April 2016- Volume XIV, Number 4

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



The Sparkplug Foundation provides grants to start-up nonprofit organizations or new projects of established nonprofits that are addressing the fields of music, education, and community organizing. In the Music category, the Foundation supports emerging professional musicians or music-development programs. In the Education and Teaching category, the Foundation funds projects that deal with “the whole student” and with learning as a community activity. In the Grassroots Organizing category, the Foundation encourages activist strategies for addressing institutional injustices and for building a reasoned, just society. The current focus is on ground-level community organizing at the intersection of utilities/energy infrastructure, housing/community resources, and racial justice. Deadlines: online questionnaires must be completed by 4/15/2016; letters of intent are due 4/22/2016; and the deadline for final applications is 5/13/2016. Visit the Foundation’s website here to review its mission and funding guidelines as well as the online application instructions.

Advancing Health Equity Initiative Grant Request for Proposal. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) actively works to integrate health equity in all of its work through a set of practices called the Triple Aim of Health Equity. These practices shift the way MDH, its grantees and other partners can approach public health issues including health inequities. Under the Advancing Health Equity Initiative grant program, MDH is seeking proposals from a non-profit agency (or group of non-profit agencies working as a consortium) to develop and implement an innovative, measurable process which engages communities experiencing health inequities. The Advancing Health Equity Initiative grant is intended to expand the understanding of what creates health by having a community experiencing a significant health inequity identify the relationships between the health inequity and structural inequities. MDH is committed to advancing health equity for Populations of Color (including immigrant and refugee communities) and American Indian populations. For more detailed information, please view the Advancing Health Equity Initiative Request for Proposal. The Intent to Apply form is due April 26.

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: April 27, 2016.

Community Economic Development (CED) Projects offers funds to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for projects designed to address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through the creation of employment and business opportunities, including expansion or construction of clinics and health centers. Bonus points will be given to projects that create jobs in rural communities. Application Deadline: April 27, 2016.

NEWMAN’S OWN, Fisher House Foundation, and Military Times have joined together to offer grants to recognize volunteer and nonprofit organizations supporting military families. Eligible applicants to the Newman’s Own Awards Program must be comprised primarily of volunteers or be a nonprofit organization, and be working with the families of Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve units, or veterans. Applying organizations will be evaluated on their innovative plans for improving the quality of life for members of the military and their families. Deadline: 4/28/2016. Visit the program’s website here to submit an online application.

Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced $500 million will be made available for transportation projects across the country under an eighth round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program. Like the first seven rounds, FY 2016 TIGER discretionary grants will fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. The grant program will focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for communities, both urban and rural. The Notice of Funding Opportunity has been released and $500 million has been appropriated for grants in this round of TIGER. Be sure and take part in the upcoming informational webinars about applying for a TIGER grant. The minimum TIGER grant amount for rural areas is $1 million. Applications are due April 29, 2016.

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Innovations in Rural Health Award for original, innovative solutions to drive health improvement in rural communities. Application Deadline: Apr 29, 2016.

Smoke-Free and Tobacco-Free Community College Grant Initiative provides funds to help community colleges advocate for, adopt, and implement a 100% smoke- or tobacco-free policy. Application Deadline: Apr 29, 2016.

Presbyterian Hunger Program provides funding to programs that work to address the root causes of hunger and provide services to those experiencing hunger. Letter of Intent (Required): April 30, 2016. Application Deadline: Jun 30, 2016.

Retirement Research Foundation is accepting applications for projects that improve lives of aging Americans. Deadline: 5/2/2016. Click here for funding guidelines and an application.

Comprehensive Services for Victims of All Forms of Human Trafficking funds for victim service organizations to support comprehensive services for all victims of human trafficking by increasing the capacity of communities to respond to human trafficking victims through the development of interagency partnerships, professional training, and public awareness activities. Application Deadline: May 2, 2016.

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.

Household Water Well System Grants provides funds to create lending programs for homeowners to borrow funds for the construction or repair of household water wells. Application Deadline: May 9, 2016.

Specialized Services for Victims of Human Trafficking funds to enhance the quality and quantity of specialized services, including mental health services, provided by victim service organizations to assist victims of human trafficking. Application Deadline: May 12, 2016.

Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) offers grants to projects that assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community‐supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer‐to‐consumer market opportunities. Application Deadline: May 12, 2016.

Minnesota Festival Support is a grant program of the Minnesota State Arts Board designed to provide meaningful arts experiences to Minnesotans through festivals that celebrate the arts, build community, and expose communities to diverse art forms including folk and traditional arts. The program provides funding for sponsoring or presenting organizations to feature Minnesota individual artists and Minnesota arts groups in arts festivals, or in the arts component of broader, community festivals. The program is open to Minnesota 501(c)(3) organizations, community groups with a Minnesota 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, and public agencies that have produced the proposed festival at least once prior to the May 13th deadline. Grants range from $5,000 to $75,000, with a 25% cash match requirement, with a May 13 deadline! There will be a Webinar and conference call on April 14th at 3:00pm for anyone interested learning more about the program. Program guidelines, sample applications, webinar registration information, and contact information for the program officer can be found on the Arts Board website at http://www.arts.state.mn.us/grants/machf-mfs.htm.

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

Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE) Competitive Grants Program.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of funding rural communities can use to conduct health and safety outreach around prescription painkiller and heroin abuse. Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, accounted for 28,648 deaths in 2014, and rural communities are affected at higher rates than urban communities. This year the United States Department of Agriculture is expanding its Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE) competitive grants program to give rural communities the opportunity to use funds for programs that will address the opioid epidemic. Applications are due June 1.

Fuel Up to Play 60 Grants offers funding to schools for the purchase of equipment that will enhance the long-term implementation of a lunch or breakfast program. Application Deadline: June 30, 2016.

USDA is offering money through Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) program. The purpose of SECD is to advance projects which support long-term community and economic growth strategies that reflect both multi-jurisdictional stakeholder collaboration and capitalize upon the unique strengths of the rural area. Through this provision, USDA Rural Development is empowered to work further with rural communities to align resources with long-range and multi-jurisdictional challenges and needs by leveraging federal, state, local, or private funding. Deadline to apply: 6/30/2016. To review funding guidelines, click here.

THE HOME DEPOT Foundation 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. Proposals for the following community improvement activities will be considered: repairs, refurbishments, and modifications to low-income or transitional veteran’s housing or community facilities (schools, community centers, senior centers, etc.); weatherizing or increasing energy efficiency of low-income or transitional veteran’s housing or community facilities; engaging veterans as volunteers to help other veterans in their community through service projects focusing on the renovation, repair, and improvement of homes and other properties serving veterans; and planting trees or community gardens or landscaping community facilities that serve veterans. Requests will be accepted through 12/31/2016. Visit the Foundation’s website here to submit an online application.


Free Blandin Webinar: Broadband-Focused Economic Development Marketing will be held Thursday, April 14, 2016 at Noon. To get the full benefits of new fiber network investments, communities must make targeted audiences aware that this new community and economic development asset is in place. All too often, here in Minnesota and elsewhere, the community efforts to market their fiber networks for business and resident attraction are weak, fragmented and short-term. Finding mention of robust broadband availability cannot be found on community websites. Targeted marketing to attract new firms ignores the competitive advantage that the fiber network provides for data-hungry businesses like manufacturing, data storage, engineering and marketing.
Register now! http://wp.me/p3if7-3rD

— Minnesota High Tech Association 2016 Spring Conference “Building Skills and Strategies for a Smart Society” will be held April 21, 2016. Registration is now open for the 2016 MHTA Spring Conference! This year’s Spring Conference will highlight how the state’s leading companies, large and small, are navigating this world and moving to the next big thing.

–2016 Community Economic Development Symposium, Building Blocks of Economic Development, will be held April 29, 2016, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Hamline University, Anderson Center.   This annual event that brings together professionals from business, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to address strengthening our communities through economic development and closing the income disparity gap. For more information go to: http://www.hamline.edu/business/events/community-economic-development-symposium/

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is pleased to host the Central Minnesota Nonprofit Summit, our sixth annual Greater Minnesota conference. It will take place on Thursday May 5th, at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.
This year’s Summit will tackle some of the most pressing themes for nonprofits in Greater Minnesota. Namely, we’ll address rural philanthropy, fundraising in small communities, and a spectrum of nonprofit leadership issues, including governance, personal leadership, organizational culture, advocacy and more. Throughout each discussion, we’ll look at the ways that these issues play out in our Greater Minnesota communities and we’ll highlight opportunities for building a vibrant landscape for all. Register here.

