EVENT Feb 3: Public Good App House: Apps that Address Food Insecurity

I thought this event might be of interest to readers. Even if you can’t attend the online event, TechSoup shares a nice list of resources to research in your own time…

Food insecurity affects about a quarter of the world’s population and more than 80 percent of US food banks are serving more people now than they did a year ago.

How can we apply technology towards these challenges? Join our next Public Good App House demo event and discover four apps that address food insecurity.



United Nations World Food Programme

ShareTheMeal is the mobile fundraising app from the United Nations World Food Programme. The app allows users to ‘share their meal’ with a hungry child with just a tap and $0.80, feeding 1 child for a day.


Reduce food waste and feed people affordably using Flashfood. Users get massive savings on fresh food items like meat and produce that are nearing their best before date at grocery stores across Canada and the U.S.

MealConnect 2.0

Feeding America

Since 2014, MealConnect has been facilitating local food donations for community hunger relief organizations. In just a few months, Feeding America will launch functions allowing produce growers to donate crops anywhere in the country and enable Feeding America food banks to more easily share bounty with their lower-resourced peer food banks.


Code for America

Code for America built GetCalFresh to be the most human-centered, mobile-friendly, and efficient way to apply for the SNAP (also known as “food stamps”) program. Code for America will share lessons learned while building the app, and what’s coming next for helping Californians get the money for food that they’re entitled to.

Introducing Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch twice-monthly online discussion series

The Blandin Broadband Team is kicking off a new virtual series for 2021 – the Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch. It will happen the second and third Wednesdays of the month from noon to 1pm.

Meetings will alternate between Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Use and Equity. The idea is to get colleagues in a shared space, introduce a topic and talk. We learned at the 2020 Broadband conference that people really enjoyed the opportunity to talk and we often found that the wisdom is in the room, even in a Zoom room. Topics will be announced monthly and may include some experts to get the ball rolling. Here’s what we have for January:

Lunch Bunch on Broadband Infrastructure Jan 13: Everything You Want to Discuss about RDOF

The FCC’s Rural Development Opportunity Fund is a game changer for rural broadband development.  Are the pending results of the reverse auction a win, loss or is the game still in play.  Come bring your questions, share what you know  and tell the group how the RDOF auction is changing your local broadband strategies.

(Register now – for the first, all or several of the upcoming sessions.)

Lunch Bunch on Digital Use and Equity Jan 21: Share a success story

Session moved to Jan 21, to not conflict with the inauguration on Jan 20.

Pleasure join us for the inaugural Lunch Bunch on Digital Use and Equity Jan 21 from noon to 1pm. It’s an opportunity to talk turkey with colleagues and cohorts around Minnesota and beyond! Normally they will be on a specific (but loose) topic but to get the ball rolling, I wanted to invite planner and folks from the front lines to share their best stories of success. Please come and brag!

It will give us some good ideas to replicate. It will give us stories to share with legislators. Most of all, it will help set the stage of success for 2021!

(Register now – for the first, all or several of the upcoming sessions.)

EVENT Dec 17: Tech on the Rocks: Live! with Mignon Clyburn & Jonathan Sallet

An invitation from the Institute for Technology Law & Policy

Tech on the Rocks: Live! with Mignon Clyburn & Jonathan Sallet
Thursday 17 December
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST
Hosted by the Institute for Technology Law & Policy
The COVID-19 pandemic and the fight for racial and social justice has the public asking why tens of millions of Americans, and particularly people of color, lack access to broadband Internet and what can be done to close this digital divide. The Benton Institute for Broadband and Society’s new report, Broadband for America Now, explores how we got here; and more importantly, what policies and practices are necessary to get every American connected. The institute is proud to host Jonathan Sallet, former FCC General Counsel and author of the report, and former FCC Commissioner and Benton Institute Board Member Mignon Clyburn. Gigi Sohn, Distinguished Fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Fellow and Public Advocate will lead a special Tech on the Rocks Live Podcast to discuss the report’s recommendations and their prospects in a new Administration and Congress.

OPPORTUNITY: Grow with Google $150k Challenge Grant to support Black communities

Sharing information from the NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance)…

We are pleased to announce that in partnership with Grow with Google, NDIA is launching the Ujima Project – a $150K challenge grant to help nonprofits leverage Grow with Google resources to support Black communities.

Register now! 

90 minute informational webinar on Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 1:30 pm EST/ 10:30 am PST.  We will be joined by Google representatives who will share more on how Grow with Google (GwG) and NDIA are teaming up to offer community challenge grants to support digital skills training for Black communities.  The webinar will provide an overview of the GwG program and available resources and how they can be used.  In addition, NDIA will explain how to apply with details on the application process and timeline for submitting applications. The Ujima Project will challenge NDIA Affiliates to design a project that creatively activates GwG tools to upskill Black jobseekers and/or students. Applicants will describe how they can put the GwG workshops and trainings into action to provide upskilling for Black communities.


