February 2016- Volume XIV, Number 2

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



USDA will begin offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations. To learn more about this opportunity, click here.

Department of Health and Human Services is offering grants to nonprofits and public agencies to expand and enhance service capacity through the provision of peer recovery support services for individuals with substance use disorders and their family members. Deadline: 2/15/2016. Click here for funding guidelines.

The National Endowment for the Arts is offering grants through the Art Works program. Projects in this program: are likely to prove transformative with the potential for meaningful change, whether in the development or enhancement of new or existing art forms, new approaches to the creation or presentation of art, or new ways of engaging the public with art; are distinctive, offering fresh insights and new value for their fields and/or the public through unconventional solutions; and have the potential to be shared and/or emulated, or are likely to lead to other advances in the field. 2016 deadlines: 2/18 and 7/14. Click here to learn more about Art Works Grants.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is offering grants to nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies through its GRO1000 Grassroots Grants program to help foster the development of gardens and green spaces in the United States. Grants of up to $1,500 are awarded to local communities throughout the country to help bring edible gardens, flower gardens, and public green spaces to more neighborhoods. The focus is on garden and green space beautification projects that incorporate the involvement and engagement of neighborhood residents and foster a sense of community spirit. Deadline: 2/22/2016. Visit the company’s website here to review the program’s FAQs and submit an online application.

HUD and USDA have announced that communities may now apply to be designated a Promise Zone under the third and final round competition. Any community meeting the eligibility criteria which include having a contiguous boundary, a high poverty rate and a population within the area not exceeding 200,000 residents, can apply for a designation. HUD and USDA will designate 7 Promise Zones across urban, rural and tribal communities for the final round. Deadline: 2/23/2016. Click here for the Federal Register notice.  To read more about the Promise Zone initiative, click here.

USDA Broadband Adoption Program. Communities interested in using broadband service to help revitalize small-town main streets and promote economic development are encouraged to apply for Cool & Connected. Deadline is Feb 24. http://wp.me/p3if7-3nl

–Department of Justice is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies to provide transitional housing to victims of partner violence. Deadline: 2/24/2016. Click here for an application and funding guidelines.

–Home Depot Foundation is offering grants of up to $500,000 to organizations for the construction or repair of single or multifamily permanent supportive housing or transitional housing for veterans and their families. Deadline: 2/24/2016. Click here for funding guidelines.

Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program (TCRGP) offers grants to tribal colleges or universities for research projects that address concerns and needs of tribal and reservation communities, including projects that focus on nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and obesity reduction in tribal communities. Application Deadline: Feb 25, 2016

Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be accepted until February 28, 2016 and will be selected by lottery. The solar incentive program is available to utility customers who install solar PV or solar thermal systems using solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota. The solar PV incentive program is open only to customers of the state’s investor-owned utilities (Alliant, Minnesota Power, Ottertail Power and Xcel Energy). Applicants can reapply if not selected in the previous year. The solar PV incentive is also available to developers of community solar gardens with less than 40 kilowatts (kW) of production.

Solar thermal rebate applications are open to utility customers throughout the state, with priority given to customers of the investor-owned utilities. The annual funding allocation is committed. More information on the Made in Minnesota program, including the incentive and rebate amounts, is available at the  Minnesota Department of Commerce website. Questions can be directed to the department’s Energy Information Center by email at energy.info@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1886 or 800-657-3710.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division is now accepting applications for the following grant programs in 2016: outdoor recreation, local trail connections, federal recreational trails and regional trails. These grant programs help local governments throughout the state create partnerships with the DNR to fund recreation opportunities. The application due dates are Mon. Feb. 29, for the Federal Recreational Trail Grant Program and Thurs. March 31, for the other programs. The DNR anticipates that both federal and state funding will be available during 2016 for these programs.

For information about eligible projects and how to apply for a grant, visit the Recreation Grants page of the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/grants/recreation/index.html.

For more information call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or send questions via email to info.dnr@state.mn.us.

