JULY-AUGUST 2018 – Volume XVI — Number 7
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
Also find online at: https://wp.me/pkVGJ-8a



ACROSS THE FIELD: Strengthening towns and regions through our shared humanity

In every MRP Rural Round-up we feature important funding opportunities across sectors and issues for rural areas and small towns. We are taking the extra step this month to spotlight one of the smaller philanthropic organizations in Minnesota that help communities gain strength thru support of cooperation and intercultural understanding. Our mailbox this month included an announcement of two such grant application openings from the Laura Jane Musser Fund, which was established by the estate of Laura Jane Musser of Little Falls, Minnesota, to continue the personal philanthropy which she practiced in her lifetime.

Thank you Laura Jane Musser Fund for your generosity and far-sightedness.

  • Through the Rural Initiative, the Laura Jane Musser Fund encourages collaborative and participatory efforts among residents in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions. The applicant community must have a population of 10,000 or fewer. Program planning grants up to $5,000 and program implementation grants up to $25,000 will be considered. Applications will be accepted online through the Fund’s website from September 4 – October 3, 2018.
  • Through the Intercultural Harmony Initiative, the Laura Jane Musser Fund supports projects that promote mutual understanding and cooperation between groups of community members of different cultural backgrounds. Project planning grants up to $5,000 or implementation grants up to $25,000 will be considered. New programs or projects in their first three years are eligible. Applications will be accepted online through the Fund’s website from September 17 – October 17, 2018.

The complete guidelines are available at http://www.musserfund.org.



— The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced a new grant program to fund the construction of 50 KW fast charging stations for electric vehicles. The grants are for 80% of the cost of a project up to $70,000. Entities such as hotels, restaurants, resorts, and convention and visitor bureaus are eligible, as are local units of government. The application deadline is Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 2:30 p.m.  For more information go to: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/ev-fast-charging-station-grants

Firehouse Subs First Responder Grants  for life-saving equipment and prevention education tools for first responders and public safety organizations. The Foundation recognizes the needs of rural and volunteer departments throughout the country and will consider their applications despite not being within 60 miles of a Firehouse Subs restaurant. Application deadline is August 30.

–The MPCA released the second Request for Proposal (RFP) for electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations using Volkswagen settlement funds. The purpose of the grant is to reduce air pollution by expanding access to EV charging across the state. The RFP makes available $158,625 to install Level 2 charging stations in Minnesota. These are charging stations used at businesses, public buildings, and multiple-unit dwellings. (A separate RFP for EV fast-charging stations along highway corridors was released earlier this month.)  This amount would fund about 45 Level 2 stations.

Visit the EV Charging Station Grant webpage to learn more about this grant opportunity and download the application forms. All questions should be submitted to grants.pca@state.mn.us using “EV Level 2 charging” in the subject line. Answers to questions will be posted in the Questions and Answers tab on the webpage.

Additional grants for EV and diesel vehicle replacement projects using VW settlement funds will be forthcoming over the next year. To learn more about Minnesota’s plan for VW settlement funds, visit our website and sign up for VW settlement-related emails.Grant proposal submissions are due September 5, 2018.

Foundation for Rural Service Grant Program  Grants for rural communities in the areas of business development, community development, education, and telecommunications, with a priority for broadband enabled, technology focused projects. Application Deadline: September 15, 2018.

AARP Foundation has issued the following Requests for Applications (RFAs): The Increasing Social Connectedness for Older Adults RFA will support nonprofit organizations with innovative solutions to bring to scale proven approaches that increase social support and connectedness among low-income older adults. The Tackling Senior Food Insecurity RFA will support nonprofit organizations with innovative solutions to bring to scale proven approaches that increase food security for low-income older adults. The application deadline for both is 9/28/2018. Visit the Foundation’s website here to learn more about each grant opportunity.

–USDA seeks applicants for Rural Broadband Access Loans https://wp.me/p3if7-4xT  Deadline is September 30th.

2019 Tourism Marketing Grant Guidelines The new 2019 Tourism Marketing Grant Guidelines & Request for Funding forms are available on the Explore Minnesota industry site under “Ways to Get Involved.”  Due October 1, 2018.

Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program tis o support community-based child health projects that improve the health status of mothers, infants, children, and adolescents in rural and other underserved communities by increasing their access to health services. Application deadline is October 1.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities Project  Farmers enroll for a chance to direct $2,500 to local nonprofit organizations that are important to them and their communities. Geographic coverage: Available in selected counties in 41 states. Application deadline is November 1.

Annie’s Grants for Gardens are to develop edible garden projects that help connect kids to nutritious food. Application deadline is November 1.

BNSF Railway Foundation Grants  to organizations that operate near a BNSF railway line. Priority areas include health and human service organizations, programs that address chemical dependency treatment and prevention, spouse and child abuse, women’s and children’s aid, transitional shelters, hospitals, medical programs, and youth development programs.

— 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.

Capital Funding for Rural Healthcare This guide has received its annual update. In addition to providing an overview of what capital funding is and how it can be useful for a rural organization, it also includes a number of grant and loan programs that support capital projects, discusses rules and eligibility for common funding programs, and touches on strategies for fundraising and finding funding opportunities.

— 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.


2019 Affordable Housing Plan Webinar will be Tuesday, August 28 from 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

–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.

September 17-18: 2018 Community Indicators Consortium Impact Summit  The 2018 Community Indicators Consortium Impact Summit will be held at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center. Presentations will explore how data and community indicators can increase understanding of issues, influence practices, support informed decisions about policies and programs, and track progress toward sustainable and equitable communities.

September 20: Greater Minnesota Nonprofit Summit at Bemidji State University

Learn more and register.

Register for the Minnesota Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus Annual Meeting & Conference  The Minnesota Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus 2018 Annual Meeting & Conference will be held Oct. 2-3 in St. Louis Park.

— The Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations are excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2018 Minnesota Hospitality Conference & Expo on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. For more information, visit hospitalitymn.org/expo.

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/p3if7-4E8

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

Save the date for Minnesota Venture Conference: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018 at the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown.  New format: The conference agenda will feature modules on hot technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and cyber security.

  • Thought leaders and industry experts will lead off each module followed by an investor panel discussion, wrapping with pitches by top start-up companies in Minnesota and the upper Midwest.
  • Investor panels will include venture capitalists, angel investors, corporate/strategic investors, academic institutional investors and federal funding resources.
  • Featured content will shine a spotlight on Minnesota’s tech hubs–medical, financial, ag, food, sports and advanced manufacturing industries.

Look for more opportunities to connect entrepreneurs, investors and service providers throughout the day.  Stay tuned for registration information at http://mnventure.org/

–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.

–November 14 and 15 at the St. Paul RiverCentre is the MCN’s Annual Conference: Choosing Hope in Times of Disruption.


–Deadline is August 30 for the 2019 Bush Fellowship

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

—  Nominate Your Town as the Best in Minnesota  Following Bemidji’s win in 2017, the second-annual “Best MN Town” search is launching Aug. 1. From small villages to large cities, Minnesota Monthly is looking to find and celebrate the town that best embodies the spirit of Minnesota. Entries will be accepted online at BestMNTown.com under the tab “Town Portal.” When prompted, enter the code BMT18. The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. CST on Friday, Aug. 31. There is no fee to enter or to win.

Important note: Only one official civic representative may submit the entry. After Aug. 31, the editorial team of Minnesota Monthly will narrow the entries down to 10 finalists. Then, a panel of notable Minnesotans as well as a public vote will select four finalists and one winner. Those five towns will be notified by Nov. 1 and invited to attend the “Best of Minnesota” party on Dec. 5, where the 2018 Best MN Town winner will be announced.

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.

USDA Invites Comments on the Implementation of the e-Connectivity Pilot Program 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is inviting comments through Monday, September 10, 2018 on the implementation of the e-Connectivity Pilot Program. This program aims to catalyze private investment and expand broadband access in unserved rural areas of the country. Feedback is sought specifically on ways of evaluating a household’s “sufficient access” to broadband of adequate speed, how service affordability should be factored in, best ways to verify broadband speeds, and best indicators of potential project benefits for rural industries using readily available public data.

