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 hazardous waste, conserve energy, and protect air and water quality.

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

  • Branch Group: Receive up to $15,000 for groups who have received a Green Partners grant before.
  • Root Group: Receive up to $8,000 for groups who have never received a Green Partners grant.
  • 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. 

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Apply for Branch and Root grants

About the Branch group

Organizations in the Branch group have experience in environmental education projects and have received a Green Partners grant before.

They have a deeper understanding of their audience, barriers to taking action and strategies to overcome these barriers. Projects should have a lasting influence on adult behavior and youth attitudes toward the environment.

Branch groups may be awarded up to $15,000 to engage 150 people in the project.

About the Root group

Organizations that are a good fit for the Root Group have never received a Green Partners grant before.

They are seeking to establish the roots of environmental stewardship by engaging participants in activities that motivate action. Many Root projects use existing environmental education resources, like Hennepin County environmental education activity guides and learning trunks, or implement a new project that motivates people to take action. 

Root groups may be awarded up to $8,000 to engage 150 people in the project.

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 Friday, May 20, 2016 for projects that start in September 2016. Please note that changes were recently made to the Branch and Root groups. 

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 to expedite the contracting process, but this is not a requirement to apply and it will not influence whether or not your project is recommended.

Information meetings

Get information about funding requirements, feedback on your project ideas and tips for completing your proposal at an upcoming information meeting:

  • Tuesday, May 3 from 10 - 11 a.m. at the Brookdale Library, Study Room 1, 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center
  • Tuesday, May 3 from 1 - 2 p.m. at the East Lake Library, Conference Room, 2727 East Lake Street, Minneapolis

Documents for grantees

Grantees are required to use the following documents during 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.

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

Get field trip transportation and supplies through the Seed group

About the Seed Group

Groups can receive transportation funding for an environmental education field trip and supplies for environmental education activities. Apply for these resources at any time (see specific guidelines regarding timing below).

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.

Activity supplies

Receive free activity supplies to engage people in environmental education activities. Available supplies include spray bottles to make homemade, green cleaners, and reusable bags.

Order supplies.

Please plan ahead when ordering supplies. Your order will be postmarked within five business days, and it will take another two to three days for the post office to deliver your order. If you need your supplies sooner, pick up at the 701 Building (701 4th Avenue South, Suite 700, Minneapolis) is an option. Pick-up orders are ready within 2 to 3 business days. 

Remember, you can find activity ideas in our environmental education toolkits and reserve environmental education learning trunks. See environmental education resources for more information.

Field trip transportation

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). To ensure we can fulfill your request, please apply for field trip transportation between two to eight weeks before your field trip. Field trips must address one of the following environmental issues: reducing waste, recycling, reducing and safely disposing of hazardous waste, reducing climate change and air quality pollution, protecting land and water, understanding ecosystems.

Apply for field trip transportation.

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 networking meetings

July 2016: Tour of garden projects

  • Date: Thursday, July 28
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Location: Leave from the Environment and Energy office (701 4th Ave S.) at 10 a.m. or Lake Hiawatha Beach (4500 28th Ave. S.) at 10:15 a.m. to take the bus. Or meet us at any stop along the way.

Find out how Green Partners grantees are using gardens to engage the community in learning about environmental issues. Lunch will be provided.


  • 10:00 a.m.:Bus pick up at Hennepin County Environment and Energy, 701 4th Ave. S., Minneapolis
  • 10:15 a.m.:Bus pick up at Lake Hiawatha beach, 4500 28th Ave. S.
  • 10:35 a.m.:First stop at rain garden at 4909 28th Ave. S., Minneapolis (presentation by Master Water Stewards)
  • 1:50 p.m.:Return to 701 4th Ave. S., Minneapolis
  • 2:15 p.m.:Return to Lake Hiawatha beach, 4500 28th Ave. S

The tour will include stops at the Roosevelt High School Sustainability Center (presentation by Spark Y) and the Cleveland Neighborhood Community Garden (presentation by Patsy Parker and the Cleveland Neighborhood Association. RSVP for specific times and locations.

RSVP to Patience Caso at or 612-348-9352. You must RSVP to join the bus to be sure we have enough seats. Networking meetings are open to the public.

