rural low-income homeowners and renters to repair and rehabilitate their homes. Deadline: 7/6/2015. Click here for funding guidelines.

USDA is accepting applications to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Eligible applicants include groups of cooperatives, cooperative development centers and individual cooperatives that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. These grants will help socially-disadvantaged business owners develop the tools and skills they need to grow their enterprises and succeed at creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities in rural areas. Deadlines: electronic applications 7/14/2015; mailed applications must be postmarked by 7/20/2015. Click here for guidelines.

The National Endowment for the Arts has issued a program solicitation for an organization to run the new Our Town Technical Assistance Pilot Program that will provide grantees with capacity building support to more effectively execute their creative placemaking projects. The purpose of this solicitation is to select an organization (Cooperator) to implement the Our Town Technical Assistance Pilot Program. Deadline: 7/21/2015. Click here to learn more about this opportunity.

The National Endowment for the Arts is offering grants to arts organizations, local arts agencies, arts service organizations, local education agencies, and other organizations that can help advance the goals of the Arts Endowment. The program seeks to support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. Deadline: 7/23/2015. Click here to visit the website for details.

Headwaters Foundation for Justice: The Fund of the Sacred Circle supports grassroots communities working to create social, economic, environmental, and racial justice. The Fund of the Sacred Circle, administered by the Headwaters Foundation, supports American Indian organizations throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin that address issues such as language and cultural revitalization, land and environmental restoration, sovereignty and treaty rights, and self-determination and civil rights. The Fund provides Planning Grants up to $5,000 and Implementation Grants up to $10,000 for projects that focus on systemic injustice affecting American Indian communities. Deadline: 8/3/2015. Visit the Headwaters Foundation’s website here (or here) to review the online application instructions.

–USDA Rural Development has issued a NOFA for the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) which provides funding to help nonprofit housing and community development organizations support housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas. Deadline to apply: 8/13/2015. Click here to visit the website to learn more about this program.

Healthy Eating Research – Building the Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity Letter of Intent (Required): Aug 26, 2015. Application deadline: Oct 7, 2015

Supports research on environmental and policy strategies designed to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity, especially among groups at highest risk for obesity: Black, Latino, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander children, and children who live in lower-income communities.  Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has issued guidelines and application materials for Our Town, the NEA’s primary creative placemaking program, providing funding that supports local efforts to enhance quality of life and opportunity for residents, increase creative activity, and create a distinct sense of place. Grants in 2016 will be available for projects in arts engagement, design and planning, and in knowledge building. Deadline to apply: 9/21/2015. Click here for application guidelines. To help applicants prepare competitive proposals, the NEA is offering two webinars; July 29 and August 5, 2015. Each session will be from 3:00 to 4:00 PM EDT. Click here to register for a webinar.

The Foundation for Rural Service provides grants for programs in rural communities served by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) members. Grants are awarded in the areas of business development, community development, education, and telecommunications. Deadline: 10/1/2015. Click here to visit the program website for more information.


The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) released the schedule of free webinars that will be provided as part of the Capacity Building Initiative’s “Financing Community Health Centers” series. The technical assistance webinars, held between June 2015 and July 2015, will provide Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with best practices on successful financing from leading experts in the field. For the list of the webinars and how to register, click here.

The Will Steger Foundation has launched a series of 12 forums titled “Climate Minnesota: Local Stories, Community Solutions.” The forums aim to increase public awareness around local climate change impacts and build community resiliency through science, stories and place-based solutions. The remaining meetings will take place: Sept. 15 in Owatonna; Sept. 21 in Mankato; Sept. 24 in Virginia, Oct. 12 in Rochester; Nov. 2 in Brainerd; Nov. 2 in Detroit Lakes; Nov. 12 in Minnetonka; and January 2016 (date TBD) in Marshall. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources is an exhibitor and provides energy-related resources at the events. Read more.

The 11th annual Small Wind Conference will be held June 15–17, 2015 at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Stevens Point, Wis. The event brings together small wind installers, site assessors, manufacturers, dealers and distributors, supply chain stakeholders, educators, public benefits program managers, and advocates. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is a sponsor. For more information and to register, read more.

