August 2015- Volume XIII, Number 7

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








— Rural Impact – The White House Rural Council in February launched “Rural Impact,” a sustained campaign to enhance quality of life and upward mobility for children in rural and tribal places. Through this effort, the Obama Administration aims to build upon the progress already made in reducing rural poverty by leveraging technology, forging new partnerships, and exploring new models of program delivery, to ensure that all kids have an opportunity to succeed.

Key dates:

  • August 5:             Release of invitation to submit materials
  • August 31:         Designated communities submit their letter of interest
  • September:         Obama Administration announces approximately 10 designees

The Notah Begay III Foundation is offering funding through the Native Strong: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures Capacity Building Grant program to organizations working to prevent or reduce childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in Native American children. Funds may be used for capacity building, community planning, or community health assessments. Grants are available nationwide, with preference given to North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Deadline: 8/19/2015. Click here for funding guidelines.

Minnesota Housing has up to $7.5 million in funds available for moderate rehabilitation of existing affordable rental housing in Greater Minnesota through the Rental Rehabilitation Deferred Loan (RRDL) Pilot Program.  Proposals with the following priorities are encouraged:

  • Preservation of affordable housing opportunities in Greater Minnesota where the lack of affordable workforce housing is a barrier to economic prosperity.
  • Preservation of properties that contain existing Federal Assistance or other critical affordable units at risk of loss.

RRDL funding is available for both Specific Project and Program Model activities. Applicants may simultaneously submit applications for multiple project or program activities.  Available resources include:

  • $1.9 million in zero-interest, deferred payment, 10% forgivable loan funds for owners completing Specific Project activities outside the 7-county metropolitan area and RRDL administrator areas.
  • $4.1 million in zero-interest, deferred payment, 10% forgivable loan funds for existing and prospective administrators completing Program Model activities.
  • $1.5 million in zero-interest, deferred payment, 100% forgivable loan funds for existing and prospective administrators completing Program Model activities.

Please visit the Minnesota Housing website for complete application materials and instructions. Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 24, 2015.  For more information, please contact Susan Haugen at 651.296.9848.

–HUD is offering funding through the Fair Housing Initiative to fair housing organizations and other nonprofits that assist individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination. Deadline: 8/26/2015. Click here for funding guidelines.

–Tom’s of Maine’s 50 States for Good initiative supports grassroots organizations throughout the country working to do good in their communities. In 2015, the program will provide grants of $20,000 each to one grassroots nonprofit organization in every state and the District of Columbia. Any individual 18 years of age or older is eligible to nominate a nonprofit organization for consideration. Eligible organizations must be valid 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations in good standing that are community-based. (National organizations are not eligible.) Deadline for nominations: 8/26/2015. Visit the 50 States for Good website here to review the official rules and to submit a nomination via the website, Twitter, or Instagram.

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.

–HUD is offering funding through The HOPE VI Main Street Grant Program to small communities to assist in the renovation of historic or traditional central business districts or “main street” areas by replacing unused commercial spaces in buildings with affordable housing units. Deadline: 8/27/2015. Click here for funding guidelines.

–The Department of Homeland Security is offering grants to nonprofits and public agencies through the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program. The program provides support relative to hazard mitigation planning and projects to reduce overall risk to people and structures for future disaster events. Deadline: 8/28/2015. Click here to review the application process.

–HUD is offering grant funding to institutions of higher education, public housing authorities or Indian housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations to hire service coordinators to assess the needs of public and Indian housing residents and link them to supportive services that enable participants to increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency. Deadline: 8/31/2015. Click here to review application guidelines.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines awards one urban and one rural community the Strong Communities Award. The award demonstrates the value that communities throughout the FHLB Des Moines district derive from small business and economic development projects. The award recognizes the results of these projects and their impact on creating stronger communities. Deadline: 8/31/2015. Two winners, one urban and one rural, will each receive a $15,000 stipend to be used for the project or other community economic development needs. One runner-up finalist in each category will be awarded $3,000. For more information on how to apply, click here.