About the 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; check back for future dates.

Join the conversation: envisioning the future of environmental education for youth

Connecting youth to the natural world, helping them learn about environmental issues, and working with them to develop solutions is critical to prepare them for a world with increasingly complex environmental challenges.

Help Hennepin County understand how we can best support environmental education efforts by joining in a conversation to uncover the benefits of, barriers to, and effective strategies for engaging youth in environmental education.

The conversations will be an opportunity to:

  • Share your innovative ideas and help shape the direction of environmental education for youth in the county.
  • Provide your feedback and ideas on environmental education efforts from the county and your own organization.
  • Network with others working to engage youth in protecting the environment and discuss challenges and opportunities


Meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations. Each meeting will be the same, so you only need to attend one. 

  • Tuesday, August 23 from noon to 3:30 p.m. at the Ridgedale Library, 12601 Ridgedale Dr in Minnetonka
  • Thursday, September 15 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, 2522 Marshall St NE in Minneapolis
  • Thursday, September 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center 

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Learn more and RSVP.

Participating organizations and project summaries

The following organizations are currently being funded through the Green Partners environmental education program to engage the community in taking action to protect the environment by reducing waste, toxicity and greenhouse gas emissions, increasing recycling, and protecting water.

Branch Group awards

The following Branch group projects were awarded in August 2016:

  • Alliance for Sustainability; Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, and Edina: $15,000 to engage 180 residents in preventing leaves, debris, road salt and other water pollutants from leaves streets and lawns and reaching Bass Lake in St. Louis Park, Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis and Lake Nancy in Edina.
  • Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage 150 people who are low-income, indigenous or from communities of color in home heating and electricity workshops and hands-on, low- and no-cost activities to conserve energy, improve air quality and reduce household hazardous waste.
  • Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, various cities: $15,000 to engage 1,000 high school students in student-led waste reduction, energy conservation, recycling and environmental stewardship projects by supporting green teams at high schools in Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minneapolis, and St. Louis Park. The students will also reach out to green teams in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, and Minnetonka through the Youth Environmental Activists! Minnesota program.
  • Congregations Caring for Creation/Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, various cities: $15,000 to engage 230 youth from Brooklyn Park, Edina, Golden Valley, Minneapolis and Plymouth and various cities to reduce energy use through a new “Youth Be the Spark” internship program and “Muslim Youth Be the Spark” program that will mentor youth in educating and inspiring congregation members to act.
  • Eden Prairie Independent School District 272, Eden Prairie: $7,800 for the Eden Prairie Early Childhood Family Education program to engage more than 700 families in waste reduction, composting, toxicity reduction, and water and energy conservation activities.
  • Robbinsdale Independent School District 281, Robbinsdale: $8,500 for the Robbinsdale Area Schools Early Childhood Programs to engage more than 600 families in outdoor education, waste reduction and household hazardous waste education activities in the Eden Park, Kick Start, Family Literacy, and Great Start Preschool programs.
  • Spark Youth, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage more than 120 youth in waste reduction, recycling and water protection through hands-on environmental education utilizing a new rain garden and aquaponics system at Northeast Middle School in Minneapolis.
  • The Edina Community Foundation/Cool Planet, Edina: $11,800 to engage 150 students, families and teachers to reduce waste, increase composting and recycling, and conserve energy through the project, “Edina - A Deeper Shade of Green.”
  • The Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis: $9,900 to engage 180 fourth grade students from Minneapolis schools in learning about water protection, rain gardens and pollinators. The Highpoint Center will use art to reinforce environmental concepts.
  • University of Minnesota Extension, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage nine compost captains to increase composting at community gardens and educate community members about composting and curbside organics service in north Minneapolis.


