MN Rural Partners Rural Roundup March 2019: Info on grants, opportunities, events

March 2019 – Volume XVII — Number 3
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
Also find online at:



National Association of Counties (NACo)Rural LISC and Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) have partnered to address the critical need for high-speed internet for rural communities across the country. Currently, data indicating broadband availability and speed is reported twice a year by Internet Service Providers. However, there is no mechanism to verify the accuracy of the data, and anecdotal evidence suggests an entire ZIP code is oftentimes marked as “served” with broadband if just one home in the census block has coverage. Outdated broadband mapping techniques limit Congress’ ability to accurately identify and allocate broadband resources across much of America.

In response, NACo, Rural LISC and RCAP developed a mobile app that harnesses grassroots advocacy by empowering individual users to accurately identify areas with low or no internet connectivity. The data will be aggregated to identify gaps in broadband coverage. This information will help guide advocacy for adequate funding and inform decision-making at federal, state and local levels.

Join us in advocating for a stronger and more connected future for small towns everywhere. Follow these four short steps to join the movement!

Step 1:  Locate the iOS/Android App Store on your phone.

iOS App Store

Android App Store

Step 2:  Search for “TestIT” in your mobile app store (see icon below).

Step 3:  Download TestIT mobile app.

Step 4:  Open TestIT mobile app and click “Test Speed Here!”

(Repeat Step 4 as frequently as possible)

That’s it!  For further info, see the press release here, and NACo’s flyer: “Bridging the Economic Divide.”  P.S.  Help spread the word by encouraging friends, family and constituents to join in the effort!  Check out a sample Facebook post and sample tweets attached.


–The Minnesota State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant program is looking to award funds to Minnesota businesses planning to grow their exports.  The STEP program provides financial and technical assistance to qualifying Minnesota small businesses with an active interest in exporting products or services to foreign markets. Participants may be first-time exporters or companies that are currently exporting but are interested in expanding into new international markets. Learn more on the DEED Developments blog.

–U.S. Department of Justice is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies through the Fiscal Year 2019 Consolidated Grant Program to Address Children and Youth Experiencing Domestic and Sexual Assault and Engage Men and Boys as Allies program to prevent violence against women.  Deadline: 3/14/2019.  Click here to review program guidelines.

–U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies – “to develop and implement targeted strategies for substance use disorder treatment provision to address a specific population or area of focus identified by the community.” Maximum Amount: $375,000.  Deadline: 3/25/2019.  Click here for program guidelines and application materials.

–Indian Health Services is offering pre-graduate scholarships for American Indian and Alaska Native students to enroll in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre-podiatry, or pre-optometry.  Deadline to apply:  3/28/2019.  Click here for more information and to apply.

–Healthy Connections Funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MN Foundation.  The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation’s mission is to make a healthy difference in communities by advancing health equity and improving conditions where people live, learn, work and play. We’re pleased to announce a new funding opportunity for applicants focused on creating safe, welcoming and connected communities. A total of up to $1.4 million is available over two years. The deadline for this funding opportunity is Friday, March 29, 2019, at 4 p.m. Learn more on their website

–AARP Purpose Prize honors extraordinary individuals 50 years of age and older who use their life experience to make a better future for all. The Prize recognizes those with the passion and experience to create new ways to solve tough social problems. Five winners annually receive $60,000 each to celebrate their achievements and broaden the scope of their work. Nominees, who may be working for organizations in the nonprofit, public, or private sectors, must be legal residents of the U.S. or U.S. citizens living abroad who have started their work at the age of 40 or later. Nomination deadline: 3/31/2019. Visit the Purpose Prize website here to read the official rules and access the nomination form.

National Park Service is offering funding through The Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program.  The program supports the rehabilitation of rural historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Applicants must make subgrants for physical preservation projects. Deadline is 4/1/2019.  Click here for more information and to apply.

Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative – Grants to States and Communities  Grants to support the development and expansion of dementia-capable home and community-based service systems in states and communities. Application Deadline: April 1, 2019.

Building Communities of Recovery  Grants to support the development, enhancement, expansion, and delivery of substance abuse recovery support services and recovery education. Application Deadline: April 2, 2019.

