Possible Funding Sources for Schools, Groups, Others – Spring 2012 Deadlines

Funding is an issue that everyone struggles with – whether you are a small business, an entrepreneur just diving into your first startup, or whether you operate a non-profit organization or project. Small businesses, organizations, and schools are some of the primary groups we support on Love Small Town America.

The Kansas Association of Community Foundations compiled this excellent list of current funding opportunities that we knew you would find useful. Many of these opportunities are for grants and scholarships, so they are worth checking into! Thanks to our friends at the Kansas Association of Community Foundations for sharing and for allowing us to pass this on to you. Most of the deadlines for these opportunities fall in the next few weeks, so move quickly on those applications!

The Department of Justice is offering funds to nonprofits, public agencies, states, Indian Tribes, and local governments for projects designed to address and prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in rural areas.  Deadline:  3/29/2012.  To apply, click here.

AARP Foundation has announced the Women’s Scholarship Program Call for Applicants.  The program provides funds to low-income women age 50 and older who are seeking new job skills, training and educational opportunities to support themselves and their families.  Deadline:  3/30/2012.  To learn more about this opportunity, click here.

HUD has announced the availability of grants for nonprofits to transform neighborhoods by investing in a wide array of infrastructure and other redevelopment activities.  Both planning grants and implementation grants are available from the Choice Neighborhood Initiative.  Deadline to apply:  4/10/2012.  To learn more about these grants and apply, click here.

 

US EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants.  The US EPA is soliciting proposals from eligible entities, including non-profit organizations, to deliver environmental workforce development and job training programs that recruit, train, and place local, unemployed and under-employed residents with the skills needed to secure full-time employment in the environmental field, with a focus on solid and hazardous waste remediation, environmental health and safety, and wastewater-related training.

The total funding available under this competitive opportunity is approximately $2,800,000, subject to availability of funds, quality of proposals received, and other applicable considerations. EPA anticipates awarding approximately 14 environmental workforce development and job training cooperative agreements from this competitive opportunity.  Proposals are due by April 12, 2012.  For more details see: http://www.epa.gov/oswer/docs/grants/epa-oswer-oblr-12-03.pdf

Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance! With a theme of expanding CDFI coverage to underserved communities, the NEXT Awards celebrate our industry—its creativity, accomplishments, and enduring importance—by awarding high performing CDFIs with attractive grants and loan capital.  Aligned with the new theme, the program features new awards:

The NEXT Opportunity Award recognizes up to four CDFIs with compelling strategies for expanding product and geographic coverage that are ready to execute within six months of receiving an award. The total pool of $8.25 million includes $7.5 million in low-cost, long-term debt and $750,000 in unrestricted grant funding.

The NEXT Seed Capital Award offers a $100,000 unrestricted grant to a single CDFI with a promising idea for expanding geographic or product coverage that is still in development. The expansion strategy should be on track to implement within eighteen months of receiving an award.

In addition to continuing generous support from Wells Fargo and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Kresge Foundation is a major new partner.  The final deadline to submit an application is 5:00 PM EST on April 17, 2012.  Application guidelines, applications, and more information can be found at the new Wells Fargo NEXT Awards Web site.

The Department of Labor is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies to improve the employability of young adult ex-offenders by providing skills training.  Deadline:  4/17/2012.  To learn more about this program, click here.

The Retirement Research Foundation is accepting applications from nonprofits for projects in aging designed to improve quality of life for older Americans.  Deadline:  5/1/2012.  Applicants are encouraged to discuss projects in advance of submitting a full proposal by calling (773) 714-8030 or emailing info@rrf.org.  For more information, click here.

State Farm Insurance Companies is offering funds for student-led service-learning projects that address environmental responsibility, community safety and natural disaster preparedness, financial literacy, access to higher education, or social health and wellness.  Deadline:  5/4/2012.  For eligibility and to apply, click here.

Mini Grant Program
Application deadline is July 15, 2012
 Mini-grants to rural schools. From National Rural Education Association

Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act Grants – Application deadline: Mar 29, 2012. Funding to prevent and reduce alcohol use among youth in communities throughout the United States.

Self Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) – Application deadline: Apr 30, 2012
Funding to be used to facilitate and encourage innovative homeownership opportunities.

American Legion Foundation Child Welfare Grants – Application deadline: Jul 15, 2012. Grants to benefit the children of America. 

