Monday, July 17, 2017

Community Resources


June 22nd Meeting Summary

Local Food Models:

1.      Amber Canto, State Coordinator, FoodWIse, University of Wisconsin-Extension, spoke about the university's 2014 USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant which examined barriers for SNAP customers to shop at farmers markets. The work focused on five communities and revealed that transportation and perceived cost were barriers. The study also revealed that SNAP customers visit markets for many reasons, but mostly for fresh and local produce. 63% of those surveyed didn’t realize that SNAP was accepted at markets, and many were unaware of incentive programs. For more information on the study, contact Amber here.  Click here to view presentation.

2.      Alice Maggio, Director of Programs, Schumacher Center for a New Economics, discussed the Berkshares program, a local currency designed and issued for circulation in local businesses in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. The concept of a local currency is particularly helpful to rural areas, as .48 of every dollar remains in the local economy, versus .136 without it. The program has successfully promoted and facilitated local production of food and goods. For more information on the Center’s work or its Berkshares program, please visit their website or contact Alice hereClick here to view presentation.

Soil Health:

1.      Bala Chaudhary, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Studies, DePaul University, discussed her research on plant-microbe interactions and soil health. Similar to humans, plants have symbionts that live on, inside and/or around them. In addition, mycorrhizal fungi live in the roots of plants. These provide nutrients to plants and/or protect them from pathogens or drought. Less intensive farming and lower application of fertilizers/herbicides results in healthier plants with more nutrients. For more information, contact Bala hereClick here to view presentation.

2.       Michelle Wander, Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, shared resources and noted that improved soil health results in less erosion and water and nitrogen run-off. Because we were experiencing technical difficulties and it was difficult to hear Michelle, we’ve attached her presentation which also includes a number of valuable resources. You can also contact Michelle hereClick here to view presentation.

3.      Hannah Shayler, Extension Associate, Cornell University (NY), shared information about the Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities research and outreach program developed in response to concerns about contaminants in urban gardens and other community spaces. The work assessed contamination in community gardens in New York City and other areas and developed recommendations and best practices for healthy gardening practices to minimize the exposures of gardeners, garden visitors, and other community members to soil contaminants. The work also revealed that using more compost resulted in less lead in vegetables. You can find additional information on the university’s website or contact Hannah here.  Click here to view presentation.

4.       James Rospopo, Soil Conservation Technician, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), highlighted NRCS programs and resources that can help agricultural producers to promote soil health. NRCS created a webpage with a wealth of resources and information on soil health. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. By using soil health principles and systems that include no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations, more and more farmers are actually increasing their soil’s organic matter and improving microbial activity. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water infiltration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat—all while harvesting better profits and often better yields. If you live in Illinois and would like to discuss NRCS programs in the State,  contact James here. If you live outside Illinois, please contact your local/state NRCS office. 

July 27th Meeting Agenda

1.      Sarah Lenkay, Strategic Projects Manager, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, will share information about her organization’s Urban Farms of Central Ohio initiative. The initiative currently includes the Clarfield and Wheatland Farms, which are formerly vacant lots that have been transformed into thriving farms. Of the produce grown on the farms, a portion of it is provided to low-income, food insecure households in the neighborhoods surrounding the farms while another portion is sold to restaurants, wholesalers, and through a Veggie Box program to generate program revenue. The initiative also boosts a youth job readiness training program, hosts educational field trips on the farm, and fosters civic engagement.

2.       Sheela Johnson, Natural Resource Specialist, USDA Forest Service, will highlight some of the Forest Service technical assistance and resources available to communities. These resources support air and water quality, community development, and environmental stewardship and education goals. Sheela will share examples of recent projects that use these resources to create “food forests” in city parks or otherwise support local food efforts.

3.       Bryn Bird, previous market manager, Canal Market District, will share information about the development and implementation of the Canal Market District. This organization, whose mission is to promote the local economic development and livelihoods of food entrepreneurs in Newark, Ohio is an example of a unique and innovative partnership between a private family foundation, municipality and non-profit. The organization hosts a twice-weekly farmers market, and seeks to improve everyone’s access to healthy and fresh locally grown produce. In its first year of operation, the market amounted impressive sales to customers who use SNAP and other federal food assistance programs. 

