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

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PLEASE NOTE: GIVEN the rapidity of information updates during this COVID-19 time, we encourage you to re-check all dates/info noted in the listings below when you get to the websites from the URLs listed here.  We are not repeating resources provided in May’s newsletter even though some are still available.

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2020 Grads: Your task is to remake the world!
by Jane Leonard

Through all the personal, family, community, state, national, and world tumult with the COVID-19 pandemic, and more recently since George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police, many of us have also seen and felt another upheaval: the lives of young people we know and love — the high school and college Class of 2020 — commencing their next steps in a world turned upside down from what they knew just a few months back.

Here in St. Anthony Park, we were given a bit of cheer on Sunday when a persistent and distant honking sound moved ever closer to our street and revealed an impromptu parade of about 50 cars festooned with balloons and streamers, with the Class of 2020 aboard — all the high school and college graduates in our community. Everyone popped out of their COVID quarantine homes and cheered and clapped as the parade went by. Their display of public affection, and ours back to them, filled my heart with gratitude and hope for these young folks in our midst.

I leave them, and you, our dear Rural Round-Up Readers, with this timely quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from May of 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, from a graduation speech he gave that year when he was still Governor of New York:

“We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!” 

Indeed, here’s to remaking the world for the better, for all!  Congrats, Class of 2020!


–Tourism Marketing Grants Reallocated to Crisis Tourism Marketing Program. Due to the unforeseen circumstances that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the tourism industry, Explore Minnesota has pivoted the current 2020 Tourism Marketing Grant Program. While we are only a few months into the current tourism marketing grant program, we found that most marketing programs and commitments by our industry partners have paused or are unable to be fulfilled.  Any qualifying expenses incurred between January 1 through June 8, 2020 (tactics must be completed by June 8) may be submitted to Explore Minnesota for reimbursement consideration no later than June 22, 2020.

Any remaining funds from the 2020 Marketing Grant Program will be repurposed and redistributed after June 8, 2020 to create a new Crisis Tourism Marketing grant program available and effective July 1, 2020. Guidelines for the Crisis Tourism Marketing program will be shared in early June. Please contact your Explore Minnesota Regional Staff for additional details.

–The Minnesota Department of Health has developed a presentation to help assisted living facilities in completing applications for the COVID–19 Health Care Response Grant program. Long term care and assisted living stakeholders whose needs continue to increase as the pandemic unfolds have asked for further guidance on eligible and ineligible expenses under the grant.

MDH has also developed a toolkit for long term care facilities responding to COVID-19. The toolkit was created to help facilities plan for a COVID-19 case or be used during an outbreak:

While there is no deadline for applying for the COVID–19 Health Care Response Grant, we anticipate many requests and recommend applying as soon as possible. There will likely not be enough funds to meet all requests, but MDH will work to fund as many as possible based on an evaluation of need and evolving statewide and regional priorities.

If you have further questions about the grant application process, email:

If you have questions about the COVID-19 Response Funding, email:

–USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America. View the full stakeholder announcement.

USDA to loan up to $1 billion to rural businesses  Talk Business & Politics reports that USDA has announced that the department is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic.  Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR $1.5 BILLION IN EDA CARES ACT FUNDS TO RESPOND TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is now accepting applications from eligible grantees for $1.5 billion in economic assistance to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic using funds authorized by under the CARES Act.  Deadline:  Ongoing.


Social and Economic Development Strategies Program (SEDS) Grants for tribal community-based organizations, tribes, and village governments for social and economic infrastructure development. The 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. Application Deadline: June 15, 2020.

–The Brookdale Foundation is offering grants for community-based, social model day programs that provide dementia-specific group activities for participants and respite for family caregivers and care partners.  Deadline: 6/24/2020.  Click here to review application guidelines.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Group Respite and Early Memory Loss Grants for community-based, social model day programs that provide dementia-specific group activities for participants and respite for family caregivers and care partners. Application Deadline: June 24, 2020.