Open Meadows Foundation – Application deadline: Aug 15, 2012. Grants for projects that are led by and benefit women and girls, particularly those from vulnerable communities.

Guaranteed Loans Under the Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program (GRRHP) – Application deadline: Dec 30, 2012
Grants to increase the supply of affordable rural rental housing through the use of loan guarantees that encourage partnerships between the Agency, private lenders, and public agencies.

Libri Books for Children Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Donates new, quality, hardcover children’s books for small, rural public libraries in the United States.

Rural and Low-Income School Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Formula grants to State educational agencies (SEAs), which in turn award subgrants to eligible LEAs either competitively or on a formula basis.

Rural Transit Assistance Programs (RTAP) – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Funding for training, technical assistance, and other support services for rural transit operators.

SBA Certified Development Company (504) Loan Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings.

USDA Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

Funding to construct, enlarge, or improve essential community facilities for health care, public safety, and public services in rural areas.

Kansas Association of Community Foundations

Have you ever applied for a grant to fund your project, organization, or business? We’d love to know if any of these are helpful to you. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Startup Act – An Entrepreneur’s Perspective

Many of you may have heard of the Startup Act – Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Mark Warner’s bipartisan bill designed to jumpstart the economy by instituting five measures that would help increase entrepreneurial activity in various realms. As fellow Kansans and supporters of entrepreneurship, we recently responded when Senator Moran requested letters of support. Entrepreneurship has a *true* trickle down effect that benefits communities and we are living proof of that. We’d like to share with you the letter we sent to Senator Moran:

Dear Senator Moran,

My name is Nicole Godek. When I made the choice to leave corporate careers in graphic design to move home to my native small town of Grainfield, Kansas, I chose to do so for two reasons: 1.) The advantages of small town life; 2.) The means to establish a business that not only allows me the chance to earn a living for my family doing what I do best, but gives me the chance to make a difference. At the heart of it, entrepreneurship is personally satisfying and socially beneficial so when I go to work each morning on making Love Small Town America Inc., (www.lovesmalltownamerica.com) I am also working hard to add benefit to my community and giving it a legacy I can be proud to pass on to my children.

With Love Small Town America , I’ve used my graphic design skills to build a website that serves as a network to promote and catalog small towns and their resources. It serves as an important communication tool for small towns and their businesses – most of whom are locally-owned by entrepreneurs. It may not be easy for a metropolis to see the difference, but when I walk down main street in any small town across America, I see the difference a single entrepreneur can make and the hole they’d leave if they weren’t open for business. I also see the tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to grow if given more support and resources, and the ripple effect this has in individual lives, communities, and economies.

Love Small Town America accomplishes three primary things; it provides a cost-effective, controllable way for communities to catalog and publicize their businesses, events, real estate, and more, it helps advertise what resources the community already has, and it helps advertise what assets the community would like to attract. Whether you are fleeing the city like I did and are looking for an available property in a community that suits your lifestyle, or are ready to open a new business in a town that needs your skills, Love Small Town America is able to help.

A lot of small towns have experienced a big surge of people leaving, but Love Small Town America is a place where people can go who want to escape from some of the plights of urban living and have the chance to follow their dreams.

I support the StartUp America Act and what it means for entrepreneurs – and future entrepreneurs – everywhere. My business makes a difference and provides needed services at a competitive price and I know others will as well. Entrepreneurship is good for me, good for my community, and good for America.

Sincerely,

Nicole Godek

CEO of Love Small Town America, Inc.”

 

If you agree, like we do, that taking concrete steps based in solid research to encourage entrepreneurial activity, you can share your opinions as well. Whether through the Startup Act or through other means, it is our duty to request our lawmakers enact policies that facilitate entrepreneurial growth. It’s time to stop stealing big companies from one another in expensive economic development ploys and to grow our own. That’s the way we grow jobs and generate net growth in the economy.

We’d love to hear what you think, though. Are we on the right path – or just plain crazy? Entrepreneurship is having a hey-day at the moment, and we think it’s about time. Is entrepreneurship a buzzword or is this the way to build a stronger America? Let us know in the comments.

What can businesses learn from small towns?

A new book, Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy, examines the lessons that businesses can learn from small towns. Small Town Rules argues that the interconnectedness of a global, web-based system of commerce where, “your customers can talk to everyone else,” presents similar challenges and opportunities to those of a small town, where, it could be argued, everyone talks to everyone else, too.

