November 2019 – Volume XVII — Number 12
Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
Also find online at:



— Rural America has struggled to bounce back from the recession. Entrepreneurship has been on the decline, while automation and globalization have disrupted traditional industries. These trends are hitting rural communities particularly hard. Revitalizing rural America requires a new approach. The Rural Innovation Initiative* is helping communities change this story.

Through the Rural Innovation Initiative (RII)  communities that apply to receive intensive technical assistance as they execute an innovation hub strategy: an economic development model that works to educate and train local residents in digital skills, employ them in new economy jobs, and empower them to launch the startups that will drive their digital economy.

Communities receive a combination of in-person site visits and virtual support to develop their programming and strategy, geared towards preparing their project to apply for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s i6 program and similar opportunities. Participating communities join the Rural Innovation Network, connecting with other rural communities and receiving access to additional support to develop their community efforts. The first cohort of communities joined RII in 2019 and included Red Wing, MN.

The 2020 application is open through 11/18/19

Eligible communities are designated rural counties according to U.S. Census definitions or represent regional efforts that cover a majority rural area. Successful communities will ideally have a combination of the following attributes:

  • Existing high-speed broadband
  • Significant portions of the community located in or near Opportunity Zones
  • Partnership with a 4-year endowed residential college or university campus
  • Committed local leadership and a willing non-profit organization and/or local and regional government prepared to raise matching funds and lead the initiative

Applications take 10-15 minutes.  Some communities may be interviewed after submitting an application.  Access the application and additional information here.

–Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration is offering funding to improve access and quality of health care in rural areas through network collaboration, adapting an evidence-based service model, and promoting sustainability of rural health networks through the creation of diverse products and services.  Deadline:  11/25/2019.  Click here for application guidelines.

Instructor Training Grants for Physical Activity Programs Grants for local park and recreation agencies to train instructors in evidence-based physical activity programs that are designed to positively impact chronic disease management, increase physical activity engagement, help seniors age in place, and improve quality of life. Instructors must provide services to underserved populations, including populations of color, those living in/near the poverty level, those with limited access to healthcare and human services, rural and other remote geographic populations, and populations highly affected by chronic conditions. Application Deadline: Nov 26, 2019.

Rural Health Network Development Planning Program Grants to promote the planning and development of rural healthcare networks in order to achieve efficiencies; expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential healthcare services; and strengthen the rural healthcare system as a whole. Application Deadline: Nov 29, 2019.

–Start-ups invited to apply for Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants a statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation. DEED is now accepting online applications for Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants, which target the most promising, innovative and scalable technology businesses in Minnesota. Innovation Grants are available in the following categories:

  • Business operations: Up to $35,000 for business operations, including research and development, direct business expenses and technical assistance.
  • Housing or child care: Up to $7,500 for housing or child care expenses.
  • SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) match: Up to $50,000 for businesses awarded a first-time federal Phase 2 SBIR and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) award.

Grant applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and those received by November 30, 2019 will be reviewed by the Launch Minnesota Advisory Board in December. Grantees will be announced in January. Applications received after November 30 will be reviewed on a regular basis in the following months.

Completed applications should be submitted to with grant title noted in the email subject line. More detailed grant submission information is included on the application form for each grant. Launch Minnesota provides special consideration and social capital connectivity for startups and small businesses in Greater Minnesota as well as businesses started by women, veterans and people of color. Check out to learn more. When you’re there, make sure to sign up for our newsletter for regular updates.

Smart Rural Community Grant Funding to support the development and implementation of innovative broadband-enabled solutions to support rural commerce, healthcare, public safety, economic development, education, energy, and other community-oriented initiatives. Application Deadline: December 1, 2019.

–Institute of Museum and Library Services is offering funding through the Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries program.  The program supports projects that strengthen the ability of small or rural libraries and archives to serve their communities. Topics of interest include transforming school library practice, community memory, and digital inclusion. Deadline: 12/2/2019.  Click here to review program guidelines.

Brownfields Assessment Grants  for developing inventories of brownfield sites, prioritizing sites, conducting community involvement activities, conducting planning, conducting site assessments, developing site-specific cleanup plans, and developing reuse plans related to brownfield sites. Application Deadline: Dec 3, 2019.

Brownfields Cleanup Grants to carry out cleanup activities at specific Brownfields sites, resulting in better community environmental health. Application Deadline: Dec 3, 2019.

Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants to eligible agencies to capitalize a revolving loan fund that will provide loans and subgrants to eligible entities to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites contaminated with hazardous substances and/or petroleum. Application Deadline: Dec 3, 2019.

Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program  Grants for projects designed to prevent suicidal behavior and substance misuse, reduce the impact of trauma, and promote mental health among American Indian/Alaska Native young people up to the age of 24. Application Deadline: Dec 10, 2019.

–Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched the Asphalt Art Initiative, which responds to the growing number of cities around the world embracing art as an effective and relatively low-cost strategy to activate their streets. Along with a guide that features more than two dozen case studies, there is a grant opportunity for 10 small and mid-sized American cities to receive up to $25,000 each to implement their own arts-driven transportation projects.  Deadline: 12/12/2019.  Click here to review initiative guidelines, and click here to get the guide.

Farm to School Grant Program  Grants to plan, establish, and/or sustain a Farm to School program that improves access to local foods in schools. Application Deadline: Dec. 13, 2019.

KIDSGARDENING.ORG, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing inspiration and support for parents and educators who are gardening with children, awards Youth Garden Grants to support school and youth educational garden projects that enhance the quality of life for students and their communities. Any U.S. nonprofit organization, school, or youth program planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of three and 18 is eligible to apply. Deadline: 12/16/2019. Visit the KidsGardening website here to access application guidelines and forms.

–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.

AmeriCorps State and National Grants Funding for programs that are designed to strengthen communities and solve local problems, including those found in rural and underserved areas. Funding priorities include prescription drug and opioid abuse, education, and rural intermediary organizations. Application Deadline: Jan 8, 2020.

–ARTSPACE is currently accepting applications for the Rafala Green Fellowship Program. With funding from the Ford Foundation, the mission of the program is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for people from communities traditionally underrepresented in real estate development. Each fellow will receive a $50,000 annual salary during the two-year term of their fellowship, as well as a comprehensive benefits package. Deadline:  1/15/2020.  Click here to review program guidelines.


–The Economic Opportunity Challenge is a public competition to award $10 million to scale a game-changing solution aimed at improving the financial health of low-income families in the United States. The Challenge will fund the most transformative evidence-based solutions to address barriers to improved economic opportunity, security, and mobility for individuals and families. The focus is on proven, data-driven solutions ready to serve as a model for implementation across the country. Deadline: the registration deadline is 1/28/2020; applications must be submitted by 2/18/2020. More information about the funding guidelines and application process is available on the Challenge’s website here.


Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Grant Program Grants to eligible organizations to cover all or part of the costs associated with purchasing an automated external defibrillator (AED). Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

Honor the Earth Native Food Security Grants for Native organizations working to create food security utilizing traditional seeds, foods, and growing methods, as well as energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

–Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is offering educator grants to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Teaching Tolerance Educator Grants support educators who embrace and embed anti-bias principles throughout their schools. These grants range from $500 to $10,000, and support projects that promote affirming school climates and educate youth to thrive in a diverse democracy. The grants fund projects on three levels: school, classroom, and district. Educators nationwide in public or private K-12 spaces, as well as in alternative schools, therapeutic schools, and juvenile justice facilities are eligible to apply. Deadline: applications may be submitted at any time. Visit the Teaching Tolerance website by clicking here to access the funding criteria, guidelines, and Frequently Asked Questions.

Stand Down Grants provide funding for events that offer homeless veteran populations a variety of social services designed to help them to reintegrate into their communities, such as housing, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

Strengthening the Tribal Response to Violence Against Native Women Training, technical assistance, and resources designed to help individual tribal governments and tribal communities strengthen the response to effectively address sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.


safeTALK – Preventing Suicide in Agricultural Communities – Faribault Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Health in Faribault, MN on November 20th.  For more information call 651.201.6012

National Rural Health Day, November 21, 2019  Includes a list of events for the week of National Rural Health Day (November 18 – November 21) from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). Events include a National Institutes of Health (NIH) seminar, various webinars, Twitter chats, and more.

–Minnesota Milk’s Dairy Conference and Expo is December 3-4, 2019.

— Join Minnesota Compass for a series of free workshops in Northeast Minnesota where you can learn how to use the Minnesota Compass Build Your Own data tool to access data by city, county, region, school district, Economic Development Region, Minnesota House or Senate District, US Congressional District, zip code, census tract, and more. Space is limited, so register soon! Cloquet Monday, Dec. 9, 9-10 a.m. Register and Chisholm Tuesday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Register.

