September 2017- Volume XV, Number 9
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard


ACROSS THE FIELD: A summer of Minnesota partnerships, opportunity & pride
by Jane Leonard, Minnesota Rural Partners volunteer

I took my summer vacation early this year, at the end of May, spending five days walking across rural Scotland. Get up, eat a scrumptious breakfast, walk 15 miles, see the rugged Highlands — lots of sheep and Highland cattle — then enjoy a great supper, sleep soundly for eight hours, and get up and walk the next day.  A simple respite from the busy lives we lead.

The rest of the summer I spent doing many site visits as part of my day job, as broadband grant administrator for the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, in the MN Department of Employment & Economic Development. It’s a privilege to drive the highways and byways of our state to visit the many broadband construction projects underway. After three years of state grant rounds matched by local funding, it’s awe-inspiring to see the broadband provider-community-state partnerships at work, chipping away towards the goal of Border-to-Border Broadband.

On those drives out to sites across the state, I’ve had time to think about both the arc of my career in community-economic-rural development, and the ways that our communities overcome adversity and create opportunities for vitality to flourish.  It always comes back to partnerships. When we make progress, it is because of partnerships: across places and sectors, between organizations, and people-to-people connections. Individual strengths meld at community, regional, and statewide levels to create a vibrant, diverse, resilient ensemble that can accomplish anything together.

As President Harry S. Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” This summer I’ve seen the amazing partnerships: citizens helping other citizens without a lot of fanfare, steadily get better broadband and the community and economic opportunity that comes with those improvements.  I’m so proud of my fellow citizens. Go team go. When we help one another, we help us all.

In early September, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) will open its next round of funding for Seed Grants. The Seed Grants are designed to provide limited financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects in Minnesota. Project funding can support labor costs only for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and West Central. CERTs is a statewide partnership with a mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. Would-be applicants of the Seed Grants can learn more.

–Foundation for Rural Service is offering grants to nonprofits seeking to create programs that promote business development, community development, education or telecommunications in rural communities served by National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) members. Awards range from $250 to $5,000. Preference will be given to proposals that foster collaboration among and community engagement, and that can be fully funded by the grant or have 75 percent or more of the project currently funded. Deadline: 9/15/2017. To learn more and apply, click here.

–The Transportation Economic Development Infrastructure Program (TEDI) is a competitive grant program available to communities for road and public infrastructure projects that create jobs and support economic development. DEED’s program is combined with the Transportation Economic Development Program (TED) administered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for highway projects. A total of approximately $22.6 million is available through the 2017 programs. This includes approximately $18.4 million in MnDOT trunk highway funds and approximately $4.2 million of DEED general obligation bond funding. The programs may provide a portion of the costs for trunk highway improvements and other road and infrastructure improvements.  Application Deadline – September 15, 2017. For full eligibility guidelines and application instructions, please see DEED’s website.

–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 deadline September 22

–HUD is offering grants to public and private agencies to promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness and to optimize self-sufficiency among those experiencing homelessness. Deadline: 9/28/2017. Click here to review funding guidelines.
Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Program  Grants to help schools and parent teacher groups with school improvement and to provide for the basic needs of their students. Application Deadline: Sep 29, 2017.

Explore Minnesota 2017-18 NEW EVENT GRANT PROGRAM GUIDELINES ARE NOW AVAILABLESeptember 30th is the next quarterly deadline.

Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program This U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA Rural Utilities Service  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: Sept 30, 2017.
Tobacco-Free College Program for Community Colleges and Minority-Serving Institutions Funding and technical assistance to help minority serving institutions and community colleges advocate for, adopt, and implement a 100% tobacco-free college policy. Application Deadline: Oct 11, 2017.

–Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the NFL Grassroots Foundation have issued the 2017 RFP for proposals to provide nonprofit, neighborhood-based organizations, middle schools, and high schools with financing and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields. Deadline: 10/16/2017. Click here for more information and to apply.


Minnesota Department of Health helps eligible applicants establish, operate, or subsidize clinic facilities and services to offer health services to American Indians who live off reservations in Minnesota through its Indian Health Grant Program. Nonprofit organizations, governmental and tribal entities are eligible to apply. Deadline: 10/18/2017. To learn more and to apply, click here.
Laura Jane Musser Fund has the following grants open.

