Have a project idea?
Do you have an idea to improve sustainability in your community? We'd love to hear from you! Our most recent statewide project application period closed in February 2020, but project ideas can be submitted at any time. To learn of the next review period in your region, please reach out to your Regional Executive Director.
The University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) advance the environmental, economic and social sustainability of Greater Minnesota through authentic community-University partnerships that co-create innovative solutions and fulfill the University's land-grant mission.
RSDP’s five regions serve all of Greater Minnesota as a result of a legislative mandate to the University of Minnesota. Our service area does not include the 11-county metro area of Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Washington and Wright counties. Please see the regional pages listed below for lists of the counties served by each RSDP region.
Project partnering criteria
Project ideas are submitted to one or more of RSDP’s regional boards based on the location of the project. These project ideas are reviewed based on the following shared criteria. Individual regions might include additional criteria reflecting regional priorities. Project review timelines also vary by region. See our regional pages for region-specific information.
Community members identify project goals in one or more of the four RSDP sustainable development focus areas.
The project involves meaningful roles for both local community members and University of Minnesota faculty, staff and/or students.
The project engages diverse populations and advances new community collaborations.
The project supports environmental, social and economic sustainability for public purpose or benefit. Project learning or actions will be shared.
Community partners provide leadership and support throughout the life of the project.
Priority may be given to projects that leverage funds or other contributions.
We’re all about partnership. Project partners receiving support from RSDP are asked to work in partnership with the regional Executive Director and board. We’d like to work with you to help your project succeed!
We’ll also ask you to provide information on your project’s goals and outcomes. We think that’s important to your project’s success, and we’re here to help you with that.
It’s important that the learning and outcomes from our projects are shared so other communities and community members can benefit from the work. We’d love it if you could note support from the RSDP in your region on any reports from your project. We’ll help you spread the word!
We bring a meaningful University of Minnesota contribution to all of our projects. What that support looks like, and how it fits with other project resources, can vary. In some cases, we may be able to offer partial funding for a project. There may also be cases where we request additional information, such as letters of support from other organizations, to help us make a decision.
In 2020, RSDP is also collaborating with the Institute on the Environment to connect community projects to University research on the following three environmental impact goals. You are invited to indicate whether your project idea addresses any of these impact goals when you submit an RSDP Idea Brief. RSDP regional directors can help connect interested applicants with applied research opportunities in these areas.
Safe drinking water: Ensuring equitable, sustainable access to safe drinking water for all Minnesotans through solutions that protect source water in a changing climate.
Sustainable land use: Improving agricultural landscapes to maintain farmers’ livelihoods while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving water quality for Minnesota.
Carbon-neutral economy: Building a carbon-neutral Minnesota through innovative technology, pricing and policy that reduce emissions and store carbon in energy, transit and agriculture.
RSDP partners with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) to administer the Community Assistantship Program (CAP) by hiring students to support community-based projects during the fall, spring or summer terms. Community partners can apply for students to work on projects through the RSDP Idea Brief process.
We hope you’re encouraged to share your idea! Start the conversation by reaching out to the Executive Director in your region, or by submitting an Idea Brief below. A regional Executive Director will follow-up with you soon!
We are here to help you with the process and want to make it as easy as possible for you to share your idea. If you have difficulty with the form, please let us help you!
Please note that this is a competitive process. RSDP regional boards make decisions based on available regional project dollars and are not able to support all project ideas submitted. Even in cases where a project is not supported by the RSDP regional board, we hope your idea will benefit from our early conversations and this application process.
Contact your regional Executive Director:
RSDP Idea Brief
1. Help us get in contact with you.
Name (first and last):
Individual community member
Community/ies where project would take place:
small town 1, small town 2
___Central (Counties: Becker, Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd and Wadena)
___Northeast (Counties: Carlton, Cook, Lake, St. Louis; parts of Aitkin, Crow Wing, Itasca, Koochiching, and Pine)
___Northwest (Counties: Becker, Beltrami, Clay, Clearwater, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Ottertail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, and Wilkin)
___Southeast (Counties: Blue Earth, Faribault, Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, LeSueur, Mower, Nicollet, Olmsted, Fillmore, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, and Winona)
___Southwest (Counties: Big Stone, Brown, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Douglas, Grant, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Pope, Redwood, Sibley, Renville, Rock, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Watonwan, Yellow Medicine)
2. Where are you in the planning process for your idea? There are no wrong answers. This will help us understand the services that might be most helpful. Check all that apply.
___I would like help forming my idea.
___I have worked on cost estimates.
___I have gotten some partners on board.
___I am planning implementation.
3. Summary: Please briefly describe your project idea. Include what you would like to accomplish and how your project would improve the community. Be as clear and concise as you can be.
I would like to make the farmers' market in Small Town, MN, more accessible to the town's Latino population so they have access to these fresh, local foods. To do so it would be helpful to have assistance better understanding the needs of Latino community members. Other things we expect to do include reaching out to vendors from this community and making signage, hours, and other things more accessible.
4. What community partners would participate? What might their contributions be?
Small Town MN Farmers' Market: Lead partner.
Small Town MN Latino Development Center: Help connect with Latino food entrepreneurs.
Small Town MN Chamber of Commerce: Contribute marketing opportunities and funds for new signs.
5. How can the University of Minnesota be helpful to your project? What expertise is needed?
A graduate student to conduct a study of Latino community members' needs and preferences for the farmers' market.
6. Which of RSDP's focus area(s) seem like the best match for your idea? Check all that apply.
___Agriculture & food systems
We'll be in touch soon!
Submit an Idea Brief today!Click here
Reviewed in 2019