Green Partners Environmental Education Program

Engage, educate, act and collaborate for the environment

Hennepin County provides funding and support to organizations to implement projects that empower residents to reduce waste, increase recycling, reduce toxicity, conserve energy and protect water quality.

The Green Partners Program consists of three groups with varying levels of support and requirements.

  • Branch Group: Receive up to $15,000 to implement an innovative project.
  • Root Group: Receive up to $8,000 to implement a project based on existing resources.
  • Seed Group: Receive free field trip transportation and activity supplies.

Eligible organizations include non-profit organizations, community and youth groups, congregations, schools and park districts.

Refer to the Green Partners Environmental Education Program factsheet (PDF) to learn more about the differences between the groups and to decide the best fit for your organization. 

Apply now

Applications for Branch and Root group funding are being accepted now and are due by 5 p.m. on October 15, 2014. Seed group applications are accepted at any time.

See the group information for application materials. See meetings for upcoming information meetings.

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Apply for Branch and Root grants

About the Branch group

Organizations that are a good fit for the Branch group are experienced in environmental education and have a deeper understanding of their audience. Branch groups are looking for assistance and funding to branch out from conventional education strategies and create an engaging and innovative environmental action project that will have lasting influence on participants’ behavior. 

Branch organizations may be awarded up to $15,000 to implement a project that engages at least 200 people.

About the Root group

Organizations that are a good fit for the Root group are seeking to establish the roots of environmental stewardship by engaging participants in activities that motivate action. Root groups may use existing environmental education resources like the Hennepin County Environmental Education Toolkit or implement a pilot a project that motivates people to take action to protect the environment. 

Root groups may be awarded up to $8,000 to implement a project that engages at least 150 people.

Eligible organizations

Eligible organizations include:

  • Registered nonprofit organizations such as community groups, youth programs, congregations, etc.
  • Park districts
  • Private and public schools and school districts, including community education programs like Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE)


Applications are due by 5 p.m. on October 15, 2014. 

Download and complete the following documents to apply:

Additional documents:

*This information must be received and approved prior to issuing Hennepin County Green Partners contracts and funds. It is preferred that you submit these documents with your application but this is not a requirement to apply and it will not influence whether or not your project is recommended.

Information meetings

Learn about funding requirements, get feedback on your project ideas and get tips for completing your proposal at an upcoming information meeting. See meetings below for dates and locations.

Best practices guidelines

See our Best Practices Guide for Environmental Education Projects (PDF), developed from research and past grantees, to learn how to develop a successful program.

See our Community-Based Social Marketing Checklist (PDF) to learn more about behavior change strategies for your project.

Get field trip transporation and supplies through the Seed group

About the Seed Group

Participants in the Seed Group are looking for support and resources to plant the seed of environmental awareness and action in their community. They are looking to collaborate with Hennepin County in a flexible partnership that requires minimal reporting and evaluation.

Eligible groups include any organization that serves Hennepin County residents, except businesses and political groups.

Seed guidelines and application

Complete the Seed Action Plan (doc) and Seed Group Supplies Order Form (doc) if necessary.

  • Apply anytime by submitting the Seed Action Plan.
  • The county can support an unlimited number of Seed participants.
  • Partnerships are on-going. The suggested project timeline is one year.


Activity supplies

Receive free activity supplies to engage people in environmental education activities. Available supplies include non-toxic cleaner spray bottles, pencils and sharpeners made from recycled materials, reusable bags, and Environmental Education Learning Trunks that may be reserved and picked up.

Review what supplies are available through the Seed Group Supplies Order Form (doc).

Field trip transportation

Participants can take an environmental education field trip with a county-provided bus service. To be eligible for the field trip, groups must have at least 25 participants age 7 and above.

Field trip destinations must be located in Hennepin County unless you’ve received special permission from the program manager. For ideas, see the list of Recommended Field Trip Locations (PDF).

Participating organizations and example projects

Learn about the participating organizations and their projects.

Best practices guidelines

See our Best Practices Guide for Environmental Education Projects (PDF), developed from research and past grantees, to learn how to develop a successful program.

Green Partners meetings

Green Partners environmental education grants information meetings

Get information about the Green Partners environmental education grants program, feedback on your project ideas and tips for completing your proposal by attending an upcoming information meeting.

Meetings will be held:

Green Partners networking meetings

Networking meetings provide an opportunity to learn about environmental topics, share resources and project ideas and network with fellow environmental educators.

Networking meetings are held quarterly, so check back for future dates.

Participating organizations and project summaries

On January 28, 2014, the Hennepin County Board awarded funding to 11 organizations funding through the Root and Branch groups of the Green Partners Environmental Education Program. The grants will support organizations in educating, engaging and empowering more than 6,000 residents to take actions that protect and improve the environment.

