May-June 2016- Volume XIV, Number 5

Hello Everyone!  MRP Rural RoundUp is back in your In-box!

After wandering in the wilderness for the past few months because we didn’t have the $$$ to pay for fee-for-service listservs, we are back online, thanks to a free service that we decided to try.

Let us know what you think, if you want to stay on the list or get off, and if you do want to stay, help us spread the word that those Rural Round-Up gals are back, pulling a herd of rural resources together once a month and delivering them, plus a few nuggets of thought, into the one-stop ring called the Minnesota Rural Partners Round-Up. Get back to us at (yes — that is a Minnesota Twin — yours truly, Jane Leonard, a real-life twin who also happens to be from Minnesota).

After over 20 years of existence, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. does still exist, primarily now to provide this e-newsletter. We’ve had folks tell us how much they enjoy the newsletter, and even though we don’t have any funding and are now all-volunteer, we decided to keep ‘er going. The Round-Up still seems to be the only such monthly compendium of as much helpful info as possible for those of you working in and interested in rural development and the rural-urban partnerships that help people & places across Minnesota thrive.

ACROSS THE FIELD: Community Development world gathering in Minnesota this July! by Jane Leonard

Join me at my favorite professional development conference for those of us who practice multi- and interdisciplinary community, rural, and economic development —  the Community Development Society (CDS) and International Association for Community Development (IACD) Conference in Bloomington, Minnesota, July 24-27, 2016.

The Conference theme of “Sustaining Community Change – Building Local Capacity to Sustain Community Development Initiatives” will also address the recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Over 300 participants from around the world are expected for this grand intersection of people and their ideas that strengthen community. We already have over 150 people registered, half international and half from the United States. And reserved seats for the local initiatives showcase, the Mobile Learning Workshops, for Monday, July 25, are going fast!

This is the first time in 15 years that Minnesota has hosted the CDS conference, and the first time in several years when it’s been combined with IACD annual meeting, too. This will further enrich — with a world-view — the community capacity-building, community-based leadership development aspects of the conference program.

Register before June 20 and receive the $50 early bird discount:

SPECIAL NOTE TO MINNESOTANS working in community development fields in rural Minnesota: Preconference workshops on Sunday, July 24 (  ) include one to organize a network of newer professionals in the MN (and border areas) CD Field.

It’s designed for early career professionals (at least one year but less than eight years of experience) who are working in community development organizations in Minnesota. It is the first educational and networking event of an exciting initiative led by leaders and managers from the Blandin Foundation, the Initiative Foundation, Extension, and Regional Development Commissions. The project intends to develop ways for all community development organizations in rural Minnesota to engage in professional development opportunities together.  The goal is to strengthen skills in the field and build a stronger network of organizations working in community development throughout the state.

This kick-off event will include:

  • A discussion of the experience, learning, and concerns of new professionals in the field of community development
  • The history of community development in the State of Minnesota —  organizations, funders, and networks
  • Reflections of leaders and managers of community development organizations for the next generation
  • World Café Discussion:  Special topics (selected by participants themselves) for discussion as colleagues
  • The role of the Community Development Society in supporting new professionals.

While learning, the group will also consider ways that they can strengthen the network of young professionals in the field of community development, and will share their ideas for developing the MN Network CD initiative.



The U.S. SBA Office of Veterans Business Development Service – Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program has a total of $300,000 in funding is available for this program in FY 2016. SBA expects to make up to six (6) awards; minimum award of $50,000, maximum award of $150,000. Eligible applicants demonstrate a history of providing quality entrepreneurship and/or business management training to aspiring or existing veterans, service-disabled veteran small business owners and Reserve Component members that results in new business starts, business expansions or diversifications, as well as jobs created and/or retained. The closing date is June 19th.

Here is the funding announcement.

USDA is accepting applications for grants to help rural cooperatives develop new markets for their products and services. Funding is being provided through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) Program. Under this program, USDA provides grants to non-profit groups and institutions of higher learning. These entities use the funding to help individuals or businesses create, expand or operate rural cooperatives.

A recipient may receive a grant of up to $200,000 and is required to provide matching funds equal to 25% of total project costs. For information on how to apply for RCDG grants, contact your Rural Development state office or see page 16127 of the March 25 Federal Register. The first round of applications is due June 20, 2016.

USDA announced it is accepting applications for the Value Added Producer grant (VAPG) to help fund activities related to feasibility studies, business plans, capital expenditures for processing, and marketing value-added agricultural products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program. Electronic Applications: June 24, 2016.  Paper Application: July 1, 2016. For more information go to:

–HUD is soliciting applications for the FY2016 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants program. The Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants support the implementation of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans. Deadline: 6/28/2016. Click here to review program guidelines.