The Midwest Farm Energy Conference will be held June 17-19 at the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minn. The conference offers strategies for implementing energy-efficient and renewable energy systems on farms, with tours available of renewable energy systems in the region. Stacy Miller, solar policy specialist with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, will participate in a panel on “Incentives, Grants, and Loans for Renewable and Energy-Efficient Systems.” For registration and more information, read more.

— Explore your ever-evolving role as a leader in your organization and community on June 24 at the 2015 Nonprofit Leadership Conference. Held at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota, this year’s gathering will prepare nonprofit leaders at all levels for Leadership 2025. Rather than spending the day examining past learnings, attendees will use our history as a point of reference to look forward.

Conference highlights include:

  • “Knowledge and Privilege Disrupted: Wake Up and Act”—a thought-provoking keynote from Dr. MayKao Hang, president and C.E.O. of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
  • 20 interactive breakout sessions on topics ranging from Transition Planning and Collaborative Budgeting to Understanding Demographics and Racial Equity Work
  • Presentation of the 2015 Nonprofit Leadership Awards

The conference is hosted by The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. To learn more or to register today, visit the conference website.

–The 2015 Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 29-30, 2015 in Duluth.

2015 National Rural Assembly will be held September 8-10, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.  Register here.

The Minnesota Venture & Finance Conference is Minnesota’s premier event for entrepreneurs and investors Real Deals, Real Investors, Unbeatable Networking.  Save the date for the 29th Annual event on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. With hundreds attending each year, this event is one of the strongest in the country in terms of overall entrepreneur and investor attendance and capital raised by participants. Since 1987 the Annual Minnesota Venture & Finance Conference has been bringing together investors and entrepreneurs to engage, innovate, learn and network in order to nurture Minnesota’s innovation economy.  The full agenda and details will be announced in July 2015. For questions on opportunities to get involved contact Tonya Meyers (tmeyers@mhta.org).


The National Rural Assembly Steering Committee is pleased to issue a call for session proposals for this year’s national gathering in Washington, D.C.  The 2015 Assembly will build upon the themes of the Rural Compact and take a cross-sector approach in seeking to address issues that disproportionately affect rural communities, such as persistent poverty; disinvestment by public and private institutions; lack of access to quality healthcare, education, and technologies; and the depletion of natural resources.

The content of this year’s gathering will inform the final day of the meeting, which will include a Congressional briefing and individual visits with policymakers.

Click here for more information about:

  • Your audience
  • Session criteria
  • Tactical tips for successful sessions
  • Proposal form

All proposals must be received by July 1, 2015, at 5pm Eastern. Presenters will be notified of their session’s status by July 15.  Please contact Whitney Kimball Coe, whitney@ruralstrategies.org, with questions.

The application and nomination period for the 2015 Tekne Awards is open! The awards celebrate 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. The 2015 Tekne Awards have fourteen categories, including three new awards that recognize applied analytics, financial services, and the rapid growth of the Internet of Things. Applications are due July 10. LEARN MORE

Tekne 101 sessions to be held June 11 and June 25.  Applying for a 2015 Tekne Award and have questions? Come to Tekne 101 on June 11 and June 25 to learn more about important dates, award categories, and eligibility! The Tekne Awards celebrate 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. REGISTER HERE

Help teachers bring STEM awareness to the classroom.  BestPrep is hosting Technology Integration Workshops on July 27 & 28 to help connect educators to the workforce through half-day job shadows with industry professionals and help them learn how they can best prepare and inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. Job shadow hosts, called Business Partners, are needed to make this a reality. READ MORE

Jim Meeks, PA-C, DFAAPA Memorial AFPPA Student Scholarship  Application deadline: September 1, 2015. Offers a scholarship to a physician assistant student who displays a commitment to family practice and rural health.  Sponsor: Association of Family Practice Physician Assistants.


Factors Affecting Former Residents’ Returning to Rural Communities  The desire to raise children back home was among the most frequently cited reasons for returning to live in relatively remote rural areas. Most nonreturnees who considered returning cited limited career opportunities as the primary barrier.