4.       Karyn Moskowitz, Executive Director, New Roots, Inc. and Fresh Stop Markets (IN and KY), will share information about New Root’s main initiative, the award winning Fresh Stop Markets (FSM), which are volunteer, community-driven farm-fresh food markets that pop up bi-weekly at local churches and community centers in fresh food insecure neighborhoods. “Shareholders” agree to cooperate and pay ahead of time, on a sliding scale, for ten varieties of seasonal, local, organic produce that can then be picked up at a given time and day, at one of the 15 different Kentucky and southern Indiana Markets. This cooperation and financial commitment ensures that farmers don’t face the same degree of risk as with traditional farmers’ markets, and the sliding scale and community building aspect means food is affordable and everyone is included.

5.      Alison Alkon, Associate Professor of Sociology and Food Studies, University of The Pacific, will share information about research related to farmers markets, CSAs, and food systems that serve and are owned by their communities. Alison will also share information about the necessity of economic policies—and not simply a dependence on market mechanisms—that determine a community’s food sovereignty.

6.       Gary Cuneen, Executive Director, Seven Generations Ahead, will provide an overview of the SERA, Inc. Economic Market Study Report related to composting and local food.

Grants, Resources, Opportunities, and More...


Resources, Tools, & Technical Assistance

Grants & Funding

Data, Statistics, & Reports

Food Waste

Employment Opportunities


Rural LISC

Funding and Finance Opportunities


USDA Rural Housing Service (RHS) is offering grants through its Housing Preservation Grant (HPG) program to qualified public agencies; private nonprofit organizations, which may include but are not limited to Faith-Based and Community Organizations; and other eligible entities to assist very low- and low-income homeowners in repairing and rehabilitating their homes in rural areas. In addition, the HPG program assists rental property owners and cooperative housing complexes in repairing and rehabilitating their units if they agree to make such units available to low- and very low-income persons. Deadline: 7/17/2017. Click here for application guidelines.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES is offering grants to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for a wide array of community development and economic development projects to enhance job creation and business development in low-income communities. Deadline: 7/24/2017. Click here for application guidelines.  


THE DELTA REGIONAL AUTHORITY is accepting applications for the Delta Leadership Academy, an institution that trains leaders from diverse backgrounds, sectors, and industries to improve the economic competitiveness and social viability of the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt, with an emphasis on economic, health, educational, and infrastructure challenges. Geographic coverage: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee. Deadline: 7/14/2017. Click here to visit the Academy’s website.  


THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES is offering grants through the Rural Health Opioid Program. The purpose of the program is to promote rural health care services outreach by expanding the delivery of opioid related health care services to rural communities. The program will reduce the morbidity and mortality related to opioid overdoses in rural communities through the development of broad community consortiums to prepare individuals with opioid-use disorder (OUD) to start treatment, implement care coordination practices to organize patient care activities and support individuals in recovery through the enhancement of behavioral counselling and peer support activities. This program will bring together health care providers (e.g., local health departments, hospitals, primary care practices, and substance abuse treatment providers) and entities such as social service and faith-based organizations, law enforcement, and other community-based groups to respond with a multifaceted approach to the opioid epidemic in rural communities. A consortium must include at least three health care providers. The program supports three years of funding and incorporates a range of objectives to respond comprehensively to the opioid crisis within rural communities. Deadline: 7/21/2017. Click here to review program guidelines and to apply.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES is offering grants to support minority or disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic, childhood or adolescent obesity, or serious mental illness. Deadline: 8/1/2017. Click here to review application guidelines.  

THE KENT RICHARD HOFMANN FOUNDATION is offering grants throughout the United States, with a particular focus in smaller communities and rural areas. The Foundation supports community-based nonprofit organizations that focus on HIV/AIDS care and direct services, education, or research. Grants are provided to developing or established programs, with emphasis on those that provide direct benefit to clients or target audiences. Requests are reviewed two times per year.Deadlines: letters of inquiry 9/1/2017; invited grant applications will be due 9/22/2017. Visit the Foundation’s website here to submit an online letter of inquiry.  

Native Americans

THE 7TH GENERATION FUND FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE is offering funding to Native American organizations in the following program areas: Arts and Creativity, Health and Well-Being, Rights of Mother Earth, Sustainable Communities and Economies, Leadership Development, and Rights, Equity, and Justice. Grants from $250 to $10,000, with an average of $5,000. The remaining postmark deadlines for 2017 is 12/1/2017. Visit the website here for more information and to apply.  