Bloomberg Fellows  is a fellowship for individuals who want to achieve a Master’s or PhD degree in Public Health, as well as on-the-ground training and experience. The program is looking for leaders working in the areas of addiction and overdose, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, risks to adolescent health, and violence. Application deadline is December 30, 2018.

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.

–Great River Energy offers energy management program for farmers.  Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Great River Energy (GRE) is offering Energy Wise for your Farm, a program for all types of agricultural producers who are members of the 28 electric cooperatives served by GRE. The program provides farmers with an energy efficiency management program to identify and prioritize energy efficiency opportunities. It covers 75% of the cost for a farm energy audit and provides a comprehensive energy management plan tailored to the farmer’s needs. Rebates and other incentives to help pay for the energy improvements may be available through the farmer’s cooperative. Read more (pdf) or call 800-441-8525 for more information.

–The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) offers a program called “Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota” that offers custom project assistance and tools to farmers and rural small businesses that are interested in pursuing renewable energy projects. The program explores project options, identifies potential funding and financing options, and provides one-on-one assistance. Learn more.


The lower 48 U.S. states are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle. Here’s how America uses all that land to feed itself, power the economy and extract value for business and pleasure.

Choose your data adventure: Build Your Own data profile! Learn about four ways you can build, draw, and compare data profiles using the new Minnesota Compass Build Your Own data tool. Read more.

–Minnesota Compass Research shares key regional strengths and challenges identified by participants of the statewide Minnesota Compass listening sessions last fall. Read now.

Current Indicators of Farm Sector Financial Health  Errata: On July 26, 2018, the Amber Waves article “Current Indicators of Farm Sector Financial Health” was reposted to correct data for farm sector net cash income in the first sentence of the fourth paragraph. The first chart was also corrected.

–The Minneapolis Fed’s CD360 Notebook blog is where you’ll find timely briefs on community development research, events, and other happenings. Check out the latest CD360 Notebook posts, which explore the demographics of Opportunity Zones; the effects of education on racial gaps in employment, income, and wealth; and the question, Is college still worth it? Read more

–Preview: Investing in America’s Workforce a chapter of a forthcoming Federal Reserve System book on workforce development is available to preview. In “Results and Returns from Public Investments in Employment and Training,” the role of the public workforce development system in job training is discussed. The chapter is from Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers, which will be released on November 9. Link

It’s an Addiction Crisis: Across Minnesota, the “Opioid Crisis” Is so Much More than Just Opioids   Details the opioid crisis in the state of Minnesota. Includes statistics on overdose deaths and treatment admissions for alcohol, heroin, methamphetamine, and other opiates. Covers hospital addition costs and workforce issues posing a barrier to access in rural areas. Reviews three rural community models working to address substance abuse.

Opioid Misuse Resource Map Presents a map of the U.S. which details the opioid resources available by state. Features programs providing emergency services, treatment, and prevention.

RHIHub has published a guide, “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 rural communities. Get the guide here.

USDA has launched an interactive map of opioid epidemic resources. Visitors can use an interactive map to learn about, access or replicate actions rural leaders are taking in small towns across the country to address the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment and recovery opportunities. The interactive map can be viewed here.

–Carsey School of Public Policy has released “The Opioid Crisis in Rural and Small Town America.” The report provides data on opioid mortality rates in 2016 and changes in opioid mortality from 1999 through 2016 for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties. It also provides metropolitan and nonmetropolitan data on drug overdoses by type of opioid- heroin, prescription opioids, synthetic opioids, and unspecified opioids-from 1999 through 2016. Get the report here.

–Introducing the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building Playbook, a production sponsored by the Kaufman Foundation to advance its mission to develop a new model for inclusive economic development. The draft is here.

–“Growing Up Rural in America” is a report by Save the Children on the state of childhood in rural America. It details challenges rural children face, such as growing up in poverty, adolescent pregnancy, and access to food, and features rural-urban comparisons and state-by-state data. 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!