Branch Group awards

The following Branch group projects were awarded on January 28, 2014:

  • Alliance for Sustainability, county wide: $15,000 to assist 25 congregations throughout the county in engaging 300 congregation members to take actions to protect water quality. 
  • Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, south Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage 200 Native American youth and families in taking energy efficiency and conservation actions and reducing use of toxic cleaners in the home. 
  • Grand Aspirations, south Minneapolis: $15,000 to help 200 south Minneapolis residents make energy improvements in their homes and apartments.
  • Minnesota African Women’s Association, Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage 350 East African women and girls to increase recycling, reduce waste and reduce use of toxic cleaners in the home, school and workplace. 
  • North Hennepin Community College, Brooklyn Park: $15,000 work with 250 students and campus staff to implement recycling, waste reduction and water protection initiatives on campus. 
  • Pillsbury United Communities Waite House, south Minneapolis: $15,000 to expand its successful Phillips Environment Action Project and engage more than 420 youth and community members in recycling and waste reduction. 

The following projects were awarded in the fall 2012 funding round and run from March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014:

  • Minnesota African Women’s Association in Brooklyn Park will engage 350 African women and girls in waste reduction, toxicity reduction and recycling. ($15,000)
  • North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park will engage 300 students and faculty in a campus wide recycling initiative, Earth Week activities and a sustainability curriculum conference. ($15,000)
  • Three Rivers Park District will engage campers in waste reduction at Baker Park Campground and solicit input from at least 200 park visitors about the strengthened recycling effort and a new organics collection program. ($11,200)
  • Pillsbury United Communities, Waite House in Minneapolis will engage 200 English and Spanish speaking residents of the Phillips neighborhood in recycling and waste reduction. ($14,400)
  • Zero Waste Uptown will increase recycling in eight multi-family buildings in Minneapolis through education, engagement and behavior change activities with 200 residents. ($12,700)

Root Group awards

The following Root Group projects were awarded on January 28, 2014:

  • Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities - Voyageur Environmental Center, county wide: $8,000 to engage 1,300 economically disadvantaged youth from across the county in recycling, composting and waste reduction.
  • Kaleidoscope Place, south Minneapolis: $8,000 to work with more than 500 youth, families, employees and community members at the Center for Changing Lives to recycle and reduce waste.
  • Metro Blooms, North Minneapolis: $5,500 to engage 165 youth and community members from Bethune Community School in protecting water using the Blooming Schoolyards curriculum. 
  • Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, North Minneapolis: $8,000 to work with more than 150 economically disadvantaged youth, families and community members in reducing waste and the use of toxic materials. 
  • West Metro Water Alliance, western Hennepin: $8,000 to deliver water protection education and action classroom lessons with 1,900 fourth grade students through the Watershed PREP initiative.
  • YouthCARE, Minneapolis: $8,000 to support 14 economically disadvantaged youth in it Community Service Stars program in engaging more than 140 community members in environmental initiatives, including recycling and waste reduction.

The following projects were awarded in the fall 2012 funding round and run from March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014:

  • African Career, Education and Resource, Inc. will engage 250 residents in the densely populated Zane Avenue corridor of Brooklyn Park in recycling, energy conservation, and waste reduction. ($7,100)
  • Boys and Girls Clubs’ Voyageur Environmental Center in Mound will engage 1150 youth from across the county in recycling and reducing waste by implementing a kitchen waste reduction program. ($8,000)
  • Cool Planet will educate and engage 500 students from 9 schools in Edina and 4 High Schools in the area in reducing their energy consumption. ($8,000)
  • Minnesota Internship Center High School in Minneapolis will create a recycling program to reach the hundreds of visitors and staff at the 40 organizations housed at the Sabathani Community Center. ($8,000)
  • Southside Family Charter School in Minneapolis will educate and engage 200 students and community members in water protection and waste reduction activities with YEA Corps. ($7,800)
  • University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis will lead an effort to reduce waste and increase recycling on the church campus which serves 700 congregation members, 70 students, and community organizations. ($2,100)

Seed Group participants

The following organizations are currently receiving free project support and supplies for environmental education projects:

  • El Colegio Charter School, Minneapolis
  • Rockford Middle School – Center for Environmental Studies, Rockford
  • Southwest Community Education Green Team, Minneapolis
  • Westminster Presbyterian Church – Eco-Justice Team, Minneapolis
  • Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center with Roosevelt and Patrick Henry High Schools, Minneapolis

Green Partners newsletter

Green Partners is a bi-monthly e-newsletter that provides updates about resources, tools, programs, grants and events to our environmental education partners.

Latest issue

June/July 2014

In this issue

  • Choose to Reuse coupon books available August 1
  • Get recognized for your efforts to recycle and divert food waste
  • Grants for business and non-profit recycling and organics recycling programs
  • Recycle at your events
  • Start composting food scraps in your backyard
  • Events
    • You’re invited! Green Partners summer quarterly networking meeting
    • Hazardous waste collection events
    • Repair your stuff at a Fix-It Clinic
  • Environmental education resources
    • Updated drop-off facility brochures available
    • New articles from Rethink Recycling
  • Green Partners project highlights
    • Elementary students encourage school and neighbors to recycle and reuse
    • Metro Blooms engages students to plan a rain garden at Bethune Community School
    • Noble Academy incorporates environmental education throughout school year
    • Student green team pursues hydration station to reduce bottled water



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