January 2017- Volume XV, Number 1

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

This newsletter is also available online:


ACROSS THE FIELD – A milestone reached; learning from our past – by Jane Leonard

Wow! Fifteen years straight publishing the MRP Rural Round-Up e-newsletter, all thanks to the talent and dedication of volunteers Ann Treacy and Deb Miller Slipek, my co-editors/compilers since the beginning of this one-stop compendium for rural-related info that helps you help your community be and stay strong.

Agricultural and rural journalism have figured in my background since I was a little kid, in awe of my Dad’s collection of USDA yearbooks, which went back to the 1840s, before there was even an official USDA, when the function of reporting on agricultural improvements and collecting seeds fell somewhere between the U.S. Patent Office and the State Department.

Agricultural journals, books, experimental and showcase farms and fairs were the lifeblood of information exchange and knowledge development in those early years before the 1862 creation of USDA and even after. The first several Secretaries of Agriculture were farm journalists.

I wrote my master’s thesis comparing the USDA yearbooks and the ag journals as agenda-setters and/or reporters of agricultural and rural trends. The American Agriculturist stood out for me as an exemplar in the comprehensive exchange of both agricultural and rural life know-how for when I began my life’s work in rural journalism and eventually community, rural, and economic development.

Thirty-eight years since that start, I still come back to a quote I found in the March 1856 issue of the Agriculturist. It’s a timeless reminder of how to be a helpful person in a world sorely needing wisdom, grace and compassion:

“GENTILITY is neither in birth, wealth, manner nor fashion – but in the mind. A high sense of honor, a determination never to take a mean advantage of another, an adherence to truth, delicacy, and politeness towards those with whom we have dealings, are its essential characteristics.”


–The MISSION CONTINUES is seeking applications for Post-9/11 Veteran Nonprofit Fellowships. Service fellowships, which include a cost-of-living stipend, are awarded to post-9/11 veterans to enable them to volunteer with nonprofit organizations in their community as an extension of their service to the country. Deadline: 1/17/2017. Visit the website here to review program guidelines.

— The UNFI Foundation funds nonprofit organizations across the United States that support the development of healthy, organic foods and food practices, and promote the health of the planet. The focus is on organizations that work to increase organic agriculture, provide research and science to develop organic farming practices, protect the biodiversity of our seed supply and the stewardship of genetic resources of organic seed, teach organic farming practices that promote conservation of resources, and foster the next generation of organic farmers. The first two letter of intent deadlines in 2017 are 1/19 and 4/27. Visit the Foundation’s website here to review guidelines and learn more about the application process.

–BIG READ is accepting grant applications from nonprofit organizations for programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Grants of up to $20,000 each will be awarded to nonprofit organizations for community-wide reading programs. Deadline: 1/26/2017. Click here to review program guidelines.

–U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is offering grants for projects that address local environmental and public health issues within an affected community. Grants will be awarded to programs that support activities designed to empower and educate affected communities to understand environmental and public health issues and to identify ways to address these issues at the local level. Approximately 40 one-year projects will be awarded $30,000 each. Deadline: 1/31/2017. Click here to review application guidelines.

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Program provides grants for school improvement projects, including school gardens, physical fitness areas, walking trails, and meeting the basic needs of students. Application Deadline: Feb 9, 2017.

— The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is offering grants through Art Works 1 for FY 2018. An organization may submit only one application through one of the following two FY 2018 categories: Art Works 1 or Challenge America. An organization may submit one additional application under the FY 2018 Art Works category for a Creativity Connects project. Deadlines: Art Works 1; 2/16/2017; Challenge America; 4/13/2017. Click here to review application guidelines for an Art Works 1 grant. Click here for guidelines on Challenge America grants.

2017 Day of Service Grants  for day of service projects in observance of September 11th and/or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Projects may focus on child welfare, safety, and health; healthcare access; assistance to veterans and active duty military families; and human services such as the provision of housing and emergency food.
Letter of Intent (Optional): Feb 8, 2017. Application Deadline: Feb 22, 2017.