–2020 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference Each year, tourism professionals from throughout Minnesota assemble in one of the state’s dynamic regions, excited to network and learn about what is new in tourism. The 2020 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference is the state’s premier industry event and provides relevant breakout sessions, inspiring speakers and many networking opportunities. Gather with tourism colleagues to learn about the latest insights, research and trends in the industry. For additional conference questions, contact Lori Peterson at 651-757-1876 or

Details: Feb. 24-26, 2020 at the Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center

Save the Date for Minnesota Festival and Events Association Annual Conference MNFEA is excited to announce the 2020 Annual MNFEA Conference will be held March 11-13 in Duluth.

— AURI, with partners Compeer Financial and Georgetown University’s Rural Opportunity Initiative, is convening the fourth annual New Uses Forum on April 8th & 9th 2020. The event brings together knowledgeable experts on topics related to innovation, development and investment. Their presentations will share indispensable information and experiences, foster meaningful discussion and ultimately produce actionable impact. The event features keynote speakers, panels, and networking opportunities, which will explore innovative solutions benefiting the agricultural industry. The New Uses Forum will take place at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.


— RFP Now Open for 2020 Nonprofit Finance and Sustainability Conference. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) and Propel Nonprofits seek dynamic session leaders to present at the ninth annual Nonprofit Finance & Sustainability Conference. We are seeking workshops that will focus on a range of skills and knowledge. Sessions will highlight everything from technical skills such as budgeting, audits, and compliance to strategic skills such as team leadership, internal controls, and oversight. Submitting a proposal is easy! Simply complete the online proposal form. The deadline to submit a proposal to present at the conference is Monday, November 18, 2019 at 8 a.m. More information can be found on our website.

— Open Positions on Explore Minnesota Tourism Council. The Explore Minnesota Tourism Council consists of 28 people from all sectors of hospitality and tourism appointed by the governor to serve in an advisory capacity to Explore Minnesota. The purpose of the Tourism Council is to serve the broader interests of tourism in Minnesota by promoting activities that support, maintain and expand the state’s domestic and international travel market, thereby generating increased visitor expenditures, tax revenue and employment. The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State released notice of vacancies for various state boards, councils and committees that are accepting applications. Minnesotans are encouraged to apply and serve in demonstration of public service. The Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, eleven (11) open positions.  Questions can be directed to Beth Helle at or 651-757-1872.

— Explore Minnesota Tourism Award Nominations deadline extended to Nov. 29. The Explore Minnesota Tourism Awards celebrate the outstanding people, events, marketing initiatives and activities that help to make Minnesota a premier travel destination. The deadline for submissions has now been extended until Friday, Nov. 29. The awards will be presented on Tuesday evening, Feb. 25, during the 2020 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, to be held at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria. See the complete list of categories and submit your nomination on the Explore Minnesota tourism industry website. Questions? Contact David Bergman at 888-563-7777 or

2019–2020 Lights, Camera, Save! Video Contest The American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation is sponsoring its 10th annual video contest for banks to encourage teenagers to educate themselves and their peers about the value of saving and using money wisely. Banks host local competitions and select winners to compete in a national competition for up to $5,000 toward their savings goals. Student entries must be submitted by December 3, 2019.

–Submit Your Proposal to Host the 2021 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener. Approaching its 74th year, the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener promotes our natural resources, upholds our fishing heritage and shines an intense media spotlight on our communities. Explore Minnesota is seeking a host community for the 2021 Governor’s Fishing Opener. This event requires significant community involvement and typically garners over $1 million in media exposure for the local area and the state as a whole. To submit an application, please download the RFP and application here. Deadline for submissions is Friday, Dec. 13. Please contact Nicole Lalum at 218-316-3330 or with questions.

— Take the Fed’s Small Business Credit Survey by December 20.  If you own or manage a business that has fewer than 500 employees share your perspective on current business conditions and credit availability by taking the Federal Reserve Banks’ 2019 Small Business Credit Survey, which closes on December 20. The survey takes about ten minutes to complete. You can find it here; more information about its purpose and past findings is available here.

— Native American Congressional Internship A summer internship for Native American and Alaska Native students who wish to learn more about the federal government and issues affecting Indian country. Application Deadline: Jan 31, 2020.

— Udall Scholarship Scholarships for Native American and Alaska Native students pursuing careers related to tribal public policy, self-governance, native health, and the environment. Application Deadline: Mar 5, 2020.


Manufacturing in Minnesota: Four Things to Know Compass Project Director Allison Liuzzi shares four things to know about manufacturing in Minnesota. Read the article.

— A Statewide Crisis: Minnesota’s Education Achievement Gaps. This new report explores and details Minnesota’s multi-dimensional education achievement gaps. More

Minnesota Economic Trends  Minnesota employers continue to struggle to find workers they need to grow and thrive in today’s tight labor market. The current edition of Trends takes a closer look at hiring difficulties and highlights a new tool for high schools and colleges to use in helping students plan for the in-demand jobs of the future.

