March 2017- Volume XV, Number 3

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

This newsletter is also available online:



— THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION is offering grants to nonprofit groups and public agencies through the Upward Bound Math and Science Program. Grants will be awarded for a wide array of activities to encourage at-risk youth to complete high school and go on to college and, ultimately, careers in math and science. Deadline: 3/22/2017. Click here to review program guidelines and an application package.

–USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $8.8 million in funding to support agricultural science education at Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). The Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program promotes and strengthens HSI programs that attract, retain, and graduate outstanding students capable of enhancing the nation’s food, agricultural, natural resource, and human sciences work force. Deadline to apply: 3/22/2017. Click here to learn more about these grants.

–USDA has announced requests for applications for the Farmers Market Promotion Program, and the Local Food Promotion Program to fund innovative projects designed to strengthen market opportunities for local and regional food producers and businesses. Deadline for both programs: 3/27/2017. Click here for information on the Farmers Market Promotion Program, and here for the Local Food Promotion Program.

–Health Equity in Action Grants. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation will award a total of up to $1,000,000 to further health equity in communities across the state of Minnesota. Healthy Communities 2017: Health Equity in Action provides grants up to $100,000 per year, and applicants can apply for one- or two-year grants. An optional webinar and community workshops will be held throughout the state in February and early March. The deadline to submit applications through the online application system is March 30, 4 p.m., Central Time.

–Management Improvement Fund. Many nonprofits struggle to finance their day-to-day operations, let alone invest in long-term planning and management consultants. The Management Improvement Fund, a community initiative of The Saint Paul Foundation, is dedicated to strengthening the internal operations of organizations. Grants are now available statewide thanks to support from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Grants may be used to finance management consultants, training services and other programs that improve service to the greater community. Before applying, all interested applicants must contact Stephanie Battle, director of Community Impact, at 651-325-4236 to ensure that the Fund fits the requested need.

Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.  Application Deadline: March 31, 2017.

–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, unincorporated groups with at least one paid staff person and a Minnesota 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, and public agencies.

All applicants must have produced the proposed festival at least once before, prior to the March 31st deadline. Grants range from $5,000 to $75,000, with a 25% cash match requirement. Program guidelines, sample applications, webinar registration information, and contact information for the program officer can be found on the Arts Board website at

–East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) wishes to remind to all local artists, art organizations, and schools within Region 7E (the Minnesota Counties of Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec, and Mille Lacs) that there is an April 1st grant deadline for all of these grant programs.

– Art in Our Schools Grants: School districts may apply for arts-related funding up to $3,000.

– Small/Art Project Grants: Nonprofit organizations, art groups, school districts, and local units of government may apply for arts-related funding ranging from $500-$5,000.

– Arts and Cultural Heritage Grants for Organizations: Nonprofit organizations, art groups, school districts, and local units of government may apply for arts-related funding ranging from $5,000-$15,000.

– Arts and Cultural Heritage Grants for Individuals: Individual artists may apply for arts-related project funding up to $2,500. Eligible applicants must be permanent residents in Region 7E.

– McKnight Individual Artist Grants: Individual artists may apply for arts-related project funding up to $1,000. Eligible applicants must be permanent residents in Region 7E.

The link to the online application processes can be found at the ECRAC website:    For further information, please call 320-396-2337 extension 2 or email:

— 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.

School Grants for Healthy Kids awards funding to support school breakfast and physical activity programs. Application Deadline: April 7, 2017.

— THE SPARKPLUG FOUNDATION is offering 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 Education and Teaching, the Foundation funds projects that deal with “the whole student” and with learning as a community activity. Through Grassroots Organizing, 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 4/10/2017; letters of intent are due 4/17/2017; and the deadline for final applications is 5/5/2017. Visit the Foundation’s website here to review its mission and funding guidelines as well as the online application instructions.

Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program  Grants to city, county, and state governments to expand opioid abuse prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery. Application Deadline: Apr 25, 2017.

–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

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


–Free e-Learning Courses. Normandale Community College and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health are jointly offering free e-Learning courses designed for busy, working adults to upgrade their skills in the transforming healthcare industry. Short e-learning courses are available for Healthcare Data Analytics, Population Health, and Value-Based Care. Courses are appropriate for all roles and levels of work within healthcare. Training is provided by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Normandale Community College through a federal grant opportunity. To register, begin by viewing the Course page. Training is free and available until capacity is met or until May 2017.