Telehealth Resource Center Grant Program supports the establishment and development of Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) which provide technical assistance to health care organizations, health care networks, and health care providers in the implementation of telehealth programs to serve rural and medically underserved areas and populations. Application Deadline: Mar 4, 2016

U.S. Department of Education is offering grants to institutions of higher education or private nonprofit organizations that plan their projects in cooperation with an institution of higher education to help migrant and seasonal farmworkers and members of their immediate families obtain the equivalent of a secondary school diploma, and subsequently to gain employment or be placed in an institution of higher education or other postsecondary education or training. Deadline: 3/7/2016. Click here to review application guidelines.

–The Department of Justice is offering grants to nonprofits to develop and implement outreach strategies targeted at, and provide victim services to, adult and youth victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking in underserved populations. Deadline: 3/9/2016. Click here to review application guidelines.

Department of Labor is offering tech hire partnership grants. Applications must include at least one representative of each of the following three types of entities: the workforce investment system; education and training providers; and business-related nonprofit organizations: organizations functioning as workforce intermediaries for the express purpose of serving the needs of businesses, or consortia of three or more businesses, or at least three independent businesses. The program is designed to equip individuals with the skills they need through innovative approaches that can rapidly train workers and connect them to well-paying, middle- and high-skilled, high-growth jobs across a diversity of H-1B industries such as IT, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services, and broadband. Deadline: 3/11/2016. Click here to review funding guidelines.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program Grants provides grants to improve telemedicine services and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telemedicine, computer networks, and related advanced technologies. Application Deadline: Mar 14, 2016

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies to increase capacity to provide accessible, effective, comprehensive, coordinated, integrated, and evidence-based treatment services; permanent supportive housing; peer supports; and other critical services to homeless people. Deadline: 3/15/2016. Click here for funding guidelines.

–Department of Labor is offering grants up to $4 million dollars to nonprofit collaborations to develop an approach that provides skills training leading to family-supporting jobs for low- to middle-skilled parents while simultaneously developing and implementing a plan for applicants’ communities or regions that help families better navigate the existing complex systems of supportive services, including increased access to child care. Application deadline: 3/16/2016. Click here for guidelines.

Department of Health and Human Services is offering grants to enable nonprofit community collaborations to implement locally designed initiatives to reduce substance abuse. Deadline: 3/18/2016. Click here for funding guidelines.

–The National Endowment for the Arts will offer Challenge America grants primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations–those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Deadline: 4/14/2016. Click here to review program guidelines.

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions – NEH’s Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions—such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities—improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections. Deadline: May 3, 2016.

Mary Kay Domestic Violence Shelter Grant Program awards grants to women’s domestic violence shelters. Application Deadline: May 31, 2016


Minnesota’s Broadband Networks – Backbone of the 21st Century!” – February 18, in St. Paul.  Presented by the Minnesota Telecom Alliance, the Minnesota Cable Communications Association, and Minnesota Cellular Providers – AT&T/Verizon. For more information, including the conference agenda, click here: http://www.mnta.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=756159&group

Energy Design Conference & Expo is February 22-24 in Duluth.  For the 26th straight year, participants will learn about the latest in energy-efficient building technologies, renewable energy, best practices, and responsible design at the Energy Design Conference & Expo on Feb. 22-24, 2016 in Duluth, Minn. More than 40 workshop sessions are planned, with some of the leading professionals in the energy field presenting. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is a sponsor and partner of the event. To register and for more information read more.

— An online webinar- Information Session on Brown- field Resources will be hosted by EDAM on February 25th from 12-1:30PM. For more information, please go to http://z.umn.edu/129t .

Tech Cities 2016 will be held February 26, 2016 at the Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis. For more in formation and registration go to: http://carlsonschool.umn.edu/events/tech-cities-conference

Save the Date for Minnesota Festival & Events Association Annual Meeting

Join MNFEA at the 2016 Annual Conference March 10-11, 2016 in New Ulm.

