Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard
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–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.

— Smart Rural Community Grant due December 31.

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.

— DNR Grant Available to Help Get Kids Outdoors Grant funding is available to assist with work including teaching kids about nature outside or getting them to recreate outside, integrating fishing and hunting programs into school curriculums, and supporting high school fishing leagues.

Public entities and nonprofit organizations can apply to receive funding from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the second phase of a grant program that supports getting more children outdoors. Public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth under age 18 can apply now through 2 p.m. on Jan. 9, 2020. The minimum grant for this second phase is $5,000 and the maximum is $49,999. In this phase, the total amount available for all projects is $500,000. All reimbursable grant project work must be completed by June 30, 2022. For more information on the grant program and a link to the application, visit the DNR website.

–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.

— Science Kits for Public Libraries Grant Application due January 19,2020

Empowering Communities to Reduce Falls and Falls Risk Grants to help communities reduce falls and/or falls risk among older adults and adults with disabilities through the implementation of evidence-based falls prevention programs. An emphasis is on projects that will target specific populations, such as rural communities, underserved areas, veterans, caregivers, or Tribal elders. Letter of Intent (Optional): Dec 16, 2019. Application Deadline: Jan 31, 2020

–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.

— USDA Rural Development is offering grants to establish and operate Agricultural Innovation Centers that will provide technical assistance to help rural businesses market value-added agricultural products. Application Deadline: 3/20/2020.  Click here to review application guidelines.

— USDA is offering grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  Funding supports agricultural producers and rural small businesses to reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations. Deadline: 3/31/2020.  Click here to review program guidelines.

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.


Introducing the Rural Suicide Prevention Toolkit Webinar  on Wednesday, December 11th at 12:00 p.m. Central as our featured speakers, Carrie Henning-Smith, Cathy Barber, Scott LoMurray, & Adam Swanson discuss the Rural Suicide Prevention Toolkit and describe strategies to establishing and sustaining suicide prevention programs in rural communities.

— CDFA-TEDC Webinar: “Rural Broadband – Financing the Last Mile,” December 18, 2019, 11:00 AM to 12:30 AM EST.  Rural communities commonly have difficulty financing middle-mile and last-mile broadband infrastructure. The Massachusetts Broadband Initiative and the Wyoming Broadband Advisory Council represent two state-level entities attempting to bridge the middle-mile and last-mile broadband gaps. One potential solution for this issue is to construct a fiber-optic network for municipal usage and lease the excess capacity (also called “dark fiber”) to telecommunications providers to generate revenue. Click here to register for the webinar.

January 22: Northwest Minnesota Foundations Join this event to learn about trends, staffing, program shifts, and financial outlooks of foundations in Northwest Minnesota. Minnesota Compass Research Scientist Ellen Wolter will facilitate a roundtable discussion about how organizations can use data in grant applications and reports. Bring a laptop to get hands-on guidance in how to use the Minnesota Compass Build Your Own data tool! Learn more and 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

–The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is pleased to announce its second Rural Energy Conference, on February 25, 2020 in Chicago IL. The conference will offer opportunities to delve into clean energy solutions for rural communities that will spur economic growth and energy affordability.

Discussion topics will include energy efficiency program design and financing, renewable and distributed energy resources, economic development, electrification of buildings and transportation, resilience and disaster recovery, energy affordability for low-income households, 2018 Farm Bill and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, and broadband access. More information and registration can be found here.

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.


–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.

–The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is implementing a pilot program to encourage people to consider buying and driving an electric vehicle in order to help reduce carbon pollution. Part of the Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation, this three year pilot program addresses a larger goal of trying to get more electric vehicles on the road in Minnesota by giving MnPASS toll credits to people who purchase or lease a new or used electric vehicle between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2022. The MnPASS incentive is geared toward people who do not already own an electric vehicle, or who are perhaps on the fence about purchasing. It is intended to encourage those who are thinking about purchasing or leasing a vehicle to choose an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. More information on the program is available here.