USDA RURAL COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM is offering Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) Seed Grants to provide early development capital for retail food co-op organizing groups that wish to partner with USDA to start a food co-op. In addition to the grant award, the program will commit to regular follow-up and assistance with partner groups. Grants are given in amounts up to $10,000 when funds are available. USDA depends on the generosity of other organizations to support this grant program and only a limited number of awards can be offered. This is a competitive process, as USDA receives more applicants than can be funded every year. If applicants do not receive a seed grant, USDA will continue to work with and support them through the steps in starting a retail food co-op. FCI is awarding $50,000 in Seed Grants for rural cooperatives. Deadline: 7/17/2017. Download the FCI 2017 Rural Seed Grant Information page here to check eligibility and to apply.

USDA Rural Development is offering grants to help socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas. This emphasis will support Rural Development’s (RD) mission of improving the quality of life for rural Americans and commitment to directing resources to those who most need them. Eligible applicants include Cooperatives, Groups of Cooperatives, and Cooperative Development Centers. Deadline: 7/25/2017. Click here for more information and to apply.

Training Events and Conferences

PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and Reinvestment Fund will host an interactive webinar to tour the newly redesigned Healthy Food Access Portal July 12, 2017, 3:00-4:00 PM EDT. The refreshed site features new and refined resources to better support advocates, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders to take their work – whether a local policy campaign or the launch of a local healthy food business – to the next level. The Portal team will highlight key features, including updated navigation, new content for advocates and entrepreneurs, and interactive tools to find policy information, available funding opportunities, and other resources in each state. Click here to register.

Housing Assistance Council will offer “An Introduction to Proposal Writing for Nonprofits”Thursday, July 13, 2017, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT. Click here for more information and to register.  

National Development Council is offering a New Markets Tax Credits webinar on July 13, 2017. To many economic development practitioners, the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) offers promise as a tool to get major deals done. But, understanding how to use NMTCs in actual projects often proves challenging. This three-hour webinar takes participants through a general understanding of the program to detailed, step-by-step application in actual deals. The cost is $275.00. Click here to register.

National Development Council is also offering a New Markets Tax Credits Course, August 7-9, 2017. This intensive three-day course is designed to take the mystery out of this powerful economic development tool from the basics-what NMTCs are and how they are allocated-through the all-important legal and regulatory parameters, to the financing models that work best and maximize NMTC benefits. Case studies and hands-on work take you step-by-step through actual NMTC projects, including commercial real estate, mixed-use development that includes significant amounts of housing, community facilities for non-profits, business financing, and projects that include historic rehabilitation tax credits. Click here for more information on this course and to register.

Freddie Mac and Bank of America are sponsoring "Coming Home Again" workshops this summer and fall. The next two workshops are August 16, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and August 29, 2017 in Oakland, California. Coming Home Again is a free, comprehensive one-day training event in support of local initiatives that expand home ownership opportunities for underserved households and buyers in distressed markets. These one-day workshops, conducted by the Nickerson Group, are specifically developed for nonprofit organizations and state and local housing agencies looking to learn more about how to design, finance, and administer successful first-time homebuyer programs. More information on registration can be found here.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) is hosting two RCAP Outreach and Well Assessment Workshops for health and environmental professionals and others who work with well owners.  The first will be held on August 24, 2017, from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM in West Sacramento, California, at the RCAC Corporate Office (3120 Freeboard Drive, West Sacramento). The second will be hosted on September 7, 2017, from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM in Portland, Oregon at the Portland State Office Building (800 NE Oregon Street, Portland).  See the full list of trainings on the website here.

Save the Date...

The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) will be hosting its annual training conference September 9-12, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska. Registration can be found here.

Save the Date: Investing in America’s Workforce 2017 Conference. Join leaders in workforce, employers and policy-makers from communities across the country for a dialogue on how to invest in creating a stronger workforce. The event will be held October 4-6, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

Novogradac 2017 Affordable Housing Tax Credit Conference will be held October 5-6, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

NDC Academy will be held October 23-25, 2017, in Washington, D.C., with the theme “Rethinking How We Invest: Homes, Jobs and Communities in 2017 and Beyond.”