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 Wells Fargo Housing Foundation is offering funding through The Foundation’s Homeownership Grant Program to nonprofit housing organizations nationwide that help create sustainable homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income families. The program focuses on homebuyer counseling, homebuyer education, and foreclosure prevention activities. The average grant size for this program is around $7,800. Funded programs must serve owner-occupied low- to moderate-income homebuyers only. Deadline: 6/30/2016. Visit the Wells Fargo website here to review the application guidelines.

–The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering funding to identify, address, and improve community health in revitalizing Brownfield/Land Reuse sites. Projects must pay particular attention to identifying and addressing health issues prior to redevelopment and assessing changes in community health associated with revitalization. Application deadline is 7/5/2016. Click here for funding guidelines.

–U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies for programs that provide temporary shelter and counseling services to youth who have left home without permission of their parents or guardians, have been forced to leave home, or other homeless youth who might otherwise end up in the law enforcement or child welfare, mental health, or juvenile justice systems. Deadline: 7/5/2016. Click here to review application guidelines.

Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs has announced its annual grant program titled Energy and Mineral Development Program (EMDP). This grant is designed to provide technical assistance to Tribes that have the desire to develop their mineral and/or energy resources. Deadline: 7/8/2016. Click here to review program guidelines.

–USDA has announced the availability of funds under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) for Fiscal Year 2016. Applicants must provide matching funds in an amount at least equal to the Federal grant. These grants will be made to qualified intermediary organizations that will provide financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop their capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development that will support the community. Deadline: 7/22/2016. Click here for funding guidelines.

The NFL Grassroots Program has issued a Request for Proposals. The Grassroots Program is a partnership of the National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which provides technical assistance and manages the program. The goal of the Program is to provide nonprofit, neighborhood-based organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields. The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program provides grants of up to $250,000 for capital improvement projects. Deadline: 8/15/2016. Click here for application guidelines.

Gannett Foundation Community Action Grants supports local organizations with funding priority given to programs that focus on education and neighborhood improvement, economic development, youth development, community problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged people, environmental conservation, and cultural enrichment. Geographic coverage: Limited to certain areas of 35 states and U.S. territories, see sponsor’s website for more details. (Includes some of Minnesota.) Application Deadline: August 29, 2016.

–The National Endowment for the Arts has issued guidelines for 2017 Our Town funding, and they are now posted on the NEA website here. Grants will be offered in Arts Engagement, Cultural Planning, and Design Projects as well as in Projects that Build Knowledge About Creative Placemaking. Deadlines: applications are due on 9/12/2016, with funding available on 8/1/2017. Two webinars will be hosted to offer support for the application process: 1. How to Apply on 7/20/2016, with a presentation on the FY 2017 Our Town grant guidelines, and an overview of the review process. Click here to register. 2. Tips and Tricks for Success, on 7/17/2016, with a presentation to assist applicants in crafting a compelling creative placemaking project application. Click here to register.

—  USDA Rural Development is soliciting applications through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides guaranteed loan and grant financing for rural small businesses and agricultural producers to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. USDA reminds eligible applicants that set-aside funding is available for grant requests less than $20,000 and may offer priority scoring for projects located in underserved areas and/or benefiting underserved populations. USDA also guarantees loans for a minimum of $5,000 and maximum of $25 million. Applicants are encouraged to apply through the loan guarantee program for larger-scale projects. Grant and guaranteed loan combinations are also available. The next application deadline for grants under $20,000 is October 31, 2016. For details on how to apply, visit, contact USDA Rural Development State Energy Coordinator for Minnesota Ron Omann at or (651) 602-7796, or see page 78029 of the December 29 Federal Register.

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.

2016 MiM solar thermal rebates are available to Minnesotans statewide. The Minnesota Department of Commerce has opened rebate opportunities for solar thermal systems to all Minnesota residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities as part of its 2016 Made in Minnesota Solar Energy Incentive Program. Applications for solar thermal rebates will be reviewed and funded through 2016 on a first-come, first-served basis until funds have been fully reserved. Read more.

USDA Rural Development is currently accepting applications for low-interest loans to assist individuals and families interested in purchasing or improving a home. Also known as the Section 502 Direct Loan Program, the Single Family Housing Direct Home Loan program assists low-income applicants with obtaining decent, safe and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas by providing payment assistance to increase an applicant’s repayment ability. The Section 504 Home Repair program, or Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants program, provides loans for low-income individuals to make essential home repairs or improvements and grants to homeowners over the age of 62. More information can be found at


The Minnesota Department of Transportation is working in partnership with communities and bicyclists from Grand Portage to St. Paul to identify, designate and promote a new bicycle route: U.S. Bicycle Route 41. Once completed, the bicycle route will connect existing roads and trails between Saint Paul and Grand Portage State Park. Join MnDOT at the following open houses to refine the draft route, name the route, engage in conversations about bicycling and more. There will be a brief presentation followed by a workshop with activities to gather input. Kid’s activities and light refreshments will be provided.

