The Empowering Small Minnesota Communities Program aims to support small Minnesota communities in conceptualizing, designing and finding paths to fund resilient, comprehensive infrastructure interventions.
Donor Name: University of Minnesota
County: All Counties
Type of Grant: Grant
Size of the Grant: Not Available
Grant Duration: Grant Duration Not Mentioned
The ESMC program is funded by the Minnesota Legislature and run by University of Minnesota partners the Center for Transportation Studies, UMN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the Minnesota Design Center, and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
The Empowering Small Minnesota Communities (ESMC) program is a community-centered collaboration with the University of Minnesota to support small communities in becoming well-positioned to benefit from federal, state, and local investments.
The program will connect communities with UMN resources and personnel to undertake work prioritized by residents. The goal of the effort is to provide small communities with the capacity needed to develop resilient and sustainable infrastructure projects that will be competitive for a range of other funding streams.
Small Minnesota communities have a tremendous number of existing assets: beautiful natural areas; essential built environments; economic strengths, and human capabilities to build upon community strengths, meet their challenges, and move toward their aspirations.
Empowering Small Minnesota Communities (ESMC) will be led by several University of Minnesota partners that will work directly with participating communities. Participation in the program is by application. Communities selected for partnership will work with the University to:
- Identify and embrace existing assets.
- Propose work that will advance resilient and sustainable economic, social, or transportation infrastructure.
- Proactively embrace projects or processes that may iterate new project ideas or frameworks for future development.
There are three main pathways for support through the ESMC:
- Rapid response projects. Efforts of fewer than 10 hours, these projects are intended to help applicant communities address a short term need as an input into a larger project. (E.g. a GIS map, statistical or demographic analysis, creation of a survey, etc.) Rapid response projects represent about 10% of ESMC work and will be accepted after review and on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached.
- Tactical Action support. These medium term (2-9 month) projects are intended for communities with particular needs or projects in mind can gain support from UMN teams to further develop the efforts. (E.g. developing schematic designs for a park, doing community engagement around a proposed project, calculating economic impacts of an effort). Tactical action projects represent about 30% of ESMC work. Competitive selection will conclude with the announcement of participating communities in May 2024.
- Community Futures. These are deep and sustained engagement projects (6-12 months). Communities that are interested in entering into a longer-term process that will use an asset-focused, community-driven partnership to create a resilient community-development strategy and identify specific projects that support the strategy. Deep, sustained engagement projects represent about 60% of ESMC work. Competitive selection will conclude with the announcement of participating communities in May 2024.
Eligible applicants or team members include:
- Tribal nations that share boundaries with the State of Minnesota
- Local units of government (county, city, township, school district, special districts such as watershed districts, regional development commissions)
- Nonprofit organizations
- Community-based organizations
While any of these entities can propose on their own, priority will be given to work proposed by partnerships between governmental and non-governmental entities that demonstrate collaboration and community support.
The jurisdiction served by proposing applicants must be below 15,000 people. Priority may be given to applicants proposing to serve jurisdictions of less than 5,000 people depending upon the number of applications. Population numbers should be based on the 2020 US Census.
Collaborative proposals that seek to work across multiple jurisdictions are eligible as long as each of the jurisdictions that will be served by the proposal have individual populations of less than 15,000.
Priority will be given to communities with lower staff capacity and/or limited fiscal resources (may be evaluated in multiple ways, including receiving of Local Government Aid, total tax base, size of jurisdictional workforce, etc.).
Submitted applications will be reviewed, prioritized, and selected based on the following criteria.
- Proposed effort’s ability to advance resilience and sustainability
- Proposed effort’s level of innovation and community impact
- Proposed effort’s fit with a pressing need and timelines
- Proposed effort is realistic and actionable:
- Proposed effort advances equity among historically underrepresented communities such as Native nations, people of color, immigrants, people with low incomes, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, women and geographically isolated communities
- Proposed effort is community-driven and collaborative
- Proposed effort is informed by tangible engagement of residents
- Proposed effort’s fit with ESMC enabling legislation, UMN capabilities, and goals of ESMC program.
For more information, visit University of Minnesota.