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. 

Expand all information

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 Friday, May 15, 2015. 

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

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

  • April 28 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Brookdale Library, Study Room 1, in Brooklyn Center
  • April 28 from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Pierre Bottineau Library, Sheridan Meeting Room, in northeast Minneapolis
  • May 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Walker Library, Calhoun Meeting Room, in Minneapolis (In conjunction with the Green Partners Networking meeting)

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, reusable bags and reflective pants protectors to encourage biking.

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

May meeting: Green Partners project ideas and grant funding info session

  • Date: May 5, 2015
  • Time: 2 to 4 p.m. 
  • Location: Walker Library, Calhoun Meeting Room, 2880 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis
  • Optional networking: 4 to 5 p.m. at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 West Lake Street, Minneapolis

Join us to learn more about environmental education project support available through the Green Partners program. Learn more about the Green Partners grant funding and application, supplies and resources, and get feedback on your project ideas.

Networking meetings are open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. RSVP to Patience Caso at or 612-348-9352.

Future 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.

Green Partners grants information meetings

Applications for Green Partners grants are due May 15, 2015. Get information about funding requirements, feedback on your project ideas and tips for completing your proposal at an upcoming information meeting:

  • April 28 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Brookdale Library, Study Room 1, in Brooklyn Center
  • April 28 from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Pierre Bottineau Library, Sheridan Meeting Room, in northeast Minneapolis
  • May 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Walker Library, Calhoun Meeting Room, in south Minneapolis (In conjunction with the Green Partners Networking meeting) 

Participating organizations and project summaries

On January 27, 2015, the county awarded 11 grants to organizations to implement projects that will engage and empower residents to take action to protect the environment. The $107,000 in grants awarded this cycle will engage more than 3,800 residents in taking action to protect the environment by reducing waste, toxicity and greenhouse gas emissions, increasing recycling, and protecting water. Many  of the projects will work with youth and hard-to-reach audiences.

Branch Group awards

The following Branch group projects were awarded on January 27, 2015:

  • Alliance for Sustainability, countywide: $15,000 to engage 400 members from 15 different congregations to take action to protect water quality.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage 400 youth from Minneapolis in recycling and waste reduction, including backyard composting at the Voyageur Environmental Center in Mound and at the Little Earth Boys and Girls Club Extension in Minneapolis.
  • Minnesota African Women’s Association, countywide: $15,000 to build on previous environmental education projects by engaging 360 African community members to increase recycling, reduce waste and reduce use of hazardous household cleaners in their faith communities, homes, schools and workplaces.
  • Project Sweetie Pie, Inc., north Minneapolis: $15,000 to train Compost Captains to utilize the network of community gardens in north Minneapolis to engage more than 200 community members in composting in their backyards and community gardens, and prepare to collect organic waste for curbside collection when it begins in Minneapolis.

The following Branch group projects were previously awarded on August 26, 2014:

  • Freshwater Society, countywide: $15,000 to train 40 – 50 Master Water Steward volunteers who will educate and engage more than 420 residents to protect water quality through education and water protection projects.
  • Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, countywide: $15,000 to engage more than 40 youth and 500 congregation members in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through its “Cool Congregation” program.
  • Spark Youth, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage more than 300 youth in waste reduction, recycling and water protection through experiential education at Roosevelt High School’s sustainability center.
  • Three Rivers Park District, countywide: $15,000 to engage more than 8,000 park visitors in hosting zero-waste events, sorting and tracking waste at events held in five park district facilities.
  • Urban Strategies, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage 150 youth and more than 200 residents in waste reduction and recycling activities through its “Extreme Makeover: Green Neighborhood Edition” project in the Heritage Park community.
  • Will Steger Foundation, countywide: $15,000 to engage 1,400 youth in activities to reduce waste, reduce climate change pollution and increase recycling by supporting green teams at six high schools through the Youth Environmental Activists! Minnesota program. 