Small Town Rules

The book is co-authored by Becky McCray and Barry Molz, two digital heavyweights who have used the interconnectedness of the web-based system of exchange to foster respective careers in rural small business advocacy and entrepreneurship. Together they have outlined seven rules that businesses can learn from small towns and shared them in this book.

Whether or not the seven lessons revealed in this new book are ground-shaking epiphanies or statements of common sense remains to be seen; it’s not available until April, although you can pre-order now on Amazon.com. However, the symbiotic relationship between small towns and businesses is one that resonates with us at Love Small Town America. What do you think a business could learn from your small town? Tell us in the comments.

If you can’t wait until April, Small Town Rules co-author, Becky McCray, will preview her new book at the Social Media Tulsa Conference March 15-16, 2012.

 

Give Your Customers More of What they Want with More Frequent Updates

Main Street Dugout's February 2012 Coupon on Love Small Town America

Choosing is a bit of a Goldilock’s conundrum no matter what you are deciding between. If you hedge your bets, you  may end up with too little of what you need. Or, you may worry about diving into something that is “too big” for you. Love Small Town America offers three different update packages to fit your small business or organization: you can choose to have us update your page annually, monthly, or weekly. Even better, we give you the option to change your mind.

Main Street Dugout, a Grainfield institution we love, recently changed their update frequency from annual to monthly updates and we couldn’t be more excited (and that’s not just because we love to eat there). They are using their webpage on Love Small Town America to begin offering customers a coupon. So, more frequent updates make perfect sense for them- and for their customers.

We can’t wait to see what they do to keep all of us coming back to their webpage for more. Some information, like your address, only needs to be changed once in a while. But if your hours, promotions, merchandise, or other information changes more than once a year, monthly updates may be for you. Changing out photos will keep your page fresh and attract customers.

Updating your webpage more frequently to refresh content like pictures, information, and promotions, makes your webpage a destination visitors will return to again and again. If there were something simple you could do to help generate return business, wouldn’t you want to do it?

Offering a coupon on your Love Small Town America page is just one great idea. How will you make the most of your webpage?

Don’t have a webpage? Let us create one for you today. 

Rural Opportunity Zone Incentives Take Effect January 1, 2012

Would you like to move to a small town? How would you like to move to a small town and pay no income tax for 5 years and get help paying off your student loans? Well, who wouldn’t want that?! If you live outside the state of Kansas and are dying to call a small Kansas town “home”, you may qualify to take advantage of an ingenious new incentive program that is luring people to the heartland.

Small towns in Kansas have taken the Rural Opportunity Zones program and run with it. This program is a creative way to help people take advantage of the benefits of small town living while giving rural counties in Kansas an incentive to attract young professionals and families and reverse the rural brain drain. The program benefits took action as of January 1, 2012.

From the Kansas Department of Commerce: On April 11, 2011, Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law the Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZs) program. ROZs are designed to reverse dramatic population declines over the past decade in rural areas of Kansas. The program is a central component of a broader plan by the Brownback Administration to spur economic development and expand job growth in 50 counties around the state. The program took effect July 1, 2011.

With two attractive incentives, moving to a small town just got a lot more enticing. A state income tax exemption applies to individuals moving to an ROZ from outside the state. Forty-four of the fifty participating counties are offering a student loan forgiveness program as well that could net participants up to $15,000 off of their outstanding college loans.

Kansas reported a slight increase in population for the year 2011. By December, more than 150 people had already applied for the ROZ program, so we may see that number continue to rise. Most of the people who leave Kansas move to Texas and the Governor links this out-migration with income taxes. The idea is that ROZs offer an opportunity for Kansas to compete with states that offer more aggressive tax situations.

Gove County, home of the LSTA headquarters in Grainfield (and LSTA towns Park and Quinter), opted in to the ROZ program at the end of December and we are very excited about welcoming some new residents to our wonderful communities to enjoy small town living! The decision to participate in the ROZ means that Gove County (and all the other ROZ counties) are choosing to embrace change and take brave steps to a brighter future. It’s not an easy step – but we think it is a good one.

We hope we see more of these kinds of incentives: programs that support small towns, bring growth to rural areas, and give people the chance to create their own opportunities.

For more information on the program or to apply to move to a Rural Opportunity Zone, visit the Kansas Department of Commerce website.

ROZs-designated counties are Barber, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Edwards, Elk, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Mitchell, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Rawlins, Republic, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Trego, Thomas, Wallace, Washington, Wichita, Wilson and Woodson

 

 

Gift Ideas that Go a Little Further

At this time of year, our thoughts are often on giving gifts, whether small or large. With every dollar counting more than ever, how can you stretch yours to go as far as possible while still taking care of the ones you love? Buy local. Buy small. Buy American. 

