JUNE 2018 – Volume XVI — Number 6
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard




–The MPCA is releasing the first Request for Proposal (RFP) under the Minnesota VW Settlement Diesel Replacement Program. The RFP is for grants of $15,000 or $20,000 to school bus owners or their representatives around the state to replace old diesel school buses with new diesel, natural gas, propane or electric school buses.  There is a total of $2,115,000 available under this grant opportunity.

Grants will be awarded based on selection criteria that include emissions reduction, cost effectiveness, health effects, and environmental justice ramifications. Please visit the School Bus Replacement Grant webpage to learn more about this grant opportunity and download application forms.  This is the first grant opportunity under this new program.  Additional grants for a variety of other diesel vehicle replacement projects will be forthcoming in the near future.  To learn more about Minnesota’s plan for VW settlement funds, visit our website.

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.

New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program  Tax incentives for investments in business or economic development projects in distressed rural or urban counties, including capital investments in healthcare facilities. Investors give to Community Development Entities who then offer low-interest financing to businesses; in return for their investment, investors receive a tax credit against their federal income tax.  Application Deadline: June 28, 2018

–The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced the availability of $330,000 in shooting range grants to build or improve trap, skeet, rifle, pistol or five-stand shooting ranges in the state. The application period closes June 29.

Shooting clubs that allow members of the public to shoot at reasonable times and for a reasonable fee are eligible for the grants, which require a one-to-one match.

There are two levels of grants available: small grants, which are between $2,500 and $25,000, and large grants, which are above $25,000. All grantees must verify current female participation data and show an intent to improve future diversity opportunities.

–The National Park Service announces that it is now taking applications for community assistance in planning park, trail and conservation projects through its Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. Apply by June 30 to receive technical assistance with project elements, such as: park and trail planning, visioning and goal setting, partnership building, organizational development, resource analysis, community outreach, facilitation, priority setting, consensus building, and developing funding strategies. If accepted, your project team will receive assistance for a year or more from an experienced Outdoor Recreation Planner at no cost.
Click here for more information, or contact holly_larson@nps.gov or 651-293-8444.

–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.

–The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF), a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, is offering grants to nonprofit organizations, municipalities, and school districts involved in youth baseball or softball to finance a new program, expand or improve an existing program, undertake a new collaborative effort, or obtain facilities or equipment necessary for youth baseball or softball programs. Grants average $40,000. Deadline: 7/1/2018. Visit the BTF website here to learn more about the grant criteria and application process.

–Department of Justice is offering grants to expand/enhance access to opioid prevention among youth. Deadline: 7/2/2018. Click here for application materials.

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.

–The Home Depot Foundation is offering grants to nonprofit organizations through the Veteran Housing Grants Program for the new construction or rehabilitation of multifamily, permanent supportive housing, and transitional facilities for veterans. Grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 are available solely for the physical construction or repair of housing for veterans (hard costs), and the grant amount must comprise less than 50 percent of the total development cost of the project. Nonprofit organizations that have been in existence at least five years and have a current operating budget of at least $300,000 are eligible to apply. Deadline: 7/13/2018. Visit the Foundation’s website here to review the funding guidelines and take the online eligibility quiz.

–Minnesota Innovation Loans for Entrepreneurs (MILE) was launched by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).  It is a new competitive loan program for high-tech startups based in Minnesota, with interest-free loans ranging from $20,000 to $50,000, which require a one-to-one match from another funder and are to be repaid within four years. Apply for first round of loans by July 16. More info is here.

Vulnerable Rural Hospitals Assistance Program  Funding for a single entity to provide targeted in-depth assistance to vulnerable rural hospitals within communities that are struggling to maintain healthcare services. Application Deadline: July 16, 2018

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

–USDA is seeking applications for grants under the Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant program. The purpose of this program is to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Eligible applicants include cooperatives, groups of cooperatives and cooperative development centers. This program supports Rural Development’s mission of improving the quality of life for rural Americans and commitment to direct agency resources to those who most need them. A socially-disadvantaged group is one whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. A majority of the applicant’s board of directors or governing board must be comprised of individuals who are members of socially-disadvantaged groups.

For FY 2018, USDA plans to award up to $3 million in grants. The maximum grant award is $175,000. Grants may be used to develop and operate a Rural Cooperative Development Center that could provide the following technical assistance and other services to rural businesses:

  • Conducting feasibility studies
  • Developing business plans
  • Providing leadership and operational improvement training

Paper applications are due July 30, 2018. Electronic applications are due July 24, 2018. Questions about the application process may be directed to your local Rural Development Area Office.  For more information, see page 24719 of the May 30 Federal Register or visit www.rd.usda.gov/mn.