— Broadband Day on the Hill March 15: Minnesota Broadband Coalition members have come together to organize Minnesota’s first ever Broadband Day on the Hill on March 15. The Coalition’s goal is to bring directly to legislators rural perspectives on the critical role that broadband plays in Minnesota rural communities’ economic vitality and quality of life.

–AURI Invites You to Register for its New Uses Forum Today!  The forum, scheduled for March 22 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN, is bringing together experts and entrepreneurs across the new uses arena, including university and industry R&D experts, Minnesota business and agbioeconomy partners, as well as the financial community. Together, they will participate in open discussions about the latest innovations and opportunities for developing new uses for Minnesota grown crops and agricultural processing byproducts. The day’s events include:

  • Industry panel discussions
  • Minnesota’s activities and resources,
  • Regional and global research efforts,
  • Networking opportunities, and
  • Keynote addresses tailored to the interests of MN agriculture.

AURI is inviting you to register today.  Learn More

— Starting a Business in MN workshop is being hosted by the University of Minnesota Duluth Center for Economic Development at the Workforce Development Center in Duluth on March 28 from 2-4 PM. There is no charge, but you may register at

–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:

–13th Annual Worthington Bioscience Conference will be held April 6-7, 2017 in
Worthington, MN.  The Worthington Regional Bio Conference is an annual gathering of industry professionals, research scientists and business leaders. This annual event highlights the deep roots of bioscience in Minnesota as it relates to farming and animal health. What evolves out of one area of bio-tech often has implications in other areas of importance to overall quality of life.

Who should attend?  Farmers, farm and energy cooperatives, researchers, teachers and students, human and animal health professionals, veterinary medicine practitioners, financial institutions, policy makers, business and economic development professionals.  This year’s conference will focus on “Research and Development” and is full of quality speakers and presentations.  In addition to a full schedule of speakers, highlights of the event include a technology and entrepreneurs showcase and an exhibit hall.

Register Now!

— The 10th annual International Biomass Conference & Expo, North America’s largest and fastest growing biomass conference, taking place April 10-12 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 2017 agenda — featuring four comprehensive tracks — is tightly focused on leading edge developments in the biomass industry, from feedstock cultivation, harvest and storage to conversion technology, project finance and regulatory guidance.  For more information go to:

— The 13th annual Small Wind Conference will be held April 10-11 at the Crown Plaza AiRE in Bloomington, Minn., near the MSP airport. The Small Wind Conference connects installers, site assessors, manufacturers, supply chain stakeholders, national labs, and more. This gathering of distributed wind industry leaders is a source of continuing education and shared information to power homes, schools, farms, businesses, and transportation with clean, local wind energy. Visit the conference website to register.

— 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.

— Registration is now open for the Minnesota High Tech Spring Conference on May 9th. Neel Kashkari, President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, will be the Keynote Speaker. This year’s conference will be held at the Minneapolis Depot Renaissance and feature more than 15 breakout sessions and 40 exhibitors in addition to our keynote speakers. Conference tracks will focus on digital transformation, cybersecurity and Minnesota’s leadership in the next wave of innovation. LEARN MORE & REGISTER

— SAVE THE DATE May 16-17 the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and the St. Paul Public Library welcome digital inclusion practitioners, advocates, academics, Internet service providers and policymakers to Net Inclusion 2017: The National Digital Inclusion Summit. St. Paul, Minnesota.

— 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.

— Economic Development Association of Minnesota is hosting the 2017 Summer Conference June 28-30 at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Please go to for more information.

2017 Nonprofit Fundraising Conference  co-hosted by Association of Fundraising Professionals Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Center

2017 MCN Annual Conference will be held Thursday – Friday, October 12 – 13, 2017 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, Saint Paul.


— Hand Your Website Strategy to a Nerd!  Applications are now open for The Overnight Website Challenge, a volunteer-run program of The Nerdery Foundation. This event is aimed at maximizing the community impact of nonprofit organizations through digital strategy and custom software design and development—all pro bono. How could a group of nerds further your organization’s mission through better use of interactive technology? Between now and March 17, apply and let them know—your organization could be chosen to participate!

For more information on The Overnight Website Challenge and to apply, visit the event website. The Twin Cities Overnight Website Challenge is taking place on April 22 – 23, 2017.

— Event Scholarships from Bush Foundation.  The Bush Foundation is offering scholarships for individuals from Minnesota, the Dakotas, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography to attend national events and conferences. Deadlines: March 22, 2017. DETAILS

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.