Information and Other Resources

A recent story televised on PBS News Hour“Can Helping High-risk Patients with Basic Needs Reduce Costly Care in Rural Areas?” highlights a Montana program working to improve the health of low-income patients dealing with chronic conditions who frequently use emergency care services. This program, located in Kalispell, Billings, and Helena, connects patients with regular specialty care using telehealth; helps address barriers to care like homelessness, a lack of transportation, and food insecurity; and provides community health workers to assist with this transition. Read the full story here.

A new report from the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC)"How Sustainable Communities Create Resilient People," explores how housing can shape resiliency and boost sustainability for individuals and their communities. PAHRC's report assesses three components of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social. The report also discusses tools communities leaders can use to promote the resiliency of low-income families.  Get the report here.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released its annual report, "The State of the Nation's Housing 2017," which details housing market trends, demographic trends, and housing challenges in the U.S. The report finds that 11.1 million renter households were severely cost burdened in 2015. The U.S. added more homeowners in 2016 than in any other year since 2006, but the homeownership rate declined slightly because of a growth in renter households. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of cost-burdened households declined by 2.2 percent. Despite this trend over the past five years, nearly half of all renters continue to be cost-burdened, and being cost-burdened is especially a problem for very low-income renter households. The report also finds that neighborhoods are becoming more economically segregated. Get the report here.  

A new study in Health Affairs examines whether receiving HUD housing assistance is associated with improved access to health care. The authors analyzed data on nondisabled adults ages 18-65 who responded to the 2004-2012 National Health Interview Survey and were also linked with administrative data from HUD. The study found evidence that HUD housing assistance is associated with lower levels of uninsurance and unmet need due to cost. Get the study here.  

“Considering Culture: Building the Best Evidence-Based Practices for Children of Color” is a case study sponsored by the Anne E. Casey Foundation that examines how culture impacts the effectiveness of evidence-based practices in communities of color. The study offers suggestions for how that efficacy may be improved, and options beyond the traditional programs that are proving to be valuable for the children in those communities. A specific discussion of the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program in Georgia gives a rural perspective to the issue. Get the studyhere.

A new report from the Democracy Collaborative examines emerging opportunities for impact investors to support the growth of employee ownership as a scalable, win-win strategy: it has been shown that employee-owned businesses are both better for workers and more stable than investor-owned corporations. Get the report here.  

“Delivering Summer Meals to Rural, Low-Income Kids with Retired School Buses” is the title of an article in Civil Eats that highlights a summer lunch program in a rural area of Tennessee that used old school buses to deliver meals to children in remote areas. In this area, one in every four children lives at or below the poverty level, and many live in too remote an area to access traditional summer lunch programs at Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, etc. Read the article here.  

USDA Economic Research Service has published results of research that provide a bar chart showing rural and urban median earnings by industry, covering a variety of industries including mining, manufacturing, finance, agriculture, and recreation. The data shows that in 2015, annual earnings in rural areas were 15 percent lower than earnings in urban areas. Access the earnings chart here. The Economic Research Service has also published a map identifying which nonmetro counties gained population and which lost population between 2010 and 2016. Access the map here.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released "Out of Reach 2017," a report which finds that a person working full-time at the federal minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment at HUD's fair market rent in any state. A full-time worker earning minimum wage can afford a one-bedroom apartment in only 12 counties. Workers need to earn $21 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in the U.S. to avoid cost burden. The disparity between the income needed to afford a rental home and workers' wages has caused a shortage of 7.4 million rental homes that are affordable and available to extremely low-income households. Get the report here.  

An article in the Daily Yonder“A One-Woman Education Start-Up Machine in Small-Town Iowa,” describes how in small towns, when there's a need, it's often up to the community to come up with a solution. It features Laura Espinoza, who saw a lack of support for immigrant students and their parents in her Iowa town and started five different programs to help folks navigate their way from primary school to college. Read the piece here.



Dr. Dave Shideler

Associate Professor and Community Development Specialist

Department of Agricultural Economics

Oklahoma State University

323 Agricultural Hall

Stillwater, OK 74078-6025


405-744-8210 – fax

Find grants and professional development resources on my blog




Debbie Wells
Administrative Assistant

310 Ag Hall



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