–The Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC), in conjunction with Central Lakes College (CLC), the Rural Information Technology Alliance Consortium (RITA), Region Five Development Commission, and the Blandin Foundation, will be hosting the “Tech Ready Brainerd Lakes Area Hackfest” on Saturday May 7th, 2016. You can find out more information about the event at http://techreadyhack.com/. 

National Rural Health Association’s Annual Rural Health Conference in Minneapolis. This year’s NRHA’s Annual Rural Health Conference is being held in Minneapolis. The keynote speaker is America’s 18th surgeon general, Regina M. Benjamin, MD. The conference will be held May 10-13.

— The American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference and Trade Show will be held May 15-17 in Minneapolis.

Join the 10th Symposium on Small Towns “Rural Housing: Moving In, Out, and FORWARD” hosted by the Center for Small Towns June 7-9, 2016 at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Participants from all over the state will come together to share skills and build networks to create a clear path forward in addressing current and future challenges and opportunities surrounding rural housing. Harnessing the strength, vibrancy, and adaptability of rural areas, CST hopes participants come away with innovative tools to help shape the future of housing in rural communities. For more information go to: http://www.morris.umn.edu/cst/symposium2016/

Registration for the Minnesota Rural Health Conference is Now Open!
Registration is now open for the 2016 Minnesota Rural Health Conference: Cultivating Resilient Communities, June 20-21 in Duluth. Visit the Minnesota Rural Health Conference registration page to register for the conference before May 20 for the early bird rates. Make sure you are aware of important conference information by subscribing to receive email updates.

–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. For more information go to: www.comm-dev.org

Save the date for the 30th Annual Minnesota Venture Conference — Minnesota’s premier event for entrepreneurs and investors! It will be held Thursday, October 13, 2016 from 7:15 am – 5:45 pm at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) recently announced that its 2016 Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference will be held Nov. 15-16 at the Hilton Airport/Mall of America in Bloomington. Information on registration and early bird rate is available.


National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program provides scholarships for students pursuing primary care health professions training in exchange for a service commitment in a Health Professional Shortage Area. Application Deadline: April 28, 2016.

–The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust announced the 2016 New Rural: Innovations in Rural Health Award. They are seeking original, innovative solutions that have the potential to drive health improvement in rural communities. They encourage submissions from around the country that highlight new ideas and emerging work. Individuals, for-profits, nonprofits and government agencies are welcome to apply. Finalists will receive a $7,500 award and one innovative and inspiring idea will win the New Rural Award and a total of $25,000. Download the Call for Submissions to find out how to enter. Applications will be accepted until 11:59 pm EDT, April 29.

Agricultural Medicine Occupational and Environmental Health for Rural Health Professionals Scholarship awards scholarships to attend the Core Courses for Agricultural Medicine: Occupational and Environmental Health for Rural Health Professionals to be held in Iowa. Application Deadline: May 1, 2016. Sponsor: Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health.

2016 MN Cup competition now underway! Entering its twelfth year, the Minnesota Cup is now open for applications. Participants have until May 6 to submit for a chance to compete for a share of the prize money — which this year will nearly total a record-breaking $400,000. LEARN MORE

Nominations for the 2016 Minnesota Rural Health Awards are under way. This year, there are three awards to be considered:

  • The MN Rural Health Hero Award to one individual who has made an positive or innovative contribution to rural health
  • The MN Rural Health Team Award to a group of individuals or an organization that has made a positive or innovative contribution to rural health
  • The MN Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award to an individual that has made a lasting contribution to improving rural health over the span of his or her career                

–Art of the Rural and the InRural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) have launched Next Generation: The Future of Arts & Culture Placemaking in Rural America, a new website which engages artists, organizations, and communities across the public and private sector to advance collaboration, share innovative strategies and research, and elevate emerging leaders in the field. This initiative is conducted in concert with a range of regional and national partners and supported by The University of Iowa and the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program. Visit the website here.