–The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), established by the Catholic bishops of the United States, is offering grants to organizations led by low-income individuals as they work to break the cycle of poverty and improve their communities. The grant programs include the following: Community Development Grants that support nonprofit organizations that nurture the participation of people living in poverty to help them change structures and policies that affect their lives, with at least 50 percent of those benefiting from the applying organization’s efforts being people experiencing poverty. Economic Development Grants support Economic Development Institutions that include the voice of the poor and marginalized in developing new businesses that offer good jobs or develop assets that will be owned by local communities. Grants range between $25,000 and $75,000. Deadline: pre-applications for both programs may be submitted between September 1 and November 1. Visit the CCHD website here for more information.

IDEA is a Northwest Minnesota competition that turns great ideas into great businesses, a chance to win one of our $10,000 cash prizes to get your business moving and a lot more! The annual competition provides training, business coaching, and capital to participating entrepreneurs who want to turn an idea into a fast-growth business. If you have an innovative business idea, the IDEA Competition will add momentum to your business strategy, whether you’ve never started a company or you’re already in business and generating revenue.

The competition accepts applications between September 1 and December 31. For more information about the competition, you are encouraged to check out the FAQS page – it answers many of the questions that are frequently asked. It will also help you to determine if you are eligible for the competition. You are also encouraged to study the Judging Rounds page and the Judging Criteria page, which explains what the judges are looking for when they score applications.

HUD is offering funding to national nonprofit organizations with ongoing experience in rural housing, including experience working with rural housing organizations, local governments, and Indian tribes, as evidenced by past and continuing work in one or more states in five or more of the federal regions through the Rural Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing Grants program. Deadline: 9/14/2015. This U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program will provide funds to help communities develop the skills and technical capabilities necessary to undertake effective community development activities. For more information and to apply, click here.

Minnesota Broadband Funds.  The 2015 Minnesota Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program application is now available. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Good luck!

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 Institute for Rural America has issued a request for proposals for a $5,000 Leadership Training Grant. The competitive grant is awarded for creative and educationally focused proposals targeted at groups desiring to develop and foster leadership within their member base. Successful applications will clearly outline a leadership training plan. Proposals that include cooperators who can assist with project planning, evaluation, or information dissemination will be viewed favorably. Deadline: 10/15/2015. Click here to learn more about the program and to apply.

The Explore Minnesota grant program is offered to assist communities and scenic byway organizations in attracting travelers to Minnesota. Information on the program and guidelines for grants are now available on the industry website.

The maximum grant amount is $8,000 and requires a match from the recipient. Organizations with total income of $100,000 or less qualify for a 1:1 match. Those with total income over $100,000 are required to match at 2:1.

Projects that are included in the 2016 Co-Opportunities Program are NOT eligible for grant funding. A complete list of projects is included in the grant guidelines, and grantees must confirm on the application that the project(s) they are submitting are not part of an EMT Co-Opportunities Program. Applications for the 2016 Explore Minnesota Grant Program are due Oct. 15, 2015.

If you are a Minnesota non-profit tourism or scenic byway organization and want further information on the grant program, contact your Regional Manager:

  • Central – Carol Altepeter  888-629-6466
  • Metro – Gayle Junnila  800-657-3637
  • Northwest – Carol Altepeter  888-629-6466 or David Bergman  888-563-7777
  • Northeast – Tim Campbell  888-876-6784
  • Southern – Lisa Havelka  888-975-6766

Or call Explore Minnesota at 800-657-3637; 651-757-1848 for more information.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently announced two new energy financing programs intended to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Minnesota: The Rev It Up Program for local government units that are seeking low-cost, long-term capital to finance community energy efficiency and renewable energy system projects, and the Public Entity Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Feasibility Study Loan Program, which provides public entities with funds needed to pay for energy audits and renewable energy feasibility studies. Read more.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grants support programs that work in the areas of childhood education, healthy children, secure families, racial equity, and civic engagement.  Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

USDA is accepting applications for loans and grants to support business expansion, create jobs and increase economic opportunities in rural communities. Funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). Details about how to apply for this are found in the Federal Register here. Application forms may be obtained from any USDA Rural Development State Office.


Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Housing and the nonprofit company GRID Alternatives will host a webinar on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 4:00 PM EDT on Solar Energy. Learn how to achieve cost and energy savings using renewable solar energy systems across a portfolio. This training is primarily for property owners of affordable multi-family housing properties. Click here to register for this free training.