Rural Poverty & Well-being The 2007-09 recession and subsequent slow recovery have resulted in substantial increases in poverty, especially among children, and rural children in particular. The ERS topic pages on poverty have been updated, with new information added about child poverty, including an update to the persistent child poverty counties.

“Opportunity for All: Fighting Rural Child Poverty” is the title of a brief issued by the White House. The paper examines trends in poverty in rural areas, including comparisons with urban areas, and provides a discussion of the impact of safety net programs that address poverty in rural areas. Get a copy by clicking here.

The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and M+R have released their new 2015 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study—a report highlighting nonprofit industry standards for online fundraising, advocacy and list building.  Based off survey data from 84 nonprofit organizations, the report details email, web and social media numbers from organizations in the Cultural and Domestic Hunger/Poverty sectors, along with the Rights, International, Environmental, Health, and Wildlife/Animal Welfare sectors featured in past studies. This year’s study also includes nonprofits from outside the U.S., including groups based in Canada, Australia and South Africa.  To learn more about the NTEN/M+R study and its findings, download the report today.

New Toolkit: Rural Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Toolkit – This new toolkit provides an overview of the importance of health promotion and disease prevention in rural communities. Find resources to help your community develop a health promotion program, building on the best practices of others.

Updated Topic Guide: Rural Hospitals – This guide has been updated with new FAQs. Visit the guide to learn about the characteristics of the different rural hospital designations, challenges they face, available funding, and more.

Child Health USA 2014 A collection of data on the physical, mental, and emotional health of the Nation’s children. Addresses poverty, education, child care, and health service utilization and financing. Includes selected data by rural and urban residence.

Organization: Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) announced on April 22 a new program that will allow it to work closely with farmers and rural small businesses to advance renewable energy projects. The newly funded program, Renewable Energy for Greater MN, will provide free on-site renewable energy assessments and custom project assistance to Minnesota farmers and rural small businesses. The effort is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Energy Audits–Renewable Energy Development Assistance grant program. Read more.

USDA Rural Housing Service has announced a series of teleconference and/or web conference meetings regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing (GRRH) program, which are scheduled to occur during 2015 and 2016. Topics to be discussed include: updates on USDA’s Section 538 GRRH program activities; perspectives on the current state of debt financing and its impact on the Section 538 GRRH program; enhancing the use of Section 538 GRRH program financing with the transfer and/or preservation of section 515 developments; and the impact of the Low Income Housing Tax Credits program changes on Section 538 GRRH program financing. To register for the calls and obtain the call-in number, access code, web link and other information for any of the public teleconference and/or web conference meetings please contact Monica Cole, Financial and Loan Analyst, at (202) 720-1251, fax: (202) 205-5066, or email: monica.cole@wdc.usda.gov.


Industry Job Openings in Rochester & Mankato  The Rochester CVB and Visit Mankato CVB are seeking qualified candidates to fill open positions.

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, an innovative nonprofit that helps discover new uses for agricultural resources in order to fuel economic growth throughout Minnesota, seeks a full-time Executive Director. With an estimated budget of approximately $5 million in fiscal year 2015, the Institute provides research, development, and innovation networking services to help businesses create new products and processes using agricultural commodities. The Executive Director reports to a nine-member board and has overall strategic and operational responsibility for the Institute’s staff, programs, and execution of the mission in a manner that optimizes resources. Qualifications for the position include a bachelor’s degree broadly related to agribusiness systems and practice, several years of progressive leadership experience in an outcomes-based organization, exposure to working with a board of directors, experience in strategic planning and operations, effective communication skills, and general knowledge of laws, nonprofit practices, and the legislative and political process.  Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree broadly related to agribusiness systems and practices, understanding of Minnesota’s agricultural environment and producer commodity groups, value-added product development and the agricultural processing industry, knowledge of rural economic development, and experience in negotiating business partnerships and collaborations.  AURI offers a competitive salary and benefits package.  The work location will be determined upon hire. Resumes are due by June 14, 2015.