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Innovation Matters Education Opportunities 12/15/2020

Publications and Resources

AskUSDA Contact Center
USDA launched the AskUSDA Contact Center to transform how the public interacts with USDA to provide a streamlined approach to improve customer service. Contact AskUSDA by phone at (833) ONE-USDA. Representatives are available 9:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. EST on weekdays. The website is available 24/7 and includes live chat agents available 10:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m. EST on weekdays. Inquiries may also be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Job Quality Tools Library
The Aspen Institute, with support from Prudential Foundation, developed a library of online tools to support leaders working in a variety of fields related to economic opportunity to engage in practical action to improve jobs offering tools, resources, and guidance to help leaders strengthen job quality across labor markets.

Using Data Systems To Improve Workforce Development Outcomes in A Changing Landscape
U.S. Department of Labor’s WorkforceGPS program features three new publications in support of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act with information on data integration and continuous program outcome improvement: A Changing Workforce Development Landscape; Registered Apprenticeship Program RAP; and Putting Data to Work.

Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success Applicant Toolkit
U.S. Department of Transportation offers a new resource to support the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success initiative. This toolkit helps support communities to better identify and navigate agency grant funding opportunities.

A Research Strategy for Enhancing Sustainable Recreation and Tourism on Public Lands
USDA Forest Service, in collaboration with the Igniting the Science of Outdoor Recreation Working Group, developed a research-based strategy for outdoor recreation and tourism on public lands.

Event Opportunities

Supporting Solar
Dec. 17 | Webinar
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office hosts a stakeholder webinar to give an overview of work supporting solar entrepreneurs and commercialization pathways of new solar technologies, with special guests from the American-Made Solar Prize, the Small Business Innovation Research program, and a competitive funding program.

Tourism Discussions: A Lesson in Flexibility
Dec. 17 | Webinar
This webinar is part of the National Extension Tourism (NET) webinar series and features real-time tourism and community development tips on flexibility and re-planning coming straight from the leadership of the 2020 Coastal Georgia Tourism Conference. It will feature online facilitated discussions around development with outdoor recreation, local grown food/drink, and heritage and culture.

USDA ERS Rural America at a Glance, 2020 Edition
Dec. 18 | Webinar

USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) will present findings from their 2020 publication which summarizes population trends, employment, poverty, income in rural areas and recent demographic and economic conditions in rural areas resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic recession.

The Agricultural Outlook Forum
Feb. 18-19 | Free Virtual Conference
The 97th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum theme is “Building on Innovation: A Pathway to Resilience”. This is the largest annual meeting and premiere event, independent of commercial interests, organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It aims to facilitate information sharing among stakeholders and generate the transparency that supports well-functioning open markets and will feature a panel of distinguished guest speakers and breakout sessions.

2021 Cultural Wealth Conference: “The Role of the Arts and Cultural Capital in Rural Innovation and Entrepreneurship”
Feb. 23 – 25 | Virtual Conference
The Rural Policy Research Institute, with the support of USDA, is hosting this conference on the important role that arts and cultural capital play in rural innovation, community well-being, and rural community sustainability, while also exploring the role of arts and culture in rural communities through both qualitative and quantitative studies.

How Community Development Organizations Change When They Embrace Arts and Culture
Recorded Webinar
PolicyLink developed a series of webinars to support ArtPlace America’s Community Development Investments initiative to share experiences and lessons for community development corporations, nonprofit housing developers, health services providers, park associations and economic development agencies.

Innovation Matters Education Opportunities 11/17/2020

Publications and Resources

USDA’s Rural Health Subscription List
If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development to receive updates related to rural health, join the Agency’s Rural Health subscription list.

Telemedicine Technologies in Rural Washington Spark Long-Term Advancement in Health Care Delivery
USDA Rural Development Washington State Director Kirk Pearson writes about the impacts of USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program in rural Washington. (In celebration of National Rural Health Day on Thursday, Nov. 19, USDA is highlighting stories throughout the week of how we are working with rural leaders and our partners to increase access to critical health care across rural America. To access stories as they're posted, visit https://www.usda.gov/media/blog.)