–USDA is seeking applications for grants under USDA’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant program (RCDG).  This program helps improve the economic condition of rural areas by helping individuals and businesses start, expand or improve rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses. Nonprofit corporations and institutions of higher education are eligible to apply. Public bodies, for-profit business and individuals are not eligible. USDA expects to award up to $5.8 million for FY 2018.

The maximum grant award is $200,000. Grants may be used to develop and operate a Rural Cooperative Development Center that could provide the following technical assistance and other services to rural businesses:

  • Conducting feasibility studies
  • Developing business plans
  • Providing leadership and operational improvement training

Questions about the application process may be directed to your local Rural Development Area Office. Paper applications are due July 30, 2018.  Electronic applications are due July 24, 2018. For more information, see page 24726 of the May 30 Federal Register or visit www.rd.usda.gov/mn.

–National Endowment for the Arts is supporting creative placemaking projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes through its Our Town grants program. This funding supports local efforts to enhance quality of life for existing residents through arts engagement, cultural planning, design, and/or artist/creative industry support, or to build and disseminate knowledge about how to leverage arts, culture, and design as mechanisms for strengthening communities. All applications require partnerships that involve at least two primary partners: a nonprofit organization and a local governmental entity. One of the two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization. Our Town offers matching grants starting at $25,000 for Place-Based and Knowledge Building projects. Deadlines: submit SF-424 by 8/9/2018; submit materials to Applicant Portal 8/14-21/2018. Click here to learn more and apply.

— USDA’s Direct Home Loan Program offers financing to qualified very-low and low-income applicants that are unable to qualify for traditional financing. No down payment is required, and the interest rate could be as low as one percent with a subsidy. Applicants must meet income and credit guidelines and demonstrate repayment ability. The program is available in rural communities of 20,000 people or less. The maximum loan amount for repair is $20,000 at a one percent interest rate, repayable for a 20-year term and can be used to improve or modernize homes and do essential repairs. Grants of up to $7,500 are available to homeowners 62 and older and must be used to remove health or safety hazards, such as fixing a leaking roof, installing indoor plumbing, or replacing a furnace. Time is limited to receive these funds. Qualified applicants have until the end of September 2018 to apply. Contact a USDA Rural Development Housing Specialist in your area today, to see if you qualify.

–USDA seeks applicants for Rural Broadband Access Loans https://wp.me/p3if7-4xT  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.


–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.  For more info contact jane@growthandjustice.org or brett1mn@gmail.com   and go to: http://www.growthandjustice.org/thriving-by-design

— 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 second webinar in the 2018 Rural Behavioral Health Webinar Series: “The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Children and Youth in Rural Communities-How Schools and Communities are Responding” will be held July 19, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT. Click here to register in July.

–The Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) is hosting a series of two online webinars on Disaster Preparation and Recovery. The webinars will cover why disasters are important for housing counseling; the potential effects of disasters on communities, agencies and counselors; and the six areas in which housing counseling has played a key role in disaster recovery to help participants gain a broad understanding of the agency disaster preparation and recovery role, including pre-disaster agency planning, identifying and collaborating with key stakeholders, and recognizing opportunities for disaster recovery housing counseling services. The webinars will take place on September 11 and September 13, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM EDT. Learn more about the webinars and register here.

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

–The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) will host the fifth-annual MnSEIA Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference on Nov. 13-14 at the Hilton Hotel in Bloomington, Minn. The conference will focus on the state of solar in Minnesota, the Midwest, and the nation. It will bring together solar industry practitioners from all over the country for education, networking, and MnSEIA’s plans to grow Minnesota’s solar market. To register and for more details, read more.

Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota Oct 23-24
Join policymakers, economic and community development professionals and community broadband champions from across the state for this annual opportunity to learn, connect and engage. https://wp.me/p3if7-4D6


–Each year, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits seeks nominations for individuals to represent their communities and serve on the MCN board of directors. Leaders of MCN member nonprofit organizations are encouraged to nominate themselves or a colleague for a board position.

Nominations are now open, and MCN’s board nominating committee is seeking at least five candidates for nominated for three open positions. Voting will open in October. Three-year terms for the newly elected board members will start in January 2019.Hurry and nominate yourself or a colleague now – nominations close on July 27, 2018!

–2018 Tekne Awards – The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) announced categories for our 19th Annual Tekne Awards. Applications will be accepted until August 3, with the Tekne Awards ceremony to be held November 29.

Tekne Awards recognize the leaders in Minnesota’s innovation economy and cutting-edge innovators in science and technology. The awards celebrate the individuals and organizations that play a significant role in discovering new technologies that educate and improve the lives of Minnesotans and people around the world.