Action for Healthy Kids is offering funding through School Grants for Healthy Kids, an initiative of Action for Healthy Kids, to K-12 schools for school breakfast and physical activity programs. The following grant programs are being offered in 2019: School Breakfast Grants of $1,000, $2,000, or $3,000 will be provided to K-12 schools nationwide to introduce or expand a school breakfast program. Game On Grants of $1,000 will be provided to schools in selected states to improve or introduce new nutrition and physical activity programs. Parent-Led Grants of $1,000 will be provided to parents or parent groups in selected states to revamp or introduce fitness, nutrition, and other wellness programs so that all students have access to healthy choices. Deadline:  4/5/2019 for all three programs. Visit the Action for Healthy Kids website here to learn more about the programs and application process.

The Bush Prize for Community Innovation honors innovative nonprofit organizations and government entities with a track record of making great ideas happen in the regions the Bush Foundation serves: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, as well as the 23 Native nations that share the same geography. The Bush Prize does not prioritize any specific issues and instead is open to community innovations that address all sorts of needs and opportunities. At least half of the Bush Prize winners will be organizations that address racial and economic disparities in the region. Prize winners will receive a package of recognition, along with a flexible grant of 25 percent of their last fiscal year budget, up to a $500,000 grant. Applications will be accepted from 3/5/2019 through 4/11/2019. Visit the Foundation’s website here to download the 2019 Bush Prize Info Packet.

National Endowment for the Arts is offering grants through Challenge America to support projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations. Matching grants are for $10,000. Deadline: 4/11/2019.  Click here for program guidelines.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program Grants – Opioid  Grants to improve access to opioid treatment in rural areas through the use of telemedicine, computer networks, and related advanced technologies. Application Deadline: April 15, 2019.

Community Connect Broadband Grant Program  Grants for communities without broadband service to provide residential and business services and connect facilities, such as police and fire stations, healthcare, libraries, and schools. Application Deadline: April 15, 2019.

–U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is offering grants for tribal community-based organizations, tribes, and village governments for social and economic infrastructure development.  This program is focused on community-driven projects designed to grow local economies, strengthen Native American families, including the preservation of Native American cultures, and decrease the high rate of current challenges caused by the lack of community-based businesses, and social and economic infrastructure in Native American communities.  Native American communities include American Indian tribes (federally-recognized and non-federally recognized), Native Hawaiians, Alaskan Natives, and Native American Pacific Islanders.
Application deadline: 4/15/2019.  Click here to review program guidelines.

Newman’s Own Awards  Grants for organizations working to improve quality of life for military members and their families, including programs for job training, housing, caregiver support, and mental health.  Application Deadline: April 25, 2019.

–USDA is offering up to $600 million in loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers, and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service.  Deadlines:  USDA will make available approximately $200 million for grants (applications due to USDA by 4/29/2019), as well as $200 million for loan and grant combinations (applications due 5/29/2019), and $200 million for low-interest loans (applications due by 6/28/2019).  Click here to review program guidelines and application requirements.

Mary Kay Domestic Violence Shelter Grant Program Grants to support domestic violence shelters. The Foundation will award a grant to at least one domestic violence shelter in every state that applies, and many grants have gone to rural areas. Application Deadline: April 30, 2019.

Grain Bin Rescue Equipment and Training Contest  Awards for rural emergency first responders that include grain rescue tubes and hands-on rescue training. Application Deadline: April 30, 2019.

Bureau of Indian Affairs is offering grants to federally recognized tribes for implementing traffic safety programs and projects which are designed to reduce the number of traffic crashes, deaths, injuries, and property damage.  Deadline: 5/1/2019. Click here to review the guidelines and to apply.

–Corporation for National and Community Service is offering AmeriCorps Indian Tribes Grants for programs that are designed to strengthen tribal communities and solve local problems through service and volunteering.  Deadlines:  Letter of Intent (Optional): 4/10/2019; application 5/2/2019.  Click here to review program guidelines and to apply.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program Grants  Grants to improve telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telemedicine, computer networks, and related advanced technologies. Application Deadline: May 15, 2019.

Rural Health Care Telecommunications Program Assistance to healthcare providers for eligible expenses related to broadband connectivity based on the urban-rural price difference in an area.
Application Deadline: May 31, 2019.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposals  Grants for innovative projects that are working to build a culture of health, ensuring that everyone has access to the care they need and all families have the opportunity to make healthier choices.  Application Deadline: October 15, 2019.

