MARCH 2018 – Volume XVI — Number 3
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
Access the newsletter online


ACROSS THE FIELD:  National League of Cities new report “bridges the urban-rural economic divide” and cites Minnesota Rural Partners’ 2011 research
by Jane Leonard

We are honored that a report just out this week from the non-partisan National League of Cities (NLC) on “Bridging the Urban-Rural Economic Divide” cites earlier work done in 2011 by Minnesota Rural Partners, on rural-urban linkages and economic interdependencies in Minnesota.

“Linking urban-rural areas creates economic growth” says the NLC report, and it offers fresh new insights from across the country, guided in part by several earlier studies, including the one from Minnesota. In the introduction to the NLC report, the authors cite MRP’s 2011 report, “Pilot Study: Estimating Rural and Urban Minnesota’s Interdependencies.” 

From the NLC’s 2018 report intro:

“A 2011 study examining the interdependence between Minnesota’s urban and rural areas found that urban regions receive substantial economic benefits from improved prosperity in rural areas. Every $1 billion increase in rural manufacturing output produces a 16% increase in urban jobs, significant additional business-to-business transactions and statewide consumer spending and investment.”

Members of the MRP research team presented that Minnesota rural urban linkages study to gatherings of policymakers and economic development practitioners beginning in late 2010 and concluding in April, 2011, with the statewide “Rural Urban Interdependencies Forum: Understanding Linkages That Drive Job Creation.”  The forum provided a summary of evidence for renewed commitment to an integrated – rural and urban together — approach to community and economic development to foster Minnesota vitality.  Alas, the seeds of such rural urban partnering lay dormant until now, hopefully to be awakened by the NLC’s national study.

We can and should heed the advice within the NLC’s 2018 report:

“It’s time for the narrative to shift from urban vs. rural to a shared economic future. Bridging the economic divide between urban and rural areas will require states, regions and localities to understand and bolster the relationship between urban and rural areas in economically meaningful and strategic ways.”

The NLC report highlights the importance of broadband, education attainment, and infrastructure investments across the board:

“One consistent theme…is the importance of infrastructure connectivity and market access, indicating that sustainable growth hinges on the connectedness of places, not necessarily their designation as urban or rural…In all states, urban areas outpace their rural counterparts in broadband access… underscoring the importance of extending affordable broadband to rural areas…States with strong levels of educational attainment have less conspicuous educational divides between urban and rural areas. Often, rural areas are home to universities, which connect rural residents to educational opportunities and narrow the gap.” 

Timely and right on target with the NLC’s shared economic growth frame, the nonprofit policy development organization, Growth & Justice (where MN Rural Partners is now co-housed), has been working for over a year with several partners on implementing the MN Rural Equity Project (funded by Blandin Foundation). As a part of that project, Growth & Justice and, are co-organizing the Thriving by Design – Rural Urban Together – One Minnesota Blueprint 2040 process to create a comprehensive rural urban partnering agenda by December, 2018, for the new Governor and state legislature to consider.

If you are interested in applying to be a delegate to the statewide kickoff gathering (to be held in Granite Falls, June 27-29, 2018), contact me at  We are trying to recruit two people from every Minnesota state senate district to ensure statewide participation in this historic gathering and spark rural urban collaboration towards economic equity and inclusion for all Minnesotans.


— The FY19 Minnesota Festival Support Program overview and application instructions are available on the Arts Board website.  Minnesota Festival Support is a grant program 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 deadline to submit applications is Friday, March 23.

–Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is offering funding to coalitions working to reduce substance abuse among youth and to establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, organizations, and governmental entities. Application deadline: 3/29/2018. Click here for funding guidelines.

–U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) has opened the FY 2018 funding round for the CDFI Program and Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA) Program. The awards from these programs will support Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) providing affordable financing and related services to low-income communities and populations that lack access to credit, capital, and financial services. Application deadline: 4/4/2018. Click here to review program guidelines for the CDFI Program, and here to review program guidelines for the NACA Program.