Rural America at a Glance, 2019 Edition This report highlights recent economic indicators in rural areas, focusing on population, employment, poverty, and personal income trends after the end of the Great Recession in 2009.

Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening America’s Rural Innovation Infrastructure
Looks at the role rural development hubs play in rural infrastructure development. Discusses healthcare access and population health as beneficiaries of rural infrastructure development.

Why Rural Matters 2018-2019: The Time is Now Describes the context and conditions of rural education in each of the fifty states. Presents data focused on the key areas of need in rural education. Discusses early childhood development, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), educational outcomes, college readiness, student and family diversity, and educational policy indicators.

Beginning, Limited Resource, Socially Disadvantaged, and Female Farmers Since the 1990s, America’s beginning, socially disadvantaged, and limited resource farmers and ranchers have been eligible to receive benefits from a variety of Farm Act programs. ERS research examines the characteristics of these targeted farm operators, the farms they operate, and their households; their participation in agricultural commodity, conservation, or loan programs; and related topics, such as the number and characteristics of female farm operators.

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.

–The State of Minnesota launched a first of its kind online dashboard – – that scores the state’s progress towards meeting its sustainability goals. The dashboard will track progress toward achieving the vision to reduce Minnesota’s carbon footprint and bring Minnesota’s energy sector to carbon neutrality by 2050. In addition to the dashboard, the Minnesota Department of Administration’s Office of Enterprise Sustainability released its second annual State of Minnesota Sustainability Report. Minnesota state government showed improvement over 2017 in four of the six areas – water use, solid waste sustainable purchasing and greenhouse gas reduction.  Two areas – fossil fuel use and energy consumption – showed declines in 2018.  Full report here.

–A new Harvard study shows that to achieve the biggest improvements in public health and the greatest benefits from renewable energy, wind turbines should be installed in the Upper Midwest and solar power should be installed in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. When adjusting for energy produced, the benefits ranged from $28 per MWh of energy produced from wind in California, to $113 per MWh of wind in the Upper Midwest and for utility-scale solar in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. The study in Environmental Research Letters by the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard C-CHANGE) provides a guide for policymakers, businesses, and utilities on where to install renewable energy in the U.S. to maximize their health and climate benefits. Find the summary here and the full report published in Environmental Research Letters here.

— The Health Policy Division of the Minnesota Department of Health released a chartbook of data highlights that give an overview of rural care in Minnesota. Specifically, the chartbook presents data on the structure of the health care system in rural Minnesota, the health care workforce, changes in the availability of health care services, how people in rural Minnesota experience and use health care services, and the financing of health care. It also provides a glimpse into system transformation efforts underway in Minnesota. The Rural Health Care in Minnesota Chartbook, 2019 will be a valuable resource for policy makers and others seeking data on rural health care in Minnesota.

Rural Response to Farmer Mental Health and Suicide Prevention This new issue guide discusses the rising mental health crisis in farming communities and provides information on organizations and model programs that are addressing the challenges and mental health needs of this population.

Community Health Worker Roles and Responsibilities in Rural and Urban America
Results of a study to explore community health worker (CHW) roles and responsibilities, the growing professionalization of the field, and interactions between CHWs and other healthcare providers. Uses data obtained from focus groups conducted in Florida, Minnesota, California, and Massachusetts. Provides an in-depth look at the differences between CHW work in rural and urban areas, and offers insights to support continued growth of the field.

— “Increasing Access to Affordable Housing in Indian Country” is the title of an article by Patrice Kunesh, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, in Shelterforce Weekly.  Incomes are rising in much of Indian Country, and many people are looking to own their own homes, but a set of obstacles specific to Native lands is getting in the way. Read the article by clicking here.

— USDA has released “Collaborating for Prosperity with American Indians and Alaska Natives Resource Guide.”  The guide showcases a complete list of Rural Development programs that help to ensure rural families, businesses and communities on America’s tribal lands have the resources they need to prosper.  To download the Guide, click here.

EDITORS’ NOTE: As always — please send us items to post, comments, ideas, etc. You can send them to Jane Leonard at And thanks for getting to the end of this month’s issue!