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Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) Program - Iron Range Broadband Communities (IRBC)

Opportunity for Rural Northeastern Minnesota Communities
to Increase Access to Technology and Broadband Use

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Blandin Foundation, Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR), and St. Louis County

Deadline Date:

09/28/18

Description:

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Opportunity for rural Northeastern Minnesota communities in eligible regions to participate in a program to advance access to technology and broadband use. Selected communities may also apply for grants of up to $25,000 and grants of up to $75,000 to support projects that advance the community's technology goals. Eligible participants will collaborate with the Foundation to measure current levels of broadband access and use, define technology goals, and seek technical assistance and resources to meet their goals.

Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR), in partnership with the Blandin Foundation, is currently seeking four new Iron Range Blandin Broadband Communities (IRBCs) for a 2019-20 cohort. The four communities will join six Iron Range communities previously funded through Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, and 19 rural Minnesota communities statewide served through the BBC program since 2003.

Once selected, Iron Range Broadband Community teams will receive planning and facilitation support and the opportunity to apply for grant funding for locally developed projects that address community identified needs. IRBCs may apply for matching funding over a two-year period, with the average amount of grant support anticipated to be $75,000 per community. In addition, communities will be able to apply for up to $25,000 to conduct a Robust Network Feasibility Study which requires a 1:1 cash match. Grant funding is not guaranteed.

Significant commitment on the part of the IRBCs will be expected and required throughout the two-year grant period.
- Communities must commit to recruiting and supporting an inclusive community steering committee that reflects community composition. See attached Guidelines for Building an Inclusive Steering Committee.
- Steering Committee members must be able and willing to commit time and attention to planning and project development and management.
- Steering Committee members must participate in virtual and in-person meetings with other BBCs.

Project Funding and Process:
BBC steering committees will have several opportunities to recommend grant proposals to Blandin Foundation for funding. Grant proposals will be reviewed by Foundation staff and members of the Foundation’s Broadband Strategy Board, a group of public and private leaders who advise the Foundation’s broadband work. The Strategy Board will determine which applications are funded based on grant evaluation criteria.

Community Project Grants: BBCs may apply for up to $75,000 in community project grants that advance their BBC’s technology goals. Community Project Grants must demonstrate a cash or in-kind match of at least 25% of the total project cost. Projects that provide community-wide cross-sectorial benefits require 25% (1:3) match, and all equipment purchases require 1:1 cash match. Projects that demonstrate more than the minimum match required will be viewed favorably

Robust Network Feasibility Fund Grants: Communities actively working to improve broadband networks and access are eligible to apply for up to $25,000 through the Robust Network Feasibility Fund program. These grants are designed to help a community better understand their technology and business model options to improve local broadband services.

Blandin Broadband Communities are expected to work across all six components of the Intelligent Community framework, though each community will determine its own set of priorities and develop projects that reflect these priorities.

Intelligent Community Indicators:
- Sustainability
- Advocacy
- Broadband
- Knowledge Workforce
- Innovation
- Digital Equality

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 184062

Estimated Total Program Funding:

$714,000

Number of Grants:

Blandin Foundation is currently seeking four new Iron Range Blandin Broadband Communities for a 2019-20 cohort.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Community Project Grants: Up to $75,000
Robust Network Feasibility Fund Grants: Up to $25,000

Term of Contract:

The program is for two-year partnerships. All grant funds should be spent within one year of the award date.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applications may be made by an individual city, a group of cities, a county, a tribal government, a self-defined region, or community of interest. Applicants should be a unit of government. Preference will be given to applications that demonstrate partnership between multiple organizations/entities.

To be considered a qualified applicant, an organization must comply with all of the specifications and respond to all items listed within the application instructions. Eligible organizations are located in IRRR’s service area, serve residents of this geography, and be units of government, which includes school districts.

Pre-Application Information:

Grant Process Timeline:
- Application instructions released: June 18, 2018
- Application deadline: September 28, 2018
- IRBC selection notification: October 19, 2018
- Conference: October 23-24, 2018
- Community benchmarking: November/December 2018
- Kick-off meeting with four communities: December 2018
- Community planning commences: January/February 2019
- Project application/approval: March/April 2019; June/July 2019; September/October 2019; December/January 2020
- Review/update community plans: January 2020
- Project evaluation: November/December 2020

Community Project Grants must demonstrate a cash or in-kind match of at least 25% of the total project cost. Projects that provide community-wide cross-sectorial benefits require 25% (1:3) match, and all equipment purchases require 1:1 cash match. Projects that demonstrate more than the minimum match required will be viewed favorably.

Robust Network Feasibility Fund Grants require a 1:1 cash match.

The selection process will begin with a request for proposals, which will be released in July 2018.

Blandin Broadband Communities program applicants from the Iron Range are strongly encouraged to attend Blandin Foundation’s annual conference, Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota, on October 23-24, 2018 in Brainerd, Minnesota. All applicant communities will receive two free registrations to the conference. Travel and lodging expense will be the responsibility of the attendees.

For conference details: https://blandinfoundation.org/news-room/events/border-to-border-broadband-transforming-minnesota/

New release: https://blandinfoundation.org/news-room/news-items/iron-range-resources-rehabilitation-renews-partnership-with-blandin-broadband-communities-program/

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Qualified community institutions and/or organizations should submit application materials via email (preferred) or mail to:

C. K. Blandin Foundation
Attn: Mary Magnuson
100 North Pokegama Avenue Grand Rapids, MN 55744
memagnuson@blandinfoundation.org

(218)327-8738
(218)326-0523
Toll-free: (877)882-2257
broadband@blandinfoundation.org

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Minnesota: Communities must be located within the IRRR's service area in northeastern Minnesota