–The MEDICA Foundation offers awards for projects that assist people in recovering from serious mental illness and chemical addictions through the recovery process through its Behavioral Health Grant program. Programs should focus on a continuum of care and provide person-centered, multidisciplinary services using evidence-based screening, assessment, diagnostic, treatment, and/or prevention services. Programs should address gaps in behavioral health services, integrate physical and mental healthcare, and provide supportive and intensive case management services. Application deadline: 4/6/2018. Click here to learn more and to apply.

School Grants for Healthy Kids  awards funding to implement school health and wellness practices that help students eat better, stay physically active, and be better prepared to learn. Application Deadline: April 6, 2018.

–National Endowment for the Arts is offering support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations-those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability through its Challenge America program. Grants of $10,000 are available for professional arts programming and for projects that emphasize the potential of the arts in community development, and require a minimum $10,000 match. The involvement of experienced artists and arts professionals is essential. Each applicant must present a straightforward project that reflects only one of the following three project types: guest artist, cultural tourism, public art. Application deadline: 4/12/2018. To learn more and to apply, click here.

–HUD has released the Notice of Funding Announcement (NOFA) for the FY 2017 Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). The purpose of the YHDP is to promote comprehensive systems of care to address youth homelessness. YDHP will select up to 11 communities, including at least five rural communities, to support them in developing and implementing a coordinated community plan to prevent and end youth homelessness.  Applications are due 4/17/2017. More information about the opportunity is available on the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ website here.

Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program (TCRGP)  provides grants to tribal colleges and universities for research projects that address concerns and needs of tribal and reservation communities, including projects that focus on health, environment, and agricultural production needs of remote reservation communities through research.  Application deadline is April 23, 2018.

Newman’s Own Award offers grants to organizations working to improve the quality of life for military members and their families, including programs for job training, housing, caregiver support, and mental health. Application deadline is April 25, 2018.

Mary Kay Domestic Violence Shelter Grant Program  provides grants to support domestic violence shelters.  Application deadline is April 30, 2018.

Grants Available to Help Employers Develop Apprenticeships. Employers are invited to apply for the Minnesota Apprenticeship Initiative grant to help them create or expand registered apprenticeship programs in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care, information technology and transportation. Employers can receive up to $5,000 for each registered apprentice.

–U.S. Department of Labor is offering funding for events that offer homeless veteran populations a variety of social services such as housing, healthcare, and employment opportunities to help them to reintegrate into their communities. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis. Click here to review funding guidelines.

–Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is offering grants for innovative projects that are working to build a culture of health, ensuring that everyone has access to the care they need and all families have the opportunity to make healthier choices. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis. Click here to visit the website to review funding guidelines.

—-Community Food Projects Technical Assistance provides one-on-one technical assistance, educational resources, and professional development opportunities for current grantees and potential applicants of the USDA Community Food Projects grant program. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

—-Affordable Housing Loans for Low-Income Rural Communities  provide short-term loans at below market interest rates to local nonprofits, for-profits, and government entities developing affordable housing for low-income, rural communities. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

–The Walmart Community Foundation’s Community Grant Program is offering grants to nonprofit organizations and agencies that work in one of the following areas: hunger relief and healthy eating, health and human service, quality of life, education, community and economic development, diversity and inclusion, public safety, or environmental sustainability. Awards range from $250 to $5,000. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Click here to learn more and to apply.

–The Home Depot Foundation provides funding for nonprofit organizations and public agencies in the United States that are using the power of volunteers to improve communities through its Community Impact Grants program. Priority is given to projects that benefit veterans and/or diverse and underserved communities. Projects should be volunteer-friendly, engage people at all skill levels, and be expected to have a strong and lasting impact. Awards of up to $5,000 will be given in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services.  Awards are made on a rolling basis. Click here to learn more and to apply.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Grant Program  provides grants to eligible organizations to cover all or part of the costs associated with purchasing an automated external defibrillator (AED). Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.


–The 2018 Nonprofit Communications & Technology Conference is the place to go to consider the ways your nonprofit is balancing the art of communication in a world of high-speed technology.  It will be held Wednesday, March 21 from 7:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.  Learn more and register today!

— The CERTs Community Driven Clean Energy Conference is on March 28-29 at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center.  Read more for registration information and the agenda.

