APRIL 2018 – Volume XVI — Number 4
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
Access the newsletter online


ACROSS THE FIELD:  Celebrating a life well-lived: Jane Freeman, First Lady of Minnesota and Minnesota Rural Partner extraordinaire

by Jane Leonard

We mourn the loss of a wonderful friend & mentor, Jane C. Freeman, who passed away last month at the age of 96. Last Saturday witnessed an incredible gathering of her family, friends, and colleagues at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. They came across the decades and across political parties to honor Mrs. Freeman and celebrate her life.

She was eulogized by her son, current Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, and her daughter, Connie Freeman, an international development expert, who said that “three key adjectives capture well Jane’s essence: passion, presence, and pragmatism.”

Mrs. Freeman knew me since I was born; my Dad was press secretary to Jane’s husband, Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman, and we followed the Freemans out to Washington when Governor Freeman became U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Kennedy & Johnson.

We stayed in touch over the years and when the Freemans returned to Minnesota for good in the 1990s, Mrs. Freeman began attending and supporting every one of the 10 Minnesota Rural Summits that MN Rural Partners organized between 1997 and 2007. She was an avid reader of this newsletter, too, and would often send us “well done” notes and encouragement on the work we were doing. She was intensely interested in helping people improve our state and our world, all the way to the very end of her life. She lives on in all of us whose lives she touched and we will carry on her “passion, presence, and pragmatism.”

And to that end: Minnesotans, Your State Needs Your Passion, Presence & Pragmatism, too! Help out today and in future planning by….

  1. Take the just out Digital Readiness Survey: This research will measure Minnesotans’ online access and skills to inform economic development strategy.

Why take the survey? Communities across Minnesota rely on high-speed Internet access to compete in today’s economy, yet critical gaps exist. YOU have an opportunity to help identify those gaps through the Digital Readiness Survey, offered by the Purdue Center for Regional Development. Supported by Blandin Foundation and Growth & Justice, all Minnesotans are invited to take the survey. The 20-question survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete and is available here:  https://purdue.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6g2CYwO18MIVy2F

  1. Then sign up to be a delegate to help create the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint

RU Together, MN?! You are needed to help develop the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint! Apply starting April 16 to be a delegate to the kickoff convening, Thriving by Design – Rural & Urban Together, to be held in Granite Falls, June 27-29, 2018. You can apply to be a delegate and can also register for the gathering at: http://www.growthandjustice.org/thriving-by-design (On and after April 16.)

The Blueprint creation is a key part of the MN Rural Equity Project, an ambitious effort funded by Blandin Foundation and organized by the non-profit group, Growth & Justice and several other partners in early 2017 to shine a light on persistent socioeconomic and public investment gaps throughout rural and Greater Minnesota.

Starting in June 2018, Growth & Justice, along with co-host OneMN.org, is kicking off a six-month community engagement process with Minnesotans to create a comprehensive policy agenda for decision-makers — the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint — for achieving rural-urban and racial economic equity and inclusive growth. The blueprint is meant to serve as a roadmap for policy makers and community members in Minnesota going forward – together – over the next several years.

The delegation and other participants in Granite Falls will learn about the issues before us as a state and begin to build the outlines of the Equity Blueprint, using the Shared Sustainable Prosperity (SSP) model and Community Capitals Framework (CCF) as a way to both comprehensively organize the policy framework and measure subsequent outcomes over time.

In the six months following the June gathering in Granite Falls, delegates will host further community input on the draft blueprint through regional meetings and network of networks dissemination. At a concluding statewide gathering in December 2018, delegates will finalize the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint to present it to the new Governor, Legislature, and back out to the wider One Minnesota Equity Blueprint network of networks.


–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.

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants and Guaranteed Loans  Financing and grant funding for agriculture producers and rural small businesses to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems or complete energy efficiency improvements. An example of a potential funded project may be the installation of solar panels for hospitals or clinics to improve energy costs.
Application Deadline: April 30, 2018.

Department of Veterans Affairs is offering grants to nonprofit and other organizations for programs to support adaptive sports activities for veterans within their home communities, as well as more advanced Paralympic and adaptive sports programs at the regional and national levels. Deadline: 5/2/2018. Click here to review funding guidelines.

Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP)   Grants for projects that assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community‐supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer‐to‐consumer market opportunities.  Application Deadline: May 7, 2018

USDA Rural Utilities Service has announced the availability of funding through the Community Connect Broadband Grant Program which provides grants for communities without broadband service to provide residential and business broadband services and connect facilities via broadband facilities such as police and fire stations, healthcare, libraries, and schools. Deadline: 5/14/2018. Click here to review application guidelines.

AARP Community Challenge  Grants for projects that work to improve livability for all residents of a community. Application Deadline: May 16, 2018.

— Apply now for a clean air grant to reduce VOCs! MPCA grant funding is now open for cost-effective projects that reduce volatile organic compound emissions (VOCs) in a range of Minnesota-based organizations. VOCs come from solvents, inks, coatings, cleaners, and vehicles as well as process or maintenance equipment used every day across the state. Using alternatives can save money and protect employee and community health.

Eligible applicants:

  • Small businesses under 500 employees (e.g. manufacturers, printers, industrial finishers, automotive, metal casting, etc.)
  • Governmental agencies
  • Educational institutions
  • Non-profits
  • Trade groups
  • Associations

The maximum grant award is $24,000 with a 50% required match. The most cost-effective projects will score highest. Special consideration will be given for innovative projects from targeted applicants in environmental justice and highly urbanized areas. Apply now! Deadline May 18, 2018.  To review grant materials, frequently asked questions, and the short two-page application, visit www.pca.state.mn.us/voc. Send RFP or application questions to grants.pca@state.mn.us  If you need help developing a VOC-reducing project or calculating the cost-effectiveness or impact of your project, contact Matt Domski, Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, 612-624-5119 or domsk004@umn.edu.

Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program provides funding to community-based, outreach education and extension programs at land-grant colleges and universities that provide individuals and families based in rural areas with information on health, wellness, and prevention, including the prevention and reduction of opioid misuse and abuse.  Application Deadline: May 24, 2018

Tribal Colleges Extension Grant Program: Capacity  grants to establish and strengthen capacity to equip, train, and deploy extension educators and specialists to carry out tribal extension needs assessments and outreach activities. Application Deadline: June 6, 2018.

Charles A. Frueauff Foundation awards grants in the areas of education, human services, and health. Specific project initiatives include food and hunger; economic development; daycare programs; hospital and healthcare agencies; health screenings; health education; AIDS/HIV prevention and education; and equipment for healthcare facilities. Deadline: 7/1/2018. Click here for an application and funding guidelines.

RURAL LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) created the Community Facilities Fund to provide capital to help develop and improve essential community facilities in rural areas. Rural LISC utilizes this fund to provide permanent and construction-to- permanent financing for rural community facilities, including health care centers, hospitals, educational facilities, and other nonprofit and public facilities in rural communities with populations under 20,000. Deadline: ongoing. Click here for more information.

SEARCH – Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households provides funding to financially distressed rural communities of less than 2,500 people to assist with feasibility studies, design assistance, and technical assistance on proposed water and waste disposal projects.


– 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. https://wp.me/p3if7-4ww

–Minnesota Campus Compact 2018 Summit and Awards Ceremony will be April 19, at Hamline University.  For more information go to: http://mncampuscompact.org/event/2017-state-summit-and-awards-luncheon/
Attend the Northwest Minnesota Tourism Conference  The Northwest Minnesota Tourism Conference, presented by Riverland Association, will be held on Tuesday, April 24, at the University of Minnesota in Crookston.

— The 2018 Midwest Solar Expo returns to Minneapolis for its 5th annual conference, exhibition and Smart Energy Symposium on April 30-May 2 at DoubleTree by Hilton Minneapolis Hotel, Park Place. Attendees will gain insights about the Midwest solar industry, hear from solar experts, receive hands-on product training, and enjoy networking with over 400 solar professionals from across the solar industry. The Expo combines with the Smart Energy Symposium, a one-day speaker series dedicated to the smart, connected grid ecosystem, exploring how emerging smart energy technologies will interact with city infrastructure. For information and to register, read more.