Intercultural Harmony Grants – Deadline: October 19, 2017 DETAILS

Rural Initiative Grants – Deadline: November 2, 2017 DETAILS


Whole Kids School Garden Grant Program Grants to support new or existing edible gardens at K-12 schools and nonprofit organizations. Application Deadline: Nov 15, 2017. 

–The Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples is offering funding in the following program areas: Arts and Creativity, Health and Well-Being, Rights of Mother Earth, Sustainable Communities and Economies, Leadership Development, and Rights, Equity, and Justice. Grants from $250 to $10,000, with an average of $5,000, are provided to Native communities that address one or more of the Fund’s program areas. The remaining postmark deadline for 2017 is 12/1/2017. (Mini-grants of up to $500 are reviewed throughout the year.) Application guidelines and forms are available on the Fund’s website

BNSF Railway Foundation offers grants to organizations that operate near a BNSF railway line. Among others, priority areas include health and human service organizations, programs that address chemical dependency treatment and prevention, spouse and child abuse, women’s and children’s aid, transitional shelters, hospitals, medical programs, and youth development programs. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

Stand Down Grants provides funding for events that offer homeless veteran populations a variety of social services.

Hearst Foundations Grants to support well-established nonprofit organizations working in the fields of education, health, culture, and social service.

Walgreens Community Grant Program  provides funding for access to health and wellness, pharmacy education programs and mentoring initiatives, civic and community outreach, and emergency and disaster relief.

–Midwest Energy Storage Summit is Sept. 15 at U of Minnesota.  The University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, in partnership with the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance, will host the Midwest Energy Storage Summit on Friday, September 15, 2017, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The Summit will include over 300 participants from throughout the Midwest representing energy leaders from industry, the public sector, academia and nonprofit sectors. The goal of the Summit is to gather energy stakeholders and reach a shared understanding of energy storage trends, opportunities, and barriers in our region and nationally. The Summit will run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and will be followed by a networking reception from 4-6 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Campus Club. The event is open to the public but space is limited so register today. For details and registration fees, read more.

–Be a part of this important discussion on Native American nutrition! Register here for the Second Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition September 18-20, 2017 at the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Minnesota.
Tribal Community Perspectives on Higher Education will be September 26-27 in Minneapolis, MN. The Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis presents a research, data, and experience-driven discussion of how higher education serves tribal communities and their students. Link

Register Now for the 2017 Scenic Byway Conference The 16th Annual Minnesota Scenic Byway Workshop will be held Oct. 3-4 at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in downtown Duluth.

2017 Minnesota Council of Non-Profits Annual Conference will be held Thursday – Friday, October 12 – 13, 2017 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, Saint Paul.
–Don’t miss the 2017 Minnesota Venture Conference! This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, October 25 from 7:15 am – 5:00 pm at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The conference will feature a day of knowledge-sharing, networking, and pitches from some of Minnesota’s most promising privately-held companies.  Startups can also sign up for the Entrepreneurial Showcase! Showcase participation is free for qualified registered companies and includes a one-page profile in the event book, a one-minute introduction on stage, and an information table. You can learn more about keynote speakers, presenting companies, and more by visiting

–2017 Border to Border Broadband Conference.  Mark your calendar for the fall broadband conference October 25-26 at Madden’s on Gull Lake. The theme this year is Bridging the Gaps – Expanding the Impact.

–The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) announced recently that it will hold the fourth-annual “MnSEIA – Midwest Gateway to Solar” Conference in Bloomington, Minn., on Nov. 14-15. This year’s conference will provide educational opportunities, networking, and exhibits. Read more to register and for more information.

Nov. 29-30: 2nd Biennial STEM and Afterschool conference  Save the date for the SciMathMN and Ignite Afterschool 2nd Biennial joint conference at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education Center on November 29-30.   Workshops will investigate, connect, and advance formal and informal STEM education and workforce development. Learn more.

Mark your calendar now to attend the 2018 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, March 6-7, 2018, at the Verizon Wireless Center in downtown Mankato.  The conference schedule begins with lunch and a keynote presentation on Tuesday, March 6, and will end on Wednesday afternoon. There will continue to be the now-traditional Monday afternoon educational sessions along with an evening event being planned by Visit Mankato. If you are interested in being a sponsor or having a booth in the Marketplace, contact Lisa Havelka at 888-975-6766 or  For additional conference questions, contact Lori Peterson at 651-757-1876 or

–Save the Date!  Minnesota Campus Compact 2018 Summit and Awards Ceremony will be April 19, 2018 at Hamline University.