The following Branch group projects were awarded in January 2016:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis/Mound: $14,500 to engage 500 youth at Voyageur Environmental Center, the Little Earth community and the Southside Village community in recycling, waste reduction and backyard composting.
  • Cycles for Change, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage youth as leaders in the Youth Apprenticeship program, where youth will learn to co-facilitate Learn-to-Ride classes, teach bike repair, support Open Shop and promote biking at events, engaging more than 250 community members in bicycling to reduce air pollution and other environmental impacts.
  • EMERGE Community Development, Minneapolis: $14,500 to engage 150 youth and community members in recycling computers and reducing household hazardous waste through the Youth Computer Recycling Ambassadors program in partnership with Minnesota Computers for Schools.
  • Metro Blooms, Minneapolis: $9,600 to engage 180 youth in outdoor activities to learn about pollinators and water stewardship at Bethune Community, Nellie Stone Johnson, and Lucy Laney schools in Minneapolis.
  • Minnesota African Women’s Association (MAWA), Brooklyn Center: $15,000 to engage 75 African immigrant and refugee youth to become peer educators to reach 675 additional youth, using hands-on, experiential education around recycling, waste reduction and household hazardous waste through its African Girls Initiative for Leadership and Empowerment program.
  • Nokomis Healthy Seniors, Minneapolis: $12,500 to engage 200 seniors in participating in and diverting organic waste through the city’s curbside collection service.
  • Three Rivers Park District, countywide: $10,500 to engage 37,500 visitors from reservation groups in diverting recyclable and organic waste at Elm Creek Park, French Regional Park, Fish Lake Regional Park, Gale Wood Farm, Hyland Hills, and Hyland Park Reserve.

Root Group awards

The following Root group projects were awarded in August 2016:

  • Bdote Learning Center, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage 200 elementary students and their families in recycling, composting, and waste reduction education and activities to improve recycling at the school and at home with an emphasis on Ojibwe and Dakota culture.
  • Lao Assistance Center, Minneapolis: $7,500 to train Lao Recycling Ambassadors to educate 150 community members to recycle and reduce household hazardous waste through educational workshops and hands-on activities that support behavior changes.
  • Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, various cities: $8,000 to engage 150 youth in a pilot project with ten churches in Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Plymouth, and St. Louis Park. The project will connect faith, science, youth leadership and the environment to protect water and increase environmental stewardship.
  • Voyageurs National Park Association, Minneapolis: $2,500 to engage 150 youth in learning about the environment and environmental careers through service learning projects to protect plants, wildlife and water. Youth will explore the ecology, geology and history of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area via canoe.

The following Root group projects were awarded in January 2016: 

  • Black Storytellers Alliance, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage 165 residents and youth in recycling, composting and protecting water by installing rain barrels to collect stormwater for the Karamu Garden in north Minneapolis and engaging community members in composting and organics diversion.
  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis: $6,600 to engage 250 community members in composting, recycling and water protection in the community garden and at home.
  • Freedom Academy Charter School, Minneapolis: $6,300 to engage 175 youth and community members in learning about pollinators, composting, water resources, wildlife and habitat while maintaining vegetable and butterfly gardens with members of the neighboring Family Baptist Church.
  • Hiawatha Academies, Minneapolis: $7,000 to engage 320 youth in recycling, composting and sustainability through Green Team activities, a demonstration garden, an elective class on sustainability and school-wide activities.
  • Minneapolis Toy Library, Minneapolis: $7,000 to expand the toy sharing program to engage 150 residents in sharing resources and reducing waste.
  • Minnesota First Seventh-day Adventists, Minneapolis: $7,800 to engage 150 participants in composting organic waste and recycling at church and at home.
  • Northeast Minneapolis Tool Library, Minneapolis: $7,900 to engage 150 residents in reducing waste by sharing tools, learning to refurbish items from reused materials and repairing household items.
  • Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA), Minneapolis: $7,800 to engage 200 residents in protecting water quality in Lake Hiawatha and Minnehaha Creek.

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

May/June 2016

In this issue

  • Recycling 75% of waste by 2030 – what will it take?
  • Sharps now accepted at Hennepin County drop-off facilities 
  • Recycle Everywhere campaign launches in July
  • Raise awareness about air quality as an Air Aware employer
  • Environmental education resources
    • New donation opportunities brochure
    • Updated yard waste brochure
    • Updated medicine disposal flyers
  • New articles available from Rethink Recycling
  • Events and learning opportunities
    • Green Partners networking meeting
    • Minnesota Association of Environmental Education conference
    • Hazardous waste collection events
    • Fix-It Clinics
    • Natural Resources Partnership Meeting
    • Minnehaha Creek Cleanup
  • Hopkins places third at Minnesota State Envirothon competition 
  • Green Partners project updates



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