OTTO BREMER TRUST.  The Otto Bremer Trust is dedicated to building healthy, vibrant communities—places where basic needs are met, mutual regard is prized, and opportunities for economic, civic, and social participation are within everyone’s reach. The Trust provides grants to nonprofit organizations whose beneficiaries are residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, or western Wisconsin, with priority given to communities or regions served by Bremer Bank. The focus is on supporting initiatives in the following broad categories: basic needs, community asset building, health and well-being, and restorative and emergency services. (There are separate focus areas for organizations serving the Minnesota/St. Paul metropolitan region.) The upcoming application deadline is 6/30/2020.

–USDA is offering funding through the Strategic Economic and Community Development Program, which allows USDA to give priority for projects that support the implementation of regional economic development plans through several USDA Rural Development funding programs.  Deadline: 6/30/2020.  Click here to review program guidelines.

Community Economic Development Projects Grants to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for projects designed to address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through the creation of employment and business opportunities, including expansion or construction of clinics and health centers. Priority points will be given to projects that create jobs in rural communities and counties of persistent poverty. Application Deadline: July 3, 2020.

Healthy Food Financing Initiative Targeted Small Grants Program Financial assistance to support projects that improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, create and preserve quality jobs, and revitalize low income communities. Application Deadline: July 10, 2020.

–USDA Rural Development is also offering grant support to help rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. Deadline to apply: 7/13/2020.  Click here for an Application Guide.

School Based Mental Health Services Grant Program Grants to increase the number of qualified mental health service professionals providing school based mental health services to students in local educational agencies with a demonstrated need. Educational agencies in rural areas are a program priority. Application Deadline: July 13, 2020.

–Minnesota Housing and its partners announce the launch of the 2020 Consolidated Request for Proposals (RFP). Our vision is that all Minnesotans live and thrive in a safe, stable home they can afford in a community of their choice. This annual Consolidated RFP process advances that vision by making funding available to help construct and preserve homes that are affordable in communities throughout Minnesota.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to every community in the state. Most of the Minnesota Housing staff team has converted to teleworking. Minnesota Housing remains operational across all divisions and continues to process construction draws, complete closings, and provide technical assistance. Please continue to reach out to us with proposals and questions.

Minnesota continues to need homes that are deeply affordable. To help keep housing production moving forward, the Consolidated RFP has launched. However, we recognize that many of our community partners are focused on addressing immediate needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of that, we have extended the application deadline to July 16, 2020. Selection announcements are anticipated to be made at the December 2020 Minnesota Housing Board meeting. For more information go to:

Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas Grants for new organizations to assist veterans in highly rural areas through innovative transportation services to travel to VA medical centers and to otherwise assist in providing transportation services in connection with the provision of VA medical care to these veterans. Application Deadline: July 17, 2020.

Transit Planning for All Mobility on Demand Projects Funding for inclusive transportation planning, development, and implementation with grassroots-driven mobility on demand solutions. Application Deadline: July 31, 2020.

NEA OUR TOWN.  The purpose of this National Endowment for the Arts program is to support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities. Eligibility Requirements: State and local governments; Native American tribal governments; institutions of higher education; school districts; and nonprofit organizations.  Deadline: August 6, 2020.

Tribal Transportation Program Safety Funds Funding for tribal governments for the purposes of transportation projects related to safety, safety planning, and safety/ infrastructure. Application Deadline: August 20, 2020.

Foundation for Rural Service Community Grant Program Grants to support a variety of local efforts to build and sustain a high quality of life in rural communities across America. Focus areas include business development, community development, education, and telecommunications. Application Deadline: September 13, 2020.

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund: Auction 904 The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is designed to bring high speed fixed broadband service to rural homes and small businesses that lack access. The first phase of the FCC reverse auction will target over six million homes and businesses in census blocks that are entirely unserved by voice and broadband with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps. Application Deadline: October 22, 2020.

–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. Requests will be accepted on a rolling basis through 12/31/2020. Visit the Foundation’s website here to submit an online application.

Summer Food Service Program Funding to provide free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need during the summer months. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

Health Center Facility Loan Guarantee Program Facilitates access to capital funding and reduces financing costs for health centers by guaranteeing up to 80% of financing needed to support capital infrastructure projects. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

Opportunity Zone Economic Development Program A program designed to encourage economic development and job creation in distressed communities through tax benefits. Investors may defer taxes on most capital gains up to Dec. 31, 2026 by making an eligible investment in an Opportunity Zone. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

–The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) provides zero-interest loans to small businesses for capital equipment purchases that meet or exceed environmental regulations, and costs related to the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites. Some eligible projects include purchasing a solvent recycler, installing a new paint booth to switch to water-borne paint, and installing updated equipment that reduces emissions from refrigerants. Many small business loan projects lead to fewer regulatory requirements, lower waste disposal bills and less exposure to harmful chemicals for your employees, your customers and your neighbors.

