Region Sustainable Development Partnership seeks ideas from the public
Francesco Gallarotti

Region Sustainable Development Partnership seeks ideas from the public

Cook County residents have until Feb. 14 to take advantage of an opportunity to submit idea pitches and applications for funding to the Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (RSDP). Northeast RSDP Executive Director David Abazs explained that the Northeast RSDP is part of the UMN Extension, and that it was created to help connect communities to University of Minnesota resources and assistance.

Abazs said that the organization aims to support locally developed ideas and projects, especially those that reflect the RSDP’s commitment to sustainability and resilient communities. The group is currently taking submissions for several of their specific community scale project programs, as well as for their less structured “ideas briefs.”

For individuals with ideas, Abazs encouraged them to fill out an ideas brief form. He said that the ideas submitted do not need to bee especially complicated, and that it is fine if those pitching ideas do not have a complete plan worked out. After ideas are submitted, the Northeast RSDP selects some to help develop into more extensive projects. Abazs said,  “Even a small idea can lead to many cool things through a whole process of connecting the university resources, and then gelling something.”

Ideas that are selected for development with the organization may be awarded some funding, as well. Abazs said, “It’s really meant as kind of seed fund to get something going and to then put it in a position for either a great business plan or something to take it forward yourself because it makes sense, or other grants or other opportunities to move it to that next step. ”

The larger scale projects that the Northeast RSDP is currently taking applications for are geared more towards municipalities and community groups. Abazs said that the Empowering Small Minnesota Communities program aims to help small municipalities (under 15,000 residents) with items like infrastructure improvements and establishing more sustainable energy projects.

The final project Abazs mentioned as part of this round of applications is the construction of a farm scale deep winter greenhouse. One of the areas that the Northeast RSDP focuses on is food and agriculture, and in areas with short growing seasons, a deep winter greenhouse can make a big different. Abasz also pointed to the benefits of using less energy to extend the growing season. He said, “If you’re going to grow foods through the winter, a deep winter greenhouse will make it much more palatable for the earth as it uses less energy.”

Abazs encouraged anyone interested in any of the programs currently accepting applications to contact him with any questions. He said that questions should be directed to his email, According to Abasz, while some of the applications require more information than others, all are designed to be simple, and that he is happy to assist applicants. He said, “Some will take five minutes, others might take a half hour. And again, between now and Feb. 14, if you want to talk about your application, contact me and we can do that.”

WTIP’s Kirsten Wisniewski spoke with Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership Executive Director David Abazs about the funding opportunities currently open for application for area residents through the University of Minnesota Extension. Audio from that interview is below.