–National Rural Assembly “Building Civic Courage” will be held May 21-23, in Durham, North Carolina.  For more information go to:  http://ruralassembly.org/2018-rural-assembly/

–2018 Tribal Public Health Summit.  The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is hosting the 9th annual Tribal Public Health Summit (TPHS) for public health professionals, elected leaders, advocates and researchers May 22–24 in Prior Lake. The conference theme Balance, Harmony, Culture, Health will feature solutions for Indian Country. Topics include:

  • health promotion and disease prevention
  • public health policy, infrastructure, and capacity
  • substance misuse and behavioral health
  • climate change and environmental health
  • cancer prevention and treatment

–The 2018 Minnesota Rural Health Conference – Community: The heart of health – is dedicated to our rural community citizens, advocates, organizations and rural health systems. The theme is inspired by rural communities working together to ensure healthy communities. This year’s conference will be held June 25–26 in Duluth. Conference registration has opened! Early bird rates are available until May 4. Make sure you sign up for email conference updates when you register so that you receive continual information about the conference.

-SAVE THE DATE: Thriving by Design – Rural Urban Together – OneMN Blueprint 2040 (you heard it here first, folks, shorthand names: RU Together MN, Granite Gathering…) – June 27-29, 2018, Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort, Granite Falls, MN. For more info, contact jane@growthandjustice.org or brett1mn@gmail.com  

–The annual Many Faces of Community Health Conference will be held October 25-26 in Bloomington.


— 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.

National Native American Youth Initiative (NNAYI)  A summer program designed to prepare American Indian and Alaska Native high school students to pursue careers in healthcare or biomedical research. Application Deadline: April 30, 2018.

–The MDH Rural Health Awards. It’s time to nominate an individual or a group of people you feel deserves to be honored for their work in rural health. The Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health and Primary Care bestows three rural health awards annually: the Minnesota Rural Health Hero Award, the Rural Health Team Award, and the Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award. The Lifetime Achievement Awards is distinguished from the other two awards in terms of length of service and breadth of impact. It is meant for individuals who, over the span of their career, have made a lasting or significant contribution to improving rural health. Nominees for all the awards will have made positive or innovative contributions in the areas of rural health policy, education, legislation, patient care, services, or health care systems within their communities or at a state level. Nominations are due May 1. All the awards recognize outstanding contributions to rural health in our state. They will be presented during the 2018 Minnesota Rural Health Conference Awards Breakfast on June 26 in Duluth.

–MRHA Emerging Rural Health Leader Award.  This award, bestowed by the Minnesota Rural Health Association, recognizes a health profession student who demonstrates outstanding desire and effort in rural health leadership (i.e., a student willing to “lead the charge” for improving rural health and health care on a regional and/or statewide basis; seen as an emerging leader on rural health issues). The MRHA Emerging Rural Health Leader Award Nomination is due May 1.This award will be presented during the 2018 Minnesota Rural Health Conference Awards Breakfast on June 26 in Duluth.

— 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.

–The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) recently launched “Solar Possible,” a cooperative purchasing effort to facilitate more state agencies, local governments, and schools to acquire solar for their facilities. Collaborative procurement is an effective approach to reduce barriers, learn together, and drive projects to successful completion. This initial effort is geared toward jurisdictions in Xcel Energy territory. Read more.


— Research will measure Minnesotans’ online access and skills to inform economic development
Communities across Minnesota rely on high-speed Internet access to compete in today’s economy, yet critical gaps exist. Rural Minnesotans have an opportunity to help identify those gaps through the Digital Readiness Survey, offered by the Purdue Center for Regional Development.

Supported by Blandin Foundation and Growth & Justice, all Minnesotans are invited to take the survey. The 20-question survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete and is available at  https://goo.gl/ZHfAyK

Farm Bill Portal The Farm Bill affects all Americans, whether they work in agriculture or not. IATP created a new resource full of information on the history and impact of this critical legislation.

2018 Compass Points now available The annual indicator report includes data and analysis about notable trends, key demographics, and a dashboard that highlights how Minnesota is doing in key topic areas. The information is useful for policymakers, business and community leaders, and others working to ensure the health and well-being of all Minnesota residents and communities. Download the pdf here.

Little or no growth expected in Minnesota’s working-age population  Statewide, we expect no growth in our working-age population (age 18-64) over the next two decades. By region, the working-age population is only expected to grow in the Twin Cities. All other regions of the state expect to see declines through 2030. Check out this and other featured trends.

Rural Public Health Agencies This topic guide has been updated with new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on challenges and opportunities, workforce, and how rural providers and public health workers can collaborate on population health. We also have a new FAQ on accreditation, including research related to costs and barriers in rural areas, and an updated FAQ on public health infrastructure and governance.