SAVE THE DATE for the Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the Sprout Food Hub and Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace will be Friday April 1, 2016 from 9:30 am- 1pm, in Little Falls, Minnesota

–Hold the Date! Minnesota Campus Compact Annual Summit and Awards Ceremony will be April 7, 2016 at Macalester College.

— The National Rural Health Association’s Rural Hospital Innovation Summit will be held May 10-13 in Minneapolis.

–The Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 20-21 in Duluth.

–SAVE THE DATES for Minnesota Council of Nonprofit events! The Nonprofit Fundraising Conference will be held July 21, 2016 in Brooklyn Center and their Annual Conference will be held October 6 – 7, 2016 in Duluth. 

–Mark your calendars now for the Joint International Conference of the Community Development Society & International Association for Community Development, coming to Minnesota, July 24-27, 2016. The 2016 theme is Sustaining Community Change: Building Local Capacity to Sustain Development Initiatives. Minnesota last hosted this international gathering in 2001 in Duluth. The location in 2016 is the Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport hotel near the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Check our local host Facebook site for ongoing updates and to start connecting with colleagues now for a great summer gathering: https://www.facebook.com/cds2016. A Call for Papers will be announced soon, and online registration will begin later in 2016.


Want to host an intern this summer? Apply today!  MnTAP anticipates supporting up to 15 intern projects in water conservation, paint efficiency, waste reduction, pollution prevention, and energy efficiency in manufacturing and wastewater treatment plants. Proposed projects are evaluated for impact potential, project scope, and company interest and commitment. Interns are chosen for their educational backgrounds and leadership capabilities. Apply soon to ensure a spot.

Thirteen projects in 2015 focused on water, energy, and waste reduction, resulting in the potential to save their host companies over $1 million annually as well as 1.7 million pounds of waste, over 45 million gallons of water, 870,000 million kWh and 152,000 therms of energy per year. See their stories in the 2015 MnTAP Solutions magazine.

Rural Medical Educators Student Scholarship offers funding to medical students to attend the Rural Medical Educators Conference. Application Deadline: First-come, first-serve basis until all funds are committed. Event happens May 10, 2016.

Udall Scholarship offers scholarships to Native Americans and Alaska Native students pursuing careers related to tribal public policy, native health, or the environment. Deadline March 2, 2016.

— IABC Minnesota is hosting A Gift of Communication on March 12, when six nonprofits (chosen by lottery) will receive an afternoon of free consultation from IABC Minnesota communications professionals. This event is geared toward nonprofits that are small enough to need help, but large enough to have some time and resources to devote to communications.  Learn more and apply on IABC MN’s website.

If you work for a government or nonprofit organization, you may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program will forgive any debt you own on student loans after you have made 120 qualifying payments while working full time (at least 30 hours a week) for a qualifying government organization or 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Full-time service, such as AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, count toward the PSLF program as well. For more information on what types of work and loans qualify, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Additionally, in January, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education announced a new student loan refinancing program called SELF Refi. For more information about eligibility, visit the Office of Higher Education’s website.

Indian Health Service Health Professions Scholarship Program provides scholarships for American Indian and Alaska Native students enrolled in a health professions program. Application Deadline: Mar 28, 2016

MHTA Foundation Scholarship applications now open! The application period for the 2016 MHTA Foundation STEM scholarships is now open. Applications will remain open until April 1. Scholarships are offered to help Minnesota undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines work toward their degrees. These awards range from $2,500 – $5,000 and can include internship opportunities at MHTA member companies. LEARN MORE

Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service honors healthcare delivery organizations that have demonstrated exceptional commitment to community service. Application Deadline: Apr 1, 2016.

Seeking Volunteers to help welcome attendees and host at various conference activities throughout the Conference of the Community Development Society & International Association for Community Development, coming to Minnesota, July 24-27, 2016. Email Jane Leonard at jane.leonard@state.mn.us if you are interested in short stints as Mobile Learning Workshop chaperones, conference greeters, and other hosting experiences.  It’s a great way to experience the conference and a great way to show our visitors Minnesota’s excellence in hospitality.