Eligibility and conditions – Many business sectors are eligible. Projects that reduce regulatory obligations are highly encouraged. To quality, a borrower must be an existing small business corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership, or association with:

  • Fewer than 100 full-time employees
  • An after-tax profit of less than $500,000
  • A demonstrated ability to repay the loan

Loan terms and conditions:

  • Loan amount between $1,000 and $75,000
  • 0% interest rate
  • Repayment term up to seven years
  • Flexibility in the types of collateral accepted
  • Awarded throughout the year


“Utilizing Federal Data to Measure the Digital Divide Webinar” will be held June 17, 2020 at 2:00 PM EDT. National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) BroadbandUSA is providing this webinar learning opportunity on federal data sources, current trends and how to access local information on broadband efforts. This webinar will feature NTIA and U.S. Census Bureau data findings.

–Grounded Solutions Network National Conference will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 21-24, 2020.

–The Many Faces of Community Health Conference will be held October 22-23 in Brooklyn Center.


–The 2020 Tekne Awards are now open! They honor innovation in science and technology.  For information go to:

–The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is pleased to announce the annual Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Awards. In partnership with the McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation that advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive, four Minnesotans, two from the Twin Cities metro and two from Greater Minnesota, will each receive $10,000 in recognition of the significant impact they have had on the state of Minnesota and its communities. Nominations are open until June 18.

Award Criteria: A Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero is an individual who has had a significant impact on the state of Minnesota and its communities. This individual:

  • Has played a significant role on creating a positive impact on Minnesota and its communities.
  • Has not been widely recognized for their work in the past.

Nominate an unsung hero in your community.

SBA: Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program-Loan Increases.  The Small Business Administration has published an additional interim final rule, supplementing the previous rules for the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The new rule is effective May 19, 2020 and increases certain PPP loan amounts. Comments on the change are due by June 18, 2020.

FCC: Establishing a 5G Fund for Rural America The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a proposed rule to retarget universal service funding for mobile broadband and voice in the high-cost program to support the deployment of 5G services by establishing the 5G Fund for rural America. Comments on the proposed rule and implementation of the 5G Fund are due by June 25, 2020.

Apply for a Position on the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council There are 10 open positions on the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, the 28-person board appointed by the governor to serve in an advisory capacity to Explore Minnesota.

–Current and Former Frontier Customers May be Eligible for Rebates or Bill Credits – July 20 Deadline!


2020 Compass Points now available. Minnesota Compass has released Compass Points 2020, our annual indicators report. This year’s report includes data and analysis about populations at risk of being under counted in the 2020 Census, a dashboard that highlights how Minnesota is doing in key topic areas, and what’s new and coming soon on

–Minnesota Primary Election and Updates: Minnesota’s online absentee ballot application opens on May 13 ( for both the August 11th primary and November 3rd election.

— More Changes to the Census Operational Timeline. On April 13, 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau, in order to protect a fair, accurate, and safe count in these unprecedented times, announced additional adjustments to the census operational timeline. Self-response, the phase where households respond to the census online, by mail, or phone, is extended to October 31, 2020. Nonresponse follow up is now scheduled to start on August 11, 2020. This is the second adjustment made this year. View the Census Bureau website for more details on the changes.

Rural census response is running behind, especially online; interactive maps show how your county is doing.  The Rural Blog reports that rural residents are filling out their census forms more slowly than other Americans, according to the Housing Assistance Council, which helps build homes in the rural U.S.  As of May 17, almost 60 percent of U.S. households had responded to the census. HAC used Census Bureau data and a tract-level analysis to estimate response rates for rural, suburban, and urban census tracts.  Suburban areas had the response rate, 66%, rural and small-town tracts were at 53%.

–MN Broadband Maps and Rankings are Out! The Office of Broadband Development recently posted broadband coverage maps for Minnesota Counties. See how your county ranks for broadband access at speeds of 25 Mbps up and 3 down, 100 Mbps up and 20 down or Gig access.