–National Association of County and City Health Officials sponsored a report, “A Rising Tide: Increasing Rural Local Health Department Capacity to Address the Social Determinants of Health.” The report describes the unique challenges faced by rural local health departments (LHDs), as well as assets such as community connectivity and trusted local institutions, and explores the ways in which partnerships, leadership, community engagement, data and evaluation, and community health improvement planning function as foundational elements in addressing social determinants of health in rural communities.  Get the report by clicking here.

Health, United States, 2018 Presents an annual overview of national trends in health statistics. Covers health status and determinants, healthcare utilization, access, and expenditures. Includes rural data – see the Trend Tables Data Finder and select “Metropolitan and nonmetropolitan” under Population Subgroups. Additional links: Trend Tables Data Finder

Rural Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Toolkit Our most recent toolkit assembles resources and evidence-based models to aid rural communities in implementing programs that address and prevent COPD. Created in coordination with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, learn about rural risk factors, diagnosis and treatment, and the National Action Plan to combat COPD.

Addressing a Crisis: Cross-Sector Strategies to Prevent Adolescent Substance Use and Suicide Report discusses different methods for adolescent substance use and suicide prevention. Highlights rates of suicide and substance use, such as binge drinking, misuse of pain medication, and vaping. Explores differences in rates for youth in rural and urban areas. Tool allows users to find mental health providers and treatment for substance use disorder by zip code. Features treatment options, payment information, and information about addiction and mental health.

Clinician’s Pocket Guide to Prevent Elder Fraud This resource is designed to be used by health care professional and others who work with older Americans. The pocket guide lists common red flags of financial exploitation and financial capacity and describes the types of referrals that may be needed. The guide is part of the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program.

MoneySkill.  The American Financial Services Association Education Foundation offers this free, online personal finance curriculum. The curriculum has modules focused on a variety of topics, including income, saving and investing, credit, and insurance. The curriculum is available in English and Spanish and is audio-equipped for English users.

–AURI Publishes report on Growing Hemp Industry. A market for hemp-derived products is emerging in Minnesota, creating a groundswell of excitement and the need for reliable information. In response, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) set out to make sense of the state’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry. It did so by producing a comprehensive report, which functions as an overview of the landscape and guide for stakeholders and interested parties. For the full article go to:

Agritourism Allows Farms To Diversify and Has Potential Benefits for Rural Communities Agritourism helps U.S. farmers and ranchers generate revenue from recreational or educational activities, such as tours of a working farm, camping, or horseback riding. Beginning and small and mid-size farms are increasingly exploring agritourism as a strategy to remain competitive. Agritourism also has the potential to help revitalize rural economies, educate the public about agriculture, and preserve agricultural heritage. According to data from the Census of Agriculture, farm agritourism revenue more than tripled between 2002 and 2017.

Climate Change Projected To Increase Cost of the Federal Crop Insurance Program due to Greater Insured Value and Yield Variability The Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) insures participating farmers against adverse production or market conditions. Under the FCIP, the Federal Government pays a portion of farmers’ premiums; these premium subsidies represent the costs to the Government of the FCIP. The cost of administering the FCIP rises in years with adverse weather events, such as droughts, when insurance claims outpace premiums paid for insurance coverage. Recent ERS research used statistical, geophysical, and economic models to explore how climate change could affect yields and the cost of the FCIP.

— Broadband access tough to get on farms according to the United Soybean Board

— ILSR Muninetworks’ Video Broadband Primer. Muninetworks is creating a multi-part series of videos to help community leaders and policymakers better understand broadband.

–The Urban Institute released “Disrupting Food Insecurity,” a new data dashboard that provides county-level statistics about food insecurity and a variety of related risk factors. The dashboard provides data about housing costs, physical health, income and employment, median credit scores and debt, education levels, the share of households with children, and race in each U.S. county.  Click here to visit the dashboard.

–NEA teamed with staff from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity to publish a commentary article titled “Creating Activity-Friendly Communities: Exploring the Intersection of Public Health and the Arts.” The article appears in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.  Click here to read the article.

–RAND Corporation has published a report, “A Systemic Framework for Understanding the Dynamics of Rural Communities in America.” Researchers identify factors and mechanisms that influence positive and negative outcomes in rural communities.  The report highlights the relationship between labor and health capacity, with examples of how these can vary over time. Household, organizational, and community dynamics are examined, as well as the impact of regional, state, and federal forces on rural communities.  Click here to get the report.

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!