MAY 2018 – Volume XVI — Number 5
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
Access the newsletter online


ACROSS THE FIELD:  Help Minnesota Thrive by Design: Rural, Urban, Suburban, Exurban, Micropolitan & Metropolitan — all pulling together for shared sustainable prosperity

Join us at the Upper Sioux Community Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort and in the City of Granite Falls, June 27-29, for Thriving by Design – Rural & Urban Together, to help create the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint. Get current overviews of the state of our state. Get updates on essentials to community and economic vigor such as broadband & other physical infrastructure, childcare, small business development, education & workforce, water quality, arts, health care, the environment and more. Then, with your neighbors from across Minnesota, start assembling the Equity Blueprint, a next-generation inclusive community & economic development policy agenda based on equity as the smart growth strategy, to propel Minnesota and Minnesotans towards shared, sustainable prosperity.

Co-hosts Growth & Justice and and their planning team have gathered topnotch speakers and presentations, including some of the most knowledgeable people in the region on our demographic and economic disparities, and how to fix them.  Among them: Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey; State Demographer Susan Brower; Cornelia Flora Butler, co-creator of the Community Capitals Framework and a highly respected expert in rural community development; and Craig Helmstetter, managing director of the American Public Media Research Lab.  Kate Searls, Research Director at Growth & Justice, will give an update on rural urban economic linkages. The Theater of Public Policy troupe will be in residence and presenting a show on June 28.  Most importantly, hear from folks who have devised local & regional solutions to the thorny issues and waiting opportunities of our time and into the future. Out of this “data download,” attendees will begin creating a comprehensive new policy framework — a unifying “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint’’ — a social contract to heal our divisions and help us strive for more equitable economic growth and climate action over the next decade.

We need you there!   Registration is open!  Registration is $195 for the entire June 27 to June 29 gathering, including 6 meals. Or register for one day, Data Download Day, June 28, for $100. Registration options include participating as an official delegate to this Equity Blueprint gathering in June and in the follow-up six-month blueprint development process, or, sign up as a general participant for the June gathering only.   Those who sign up as delegates are eligible for scholarships to help support the costs of participation.

Please spread the word, even if you cannot attend.  The Blandin Foundation and the McKnight Foundation are helping to underwrite the conference and the community convening process. (Sponsorship opportunities are still available!) The League of Minnesota Cities and the MN Association of Development Organizations are also partners, along with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.


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.

— Minnesota Housing and its partners are pleased to announce the availability of funding to build and preserve affordable housing across Minnesota.  Visit the Minnesota Housing website for applications and instructions for the Consolidated 2018 Multifamily and Single Family Requests for Proposal (RFPs) and 2019 Housing Tax Credits (HTC).  Applications must be received by Minnesota Housing by the following due dates to be eligible for funding consideration:

  • Preservation Pre-Application: May 15, 2018 by 4:30 p.m.
  • Intent to Apply (required for all Multifamily applicants): May 31, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.
  • 2018 Single Family RFP: June 12, 2018 by 12:00 Noon
  • 2018 Multifamily RFP/2019 Housing Tax Credits Round 1: June 14, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.

All funding recommendations must be approved by the Minnesota Housing board. Funding partner proposal recommendations will be made at their respective board meetings.

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. Deadline May 18, 2018.  To review grant materials, frequently asked questions, and the short two-page application, visit Send RFP or application questions to  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

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.

BEST BUY is offering grants through its Community Grants Program provides support to community-based organizations that are located within 25 miles of a Best Buy facility. Grants focus on out-of-school time programs that create access to technology education and tools that teens will need to be successful in their future schooling and careers. Programs should include hands-on learning opportunities and engage the youth, ages 13-18, in experimenting and interacting with the latest technologies to build 21st century skills. Deadline: 5/31/2018. Click here to visit the program’s website for application guidelines.

Innovations in Accessible Mobility  Grants for innovative projects that increase accessible transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities. Application Deadline: May 31, 2018.