–MN County Prosperity Ranking. Go Daddy releases Venture Forward, a report on the impact of local ventures on a community and impact of community on local ventures. Diving into the report, we created a list of the Top 10 in Venture Density, in Highly Active Ventures, in greatest change and other factors.

Cultivating Resilience in Rural Communities Toolkit A collection of resources to prepare and plan for a conversation on mental health in agriculture. Includes a facilitator planning guide and checklist, participant worksheet, promotional flier, and more.

Revealing Rural Realities: What Fuels Inaccurate and Incomplete Coverage of Rural Issues  is a new report co-produced by The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, Housing Assistance Council, Center for Rural Strategies, and Hattaway Communications looks at how ongoing changes in the structure and business of media and journalism contribute to the gap between rural realities and public perception of rural America.

How Artists Helped a Housing Organization Adapt to Demographic Change.  A Shelterforce article takes an in-depth look at the many lessons the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership learned after receiving a multi-million dollar grant to integrate arts and culture strategies in its work.

Employment & Education USDA ERS research in this area focuses on labor market conditions and educational attainment in rural (nonmetropolitan) America. The labor market measures discussed here include the level of employment, the employment/population ratio, the unemployment rate, and the labor force participation rate. Educational attainment is closely linked to labor market outcomes. While rural areas are closing the gap with urban areas in high school completion, there is a large and growing gap in college and postgraduate educational attainment, even among young adults.


–There is so much news and data about the COVID-19 pandemic that some people are calling it an “infodemic.” That’s why Minnesota Compass compiled a special COVID-19 section for its website. As a reliable and trusted source for Minnesota data and trend analysis, Minnesota Compass has up-to-date information and insights on how the COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact on our communities, economy and quality of life.

What you’ll find:

NRHA Creates Rural COVID-19 Technical Assistance Center The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) created the Rural COVID-19 Technical Assistance Center to help rural providers overcome barriers they face during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Technical Assistance Center will focus on finance/reimbursement and operations/supplies, assessing and triaging needs to ensure rural communities are equipped with knowledge, resources, and connections.

–TNTP has created a new COVID-19 School Response Toolkit, including the full Learning Acceleration Guide and other free resources to help school systems implement at-home learning, survey stakeholders about their experiences during the crisis, run a virtual teacher hiring process, and much more.

COVID-19 Resources on Vulnerable Populations.  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides a collection of federal COVID-19 resources for those working with vulnerable populations, including people living in rural areas, older adults, those with underlying medical conditions, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. Data offers information for healthcare professionals, researchers, community partners, consumers, and patients.

–The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the launch of the COVID Coach app, a new mobile app designed to help both veterans and civilians cope with feelings of stress and anxiety they may be experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app includes practical tools, information and resources that can all be used from the safety of one’s home to track well-being, mood swings and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

The Case for Opportunity Zone Investments in Rural Areas.  For investors battered by the stock market, Opportunity Zones offer a win-win. Opportunity Zones allow investors to benefit from the initiative’s capital gains tax breaks, to make money, accomplish multi-generational long-term financial planning and diversify their portfolios away from equities. The tool has been underutilized in rural areas, despite the potential these areas hold.

–Prosperity Now has released a new report, The Cascading Impact of COVID-19 on Microbusinesses. The devastating financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have hit small businesses, particularly microbusinesses (businesses with 0-9 employees), like a tsunami wave with no end in sight. The report released today, looks at why businesses owned by people of color, women, and immigrants were highly susceptible to an economic downturn prior to the pandemic. It also details how microbusinesses, which are historically the most vulnerable to financial shocks, have been severely impacted by the virtual stoppage of economic activity in the sectors of the economy where they are most represented – including the food service industry, retail, and accommodation services.

Perspectives from Main Street: The Impact of COVID-19 on Communities and the Entities Serving Them reflects the opinions of 3,899 respondents across the United States.  COVID-19 is having a significant disruption on organizations serving low- and moderate-income people, according to community organizations nationwide. Respondents are split, though, about whether their recovery will be quick or difficult. That’s one of the takeaways from a survey released May 1 by the Federal Reserve System.

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!