Have a project idea?
Do you have an idea to improve sustainability in your community? We'd love to hear from you! Our statewide project application period takes place from January 1 to February 14 each year. Ideas can be submitted any time, but many funding decisions for the year are made following this statewide application period.
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.
Each region also determines its own funding priorities for the year. Learn more about the counties served and priorities identified by each region below.
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:
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.
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.
- Community members identify project goals in one or more of the four RSDP sustainable development focus areas (agriculture and food systems, clean energy, natural resources and resilient communities).
- The project involves meaningful roles for both local community members and University of Minnesota faculty, staff and/or students.
- The project advances new community collaborations. Preference is given to projects that are from, led by, or include meaningful participation of historically underrepresented communities, which includes but is not limited to Native communities, people of color, immigrants, people with low incomes, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, women, and geographically isolated communities.
- Community partners provide leadership and support throughout the life of the project.
- The project supports environmental, social and economic sustainability for public purpose or benefit. Project learning or actions will be shared.
- In the spirit of partnership, we encourage projects to include funds or other contributions from other sources.
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.
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.
RSDP is also collaborating with the Institute on the Environment to connect community projects to University research on 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.
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.
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.
The Central RSDP serves Becker, Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd and Wadena counties and the White Earth Nation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe sovereign Native nations. In 2021, Central RSDP will prioritize projects that:
- Enhance learning through shared experiences in order to support equitable, inclusive and diverse community growth and economic development;
- Support clean energy workforce development, particularly among members of underserved communities;
- Promote sustainable land use, healthy ecosystems and water resource protection through conservation practices and incentives that protect the right of nature to persevere; and
- Advance healthy food access and education in partnership with health institutions, schools and grocery stores serving seniors, youth and/or diverse communities.
The Northeast RSDP serves Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa sovereign Native nations. In 2021, Northeast RSDP will prioritize projects that:
- Support local food systems that are economically viable and ecologically resilient;
- Promote just and equitable transitions to clean energy;
- Advance soil health, biochar research, climate resilience, and forest biodiversity; and
- Work through the impacts of the pandemic, recession and changing climate with communities by addressing housing, justice and equity issues.
The Northwest RSDP serves Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Clearwater, Beltrami, Polk, Norman, Mahnomen, Clay and Wilkin counties and the Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation. In 2021, Northwest RSDP will prioritize projects that:
- Authentically engage historically underrepresented communities;
- Promote resilience in the regional food system and strengthen community-centered food assets, especially those serving under-reached populations;
- Advance sustainability in community economic development;
- Reduce energy burden through energy efficiency;
- Assist local organizations in adapting to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic; and
- Promote climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, especially in the Red River Basin.
The Southeast RSDP serves Blue Earth, Faribault, Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, LeSueur, Mower, Nicollet, Olmsted, Fillmore, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona counties and the sovereign Native nation of Prairie Island Indian Community. In 2021, Southeast RSDP will prioritize projects in RSDP’s focus areas that:
- Address water quality protection and restoration in Southeast Minnesota;
- Promote just and equitable transitions to clean energy;
- Respond to the shifting needs of small organizations impacted by the pandemic; and
- Support local food systems that are economically viable and climate resilient.
The Southwest RSDP serves 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 and Yellow Medicine counties and the Upper Sioux and Lower Sioux sovereign Native nations. In 2021, Southwest RSDP will prioritize projects in RSDP’s focus areas that:
- Strengthen equity and social resilience;
- Support peer-to-peer networks and leadership
- Promote just transitions to clean energy and regenerative farming; and
- Build soil health, climate resilience and landscape biodiversity.
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!Share your idea here
Reviewed in 2020