  • Requests should not exceed $25K
  • Requests must include use of GwG resources and focus on supporting Black communities
  • Applicants must be an NDIA Affiliate and a registered GwG Partner
  • Projects/initiatives should be episodic or cohort based. One-time projects will not be considered.
  • Projects/initiatives serving at least 50 people over the course of the grant are preferred.

Before the session, we encourage you to sign up for the Grow with Google Partner Program (it’s easy and free) and take a look at the GwG Partner Program Get Started Guide.

Additionally, details about the Ujima Project will be posted to the NDIA website and shared via the NDIA Community Listserv next week.

Should you have any questions, please contact Kristi Zappie-Ferradino.

MN Broadband Task Force meeting: penultimate meeting on the 2020 annual report

Today the MN Broadband Task Force heard from the third subcommittee (Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup) on their version of the Task Force report – it was a continuation of the last Task Force meeting . This subcommittee has three primary recommendations:

  1. Continue Minnesota’s Border to Border state broadband grant program and fund it from the base budget.
  2. Create an Office of Broadband operating annual fund of $1.5 million to promote broadband adoption and use and redress digital inequity.
  3. Update Minnesota’s broadband speed goals to 100 Mbps/100 Mbps symmetrical service by 2028.

They also had a series of secondary recommendations that lift of recommendations from other committees when their recommendations relate to increasing access/availability of broadband technology or tools.

There was little conversation about the first recommendation or the secondary recommendations. There was discussion about the second goal. There seems to be concern that the Office of Broadband Development might not have staff time for the added work – but the work is already mandated in their job description and the OBD came up with the number. There was quite a bit of discussion on the third recommendation, which led to a discussion on RDOF that I will likely pull out for a separate post over the weekend. The top concerns (on speed, not RDOF) seem to be that houses that currently don’t have 25/3 will be left behind if the speed goal is changed and that policymakers will be confused if the speeds are changed. The counter seems to be that the households that have 25/3 are being left behind too – especially as impacted by COVID and that broadband development is, by its nature, a goal that moves as technology improves. Continue reading

EVENT Dec 18: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

From the Office of Broadband Development…

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 763-317-4323,,465844792#   United States, Plymouth

Phone Conference ID: 465 844 792#

Find a local number | Reset PIN

Learn More | Meeting options

9– 9:10 a.m.  Welcome, Introductions, Meeting Overview, Approve Meeting Minutes

9:10 – 11:00 a.m. Walk Through Draft of Annual Report

11- 11:10 a.m. Public Comments

11 – 11:30 a.m. Other Business, Next Steps, Wrap-up

EVENT Dec 11: MN Broadband Task Force meeting

This is pretty much a continuation of the last Task Force meeting where they began looking at the draft of the annual report…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

December 11, 2020

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 763-317-4323,,653733982#   United States, Plymouth

Phone Conference ID: 653 733 982#

Find a local number | Reset PIN

12:30 p.m. – 12:40 p.m.                Welcome, Introductions, Meeting Overview

12:40 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.                  Walk Through Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup Draft for Annual Report

1:20 p.m. – 1:25 p.m.                     Public Comments

1:25 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.                     Other Business, Next Steps, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force Dec 1 2002 – draft annual report and easements for rural electric coops

Today the MN Broadband Task Force got through two of the subcommittee groups report drafts. And they heard from a Discussion of Electric Cooperative Easements for Broadband from MREA (Dan Lipschultz) and (MCCA) Tony Mendoza. It’s interesting to see the focus on a very provider-focused policy detail juxtaposed to discussion of broadband grants, budget and speeds.

The group seemed united in waiting to keep the broadband recommendations high level. There are three subcommittees in the Task Force; each wrote a version or their version of the report including their separate recommendations. One subcommittee went into great detail of their report which spurred discussion from the others. Then there was an interlude on easements. Then the second group gave a very high level look (less than 10 minutes) of their report and the third subcommittee will get an opportunity at another time.

The idea is that the three version will be merged into one and apparently the merging will begin immediately.