Tim Mitchell in Northwest Earth Institute’s Choices for Sustainable Living states, ‘A dollar spent at a locally owned store is usually spent 6 to 15 times before it leaves the community. From $1, you create $5 to $14 in value within that community. Conversely‘Spend $1 at a national chain store, and 80% leaves town immediately.’

 

Even if you’re only spending a single dollar – maybe to buy a bar of chocolate for a friend – if you buy it at your local grocery store, you are generating an economic ripple that can make that single dollar bill worth up to $15 dollars! Talk about some happy holidays!

This is exactly the kind of math that Love Small Town America wants to help everyone calculate. So, we rounded up a few of our businesses to share some creative gift ideas on our facebook and twitter pages that would not only make someone on your list smile – but that would make waves in your community’s economy. Here are all our ideas in one convenient location (Hint: feel free to print!)

Gift Idea #1: Gift certificates to Main Street Dugout in Grainfield
Don’t live in Grainfield? Buy a gift certificate to your local diner or pub. A $40 dinner could make up to $600 worth of difference in your community – and, your support can make a real difference to the owners.

Gift Idea #2: Custom vinyl decal from B’s Ultimate Finish in Grainfield
Many local print shops or automotive boutiques now offer custom vinyl decals. Decorate a car window or add some flair to a kid’s room, classroom, or even the ‘man-cave’.

Gift Idea #3: Brisket and pulled pork from Harvest Market 
Rural grocery stores need your support. Find a speciality item to gift or stick with high-quality basics that are always welcome (think European baking chocolate, bottled olives, and other delicacies). If you don’t have a grocery store nearby, try a restaurant or coffee shop for seasonal food gifts.

 

Gift Idea #4: Auto parts or car washing supplies from Jack’s
Even if cars aren’t *your* thing, there is a good chance you know someone who loves them or would appreciate a practical gift like an oil change or car wash – on you.

Gift Idea #5: A gift with real power: a gift certificate to Old 40 Depot to put a dent in paying for a new skid loader

We think these gifts would be great for just about anyone – especially those hard-to-shop-for men on our lists! – and will be long remembered, and appreciated. Whether you gather inspiration from this list or have something else in mind, remember that when your dollar stays in town, it grows.

Love Small Town America would like you to be our friend on facebook. Click here to see our page and click ‘like’ to join the conversation. We have big plans to offer our facebook friends exclusive giveaways, promotions, and contests. Plus, it’s just plain fun. Who can say no to that?! www.facebook.com/lovesmalltownamerica

How Can Rural be Sustainable?

At Love Small Town America we are not afraid to say that we love small towns (it’s right there in our name!). We love all small towns. But the truth of the matter is that many of these small towns are in rural areas. In Kansas, for example, half of the population lives in 5 counties. The other half of the population lives in the remaining 100 counties; most of those are in cities or towns with fewer than 10,000 people. So, we keep our ears cocked to hear news that relates to rural life. A recent government report caught our attention. Last week we saw the following:

New Partnership for Sustainable Communities Report: Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities

The HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities and the USDA have released Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities, a report that discusses how the four agencies are collaborating to support rural communities. This publication highlights how small towns and rural places across the country are using federal resources to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life to residents, and build on local assets such as traditional main streets, agricultural lands, and natural resources.  The report includes sections on how HUD, DOT, EPA, and USDA programs support environmentally and economically sustainable growth in rural places; performance measures rural communities can use to target their investments; and 12 case studies of rural communities using federal resources to achieve their development and economic goals. It also outlines steps the Partnership for Sustainable Communities is pursuing to support small towns and rural places.  Read the report here.  For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, please visit: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov.

 

The Partnership for Sustainability developed six livability principles:

  • Provide more transportation choices.
  • Promote equitable, affordable housing.
  • Enhance economic competitiveness.
  • Support existing communities.
  • Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment.
  • Value communities and neighborhoods.
We can definitely appreciate the value behind these six principles: some of them guide our business even now. Are there other important issues this partnership overlooked? Love Small Town America works to address economic competitiveness in a big way, and we also think we promote affordable housing through our real-estate ads, support existing communities in a big way, and value communities and neighborhoods. There may be more we can do in the future to branch out into some of these other areas, perhaps enabling rural towns to better advocate for federal policies that are beneficial to small towns.