2018 Tekne Award categories are:

  • Biotech/Pharmaceuticals
  • Building Design and Infrastructure
  • Clean Tech/Energy
  • Community Impact
  • Cybersecurity
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Food/Ag Tech
  • Health IT
  • IT Solutions Consulting
  • Medical Device
  • Science & Technology Startup
  • Software—Established
  • Software—Small and Growing
  • STEM Workforce Development

Learn more.  Also, on June 20 at 9 a.m. there is a Tekne Award Webinar.  MHTA will be hosting a webinar to provide advice and answer your questions on award categories, eligibility, important dates and more. A past award recipient and Tekne judge will also provide their perspectives. Register here for the webinar.

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.

NTIA: Improving the Quality and Accuracy of Broadband Availability Data  The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is requesting comment on ways to improve the quality and accuracy of broadband availability data, particularly in rural areas. Information will be used to identify gaps in availability which can then be used to improve policymaking and inform public investments. Comments are due by July 16, 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.

–Explore Minnesota is seeking proposals to host the 2019 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. This event is held annually and is coordinated by Explore Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and a host community/tourism organization. Event dates are Oct. 11-12, 2019 and will mark the opener’s ninth year. This year’s opener is being held in Luverne.

Proposals will be accepted from community organizations such as chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, or a committee formed specifically for the event. A specially formed committee must show documentation of active support from local organizations. Extensive community involvement and support is necessary for a successful event.

All proposals must be received by Wednesday, August 1. For information about the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener and to receive a copy of the proposal guidelines, please contact Lisa Havelka at 507-389-2683 or lisa.havelka@state.mn.us.

Rural Health Fellows Program  A year-long, intensive fellowship program designed to develop a community of rural health leaders. Application deadline: August 30, 2018.

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 PREP Travel Support  A travel support program for individuals presenting at regional/multi-state, national, and international meetings held within the United States with the primary purpose of disseminating rural health professions education research and scholarship.


What Unites and Divides Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities  Report highlights different outcomes and opinions of people in rural, suburban, and urban communities on a number of topics, including demographic shifts, urgent problems, and life satisfaction, among others. Features demographic data, a county level breakdown, and a case study highlighting a rural, suburban, and urban county.  Additional links: Full Report

–The Walton Family Foundation published a report featuring case studies of how smaller communities in the Heartland have outperformed communities in other parts of the nation. “Micropolitan Success Stories from the Heartland” examines five micropolitan areas that are experiencing strong economic growth, and explores the ingredients of their success and how the achievements are combined to form unique economic recipes. Get the report by clicking here.

–The Bureau of Economic Analysis released a report that identifies recreation, which makes up a bigger share of the U.S. economy than agriculture or mining, as a critical engine for the national economy, and highlights rural communities and small business owners as a key ingredient in the growing economic engine. Read more about the report and the economic potential for this industry in rural communities in the Daily Yonder article here.

Rural Response to the Opioid Crisis This new topic guide identifies rural-specific initiatives and funding opportunities, program examples, and tools and resources focused on prevention, harm reduction, and treatment, to help address this crisis in your rural community.

Rural Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Toolkit This toolkit, created in collaboration with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and the University of Minnesota’s Rural Health Research Center, has received an update. It is designed to help organizations identify and implement sustainable health promotion programs in their rural communities.

Providing Access to Mental Health Services for Children in Rural Areas  Policy brief discussing options for improving access to mental health services for rural children, including telemedicine, integration of behavioral health and primary care, and school-based care. Features three brief case studies.

Preventing Suicide In Rural America  Policy brief focused on rural suicide prevention. Provides an overview of rural suicide rates and key suicide risk factors for rural residents. Identifies policy options for preventing suicide in rural areas and includes two brief case studies.

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report 2018  Provides a national and state-by-state overview of population health for older adults across 34 measures, as well as two supplemental measures new in 2018: suicide rate and risk of social isolation. Includes a special focus on persistent health disparities and challenges facing rural seniors.
Additional links: Executive Summary

CMS Announces Agency’s First Rural Health Strategy The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their first Rural Health Strategy. This agency-wide strategy is intended to provide a proactive approach to healthcare issues to ensure access to high quality, affordable healthcare by applying a rural lens to CMS programs and policies, advancing telehealth, improving access through provider engagement and support, empowering rural patients to make decisions about their healthcare, and leveraging partnerships to achieve these goals. A fact sheet is also available.

Mobility & Aging in Rural America: The Role for Innovation Outlines challenges facing older people, people with disabilities, and people in areas with few mobility options. Includes a section on funding strategies for rural transit. Describes successful programs, defines mobility as a social determinant of health, and explores approaches for improvement, including new partnerships with healthcare providers and telehealth.

–Introducing Fed Small Business  Check out FedSmallBusiness.org, a new website featuring small business research and analysis from the 12 Federal Reserve Banks, including findings from the annual Small Business Credit Survey.

–Explore more from the Fed. Looking for more information on community development issues and best practices? Connect to hundreds of resources from the Federal Reserve System at FedCommunities.org, an online portal that can be browsed by Federal Reserve District, resource type, or topic.

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!