You can see it all in the video:

Continue reading

EVENT Dec 1: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Everyone is welcome. I don’t think the report will be finalized at this point, but it will be close. If you have two cents to add, this is your time…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

December 1, 2020

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Virtual Meeting will use the Microsoft Teams platform:

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 763-317-4323,,456061428#   United States, Plymouth

Phone Conference ID: 456 061 428#

Find a local number | Reset PIN

 11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.                Welcome, Introductions, Meeting Overview, Approve Minutes

11:10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.                Discussion of Electric Cooperative Easements for Broadband
MREA – Dan Lipschultz
MCCA — Tony Mendoza

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.                Walk Through Draft Report

12:45 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.                Public Comments

12:50 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.                  Other Business, Next Steps, Wrap-up

Save the Date!  MN Rural Broadband Coalition Meeting – December 15

From the MN Rural Broadband Coalition…

Save the Date!
Minnesota Broadband Coalition Meeting

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Via Zoom

Agenda and Details on How to Join the Meeting Coming Soon!
Please RSVP by replying to  Emily Murray to indicate attendance or absence.
Feel free to extend this invitation to other interested stakeholders.

MN Broadband Coalition meeting notes – plans moving forward

The MN Rural Broadband Coalition met today to talk about plans moving forward. They did a nice job of getting feedback from all attendees. The notes I’m sharing are more of a glimpse than record of the meeting but I thought there might be potential members who wanted to know more about the organization. I’ve peppers screenshots of PPT slides with notes from the discussion:

What would be lost without the coalition?

  • Unified message – particularly important for funding asks, helps smaller more niche organizations have a voice at the capitol
  • Without the coalition we would have different positions/advocacy by the some of the broadband organizations. B2B program would be in jeopardy.
  • Unified voice at the legislature on broadband
  • Lobbyist to represent collective
  • Harder to create a cohesive statewide plan. Carriers would be there at the table during the final discussions when their interests may not align with the coalition.
  • We would lose a unified, bipartisan, rural voice at the legislature to ensure continued funding for broadband grants and the OBD.
  • Prior to the Coalition, there were advocacy efforts, the Coalition provided true lobbying efforts.
  • Border to border “real” broadband. Real = Future proof / expandable broadband deployment
  • It’s not only about investment…. It is also about training
  • Affordability – private? Public?

New Mission/Vision?

  • All Minnesotans have access to quality, affordable broadband that meets their needs today and into the future.
  • Fund long-term as a priority, necessity,  & essential infrastructure — treat it like rural electrification was NEEDS TO TO PART OF BASE BUDGET
  • Minnesota will have adequate funding and support for  broadband to allow participation in all online activities now and in the future.

What are the ESSENTIAL elements that will help us reach our desired future?

  • Funding the coalition is essential
    • Current funding model doesn’t allow us to do that adequately
      • Allows us to pay for a lobbyist
  • Necessary infrastructure for broadband
    • We need funding but what is it we are paying for?
    • Roadmap of what would work
    • Incentives to private providers and/or government-run utilities

What, if any, elements may fall outside the scope of what we do?

  • The coalition doesn’t want an ownership stake in the physical infrastructure nor do we intend to profit from our work
  • Affordability of services
    • At the household level vs. at the provider level
  • Defining infrastructure

Who benefits most from our efforts? (Our PRIMARY beneficiary)

  • Those who have and will become connected through the broadband grant program

EVENT Nov 30: Public Good App House: Apps that Address Food Insecurity

COVID is changing how we do everything and that’s hard. But it’s also an opportunity to do new things and do old things better. If we’ve got to change why not do it strategically? Tech Soup is hosting a conversation on food apps looks like an interesting conversation…

Apps that Address Food Insecurity
TechSoup US
Mon, Nov 30, 12:00 PM (PST)

As we navigate our new normal with the COVID-19 pandemic, how can we continue to help those struggling with food access?

Join our next Public Good App House demo event with Infoxchange, Feeding America, CauseLabs, Postmates, and Propel, as they demo their apps that address food insecurity.

You’ll walk away learning which tech for good apps can help access free meals, handle EBT accounts more efficiently, eliminate food waste, and more.

EVENTS: National Rural Health Day podcasts from the Minnesota Rural Health Conference

The Minnesota Rural Health Conference is releasing three podcasts this week to celebrate (Commemorate?) National Rural Health day. The final one most directly mentions telehealth but given the incredible growth of telehealth in 2020, I suspect it will come up in all three….

Rural Health IS a Health Equity Issue (30 min)

Release Date: November 17, 2020

Podcast Guest: Jan Malcolm, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health

Podcast Host: Zora Radosevich, Director, Minnesota Department of Health – Office of Rural Health & Primary Care

The ORHPC’s Director will have a discussion with the Commissioner about why rural health issues deserve special attention, how the Minnesota Department of Health supports health care professionals in rural areas, and what some of the important issues are in addressing the pandemic and its impact on rural MN.