NBCC Foundation Rural Scholarships Offers scholarships to students residing in rural areas who are currently enrolled in a master’s level counseling program and are committed to practicing in rural communities after graduation. Application Deadline: Oct 31, 2017. 

All grain elevators and animal feed mills in Minnesota are subject to environmental regulations. However, many lack the best management practices, documentation, or permits they need to comply with state and federal requirements, and to address community complaints. Failure to meet requirements can lead to larger permit fees and possibly enforcement action and fines.

The MPCA has partnered with the MN Grain and Feed Association to offer free, confidential, on-site regulatory assistance to help grain elevators and animal feed mills in Minnesota evaluate their compliance with the following regulations:

  • Minnesota Nuisance Dust Rule
  • Minnesota Bulk Agriculture Rule
  • Federal New Source Performance Standard DD
  • Facilities that need or have a registration or individual state permit

Call now for your free assessment!  MPCA staff will visit your facility and offer a short but thorough confidential walk-through, identify any non-compliant areas, and provide prioritized next steps for your facility. Staff will also be available to help you implement the recommendations. For more information about the regulations, please visit the MPCA Grain Elevator assistance page. Call Nate Grand at 651-757-2166 to schedule your free assessment.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is awarding up to ten $25,000 Culture of Health Prizes to honor collaborative, community-based efforts that are prioritizing health and empowering people in the community to live healthier lives. Awards will honor entire communities, not single organizations or initiatives. The prize is intended to shine a light on communities that have created powerful partnerships and deep commitments to make changes that will lead to longer, healthier lives for community members. Eligible communities must be either a town, city, county, federally-recognized tribe, Native Hawaiian organization serving and representing the interests of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii, or region (contiguous towns, cities or counties). Deadline: Applicants must submit a brief, introductory essay by 11/3/2017. Click here to learn more and to apply.


The First Nations Development Institute, through its Native Agriculture and Food Systems College Scholarship Program, is offering five $1,000 scholarships to encourage Native American college students to enter careers in agriculture and agriculture-related fields, with the ultimate goal of increasing food production, improving health and nutrition, and eliminating food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities. Applicants must: be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student majoring in agriculture or an agricultural-related field, be able to provide documentation of tribal affiliation, have at least a 2.75 GPA, and demonstrate a commitment to helping communities reclaim local food system control. Deadline: 11/28/2017. To learn more and to apply, click here.

2017-2018 Student Essay Contest  The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis announces the 30th Annual Student Essay Contest open to all high school students in the Ninth Federal Reserve District. Essays due April 20, 2018.

Rural Manufacturing at a Glance, 2017 Edition Despite declining rural manufacturing employment between 2001 and 2015, the manufacturing sector is relatively more important as a source of employment and earnings to the rural economy than it is to the urban economy.

Read up on investing in regional food systems The new book Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities explores how regional food systems can promote economic growth in both rural and urban settings. From the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in partnership with USDA Rural Development and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Link

–Food Research & Action Center released an interactive mapping tool that provides household participation rates for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by county in each state. SNAP Maps is based on American Community Survey (ACS) five-year data (2011–2015) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2015. Each county is grouped into one of three census categories: Metro, Small Town, and Rural. SNAP participation nationally was highest among households in rural (16 percent) and small town (16 percent) counties compared to households in metro counties (13 percent). Check out the tool, analysis and other resources here.

Connect to 50 Connecting Communities webinars The Federal Reserve System’s community development webinar series, Connecting Communities, recently held its 50th session! Browse presentations and related resources from all past sessions (and register for a September 14 session on regional food systems) on the series website.

HUD released a six-module video tutorial on “How to Use CDBG for Public Facilities and Improvements.” The tutorial guides the viewer on how to integrate infrastructure activities into your overall community development strategies, showing why that’s important from both federal and local perspectives, and offering ways to leverage other CDBG activities and non-CDBG resources to install and improve infrastructure systems. Watch the tutorial here.

Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2012 USDA ERS presents findings from the most recent (2012) inventory of U.S. major land uses, the only consistent accounting of all major uses of public and private land in all 50 States.

EDITORS’ NOTE: As always — please send us items to post, comments, ideas, etc. You can send them to Jane Leonard at And thanks for getting to the end of this month’s issue!