The Home Depot Foundation’s Community Impact Grants Program provides support to nonprofit organizations and public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve their communities. The program focuses on support for organizations that serve veterans in local communities, as well as organizations that serve diverse and underserved communities. Grants of up to $5,000 are made in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services. Deadline: requests will be accepted on a rolling basis through 12/31/2019. Visit the Foundation’s website here to submit an online application.


–AURI’s New Uses Forum will be held March 27-28 at the Minneapolis Marriott West.   The 2019 New Uses Forum is dedicated to the idea of accelerating innovation and investment. It brings together some of the most knowledgeable voices on topics related to new uses innovation, including development, investment and support. To register go to: <>

–Free Webinar: Civics, Civility, and Circles. In today’s fractionalized, tribalized world it seems what divides us is often more apparent than what unites us. Add the cacophonous soundtrack of incivility that dominates discourse, and a toxic environment emerges that is fraying the fabric or our communities. Most Americans would like to see things change.

We talk to leaders committed to making change happen using creative and innovative ways to educate, communicate, and engage residents, all designed to be used by anyone wishing to start positive change—right now. Guests: Emma Humphries, iCivics; Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, National Institute for Civil Discourse, and Julie Mashack, Ben Franklin Circles.

Please join us for this free webinar.  Civics, Civility, and Circles—How to Restore & Create Community, Now!, Thursday, March 28, 1-2 p.m. Eastern.

–The Northwest Minnesota Tourism Conference, presented by the Riverland Association, will be held on Tuesday, April 2, at the University of Minnesota in Crookston. Northwest Minnesota Tourism Conference Is April 2 in Crookston

National expo to highlight zero energy schools April 8-9 in Saint Paul. Minnesota schools looking to achieve zero energy in the coming years and interested school stakeholders will have an opportunity to learn more from zero energy school case studies and lectures, thanks to the national Green Schools Conference & Expo (GBCE) that will be held April 8-9 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre in Saint Paul.

Among sessions focused on a variety of topics, the conference will offer two unique zero energy school educational sessions to help a wide variety of school staff, including facility coordinators, administrators, superintendents, and others, as well as school stakeholders to learn more. For more on these two sessions and the overall conference, visit Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Division of Energy Resources is a partner in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Schools Accelerator Program.

–MN Campus Compact Summit and Presidents’ Awards Luncheon will be held April 10, 2019 at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.  For more information go to:

–MHTA Annual Spring Conference – Registration Now Open. For a limited time, MHTA is offering a 15% discount OFF the EARLY registration fee for our May 9 Annual Spring Conference.  Accenture will kick off the conference by sharing their research and technology vision.  You’ll learn more about advanced technology and the workforce of tomorrow at workshops and demos throughout the day.  Go to:

–The Campus Compacts of the Great Plains, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin invite you to join us for the 2019 Midwest Campus Compact Conference, which will take place May 29 – 31, 2019, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Whether you are new to community-engaged learning and scholarship, curious about learning the basics of community-campus partnerships, or a seasoned engaged scholar or community engagement professional seeking innovative approaches and discussion of important issues, this conference will provide opportunities to learn, explore, connect, and prepare for bold and thoughtful action. For more information go to:

–21st Annual Minnesota Rural Health Conference June 17 – 18, 2019 in Duluth, MN.   Conference Website

–Hold the Dates:

  • The SciMathMN and The Works Museum joint conference on STEM education will be held on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education Center.
  • Nonprofit Leadership Conference, June 13, 2019, Minneapolis (co-hosted with the Humphrey School).
  • Nonprofit Fundraising Conference, July 25, 2019, Brooklyn Center (co-hosted with AFP-MN).
  • The 2019 Rural Arts & Culture Summit will take place October 3-5 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. This year they are particularly interested in session ideas that address the idea of “Creative People Power” in rural place.
  • 21-22 are the dates for the 2019 Gateway to Solar Conference, the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) has announced. The annual conference is Minnesota’s largest industry-led solar trade group conference and will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. Read more.
  • MCN Annual Conference, October 24 – 25, 2019, Rochester.