Impact of COVID-19 in Minnesota (30 min)

Release Date: November 18, 2020

Podcast Guest: Dr. Nicholas Lehnertz, Medical Specialist 2, Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control, Minnesota Department of Health

Podcast Host: Mark Jones, Director, Minnesota Rural Health Association (MRHA)

Dr. Lehnertz discusses the impact of COVID-19 in Minnesota, specifically in rural areas. Hear the most up-to-date data concerning cases, deaths, testing, race-related disparities, and new findings. Learn best practices for staying safe this winter and through the holidays as well as advice to prepare rural hospitals for the next 6-12 months.

The Effect of COVID on Minnesota’s Healthcare Workforce (30 min)

Release Date: November 19, 2020

Podcast Guest: Teri Fritsma, Senior Research Analyst, Minnesota Department of Health – Office of Rural Health & Primary Care

Podcast Host: Nitika Moibi, Health Workforce Analysis Supervisor, Minnesota Department of Health – Office of Rural Health & Primary Care

Nitika Moibi and Teri Fritsma will discuss the rapid transformation that COVID has brought to the health care workforce in Minnesota – reduced hours, layoffs, and even rural retirements in certain sectors of health care. On the other hand, COVID has also caused the swift expansion of telemedicine—a likely permanent change that could improve Minnesotans’ access to care now and well into the future. Hear what health care providers say are their greatest concerns during this period.

Following Accessibility Standards 

All podcasts are also available on YouTube and include closed captioning which allows people to read spoken dialogue, as well as non-speech information, like music or sound effects.

EVENT Nov 10: MN Broadband Task Force – agenda, new member & letter from Mayors

First – the agenda for tomorrow…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
November 10, 2020
9:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Virtual Meeting will use the Microsoft Teams platform:
Microsoft Teams meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 763-317-4323,,706772572#   United States, Plymouth
Phone Conference ID: 706 772 572#

9:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.                  Welcome, Introductions, Meeting Overview
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.                Gov. Tim Walz conversation with the Task Force
10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.                Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup – report content and recommendations
11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.                Barriers and Technology Subgroup – report content and recommendations
12:00 p.m. — 12:30 p.m.               Break for Lunch
12:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.                Public Comment

  • Duluth Mayor Emily Larson discussing the Minnesota Mayors Together letter
  • Other public comment

12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.                  Minnesota Model Subgroup – report content and recommendations
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.                     Other Business, Next Steps, Wrap-up

One of the things they will be discussing is a letter from a group called Mayors Together that asks the Task to remember a few things with the recommendations…

We are writing to urge the task force, as it finalizes its report to the Legislature, to make two
clear recommendations:
• The first of these is speed. The 2026 goal of 100 Mbsp download and 20 Mbsp upload, while it may have seemed aggressive when it was adopted, now looks somewhat
modest. Why not recommend what the Border-to-Border grant has enabled in some areas of the state: 100 and 100?
• Second, we would urge the task force to tell legislators that this is an ongoing challenge, that having good access and speed is vital to all Minnesotans. As such, this investment should be a regular and recurring feature of the state’s operating budget. So, we would ask you to say that the Legislature consider the $35-50 million as an annual expenditure – for many years.

Finally, they will be welcoming the newest member of the MN Broadband Task Force…

Yvonne Cariveau is the Director of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the College of

Business at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Dr. Cariveau is also Principal owner and President of

Internet Connections/VoyageurWeb, a company providing web site hosting, custom programming and

website accessibility testing services. She received her Doctor of Philosophy in Marketing from the

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. She resides in Mankato, MN.

Yvonne will be filling the seat vacated by Shannon Heim.

MN East (Iron) Range Broadband Feasibility Study Presentation: lessons for the area and beyond

Thanks to Karl Schuetter from the Northspan Group for sending me info on the recent East Range Broadband Feasibility Study Presentation. It’s clearly helpful to anyone in the area but helpful to folks in different areas too. Listen to what might be similar in your community and what differentiates your situation. That will help you recognize your assets and “areas for improvement.” Honestly it really helps to see what other communities are dealing with to see your own community more clearly and it’s inspiring to hear the good questions from community members and the plans to approach decisions makers to make things happen!

(And if you have similar to share from your community – please send it my way!)

The presentation looks at:

  • Why Local Governments are Investing in Broadband
  • Lessons learned from the pandemic
  • Existing services and providers
  • Models for gigabit service (costs and financial help)
  • Next steps

From their site…

Over the past two years, the East Range has worked on a regional project to understand what we need to do to improve our broadband. Now, it’s time for our broadband consultant, Diane Kruse of NEO Connect, to share the results of her work. The data she shares will give us the necessary information to make a case for stronger service and apply for state and federal grants. Watch the video of the event here!