We’re curious to stay tuned and find out how this develops in the future. What do you think? How can rural be sustainable? And what can we do to help?

Love Small Town America would like you to be our friend on facebook. Click here to see our page and click ‘like’ to join the conversation. We have big plans to offer our facebook friends exclusive giveaways, promotions, and contests. Plus, it’s just plain fun. Who can say no to that?! www.facebook.com/lovesmalltownamerica

Growing from Grainfield

 

A sampling of images from the Grainfield photo gallery on Love Small Town America

Love Small Town America is based in Grainfield, Kansas. It’s where CEO Nicole Godek grew up, and where she returned to find her roots. We thought it was only fitting that as we launch this blog as part of our expansion to bring Love Small Town America to towns across Kansas, that we pay homage to where it all started.

Grainfield is a lot like many other Midwestern towns, built on a solid base of agricultural interests. With a population of 289, it certainly fits the bill of a “small town”. Grainfield’s inhabitants are hard-working, friendly people who are more than residents; they’re a community. As Love Small Town America’s home base, it is only natural that Grainfield be one of the first communities to come online.

When Nicole returned to Grainfield after living in bigger cities, she knew she would find the small town advantages she sought. What she didn’t realize was how difficult it would be to find everything else. Her difficulty finding local resources she sought to remodel her new home online prompted Nicole to realize that if she couldn’t find small town resources on the web while she was living in the heart of a small town, there were probably 1.) a lot of other people out there who couldn’t find them either 2.) a lot of small businesses and small towns who weren’t connecting with customers, residents, etc. Nicole helped Grainfield make those connections and now Grainfield has a great online presence full of information about community events, local schools, businesses, and even job opportunities.

Seeing the community embrace Love Small Town America and helping our local business owners to find a way to have an affordable, professional web presence helped us to know, right from the beginning, that what we were doing would work; that communities need what we offer, that they support our mission to put small towns and businesses back on the map, and most importantly, that we are making a difference.

One of the Grainfield businesses that we helped create a custom website for is D&D Ranching. Until Love Small Town America came along, D&D Ranching didn’t even have a website. Now, they proudly share with the world their decades of experience in the cattle industry. Their business webpage under the Grainfield umbrella makes it easy for anyone looking for the services they offer to find them. (Anne adds: I just tried googling them – and sure enough, I wound up at the Love Small Town America page!)

D&D Ranching is a family owned, small feed yard offering the latest in technology, individual pens and rations, and bunk feeding.”

We’re proud of all the Grainfield businesses we’ve brought online, some joining Love Small Town America and linking to external webpages, and others coming online for the very first time. This town has supported us and given us a great place to call home. Some day, we think we’ll be calling Grainfield by another name: national headquarters of Love Small Town America. 

 

Welcome to the Love Small Town America Blog!

Love Small Town America has been helping people form coast to coast find a map to the "good life".

Hello everyone!

You might be an old friend of Love Small Town America or this might be the first time you’ve heard those words.

To all our old friends – thank you for stopping by, and we hope you’ll say hello in the comments! We’ve got big plans to keep this blog updated with fun, fresh content we think you’ll like. If you’re here, we know you love small towns – or are willing to be enticed! –so we’ve got all sorts of projects in the works, from travel segments to recipes to photo contests that we hope are going to make this a fun destination that you’ll check every day. So, settle in, say “hello”, and let us know what you’d like to see! If you’ve got favorite blogs about small town life, rural issues, or anything, let us know that, too! We’re new to this blogging thing and would love to jump in and make some friends.

To all our new visitors, allow me to introduce Love Small Town America. Love Small Town America isn’t really just a business or a website, although we take what we do pretty seriously – it’s more than that.

Love Small Town America is the only website offering a comprehensive listing of small towns and their assets from community organizations to businesses to real-estate

By joining Love Small Town America, people are getting a professional website at an affordable cost and joining a network that we are growing from the ground up of people who live in small towns, shop in small towns, run businesses in small towns – or would like to move to a small town.

In the coming days, weeks, and months we’ll share lots more with you about what Love Small Town America is, why we love small towns so much, and all sorts of goodies that we think you’ll like – from events to tips on growing your small town business.

For now, we’d just like to say, “howdy” and encourage you to join the conversation. We can’t wait to see where this road takes us and we sure hope you’ll ride along.

Share a comment with us! We can’t wait to meet you!