Rural Hospital Leadership 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. Application Deadline: Aug 12, 2016.

Will You Endorse the Minnesota Broadband Vision? http://wp.me/p3if7-3np

Participants at the Minnesota broadband conference in November worked collaboratively to develop a broadband vision for Minnesota. Everyone in Minnesota will be able to use convenient, affordable world-class broadband networks that enable us to survive and thrive in our communities and across the globe. More than a dozen cities, counties and organizations have endorsed the list. (Check out the full list.)  There is a Facebook Page to help keep up with all of the endorsements – community, corporate and personal. To show your support please like the page!

The spark ignited by the Blandin Foundation and attendees at the conference has been picked up by the Minnesota Broadband Coalition. The Coalition is promoting the broadband vision and compiling tools that proponents can use to help spread the word – to legislators, to friends and family who might also want to show support and to local leaders to encourage them to make broadband a priority. One immediate goal is to get more people and more organizations to endorse the vision. It will show legislators that people in Minnesota think broadband is a priority. It will convene proponents and make it easier to mobilize action to raise awareness and educate people on the need for world-class broadband everywhere.

Students from Statistics in the Community (STATCOM), a student group at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, are putting their skills to work by providing free statistical services to a variety of non-profit, governmental, and community-service organizationsMORE

–The University of St. Thomas is offering engineering-education courses for free to P-12 STEM teachers, thanks to sponsorship from Google. MORE


Tips for consumers considering community solar! Community solar opportunities are expected to increase greatly this year, especially as Xcel Energy implements its Solar*Rewards Community Program. While the Minnesota Department of Commerce supports the newly emerging option to participate in community solar, consumers are encouraged to apply due diligence before signing up to participate. Whether or not to subscribe to a community solar project is an important financial decision that can involve a long-term commitment. Before making a decision, be sure you understand the potential costs and risks as well as the potential benefits. You should carefully review the subscription contract before signing it and, as always, be wary of high-pressure “buy now or lose out” sales pitches. If you’re thinking about subscribing to a community solar garden, read “10 Questions You Should Ask” for some guidance from Commerce.

In addition, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) offers information about community solar on its website. CERTs highlights a tool that helps households and businesses determine the financial feasibility of community solar gardens.

Health Insurance Marketplaces: Geographic Variation in Premiums, Choices, Enrollment Across the U.S., 2014-2016 and Impacts on Health System provides an overview of health insurance enrollment characteristics with rural and urban comparisons using data reported by federally-facilitated marketplaces and state-based marketplaces. Topics covered include the cost of premiums, rate of premium growth, enrollment data of eligible uninsured persons, and the effect of the Affordable Care Act on uninsured adults. Slides from a presentation at the Rural Hospital Interest Group Meeting in January 2016.

Helping Kids PROSPER is a program delivery system, guides rural communities in implementing evidence-based programs that build youth competencies, improve family functioning, and prevent risky behaviors, particularly substance use.

The Economic Status of Minnesotans: A Chartbook with Data for 17 Cultural Groups is a statistical portrait of the economic status of Minnesotans, including much data that has never been seen before, for the 17 largest cultural groups in Minnesota.


Rural America at a Glance, 2015 Edition

On January 15, 2016, the Rural America at a Glance, 2015 Edition was updated to correct a statement that nearly 300 rural counties lost population due to natural change during 2010-14. The sentence was revised to read, “Almost 900 rural counties (including about 300 counties for the first time) lost population due to natural change during 2010-14.” Also, the information on two charts was clarified to match the data presented: source information on the chart at the top of page 4 was updated to reflect that 2014 data were used, and in the chart on page 6 the horizontal axis legend no longer contains the phrase “in 2000.” Finally, the chart depicting educational attainment for rural minorities, and a text reference to it, were corrected to remove the term “(non-Hispanic),” and the chart note was expanded to clarify that “people who identify their origin as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.”