2018 County Health Rankings Key Findings Report  Analyzes health factors and outcomes to report on county-level health disparities throughout the U.S. Discusses a variety of health measures, including low birth weight, residential segregation, child poverty, and teen birth. Covers key findings, and calls to action and community guidance to improve health outcomes for all health measures.  Additional links: 2018 State Health Reports

HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018 – 2022  Identifies the strategic goals and objectives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Strategic Goals 1 and 2 discuss healthcare access and health workforce in rural and tribal communities, including access to mental health and substance abuse care.

–The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published a policy brief focused on preventing rural opioid overdoses and reducing overdose deaths in rural areas. The brief identifies policy options and includes three brief case studies. Get the brief here.

Leading a Faith-Based Charge Against Opioid Abuse: How a Minnesota Rural Health Organization Became a National Leader  Describes prescription drug abuse treatment efforts of CHI St. Gabriel’s Health, a multi-facility rural health organization in Little Falls, Minnesota.

–The Minnesota Department of Health has released county tobacco profiles for each of Minnesota’s counties. These profiles show commercial tobacco’s toll in each county in one year. They also include local and statewide data on products stores sell, youth tobacco use, and tobacco use during pregnancy. These profiles are an excellent tool for public health professionals to talk about the burden of tobacco use to stakeholders in the community. Contact: Parker Smith at (651) 201–5496 or parker.smith@state.mn.us.

Healthy Children, Healthy Nations: Charting Pathways on Early Childhood Development and Nutrition for Minnesota’s Native Children  Report discusses the health of Native American children in Minnesota. Features state and national data about Native American children’s health, as well as interventions in children’s nutrition, early childhood development, and childhood trauma.

Trends Report: 2017 Transportation Trends Topic Spotlight: Rural Travel Training 
Presents a report on rural travel training programs. Discusses the challenges and opportunities rural elderly and disabled people face in navigating their communities. Features several examples of programs exhibiting best practices.

Rural Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Toolkit  Provides information and resources to address rural transportation safety issues. Discusses crash countermeasures, traffic management, operations and maintenance, emergency services, surface transportation and weather, rural transit and mobility, and tourism and travel information.

Guide helps schools achieve zero energy.  A new publication is now available to empower owners, contractors, consulting engineers, architects, designers and administrators of K-12 school buildings to cost effectively achieve advanced levels of energy savings. The resource, “Advanced Energy Design Guide for K-12 School Buildings – Achieving Zero Energy,” is the first in a series of guides that is tailored to the design and creation of zero energy buildings. Zero energy is defined as a building that, on an annual basis, draws from outside resources equal or less energy than it provides using on-site renewable energy sources. The guide is available as a free download at www.ashrae.org/freeaedg.

Resource Guide for Explore Minnesota Programs Now Available  The Explore Minnesota Resource Guide is a free publication designed to inform the Minnesota tourism industry about all the ways to get involved with Explore Minnesota programs and promotions.

2018 Tourism Fact Sheet Provides Summary of Industry’s Importance  The 2018 edition of Explore Minnesota’s Tourism and Economy Fact Sheet provides the latest available data that points to the importance of Minnesota’s travel and tourism industry.

Reports on Impact of Broadband and Economic Development. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that in 10 years the digital economy grew 5.6 percent compared to overall economic growth of 1.5 percent. https://wp.me/p3if7-4wL The National League of Cities releases a report that calls out broadband as a tool to bridge the rural-urban economic divide. https://wp.me/p3if7-4wB The Foundation for Rural Service reports that transactional value of the Internet in rural American is nearly $1.4 trillion. https://wp.me/p3if7-4wm

“Design, innovation, and rural creative places: Are the arts the cherry on top, or the secret sauce?” was published in PLOS One. This article was produced by a partnership between the Economic Research Services, USDA, and the NEA’s Office of Research & Analysis. The study identifies the local factors associated with a strong design orientation, and estimates the impact that a strong design orientation has on the local economy. Get the report here.

–National Endowment for the Arts has published a data profile on rural arts, a research report and a series of research briefs based on a collaboration with the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Although the focus is on “rural arts, design, and innovation,” some of the findings pertain to performing arts organizations in rural communities. Get the report here.

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