— DNR Park and Trail Grants. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced grant funding opportunities for park and trail projects across Minnesota.  Go to: http://www.exploreminnesota.com/industry-minnesota/news/emt-express/emt-express-details/?nid=1379&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

–Applications for the fourth year of the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program are open until Feb. 28, 2017. The 10-year, $150-million program helps fund new solar electric and solar thermal systems for Minnesota residents, businesses, and communities. The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. During the first three years of the program, funding was awarded for 1,048 solar electric projects and 36 solar thermal installations. The solar electric projects equal about 15 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity. Read more (pdf) for information on how to apply, application guidelines, and more.

— Blandin Foundation Broadband Grants: Broadband Innovation and Robust Network Feasibility Fund grant award amounts range from $1,000 to $25,000, and matching funds are required. Grant application deadlines for 2017 are April 7, June 23 and September 22. http://wp.me/p3if7-3M7

–The Department of Health and Human Services is offering grant funds to CDCs for community-based efforts to improve the economic and physical health of people in areas designated as food deserts or where applicants can point to indicators of need, such as poor access to a healthy food retail outlet, a high percentage of individuals with low-income, incidence of diet-related health conditions, or high concentrations of persons eligible for food assistance programs. Through the Community Economic Development (CED) program and within the framework of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), the Department seeks to fund projects that implement strategies to increase healthy food access, foster self-sufficiency for individuals and families with low income, and create sustained employment opportunities in communities with low incomes. Deadline: 4/28/2017. Click here to review funding guidelines and download an application package.

— Asthma Friendly Schools The Minnesota Department of Health’s Asthma Program in partnership with the American Lung Association in Minnesota is offering mini-grant funding to create asthma friendly schools. Grant money up to $1,500 is available to implement a variety of school-based projects in elementary, middle or high school settings. The funds are available to public schools, charter schools, and private schools and can be applied to individual schools or across districts. Six project areas are available to choose from: Asthma Data; Environmental Policy; Partnering with Parents and Caregivers; Teaching an Asthma Self-Management Curriculum; Linking Schools and Health Care; and Health Office Staff Training. Applications are currently being accepted through June 30, 2017. For more information, go to the Minnesota Asthma Program–Asthma Friendly Schools Mini-Grant Program to learn how to submit your application. You may also contact the MDH Asthma Program at 651-201-5909 or asthma@health.state.mn.us

Developing Healthy Places.  The Kresge Foundation provides funding to improve the places that shape health, including programs that promote healthy housing and neighborhoods, food systems for low-income communities, and equitable transportation and land use. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis

–The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced a new funding opportunity announcement for up to $6 million to install energy efficiency measures and deploy clean energy systems on Indian lands. The Office of Indian Energy is soliciting applications from Indian tribes and tribal energy resource development organizations to install energy efficiency measures and clean energy systems on tribal buildings and deploy clean energy systems on a community scale.

–The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) FY17 solicitation of applications. REAP offers two types of funding assistance: (1) Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses, and (2) Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants to state, tribal, or local governments; institutions of higher education; rural electric cooperatives; or public power entities. The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance provides grants of $20,000 or less and guaranteed loans to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. For assistance with applications, interested parties in Minnesota should contact Ron Omann, Rural Development Energy Coordinator, at 651-602-7796 or ron.omann@mn.usda.gov.


— Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) will host a webinar, “Broadband Opportunity Council (BOC): Accomplishments and Outlook,” Wednesday, January 18th, 2017, 2:00-3:00 PM ET. Click here to register.

— Lobbying? Yes! You Can!  Join this FREE webinar on Friday, January 20th from 10-11a.m. to learn the rules that govern advocacy and lobbying, how advocacy can further your organization’s mission, and the ingredients for a successful legislative lobby visit. Participants will learn important definitions, the federal and state laws related to lobbying, understand reporting requirements and engage with peers across the state. Learn more

Registration Now Open for the 2017 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference  You are cordially invited to join us Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2017, at the Intercontinental Hotel in St. Paul for the 2017 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference: The Next Big Event!