The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation Homeownership Counseling Grant Program supports local nonprofit housing organizations nationwide that help create affordable and sustainable homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income families. The program focuses on homebuyer counseling, homebuyer education, and foreclosure prevention activities. Deadline: requests may be submitted from 6/1/2018 through 6/30/2018. Visit the Wells Fargo website here for more information about the program.

Department of Defense is offering funding through the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program for programs that provide assistance dogs to service members or veterans with disabilities. Deadline: 6/4/2018. Click here for more information and to apply.

— Minnesota Housing and the Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness are pleased to announce the anticipated availability of funds for the Homework Starts with Home program.  This initiative will support collaborative efforts between schools, housing organizations, and local governments to identify, engage, and stabilize students experiencing homelessness and their families. Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 4, 2018.  Learn more about this opportunity

Applications due on June 4th for USDA RUS Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program  The program helps rural communities use capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. For example, the program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another. Eligible applicants include most entities that provide education or healthcare through telecommunications including: most state and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, non-profits, for–profit businesses, and consortia of eligible entities. Applicants are required to provide a minimum 15% match and awards can range from $50,000 to $500,000.

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.

FUEL UP TO PLAY 60 invites applications for K-12 Healthy Food Programs. Grants of up to $4,000 will be awarded to qualified K-12 schools to jumpstart healthy changes in the lifestyles of young people. Deadline: 6/13/2018. Click here to review application guidelines.

Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) Provides funding to help nonprofit housing and community development intermediary organizations support housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas. Application Deadline: June 25, 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.

Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program  Secured, direct loans and loan guarantees for eligible water infrastructure projects, with 15% of funds set aside for small, rural, and tribal communities.  Application Deadline: July 6, 2018. Sponsor: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

BUILD Discretionary Grants for capital investments in unmet surface transportation infrastructure needs with an emphasis on rural areas and tribal lands.  Application Deadline: July 19, 2018.

–USDA Seeks Applicants for Rural Broadband Access Loans  Deadline is September 30th.

— The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) plans to award up to 75 grants to rural communities as part of a new Rural Communities Opioid Response Planning (RCORP)initiative in FY 18. Successful awardees will receive up to $200,000 for one–year to develop plans to implement opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions designed to reduce opioid overdoses among rural populations. The initiative will focus on the 220 counties identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being at risk, as well as other high risk rural communities. The lead applicant must be part of a group including at least three other partners that have committed to forming a consortium or are part of an established consortium. All domestic public and private entities, nonprofit and for–profit, will be eligible to apply and all services must be provided in rural communities. For more information please contact: Allison Hutchings.

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.


Greater Minnesota Nonprofit Summit will be held May 16th from 9am to 4pm in Mankato.  Learn more  MCN is pleased to host our eighth annual conference for nonprofits in small towns and rural communities, this year in Mankato. This day-long event is designed to bring together staff, board members and volunteers from across Southern Minnesota to learn, network and strategize.

The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is putting on a series of 30-minute webinars in 2018, with the first webinar on May 17 to feature PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing for commercial properties. The webinar will describe PACE, where it is currently available, and how you can help in PACE expansion and how it can benefit your community. The webinar is from 1:30-2:00 p.m. and is hosted by Peter Lindstrom, CERTs Public Sector & Community Engagement Manager. Read more to register and for more information on the PACE webinar.

— Free Webinar: How Small Towns Give Poor Youth a Head Start.  New research shows that children from poor families in rural communities earn more by their mid-20s than their urban peers, contrary to stereotypes about the disadvantages of growing up rural. A major study of individual incomes by The Equality of Opportunity Project, found that poor children who grow up in three-quarters of rural counties earn more than the national average by their mid-20s. Find out about what researchers call “neighborhood effects” and the lifelong advantages of growing up in places with less income disparity, good schools, and strong civic life. Hear about newly released research on how community matters to poor youth.  Register Now!  Thursday, May 17, 2018 from 2-3 p.m. Eastern.

— Every month, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Partnership Program hosts free webinars. You must register for them.

-Creating high reliability in patient safety. Thursday, May 17, 2:00 – 3:00 PM CDT.