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Celebrates National Rural Health Day
HRSA recognizes the annual event with online activities throughout the week including a virtual rural job fair and many webinars focused on the rural health care, social determinants of health and telehealth.

Rural Action Plan
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an overview of the current rural health care landscape featuring a strategy to leverage technology, focus on preventing disease and mortality, and rural access to care.

Guidebook and Research Plan to Help Communities Improve Transportation to Health Care Services
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides guidance to help health care and transportation agencies work together to increase transportation services and improve health outcomes.

Event Opportunities

Mental Health Roundtable Discussion
Nov. 18 | Webinar
USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement offers a virtual platform to have a conversation with subject matter experts, practitioners, and community leaders on the importance of mental health.

How Broadband Enhances Local Economies
Nov. 18 | Webinar

BroadbandUSA, National Telecommunications and Information Administration offers a new webinar featuring success stories on real partnerships, plans and actions used to stabilize and strengthen economies through increased broadband adoption.

National League of Cities Virtual City Summit
Nov. 18 - 20 | Virtual Summit
National League of Cities offers a virtual opportunity for cities to learn, build, grow and renew through panel discussions, keynotes, networking and workshops.

2020 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rural Health Seminar: Rural Health Challenges in the Era of COVID-19
Nov. 19 | Webinar
NIHpresents this seminar to explore the impact of COVID-19 on and response for rural populations, systems and workforce issues and community engagement.

Rural Housing Symposium: Recovery Through Resiliency
Dec. 2 - 3 | Virtual Symposium
The Housing Assistance Council offers a virtual meeting to discuss the state of rural housing and strategize replicable approaches that drive equitable rural development.

OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative Lender Office Hours
Dec. 9 | Webinar
USDA Rural Development is hosting a webinar for lenders to answer questions about the new processes under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative.

Innovation Matters, Educational Opportunities, October 20, 2020


USDA Co-ops 101 Booklet
USDA offers this easy to follow publication to support cooperative development outlining how the co-op business model is highly flexible and can address a wide variety of needs including rural utility services, credit and financial services, food services, education, farmer-owned, construction, recreation, daycare and health services.

OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative Lender Guide
USDA Rural Development published a new guide to assist lenders applying for Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantee Program; Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program; Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program; and Rural Energy for America Guaranteed Loan Program under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative which streamlines the application process by implementing standardized requirements for credit reviews, loan processing, loan servicing and loss claims.

Building Native CDFIs’ Sustainability and Impact II
To meet the needs of today's Native CDFIs, the CDFI Fund partnered with ICF Incorporated, LLC and First Nations Oweesta Corporation to deliver a comprehensive technical assistance training platform for the Native CDFI industry with resources from the training series, recordings of the webinars and useful links are available in the Training and Technical Assistance section of the CDFI Fund’s website.

America’s Seed Fund: Women’s Inclusion in SBIR & SBTT Programs
The National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan federal advisory committee created to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, commissions the first comprehensive study examining the factors that may influence women’s participation in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund.

Podcast: Heroic Co-op Employees Go Above and Beyond
National Rural Economic Developers Association’s podcast episode of Along Those Lines features three riveting stories from co-op employees whose routine workdays turned into lifesaving rescue missions.

Event Opportunities

Main Street Lending Program
Oct. 21 | Webinar
This Federal Reserve Bank webinar is designed to help borrowers learn about the Main Street Lending Program and provide an opportunity for borrowers to get answers to specific questions.

OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative Lender Office Hours
Oct. 28 | Webinar
USDA Rural Development is hosting a webinar for lenders to answer questions about the new processes under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative.

Tribal Microgrids: Exploring Why and How
Oct. 28 | Webinar
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy is hosting a free webinar on tribal microgrids to share case studies and explore benefits to tribal communities to develop microgrids.

Smart Regions Innovation, Recovery, and Resilience Virtual Workshop
Oct. 29-30 | Webinar 

Participants are invited to join discussions on best practices in smart regions investments and partnerships, navigating equity issues during a disaster, regional data sharing, unique issues facing rural areas, the education and health response to disasters, and a look at a more resilient future that smart region projects can help us achieve. This event is hosted by the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) Smart Regions Collaborative, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the National Association of Regional Councils, and US Ignite and sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

2020 Rural Workforce Development Southern Region Summit: Innovation in Times of Change
Nov. 5 - 6 | In-person and Virtual
Created in partnership with the University of Arkansas Rockefeller Institute, the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, and USDA Rural Development’s Innovation Center, this summit creates space for educators, businesses, legislators, health care workers, nonprofit professionals, and public servants to convene and share innovative practices or resources to address changes and needs to strengthen the rural workforce.