Transportation for America has created a new guide and website called “The Scenic Route” to introduce creative placemaking to transportation planners, public works agencies and local elected officials who are on the front lines of advancing transportation projects. Supported by the Kresge Foundation, this primer for creative placemaking work lays out the why’s and how-to’s of the field, offers eight proven avenues for successful projects, and includes case prominent transportation-related case studies. Visit the website here.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. This new report ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation. Defining rural counties as those with less than 50,000 people, the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Report states on the first line of its key findings that “rural counties have had the highest rates of premature death for many years, lagging far behind other counties.” The rankings use publicly available data to measure health outcomes, health factors and the policies and programs that affect them. Three new measures in this seventh annual edition highlight the impact of racial segregation, deaths due to drug overdoses and the negative effects of insufficient sleep.

Rural Tribal Health topic guide was recently updated and includes new frequently asked questions related to tribal healthcare and the health disparities of Native American populations.

Rural Services Integration Toolkit offers strategies for rural communities seeking to integrate health and human services to increase care coordination, improve health outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs. The toolkit was developed by the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and provides information, considerations for implementation, evidence-based models, and resources.

The Am I Rural? tool has been updated with a new interface and includes a map-based location verification. View the short video to learn how to use the tool’s new features and then find out if your location is considered rural based on various rural definitions by using the tool.

Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is hosting a series of seminars on CRA in rural communities. The first webinar in a series of three provided an overview of the CRA and how it touches rural communities. The discussion included a brief review of rural banking trends, a description of the CRA process, and an accounting of CRA oversight involving rural lenders and lending activity. Materials from the first seminar can be found on HAC’s website here.

–An updated edition of Community Developments Insights report titled Commercial Lending in Indian Country: Potential Opportunities in a Growing Market has been released. This report explores the commercial lending environment in Indian Country, including the relationship between the commercial lending business and Native American governmental, legal, and institutional structures.

— A new resource created by USDA and Colorado State University will help communities and businesses evaluate the economic benefits of investing in local food systems. “The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices” provides detailed guidance in seven modules to measure and assess the expected economic impacts of local food investments. Access the toolkit here.

Local Foods and Farm Business Survival and Growth (Amber Waves feature article) data from USDA’s 2007 and 2012 Agricultural Censuses show that farmers who market food directly to consumers have a greater chance of remaining in business than similarly sized farms who market through traditional channels. While farmers who directly market to consumers are more likely to continue farming than those who do not, their businesses expand at a slower rate.


ExploreMinnesota.com offers free website listings to tourism businesses. The official state tourism website gets more than 4 million visits each year. To keep the site fresh and accurate, we depend on businesses and organizations to provide us with current information. When new businesses open, we’d love to work with them to create a new listing. If there are new hotels, restaurants, attractions or other eligible businesses in your community, please let them know that this opportunity is free and easy. Refer them to http://www.exploreminnesota.com/industry-minnesota/ways-to-get-involved/website-listings/ to submit a request by clicking on the “Submit your business” link.

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: August 12, 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.

We seek people who are into various art forms and perspectives, artists working in all disciplines, artists from communities of color, arts supporters and collectors, and people with knowledge of the regional arts community. If this piques your interest and you would like to become more involved in our vibrant arts community, consider becoming a board member! The application deadline is Tuesday, May 31st, 2016. Contact the ECRAC office at info@ecrac.org, or call 320-396-2337 to receive a nomination form.

The East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) is accepting applications for membership on its board. ECRAC is the primary funding source for artists and arts organizations in our area, awarding more than $300,000 in grants last year. We always welcome new talent from our community! There are currently 3 board member openings for residents of Isanti, Kanabec, and Mille Lacs Counties.

All the awards will be presented during the Conference Awards Luncheon on June 21 in Duluth. To nominate someone for an award, please complete and return the nomination form by May 9 to maria.rogness@state.mn.us If you do not receive an email confirmation, please call to check on the receipt of the nomination form at 651-201-3863. For more information about the conference, view the MN Rural Health Conference website.