-Navigating a value-based world as a small or rural hospital. Friday, May 18, 2:00 – 3:00 PM CDT.

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

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

Thriving by Design – Rural & Urban Together, to create the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint June 27-29, 2018, Prairie’s Edge Casino & Resort, Granite Falls, MN. Shorthand names: RU Together MN, Granite Gathering. Registration and delegate application begins on April 16. For more info contact or   and go to: 

— The Community Solar Power Summit will be held July 18-19 at the Radisson Blu Downtown Minneapolis. The Summit, produced by the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), brings together leading community solar businesses, utilities, nonprofits, and policymakers for a two-day event featuring in-depth conversations with national community solar leaders from CCSA, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), and other industry leaders. Read more.

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

NACRHHS Policy Brief on Understanding the Impact of Suicide in Rural America The webinar on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services’ Policy Brief on Understanding the Impact of Suicide in Rural America.


The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is seeking nominations for its annual Mission Awards, including awards for Advocacy and for Anti-Racism mission work. Staff members, board members, volunteers, program participants, donors, or other supporters may nominate a nonprofit for a Mission Award. The deadline for nominations is Monday, May 21. To learn more, visit the Mission Awards page on the MCN website.

Know Someone Doing Amazing Work With Little Recognition? Nominate them for a Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Award!

We are excited to announce its fourth annual awards program in partnership with The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation seeking to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Four Minnesotans, two from the Twin Cities metro and two from Greater Minnesota, will each receive $10,000 in recognition of the significant impact they have had on the state of Minnesota and its communities.

The criteria for the award is simple. A Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero is an individual who has had a significant impact on the state of Minnesota and its communities. This individual:

  • Has played a significant role on creating a positive impact on Minnesota and its communities.
  • Has not been widely recognized for his/her work in the past.

For more information on the award and to nominate someone, visit our websiteNominations are open until May 25!

–Blandin Foundation is now accepting applications for its Blandin Broadband Communities program, which supports rural community efforts to improve both access to and use of broadband that enhance community vitality. Selected communities will participate as a cohort with other Minnesota communities over a 24-month period, will have access to up to $75,000 in project grant funds and will receive priority for up to $25,000 in grant funds from the Foundation’s Robust Network Feasibility Fund program. Applications are due May 31.  —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.

Nominations are open for the 2018 Veterans’ Voices Award. These actively engaged former and current military service members are thriving and making significant contributions that improve the lives of people in their Minnesota communities and beyond. Take a moment to recognize a veteran in your community. Nominations are due June 7.

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.


The Minnesota Department of Human Services Crisis Text Line is offering text–based suicide prevention services across Minnesota. People who text MN to 741741 will be connected with a counselor who will help defuse the crisis and connect the texter to local resources. Crisis Text Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Take the Digital Readiness Survey, Please!  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 and supported by Blandin Foundation and Growth & Justice.

Rural Development Innovation Center  Website provides information about the Rural Development Innovation Center, which features resources and best practices for rural communities seeking to improve quality of life through job creation, infrastructure improvements, community partnerships, and more.

Rural Data Visualizations Looking for state-specific data? Struggling to find data for your rural county? These new tools compile data from federal and other publicly-available sources in a variety of formats to best fit your needs. Check out our Chart Gallery with national and state-specific charts and our Rural Data Explorer, an interactive map with county-level data that is printable for your convenience.

Population & Migration  Nonmetro areas in some parts of the country have experienced population loss for decades. However, 2010-16 marks the first period with an estimated population loss for nonmetro America as a whole. The number of people living in nonmetro counties increased by 33,000 between July 2016 and July 2017, ending 6 years of modest population losses. However, opportunities for population growth and economic expansion vary widely from one nonmetro county to the next, and new regional patterns of growth and decline have emerged in recent years.

Natural Decrease Counties, Before and After 2010  Map identifying counties that had a natural population increase (births exceeding deaths), a natural decrease that was new since 2010, and a natural decrease in 2000-2009.