Building Community Capacity around Housing
Nov. 5 - 6 | Webinar
USDA’s Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement, in collaboration with the Regional Rural Development Centers offer a multi-day virtual event designed to serve as a ‘Train the Trainer’ opportunity for community development practitioners as a multi-dimensional overview of the challenges encompassing rural housing through a national lens. Meet the Trainers.

2020 Cooperative Network Annual Meeting
Nov. 17 | Virtual
The Cooperative Network welcomes all to join their annual meeting to hear from their Board and learn about proposed resolution changes.

Innovation Matters Education Opportunities 10/06/2020


USDA Launches Webpage to Announce Rural Broadband Projects Seeking Funds Under the Electric Program
USDA has launched a webpage to notify the public when the Department has received applications from rural electric cooperatives and utilities for loans and loan guarantees in which up to 10 percent of the funds will be used to deploy broadband service. This website supports a final rule authorized by Section 6210 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (The 2018 Farm Bill) to allow the use of funds under select programs to help expand access to broadband services in rural America. For additional information, see page 57077 of the Sept. 15 Federal Register.

Electric Co-ops Celebrate 25 Years of Commitment to Community, Core Values
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a national service organization for more than 900 not-for-profit rural electric cooperatives and public power districts providing retail electric service to more than 42 million consumer-members in 48 states, offers a re-cap of success stories highlighting the 7th Cooperative Principle or Concern for Community. Downloadable posters: Seven Cooperative Principles.

Powering the Future of Rural America
National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, a nonprofit cooperative that provides an array of financial services to electric cooperatives nationwide, published an annual report outlining their dedication to the universal principles of cooperatives.

Expanding Community College Apprenticeships
U.S. Department of Labor funded national initiative, led by the American Association of Community Colleges, published state by state data showing significant advances in its first year of their three year plan to increase the number of apprentices and services throughout the U.S.

Event Opportunities

Co-op Impact Conference – National Cooperative Business Association
October 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 | Virtual Conference
NCBA CLUSA’s Co-op IMPACT Conference is a national, cross-sector event elevating the national conversation on Co-ops offering a platform to reenergize the cooperative movement and galvanize its champions around building the next economy.

Local Foods, Local Places: Application Assistance
October 9 | Webinar
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and USDA invite communities to join to learn about the program and get technical assistance to help revitalize their economy, promote local foods, improve health, and protect the environment by revitalizing neighborhoods through the development of local food systems. (Application deadline is October 30)

National Association of Development Organizations 2020 Annual Training Conference
October 20 - 22 | Virtual
NADO annual event featuring sessions on economic development, housing, environment, workforce, broadband and more.

2020 NREDA Annual Conference: Keys to Holistic Economic Development
November 4 - 6 | Virtual Conference
National Rural Economic Developers Association, a professional organization dedicated exclusively to the advancement of rural development, will gather economic developers, electric and telephone co-op representatives, federal partners and others to network and learn the latest in the economic development industry. 

Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities
November 9 - 13, 2020 | Virtual Conference
Hosted by a team of University Extension Offices, this community development initiative brings together entrepreneurs, business leaders, economic development professionals, decision makers, and community champions to strengthen and broaden regional entrepreneurial networks.

CDF National Home Care Cooperative Conference
February 22 – 25 | Virtual Conference
Cooperative Development Foundation event for home-care worker cooperative members and developers.

NTIA’s Minority Broadband Initiative-USDA Rural Utilities Service Technical Assistance Webinar Series
This technical assistance webinar series provides Historically Black Colleges and Universities an overview of the grant application process, guidance for narrative preparation, and how to prepare budget/financial statements for USDA’s Distance Learning & Telemedicine, Community Connect, and Reconnect programs. Recorded webinar links are below:



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