Root Group awards

The following Root group projects were awarded on January 27, 2015:

  • Bancroft Neighborhood Association, south Minneapolis: $8,000 to work with Art Your Engine and Bancroft Elementary School to engage 240 middle school students in water protection and waste reduction at home and school.
  • Brooklyn United Methodist Church, Brooklyn Center: $5,000 to engage more than 1,000 volunteers and community members to recycle waste and compost organics from the four free community meals provided at the church each week through the Loaves and Fishes program.
  • Cycles for Change, Minneapolis: $8,000 to work with SPOKES to increase bicycling in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural resources. SPOKES will engage 175 community members, primarily women and East African immigrant community members, in learning to bike, plan safe routes, build confidence in their riding ability and track carbon emission reductions.
  • The Edina Community Foundation, Edina: $8,000 to work with Cool Planet to engage more than 150 participants, primarily youth, in classrooms, community education workshops and programming with Edina Parks and Recreation. Participants will reduce waste, reduce climate change, pollution and advance recycling.
  • Project for Pride in Living, Inc., north Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage 150 residents in the Hawthorne EcoVillage through workshops and community outreach to reduce waste and increase recycling in the neighborhood.
  • St. Louis Park ISD 283, St. Louis Park: $2,000 to engage 575 students in learning about environmental topics by participating in a daylong educational session using a large Earth Balloon and lessons that are tied to environmental science standards.
  • YouthCARE, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage 150 youth and community members in environmental initiatives, including recycling and waste reduction, through its Community Service Stars program.

The following Root group projects were previously awarded on August 26, 2014:

  • Eden Prairie ISD 272 Early Childhood Programs, Eden Prairie: $8,000 to provide more than 700 families with environmental education using Hennepin County resources in early childhood family education, school readiness, Spanish and preschool classrooms.
  • Minnetonka ISD 276 Early Childhood Family Education and Preschool, Minnetonka: $4,000 to engage 400 families and staff in environmental education by creating an outdoor learning center, developing associated curriculum, composting with worms and utilizing environmental education toolkits and water conservation lessons in the classroom.
  • Noble Academy, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage the green team and 450 kindergarten through 8th grade students and their families in learning, designing and implementing projects and family action plans for an environmental topic they are interested in pursuing.
  • Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage more than 200 residents in 12 workshops to increase recycling and reduce climate change pollution, toxicity and waste.
  • Robbinsdale ISD 281 Early Childhood Programs, Robbinsdale: $8,000 to engage more than 600 families in environmental education projects through early childhood family education and preschool classrooms, home visits and the newly acquired creative play program.
  • St. Anthony ISD 282 Wilshire Park Elementary, St. Anthony: $8,000 to engage more than 300 students, teachers and families to reduce waste and protect air quality and will integrate sustainability lessons into curriculum.
  • The Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage 150 students in learning about rain gardens and creating art to educate others about water.
  • The Nokomis Healthy Seniors Program, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage 180 seniors in recycling education and toxicity reduction through workshops and home visits.

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

March/April 2015

In this issue

  • We’re hiring: Environmental Outreach Specialist
  • Green Partners environmental education project funding available
  • Two Hennepin County programs named finalists for Environmental Initiative Awards
  • Green your events: resources and planning assistance available
  • Gear up for spring with compost bin and rain barrel sales
  • Minneapolis residents can sign up now for curbside organics recycling
  • Events
    • Green Partners quarterly networking meeting
    • Hennepin Natural Resources Partnership meeting
    • Hazardous waste collection events
    • Fix-It Clinics
    • Earth Day and spring events 
    • Green yard and rain garden workshops
  • Environmental education resources
    • Updated: Green Cleaning Recipes brochure
    • New: Get Rid of It Guide
    • New articles available from Rethink Recycling
  • Green Partners project highlights
    • Wilshire Park Academy promotes biking and waste reduction
    • Spark-Y and Roosevelt High School team up to create sustainability center
    • School green teams work with Will Steger Foundation to take the lead on environmental action projects



Sign up!

Sign up to receive the Green Partners e-newsletter.

Collapse all information