–The 14th Annual Worthington Bioscience Conference will be held on April 5-6, 2018 in
Worthington, MN.  For more information go to:

–AURI’s New Uses Forum 2018: Adding Value at the Speed of Innovation will be held April 11 and 12 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN.  For more information go to:

Broadband Day on the Hill: April 12th, MN State Capitol – Please join the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition and your fellow broadband advocates from across the state for our Day on the Hill event! The Day on the Hill provides you with an opportunity to participate in St. Paul for a day of broadband advocacy and networking with colleagues and legislators.

–Minnesota Campus Compact 2018 Summit and Awards Ceremony will be April 19, at Hamline University.  For more information go to:

–National Rural Assembly “Building Civic Courage” will be held May 21-23, in Durham, North Carolina.  For more information go to:


–Apply for the Blandin Broadband Communities program!  Blandin Foundation is currently seeking four new Blandin Broadband Communities for a 2018-20 cohort.

— The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on Feb. 15 released the draft plan for investing the funds the state is set to receive as part of the national Volkswagen settlement. Now it seeks public input on the draft to ensure that Minnesotans feel it reflects their priorities. In 2016, Volkswagen was caught violating air pollution standards for nitrogen oxides in its diesel cars and SUVs. As part of the national court settlement, states and tribes are eligible for funds to reduce diesel pollution in their jurisdictions. Minnesota’s share of the settlement is $47 million over 10 years. The MPCA received extensive public input throughout 2017 to help develop its draft plan.  The draft plan is open for comment through March 19, 2018.  Read more.

FCC Seeks Nominations for Tribal Government Representatives to Serve On Renewed FCC Native Nations Communications Task Force  This task force will make recommendations to the FCC on communications-related issues that affect tribal interests, including the availability of facilities and services like broadband. Nominations are due March 31st.

–Applications are open for Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) 2018 Scholarship!  Applications will remain open until April 1. Scholarships are offered to help Minnesota undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines work toward their degrees. These awards range from $2,500 – $5,000 and can include internship opportunities at MHTA member companies. LEARN MORE AND APPLY 

— Apply for McKnight Foundation’s Education and Learning Program.  Is your organization doing innovative work to advance education or have a focus on engaging families and communities to have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect their children’s education? You may be a great fit for McKnight Foundation’s Education and Learning Program.  This program advances equitable, sustainable systems change in education by building pipelines of diverse, effective educators and engaging families. The deadline for initial inquiries is April 5, so head to the McKnight Foundation website and become familiar with the guidelines and application requirements.

— 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 are due April 20.

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health Scholarship  Financial support for American Indian and Alaska Native scholars, health leaders, health professionals, and paraprofessionals serving tribal communities who are interested in attending the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health’s Summer and Winter Institute courses at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Application Deadline: May 1, 2018.

The American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarships provides scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduate Tribal College students. Application deadline is May 31.

Smart Rural Community Showcase Award honors rural communities that have achieved high levels of broadband activity and have used it to support innovative practices in industry sectors, such as healthcare, safety and security, and economic development. Application deadline is July 1, 2018.

–Educational Research Center of America is calling on high school students to present original ideas which address a pressing need in their community. First place will receive $5,000, two runners up will receive $2,500, and 15 students will receive $1,000 to be used for higher education expenses. Deadline: 7/25/2018. Submit your idea here.

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 is August 31.

Rural and Tribal Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance  Technical assistance for tribes and rural communities of less than 50,000 people to plan system start-up, transit service improvements, facility development, marketing, transportation coordination, and staff training.

–Xcel Energy opened applications for Solar*Rewards Program; other incentive options still available to install solar in Minnesota.  While the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program is no longer available, Xcel Energy and other utilities continue to offer incentive or rebate programs to incentivize solar energy systems for their customers. Xcel Energy  Solar*Rewards Program is open for residential and commercial customers. Two other investor-owned utilities —Minnesota Power and Otter Tail Power—also offer solar incentives. Minnesota Power offers solar incentives to qualified customers through its SolarSense program. Otter Tail Power offers a Publicly Owned Property Solar program that provides cash incentives to publicly owned facilities that install non-residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

With the 30% federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit still in place through 2019 and other utility incentive programs in force, support for Minnesota residences and businesses to install their own solar energy system remains strong. Several electric utilities in Minnesota voluntarily offer incentives for customers who install solar energy systems. Check with your utility to see if it offers incentives for new solar energy systems. See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, which offers a comprehensive list of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States.