–The 27th annual Energy Design Conference & Expo being held Feb. 20-22, 2017, in Duluth, Minn.  For more information go to: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/eSites/206400/Login

— 2017 Nonprofit Communications & Technology Conference will be held on Tuesday, February 21st in Minneapolis! You’ll dive into nonprofit strategies for everything from branding to cloud computing, from podcasting to website redesigning and much, much more.  Learn more

–Minnesota Campus Compact Annual Summit and Awards Ceremony will be April 5, 2017 at the University of St. Thomas. Join colleagues from across the state both to celebrate good work and to discuss opportunities for advancing our civic commitments even more powerfully together. Campus selections for the Presidents’ Awards for community partners, student leaders, and faculty/staff civic engagement stewards will be due February 24, 2017. Questions or to sponsor a team with a designated table at the awards luncheon, contact Julie or go to:


— MCN and Nonprofits Assistance Fund will be hosting the sixth-annual Nonprofit Finance & Sustainability Conference on Thursday, April 13 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center. This year’s conference will feature a keynote addressing charitable endowments by Alan Cantor, consultant and frequent contributor to The Chronicle of Philanthropy; 20 timely breakout sessions and opportunities to network with sector peers.  Early Bird rates for MCN members are available until February 24. Scholarships and team registrations specials are also available. Learn more!

–SAVE THE DATE!  The National Housing Conference will host “Solutions for Housing Communications 2017” will be April 27-28, 2017, in Minneapolis.

— SAVE THE DATE!  Springboard for the Arts, the Center for Small Towns, and the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota will host the 2017 Rural Arts & Culture Summit, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

— SAVE THE DATE!  2017 Nonprofit Leadership Conference to be held at the University of MN in Minneapolis on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.


Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference Sponsorships Now Available for the 2017 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference that will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2017, at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront in downtown St. Paul.

— Morris K Udall and Steward L Udall Foundation is offering a 10-week fully funded summer internship for Native American and Alaska Native students who wish to learn more about the federal government and issues affecting Indian country. Deadline to apply: 1/31/2017. Visit the Foundation website here for guidelines and an application.

2016‒2017 Student Essay Contest  The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis sponsors this contest for high school students in the Ninth Federal Reserve District. Students answer the question: “Can the U.S. economy still grow the way it once did?” to win monetary prizes. Essays are due by March 31, 2017.

— The Energy Department released a request for proposal (RFP) for colleges interested in participating in the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2018. The organizers will select 10 to 12 teams of students to compete in the challenge, co-located with the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER Conference in Chicago on May 7–10, 2018. Interested students and faculty can learn more about the RFP and its requirements by visiting the FedBizOps listing and watching an informational webinar.

Submit Your Location for Possible Film, Television or Commercials Do you have a one-of-a-kind Main Street in your town, a neighborhood of beautiful homes or picturesque parks, or even spooky abandoned buildings?

Show Off Your Postcard-Worthy Destination or Attraction  Explore Minnesota is actively seeking postcards from tourism destinations and attractions to show off our picturesque state.


— The U.S. Census Bureau released its five-year American Community Survey data with a major focus on rural America. The data shows that people who live in rural areas are more likely to own their own homes, live in their state of birth, and have served in the military than their urban counterparts, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Read the press release from the Census Bureau here, and access the data here.

–Minnesota City profiles now provide updated and more in-depth information

Geographic profiles across the state for cities with populations of 1000+ have been redesigned and updated. Now find more in-depth information on residents, housing, poverty, workforce, and how people get around. Check out your city of interest.

–The White House recently announced the creation of a network of 48 charging corridors on the nation’s highways. The network will cover 25,000 miles and include 55 different interstate highway systems, including I-94 in Minnesota, spanning 35 states. It is designed to place a charging station approximately every 50 miles. The Administration is partnering with 28 companies and organizations on the project, and the Federal Highway Administration will manage the devices. Read more.