The Nonprofit Essentials Conference is designed just for you!  Join the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, the University of St. Thomas and over 250 nonprofit peers on Thursday, August 20 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN for an indispensable overview of the management topics essential to nonprofits. Offering a wide array of practical workshops, this information-packed conference will help re-focus staff on the core elements of working in and managing successful nonprofit organizations.  Register today and get back to the basics!

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

The Will Steger Foundation has launched a series of 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.

— Willmar Hack2.o – September 18-20: civic coding near the lake
Willmar is hosting a hackfest next month. It’s a three-day event (Sept 18-20) for coders and non-coders alike. It will be hosted in the WORKUP co-working space located at MinnWest Technology Campus. The setting is beautiful. The opportunities are numerous.

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 (

Im Home Conference Minneapolis will be held October 26−28, 2015

CFED sponsors this conference bringing together affordable housing developers, lenders, government agency staff, policymakers, industry experts, homeowners, community organizers, researchers, and funders to consider manufactured housing as a source of affordable housing and asset building for low- and moderate-income families.

— Save the Date! November 18-20 Annual Broadband Conference hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Office of Broadband Development – More information to come.

Save the Date for the 2016 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference  Mark your calendar now to attend the 2016 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, Feb. 2-3, 2016, at the Sanford Center in Bemidji.


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. 


 National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation has launched a new website of resources for planning and economic development in rural regions and small towns. Resources include materials developed over the past four years by NADO and its partners through the HUD Sustainable Communities Initiative capacity building program. On the website are links to publications, webinars, workshop materials, and other information on a variety of topics and themes including economic resilience, entrepreneurship, community engagement, downtown redevelopment, food systems, and many other areas. These materials should be helpful to planners, economic developers, elected officials, and local residents working to improve and strengthen their small towns and rural regions. Click here to visit the site. Please direct any questions to NADO Program Manager Brett Schwartz at 

Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty (Amber Waves feature article)  Over 1 in 4 rural children are living in families that are poor. Counties with high vulnerability to child poverty, those with both low young adult education levels and high proportions of children in single-parent families, were generally the most hard-hit by the recession of the past decade and experienced substantial increases in their already high child poverty rates.

Why Some Return Home to Rural America and Why It Matters (Amber Waves feature article) Continued population loss in rural communities is caused as much by low in-migration as by high out-migration; in remote rural communities lacking natural amenities, return migrants make up a large share of total in-migration. Return migrants potentially play a critical role in rural areas in slowing population loss, rejuvenating the population base, and generating jobs.

Rural Child Poverty Chart Gallery Factors that shape the geography of high and increasing rural child poverty are explored: economic conditions, young adult education levels, and family structure. This collection of maps complements the July 2015 Amber Waves feature, Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty.”

Farm Structure and Organization USDA ERS research on farm structure examines the shift of agricultural production to larger firms and also covers the ownership and organization of farm businesses; the links among farms, farm households, buyers, input providers, and contractors; and the mix of inputs and products on farms.

USDA Economic Research Service has published “Foundation Grants to Rural Areas from 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns”. The study found that grants to U.S. rural-based organizations accounted for 5.5 percent of the real value of domestic grants by large foundations during 2005 to 2010. Grants to rural organizations are more likely to support direct investments in physical and human capital and less likely to support direct investments in financial or intellectual capital than are grants to urban organizations. Download the report here.

–The PEW Charitable Trusts has published a brief titled “States Struggle With ‘Hidden’ Rural Homelessness”. The brief describes rural homelessness in the United States and highlights some states’ efforts to address the growing issue. Click here to read the document.

The Center for Housing Policy has released a report:  “Housing and Service Needs of Our Changing Veterans Population”. The report examines services currently available and offers policy recommendations to better serve three distinct veteran populations: older adult veterans, female veterans and post-9/11 veterans. Get the report here. The Center has also released a Veterans Housing Communications Toolkit. While Americans generally express strong support and admiration for armed services members and veterans, affordable housing for veterans can be a hard sell. Community members are often concerned about the impact of veterans’ housing on their communities, policy makers may not see housing as a priority program and veterans themselves may not believe that the affordable homes the Center builds are really for them. Get the toolkit here.