Scholarships Available to Foodservice, Lodging & Hospitality Students. The Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation annually awards scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary education for careers in the restaurant industry or in lodging management. Last year, 29 students received scholarships totaling $99,000.


Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America  View the diversity of challenges and opportunities across America’s counties. View indicators about people, jobs, veterans, and county types. The atlas has been updated to include 2012-16 American Community Survey data and the latest (2016) median income and poverty estimates.

–Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) is an online resource that leads “Creating a Sustainable Network for the Rural Aging Movement,” a three-year program to improve the experience of rural aging by connecting and supporting key players, sharing knowledge, and expanding the resources available to rural older adults. The website features Rural Aging Resources, Opioid Crisis Resources, and a Rural Aging Listserv where participants in the GIA Rural Aging Network can interact to share best practices and new ideas, as well as to promote new partnerships. Visit the website here.

— The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released an updated and modernized version of its National Broadband Map. This version of the map is designed to support more frequent data updates in order to provide a reliable source of broadband deployment information for consumers.

Cybersecurity Toolkit for Rural Hospitals and Clinics  describes 4 steps in awareness, assessment, implementation & remediation, and education, to help rural clinics and hospitals develop and maintain cybersecurity programs. Includes a list of resources, checklists, and tools appropriate for all users.

Exploring Strategies to Improve Health and Equity in Rural Communities  identifies the strengths and assets of rural communities, key partners, change agents, and opportunities to leverage assets to improve rural health and equity through a national forum of over 400 national and region cross-sector stakeholders. Findings were organized into four categories: individual assets, organizational assets, community assets, and cultural assets. Includes discussion on challenges and opportunities for action for each asset category.
Additional links:

The Health Center Program Is Increasing Access to Care Through Telehealth provides a snapshot showing how community health centers utilize telehealth to expand access to quality healthcare. Includes data comparing how rural and urban health centers use telehealth to provide different types of healthcare services.

2018 Telehealth Policy Barriers  discusses existing policy barriers at the federal and state level that inhibit the use of telehealth in rural and urban areas, including: reimbursement; malpractice; licensing; HIPAA/privacy/security; prescribing; credentialing and privileging; and other influences on policy.

Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Primary Care Practices  provides tools, information, and resources to implement suicide prevention practices in primary care settings, including those in rural areas.  Additional links: PDF Version

–The NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis conducted formative research to enhance understanding of strengths and assets in rural places, identify key partners and change agents, and identify opportunities to leverage assets to improve rural health and equity. In their report, Exploring Strategies to Improve Health and Equity in Rural Communities, the Center engaged over 400 national and regional cross-sector stakeholders through a national discussion forum that included key informant interviews, regional community forums, regional vetting sessions, formal partnerships, and feedback sessions at national conferences. Click here to read the full report.


Rural Food Access Toolkit This new toolkit compiles resources and model programs on improving access to healthy food in rural areas. Created in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, this toolkit is designed to guide you through creating a sustainable program from development through evaluation.

National Trends in Drinking Water Quality Violations  examines patterns in health-related violations in the Safe Drinking Water Act by analyzing data from 17,900 community water systems from 1982-2015. Identifies vulnerability factors in communities and water systems. Includes a rural and urban comparison of total violations by water system, and county-level information on violation hot spots and spatial trends in community water systems.

— CERTs reaches out to Greater Minnesota to develop renewable energy projects through its Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota Program, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) offers custom project assistance and tools to farmers and rural small business owners who are interested in pursuing renewable energy projects. CERTs is available to help the people of Greater Minnesota complete clean energy projects such as solar, wind, and biomass. CERTs can help:

  • Explore projects that could work for your farm or business
  • Identify potential funding and financing options
  • Get one-on-one assistance on your project

Read more about Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota.


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!