  •         Tuesday, June 7, 4-6 Hinckley Community Room, 106 First St. SE, Hinckley
  •         Thursday, June 9, 4-6 the White Bear Lake Police and Fire Building, 4700 Miller Ave, White Bear Lake
  •         Tuesday, June 14, 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Duluth Central Library, Gold Room, 520 West Superior St., Duluth
  •         Thursday, June 16, 4-6 p.m. at Bluefin Bay On Lake Superior, Tofte Room, 7192 West Highway 61, Tofte 

Following the open houses, MnDOT will develop a draft route map and schedule a second round of public workshops for final review. MnDOT anticipates the route will receive official designation by fall 2016.

Tribal Supportive Housing Webinar Series. June is National Homeownership Month and USDA Rural Development hosts a series of webinars as a platform to encourage innovation, and replication of, permanent supportive housing for Native American families and children. The two remaining webinars are:

Webinar II: June 15, 2016, 1:00-2:30 pm Eastern Time –Promising Practice in Permanent Supportive Housing: Principles in Action. Link to webinar with audio:

Webinar III: June 21, 2016, 1:00-2:30 pm Eastern Time – Federal Financial Resources to Build Tribal Supportive Housing. Link to webinar with audio:

— 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. Make sure you are aware of important conference information by subscribing to receive email updates.

–SAVE THE DATE for Minnesota Council of Nonprofit Nonprofit Fundraising Conference to be held July 21, 2016 in Brooklyn Center.

The Joint International Conference of the Community Development Society & International Association for Community Development will be 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:

–Join the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for our 2016 Annual Conference on October 6 – 7, 2016 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Learn more and register.

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.

The 2016 Tekne Awards will be held on November 16th at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  You can learn more and find the full list of Tekne recipients at Applications and nominations are now open!


Apply to be a part of the Tekne Awards, which shine a spotlight on innovations in Minnesota’s science and technology industry every year. The awards ceremony draws over 900 attendees from across the state and technology sectors including advanced manufacturing, information technology, healthcare, agricultural technology and more. The 2016 Tekne Awards have 13 categories, and the application deadline is July 15th. APPLY TODAY

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 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.

A host community is being sought for the 2017 Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener. The purpose of the event is to focus on Minnesota’s hunting heritage, cultural traditions and the economic impact of the activity, as well as to generate associated travel and tourism. The event, scheduled for Nov. 2-5, 2017, will be the 15th consecutive Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener and will follow this year’s event in the Pequot Lakes/Breezy Point area. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Aug. 5. For detailed event information, contact Bri Stacklie at the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association at 218-259-1368 or

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.

Submit an Abstract for the 2017 Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference. The Community Affairs Officers of the Federal Reserve System invite paper submissions for the tenth biennial Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference, a unique event that aims to bridge the gaps between research, policy, and practice on key issues facing the country. High-quality and emerging research is presented in a dialogue with policymakers and community practitioners who can utilize the lessons gleaned from the research. The 2017 conference seeks to inform a robust public conversation on the theme of Strong Foundations: The Economic Futures of Kids and Communities. Submissions for plenary, concurrent, and poster sessions are invited in three broad categories:

Rural Health Fellows Program is a year-long, intensive program designed to develop a community of rural health leaders. Application Deadline: Sep 1, 2016.

Bush Foundation Fellowships. Deadline: September 29, 2016. MORE 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 to submit a request by clicking on the “Submit your business” link.

SolSmart launches to assist, recognize solar cities and counties.  The Solar Foundation recently announced that SPARC (Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities) is relaunching as SolSmart. Cities and counties nationwide can now apply to receive official national designation—at either a Bronze, Silver, or Gold tier—for taking action and reducing the cost of solar locally. Funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, SolSmart will provide national recognition to leading solar cities and counties and empower new communities to become solar leaders through no-cost technical assistance. One component of the technical assistance is the SolSmart Advisors program. SolSmart Advisors are program-funded staff that will provide in-person technical assistance to about 40 communities nationwide. Reducing solar soft costs is the main goal. Read more.


Immigration in Minnesota: A changing story. For more than 100 years, immigration has greatly influenced the economic and cultural development of our state. But the backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences of Minnesota’s immigrants have changed considerably over time, and differ from the nation as a whole. Read now.

Updated profiles for your local area. Compass just completed updating data for:

  • 113 Minneapolis-Saint Paul neighborhoods
  • 10 Duluth neighborhoods
  • 352 towns and cities throughout Minnesota (pop.1000+)
  • 40 counties, school districts, and cities in the IRRRB service area (northeastern Minnesota)
  • Visit profiles now.