Population Change, 2010-17  Map showing counties that lost population between 2010 and 2017, counties with an increase less than 5%, and those with a population increase of 5% or more.

Rural Poverty & Well-being research on this topic focuses on the economic, social, spatial, and demographic factors that affect the poverty status of rural residents.

Annual Figures Show Slight Rise in Rural Jobs, But Gap With Metro Widens 
Details annual job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which revealed that rural counties have yet to return to the levels of employment from before the Great Recession, with 750,000 fewer jobs in 2017 than in 2008. Although rural employment did increase from 2016, the gap between rural and urban counties continues to increase over time.

— The ORHPC has released the 2017 Snapshot of Health in Rural Minnesota. This snapshot provides an overview of key health indicators, behaviors and social determinants of health that are important in understanding rural communities and addressing health disparities. This is the third in a series of rural health status reports and is a follow-up to the 2011 report The Health Status of Rural Minnesotans. For more information, contact Emma Distel at (651) 201–3528.

— The 2017 Minnesota Statewide Health Assessment tells the story of health in Minnesota. Each section of the assessment links data on social, economic and environmental conditions with rates of disease or individual health behaviors to strengthen the understanding of what creates health and health equity. The themes of opportunity, belonging and nature that frame the data in the assessment are new for many public health audiences. A discussion guide is now available on the MDH 2017 Minnesota Statewide Health Assessment Discussions website. Questions about the assessment, discussion guide, overview handout and an available PowerPoint presentation may be directed to or

Preventing and Treating Cancer in Rural America  Policy brief focused on rural cancer prevention, screening, treatment, and cancer survivorship. Provides an overview of rural-specific issues related to cancer. Identifies policy options for addressing cancer in rural areas and includes four brief case studies.

Social Determinants of Health: Transforming the Buzz Phrase to a Rural Action Item
Two healthcare organizations demonstrate how the social determinants of health and social risk assessment can be used as a framework for transforming a rural “health delivery system to a true health system.”

AWEA 2017 wind report: Minnesota ranks 7th in wind generation. Wind power now supplies more than 30% of electricity in four states and more than 10% in 14 states, including Minnesota, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) newly released U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2017. Minnesota generated 18.2% of its electricity from wind in 2017, ranking it seventh in the nation. Overall, wind accounted for 6.2% of electricity in the United States. To download the report’s executive summary, read more.

New Wind Turbine Database is available. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the American Wind Energy Association, released the United States Wind Turbine Database (USWTDB) and the USWTDB Viewer to access this new public dataset. This new Wind Turbine Database is a comprehensive dataset of U.S. wind turbine locations and characteristics that is easily accessible, more accurate, and updated more often than existing wind turbine datasets. Read more.

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has issued state-by-state energy and water flow charts in one location so that analysts and policymakers can find all the information they need in one place. LLNL worked with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to produce the atlas of hybrid energy/water Sankey diagrams for each of the states. These diagrams depict energy use and water flow during the year 2010, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available. See the flow chartsRead more.

“A Compass for Families: Head Start in Rural America Report” details the importance of Head Start programs to rural communities. The report details the services Head Start provides for rural families, such as child care, connection to health services, and transportation, among others, and features county level data and rural-urban comparisons. Get the report from the Center for American Progress by clicking here.

Planners4Health has published “Emergency Preparedness and Recovery: A Toolkit for Rural Communities” that provides information and resources to assist a long term recovery group (LTRG) responding to a disaster and implementing recovery plans in a rural community. The Toolkit addresses the infrastructure and health needs of rural residents in a disaster. Get the toolkit here.

— Lessons from the Kresge Foundation’s Journey to Creative Placemaking – the integration of arts, culture, and resident-engaged design into community development and planning – are highlighted in a series of white papers launched recently by the Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program. The papers are geared toward helping grantmakers and creative placemaking practitioners more successfully integrate arts and culture into community development. Read the papers here.

— The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s “Grow Your Own, Entrepreneurship-Based Economic Development” is a free publication available for those interested in entrepreneurship-based economic development. Get the publication here.

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!