–DOT solicitation is now open.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) is one of 11 federal agencies that participates in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. U.S. DOT’s highly competitive SBIR program awards contracts to domestic small businesses to pursue research on and develop innovative solutions to our nation’s transportation challenges.   READ MORE

–Xcel Energy opened its 2019 Solar*Rewards Program for residential and commercial customers on Jan. 28, 2019, with approximately $1 million of the $10 million program earmarked for its Income-Qualified Customers program. The low-income carve out is designed to offer solar options to Xcel’s income-qualified customers with limited resources and to those who serve low-income constituents.

General residential qualifiers of Solar*Rewards will receive an annual production incentive of 7 cents per kWh for the first 10 years of the system; general commercial qualifiers will receive 6 cents per kWh for 10 years. Single-family qualifiers of the Solar*Rewards Income-Qualified Program will receive an upfront payment of $2 per watt and annual production incentives of 7 cents per kWh over the first 10 years. To qualify for the incentive as a single family, applicants must be qualified as a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) participant. Read more about the Solar*Rewards Program and other utility solar incentive programs.

National Center for Farmworker Health Bobbi Ryder Migrant Health Champion Award
Scholarships for individuals pursuing or continuing their career in the migrant health field, thus contributing to the development of the Community/Migrant Health Center workforce. Application Deadline: March 29, 2019.

Leadership Awards Now Open! The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) is committed to building the strength and integrity of the nonprofit sector statewide. We are honored to open nominations for the 2019 Nonprofit Leadership Awards.

This year, the Center for Integrative Leadership (CIL) at the University of Minnesota will join MCN in recognizing nonprofit leaders with three distinct awards:

  • Catalytic Leader (emerging leader award) – This leader effectively leads from the middle and uses informal authority to shape the direction and progress of their work, and that of the organization.
  • Visionary Leader (mid-career leader award) -This leader demonstrates the ability to develop and implement creative and effective organizational leadership strategies.
  • Transformational Leader (experienced leader award) – This leader effectively demonstrates commitment to the nonprofit sector, having served in a strategic or significant nonprofit role and with at least 20 years of professional experience.

Nominate someone today who exemplifies these characteristics! Nominations are open until March 30.  For more information and to submit your nomination, visit our website. 

Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service  Monetary awards that honor hospitals that have demonstrated exceptional commitment to community service. Application Deadline: April 5, 2019.

–Join the Million Women Mentors/Minnesota for their next Trailblazers event at Mall of America on April 18th.   Free to attend.  Trailblazers connects female professionals in STEM careers with female students in high school and college to support the pursuit of STEM careers.

–The National Development Council, in partnership with Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) and the EPA Technical Assistance to Brownfield Communities (TAB), is seeking feedback to expand the National Economic Development Mentoring Network. The Network is a new program that will facilitate exchange and mentoring among economic development practitioners and their communities.  Fill out the brief survey linked here.

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 31st Annual Student Essay Contest  The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is asking students in its 31st annual essay contest to use economics to describe and defend an effective immigration policy. Compass could be a great resource for student writers, especially if they are looking for trends in immigration, the economy, or the workforce. The contest is open to all high school students in the Ninth Federal Reserve District.  Essays due April 19, 2019.   Learn more.

Agricultural Safety and Health: The Core Course Scholarship Awards scholarships to attend the Agricultural Safety and Health Core Course to be held in Iowa in June, 2019.

LifeSmarts Online Consumer Challenge  The National Consumers League hosts LifeSmarts, an online competition open to all students in grades 6-12. LifeSmarts celebrates 25 years of empowering teens to become smart, savvy consumers. Each month, LifeSmarts focuses on a different category important to teen consumers: personal finance, health and safety, consumer rights, technology, and the environment. Students compete online and in-person throughout the year to win scholarships and prizes. Experts in LifeSmarts subject areas are also needed to serve as judges and officials at the state and national competitions.

NGPF Nationwide Scholarship Contest Next Gen Personal Finance sponsors this scholarship contest for high school students. Ten $5,000 and numerous $500 Honorable Mention scholarships will be awarded nationwide.