–Report documents the benefits of renewable energy for Midwest states. The Center for Rural Affairs has released “Link to Rural Development and a Renewable Future,” a report authored by Rural Affairs Climate Program Associate Lucas Nelsen. The report looks at the benefits of wind energy for the Midwest and Great Plains regions and discusses the need to update the transmission system to accommodate the new wind capacity. Read the report (pdf).

A Quiet Crisis: Minnesota’s Child Care Shortage. The Center for Rural Policy and Development analyzes child care need and capacity by Minnesota region and discusses the implications of a child care shortage.

Access to Care for Rural People with Disabilities Toolkit This new toolkit, developed by the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, provides information, strategies, and resources to help rural communities improve access to care for people with disabilities. Browse program models and examples, and learn how to implement, evaluate, and sustain a program in your community and disseminate program results.

–The Minnesota Department of Health has published a Community Paramedic (CP) Toolkit (PDF) for prospective employers.

The purpose of the toolkit is to assist employers and organizations who are planning to hire Community Paramedics. The CP role leverages the medical and community expertise of paramedics and, through additional training, applies their skills to primary care settings. CPs are able to:

  • reduce overall health care costs by helping patients avoid more acute care such as hospital readmissions,
  • improve health outcomes for specific populations, and
  • improve patient experience.

The toolkit and background resources are available on our Toolkit webpage at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/toolkit.html

–Economic Impact Reports sponsored by the National Center for Rural Health Works   provide a broad overview of the impact the healthcare sector has on rural communities, along with two studies that examine specific aspects of the rural healthcare system:

Safely Aging in Place in Rural America discusses the health challenges faced by older Americans as they age in place in rural communities, including issues such as limited access to care, social isolation, and higher rates of chronic illness and poverty. Going forward, providing individually tailored support, connecting to local resources, and offering services via telehealth will be necessary to meet the healthcare needs of America’s aging rural population.

— New Minnesota Broadband Maps.  The Office of Broadband Development published a heat map of broadband availability in Minnesota. The map indicates that Statewide availability of broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up is 90.15%, while rural availability within the state is 78.04%. http://wp.me/p3if7-3Mb

— Broadband is Different Market in Urban than Rural Markets.  A recent report from the FCC indicates that cable is the dominant broadband in urban areas and DSL is dominant in rural areas. http://wp.me/p3if7-3M1 Optimistic predictions for wireless technologies, such as 5G, say faster speeds may be available as early as 2020 in urban areas but with increased cost and limited reach, 5G will not be a major player in rural areas. http://wp.me/p3if7-3LY

— HUD had released a new CDBG technical assistance product, “How to Use CDBG for Housing Activities.” In this six-module video, HUD explains the kinds of housing activities that can be funded with CDBG, how to use CDBG to meet the housing needs of the community, and the key elements to be considered in housing program design. Access the video modules here.

— The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has published “How to Do Creative Placemaking: An Action-Oriented Guide to Arts in Community Development.” The book features 28 essays from thought leaders active in arts-based community development as well as 13 case studies of projects funded through the NEA’s creative placemaking program, Our Town, and is intended as a primer for those interested in bringing the arts to the community development table as a tool – along with housing, transportation, public health and other sectors – to advance revitalization efforts in an authentic way. Download the pdf of the book from the NEA website here.

— The National Association of Development Organizations has published “Measuring Rural Wealth Creation: A Guide for Regional Development Organizations.” The paper presents concepts and samples to assist in the creation of a plan for measuring progress in rural wealth creation for rural development organizations (RDOs) involved in community and economic development. Get the paper here.


Using the ERS County Economic Types To Explore Demographic and Economic Trends in Rural Areas (Amber Waves article) On December 15, 2016 a correction was made to a chart in the Amber Waves article “Using the ERS County Economic Types To Explore Demographic and Economic Trends in Rural Areas.” In the chart “Rural median household incomes were highest in recreation counties,” the correction fixes the colors for the lines corresponding to recreation counties and Government dependent counties, which were inadvertently reversed.

Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition on December 21, 2016, Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition was reposted to correct the classifications of some counties in the map.