— MINNESOTA HOUSING PARTNERSHIP has opened a call for local organizations to take advantage of their Strengthening Rural Communities Program. This program provides technical assistance to rural communities to overcome impediments to successful planning, and implementation of affordable housing and community development projects. From innovative planning practices, to knowledge of complex federal housing programs, this program gives organizations the ability to build and preserve housing and community assets. Deadline: 3/31/2017. Click here to review program guidelines.

–This is the 30th year of IMAGE, an annual judged art show, sponsored by the East Central Regional Arts Council.  ECRAC will host the show at its office and gallery in downtown Braham, MN. The show opens Saturday evening, April 22, 2017, and will be open for viewing through Friday, April 28. There is no fee to attend or participate in IMAGE. However, artists wishing to exhibit a work of art at the IMAGE Art Show must read and complete this online entry form and submit it before or on the deadline date of Monday, April 3, 2017. For more information on IMAGE Art Show 2017 go to:

You can also call us at 320-396-2337 extension 1, or email

— Innovation acceleration: Midwest Cleantech Open is accepting applications.  Do you know a Cleantech entrepreneur who could benefit from mentoring by experienced investors and from competing for up to $200,000 in the Midwest Cleantech Open’s 2017 Accelerator? Encourage them to apply now. The Cleantech Open welcomes companies of all stages (from concept to commercialized) with a mission to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems through clean tech and sustainable solutions. See the Cleantech Open Midwest website for more opportunities. The Cleantech Open is the oldest and largest cleantech startup accelerator program, with the mission to find, fund, and foster entrepreneurs with ideas to solve the greatest environmental and energy challenges.


Managing Agricultural Risk Under Different Scenarios: Selected 2014 Farm Act Programs (Amber Waves feature article)  The 2014 Farm Act introduced several new programs for crop and livestock producers. A recent ERS study analyzed how these programs provide options for risk management under different scenarios.

Growing Organic Demand Provides High-Value Opportunities for Many Types of Producers (Amber Waves feature article) In 2015, the Organic Trade Association estimated U.S. organic retail sales at $43.3 billion, showing double-digit growth during most years since 2000, when USDA set national organic standards. Since setting national organic standards, USDA has streamlined trade arrangements with multiple foreign governments to expand international markets for U.S. organic producers.

FAR Codes Added to Am I Rural? Tool by The Rural Health Information Hub.  These Frontier and Remote Area (FAR) codes have been added to the list of rural definitions provided in their popular Am I Rural? tool. Type an address into the tool to see if your location meets the FAR criteria.

–The Minnesota Department of Health has published a Dental Therapy Toolkit (PDF) for prospective employers of Dental Therapists (DT) and Advanced Dental Therapists (ADT). The purpose of the toolkit is to assist employers and organizations who are considering or planning to hire a Dental Therapist and integrate this emerging profession into their team.  The Dental Therapy role is a “mid-level” dental provider educated to provide evaluative, preventive and dental care within their scope of practice and to serve underserved populations. Dental Therapists can:

  • expand the population served by a clinic,
  • improve efficiency,
  • increase volume, and
  • allow supervising Dentists to provide more complex procedures.

The toolkit and background resources are available on our Toolkit webpage at

Rural Health Workforce Maps These new maps show county-by-county data on Health Professional Shortage Areas for Primary Care, Dental Care, and Mental Health Care. Nonmetropolitan and micropolitan shortage areas are identified with a separate color scale from metropolitan shortage areas.

— 2016 National Solar Jobs Census: Solar jobs increase by 44% in Minnesota.  Solar jobs in Minnesota increased 44% from November 2015 to November 2016, according to the 2016 National Solar Jobs Census conducted by The Solar Foundation. Minnesota now employs 2,872 people in the solar industry, up from 1,995 a year ago. Over the last three years, state solar jobs have increased by 253%, from 814 in 2013 to its 2016 total. Minnesota ranks 25th among all states. Nationally, solar jobs increased 25%, the fourth straight year in which solar employment grew by about 20% or greater. One out of every 50 new jobs in the United States over the 12-month period was created by the solar industry. The Jobs Census is available at The Solar Foundation’s website.

— USDA has released an Applicant Orientation Guide Video to assist Section 502 Direct Housing Loan program applicants with the process. The program helps low- and very-low-income applicants obtain decent, safe, and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas by providing payment assistance to increase an applicant’s repayment ability. Access the orientation video here.

Rural Poverty & Well-being  ERS research in this topic focuses on the economic, social, spatial, and demographic factors that affect the income and poverty status of rural residents. The poverty analysis has been updated to reflect the most recently available (2015) data.