Aging: Between 2010 and 2030, the number of adults age 65+ is projected to nearly double, while the number of younger residents will increase only modestly. In fact, around 2025, Minnesota’s 65+ population is expected to surpass the 5-17 school-age population for the first time. So how are older adults faring? Economically, they mirror the nation. While adults age 65+ have a lower median household income compared with most other age groups, they also experience the lowest poverty rates. In Minnesota, more than 3 in 4 older adults own their home, higher than Minnesota’s overall homeownership rate. Learn more about older adults in MinnesotaCheck out our updated profile on Minnesota’s older adults

Income Inequality: A Growing Threat to Eliminating Rural Child Poverty. A new USDA Economic Research Service report shows that while there are overall improvements in the rate of rural child poverty, the issue of income inequality, a contributing factor, is growing and needs to be addressed.

Earning a high school diploma: Lower-income students fare worse. For the past several years, Minnesota graduation rates have been on the rise. But, lower-income students consistently fare worse. In 2015, 90% of higher-income students graduated on time, while just 67% percent of lower-income students received their diplomas on time. View trend.

–The March edition of Rural Voices magazine Housing Assistance Council (HAC) focuses on the unique challenges of homelessness in rural areas and the communities around the country working to address them. This special edition of Rural Voices examines homelessness in rural communities through varying scenarios including what homelessness is like for veterans in rural areas, how vulnerable populations like farm workers experience homelessness, how communities can provide supportive services as part of its affordable housing plan and what schools in rural communities know about children experiencing homelessness. Download the issue here.

–HUD has made its first allocation of nearly $174 million through the nation’s Housing Trust Fund. The Housing Trust Fund is an affordable housing production program primarily focused on increasing and preserving the supply of decent, safe and sanitary affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households, including families experiencing homelessness. All states and territories received a minimum of $3,000,000-a list of state allocations is included in the press release here.

–A new report from USDA, “Running a Food Hub: Assessing Financial Viability”, provides modules and best practices for food hubs to maximize profits and control costs. The report provides technical assistance for food hubs at different stages of development. Download the report here.

— Mobile-only broadband household rate is growing. Americans are abandoning their wired Internet for a mobile-data-only; if the trend continues, it could reflect a huge shift in the way we experience the Web.

FCC Takes Next Steps in Expanding Rural Broadband Access. The FCC has established rules of the road for allocating over $2 billion in funding for rural broadband networks over the next decade.

–The Center for Rural Affairs recently released a report entitled Respect and Restore: Reassessing Local Wind Energy Standards, which examines issues being overlooked in county and township wind energy ordinances.

AWEA 2015 report: Minnesota is seventh in total wind power generation.  Wind turbines in Minnesota generated 3,235 megawatts of electricity in 2015, the seventh highest wind-generated electricity total for states in the nation, according to the 8th annual U.S Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2015, released April 12 by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Minnesota produced 17 percent of its electricity from wind power in 2015 (up from 15.9 percent in 2014), ranking it sixth best for wind energy as a percent of total state electricity generation. Minnesota generated 9.8 million megawatt hours (MWh) of wind power in 2015, enough to power 896,000 homes. Minnesota now employs more than 2,000 people in wind industry. Xcel Energy, serving Minnesota and multiple states, was the top investor-owned utility for wind power purchases, with 6,545 MW of total wind capacity in 2015. More than 200 MW of new wind is in development this year in Minnesota for Xcel Energy, including the 200-MW Odell Wind project in Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin, and Watonwan counties. More information on the AWEA report is available.

Rural LISC has developed an innovative new financing tool to provide low-interest loans to qualified commercial real estate projects in rural America. The Growing Rural Communities Fund will finance real estate acquisition and construction costs to spur job creation and economic revitalization in distressed communities. Eligible borrowers include nonprofits, sole proprietors, LLCs, or corporations. Loan amounts are from $250,000 to $2 million.  Questions? Contact Kristin Blum at Rural LISC at

–USDA has launched the Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund, which has the potential to invest as much as $100 million into rural food and agricultural businesses with high growth potential. It’s the fourth Rural Business Investment Company that USDA has launched since 2014. The fund will invest in companies with high-growth potential across the food and agribusiness value chain and rural America, including those in the crop protection, agricultural production and processing, precision agriculture, and information and data management sectors. Read the press release here.

HUD has completed an update of the Tribal Directory Assessment Tool (TDAT 2.1), a database of tribal contact information and geographic areas of interest. All federally recognized Indian tribes were contacted to update information on tribal leaders and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and the names of counties where they have a current or ancestral interest. Click here to access the Tool.

The Number and Share of Veterans Living in Rural America Is Declining. Chart showing the percentage of veterans living in rural areas in 2007 compared to 2014, by service period.

–The Center for Neighborhood Technology has created AllTransit, a new tool for advocates, organizers, elected officials, and anyone whose work would benefit from a database that goes beyond simple measures of “where transit exists” to nuanced interpretations through the lenses of health, equity, and economic development.  Access it here.