2020 Minnesota Census Jobs, United States Census Bureau


e-Connectivity @ USDA: Broadband Resources for Rural America  Provides an overview of e-connectivity and briefly covers its benefits related to healthcare, education, the economy, and public safety. Describes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) role in e-connectivity in rural areas. Includes a USDA e-connectivity resource matrix highlighting 27 programs to serve as a guide for planning, researching, and implementing e-connectivity activities and projects. Covers USDA program success stories that expanded broadband access in their rural communities.

American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report  Highlights steps for the federal government to take to increase broadband access and increase private-sector investments in broadband. Discusses broadband and mobile broadband deployment and adoption in the U.S. and offers statistics by urban, rural, and tribal lands. Provides recommendations discussing strategies, objectives, and overcoming barriers to increase broadband in urban and rural areas and tribal lands.

Evidence-Based Strategies for Preventing Opioid Overdose: What’s Working in the United States  A guide for community leaders, public health, law enforcement, and others working to address the opioid crisis in their community. Identifies evidence-based practices that have been successfully implemented in the U.S. and are effective in reducing rates of opioid overdose. Includes strategies focused on naloxone distribution, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), addressing opioid use in criminal justice settings, syringe services, and more.

Social Determinants of Health for Rural People  This topic guide has been updated throughout, and includes a new Frequently Asked Question on ways healthcare providers can address social determinants for their patients.

Advancing Tobacco Prevention and Control in Rural America  Discusses different contexts for rural tobacco prevention and control, such as sociodemographic risk factors, culture, and infrastructure. Includes statistics on the national prevalence of tobacco users in the past month by rural and urban adults. Describes three types of tobacco control and prevention efforts in rural areas: cessation, prevention of initiation, and smoke free air. Offers recommendation on rural tobacco prevention and control for federal and state agencies, and communities, tribes, and other stakeholders. Additional links: Executive Summary

The Prosperity Now Scorecard provides advocates, policymakers and practitioners with national, state, and local data to begin a conversation about solutions and policies across five issue areas: financial assets and income; businesses and jobs; homeownership and housing; and health care and education. Click here to learn more and access the Scorecard.

Data Feature: Rural Population Trends The decline in U.S. rural population, which began in 2010, has reversed for the first time this decade. In 2016-17, the rural population increased by 0.1 percent, adding 33,000 people. This small overall increase continues an upturn in rural population since 2011-12, which stems from increasing rates of net migration from urban (metro) areas. Since 2011, fewer people have been moving out of rural areas and more people have been moving in. People moving to rural areas tend to persistently favor more densely settled rural areas with attractive scenic qualities, or those near large cities. Fewer are moving to sparsely settled, less scenic, and more remote locations, which compounds economic development challenges in those areas. The overall rural population has remained close to 46.1 million since 2013.

–Can Veggie Burgers Boost Rural Economies?  In Great Falls, Montana, economists are rethinking ways to attract investment in local agriculture, eyeing venture capital that has been mostly targeted in places like Silicon Valley and the Northeast. Increased demand for plant-based proteins like tofu, lentil burgers, and roasted chickpeas opens the door for agritech processing using crops that have been grown in the region for generations. Great Falls, one of the state’s agriculture hubs, has created the Great Falls Agritech Park to attract this type of investment. Read more in this article featured in Route 50.

–2018 Farm Act Highlights and Implications.  Go to:

The 2018 Farm Bill (P.L. 115-334): Summary and Side-by-Side Comparison 
Analyzes the 2018 Farm Bill by comparing House and Senate versions of the bill and the previous 2014 bill. Includes important rural provisions addressing substance abuse treatment, telemedicine funding, broadband access, and rural hospital loans.

— The Minnesota Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus has been building an Online Tool Kit designed as a one-stop repository of information pertinent to CVB/DMOs in Minnesota. MACVB’s Tool Kit Is Live

— The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) wants you to put your brain in gear to help them learn more about what Minnesota needs to make walking and biking easy, safe and fun for everyone. Take the Great Minnesota Walking & Biking Survey

–Abdo Eick & Meyers have recently come out with a report about 5 key trends that will impact nonprofit in 2019. In this article, they discuss everything including government funding, technology, and the often-discussed donor advised funds. Take a look at what they suggest you should look out for!

Planning and Partnerships: Coordinating Rural Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Response Rural healthcare facilities must plan and prepare for a wide range of natural and man-made disasters.

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!