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 four groups with varying levels of support and requirements.

  • Branch Group: Receive up to $20,000 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.
  • Grow Group: Pilot program in which participating organizations attend training and then develop a project plan to engage their audience in organics recycling.
  • Seed Group: Receive free field trip transportation and activity supplies.

The Green Partners program also includes environmental education networking opportunities and a newsletter featuring environmental education events and resources.

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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 $20,000 to engage at least 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 at least 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 for the next round of Green Partners Root and Branch grants will be accepted in the fall. Sign up for the Green Partners newsletter to be notified when grants are being accepted. The following are the grant documents from the spring 2017 grant round for reference.

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.

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.

More information

Get information about funding requirements, receive feedback, and learn tips to fill out an application by contacting the Green Partners program manager, Patience Caso, at Information meetings for the next grant round will be scheduled for September and/or early October with applications due in mid-to-late October 2017.

Green Partners Grow pilot organics outreach grant program

Hennepin County is conducting a pilot project with the goal of increasing participation in residential organics recycling programs through peer-to-peer outreach. Participating organizations will receive training, funding and environmental education resources to conduct a project in their communities.

Program set up

Participating organizations will:

  • Attend two days of training to learn about organics recycling, uncover the barriers to organics recycling with their audiences, and develop a project plan. Two representatives from each organization will receive a $250 stipend for completing training, conducting barrier and benefit research with their audiences, and submitting a project plan.
  • Receive a grant of up to $10,000 and free supplies to engage their audiences in signing up for or increasing their participation in organics recycling programs.

Eligible organizations

Eligible organizations include registered nonprofit organizations such as community groups, neighborhood groups, youth organizations, faith-based organizations, and community education programs in cities where a citywide organics recycling program is available to all residents. These cities are Loretto, Maple Plain, Medicine Lake, Medina, Minneapolis, St. Bonifacius, St. Louis Park and Wayzata.

Apply now

Applications to participate in the Green Partners Grow program are due August 11, 2017.

The application form gathers information about your organization’s interest in participating, experience with your audience, and organizational capacity to attend training and develop and carry out a project plan.

Fill out the online application.

Learn more

See the Green Partners Grow flyer (PDF) to learn more about program guidelines and requirements. If you have questions, contact Jessica Arika at or 612-348-3025 or attend an information meeting.

Information meetings are a chance to get more information about the program and tips for completing your application. Meetings are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, July 25 from 10 a.m. to noon at the St. Louis Park library in the meeting room
  • Tuesday, July 25, 2017 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Webber Park library in the Victory Memorial Meeting Room

RSVPs are appreciated but not required. RSVP to Jessica Arika at or 612-348-3025.

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

August networking meeting: trees and forestry field trip

The August networking meeting will be an opportunity to learn about all things trees during a tour of tree planting and forestry sites. Topics covered will include tree planting, tree care, tree identification and emerald ash borer.

  • Date:Tuesday, August 22, 2017
  • Time: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Location:The tour will start and end at Fort Snelling State Park, 101 Snelling Lake Road, St Paul, MN 55111, with stops at the Jordan Tree Orchard and the North High School gravel-bed nursery in north Minneapolis

Bus transportation to and from Fort Snelling State Park, light breakfast refreshments, and lunch will be provided. Free parking will be available at Fort Snelling State Park with a Hennepin County Green Partners sign provided at the meeting.


Networking meetings are open to the public. RSVP is required to Patience Caso at or 612-348-9352. A more detailed schedule for the day and transit/parking instructions will be provided after you RSVP.

June networking meeting: environmental education for youth

The June networking meeting featured a presentation of the results from the Envisioning the Future of Environmental Education for Youth conversations and survey that were conducted in fall 2016. This project gathered information from our partners on how we collectively define environmental education, what the most important benefits of and barriers to environmental education are, and what strategies should be pursued. Meeting attendees then provided their feedback on the results and next steps.

If you were not able to attend the meeting but would still like to provide feedback, review the results presentation (PDF) then take the survey.

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.

Future topics for 2017 networking meetings will be:

  • Summer: youth environmental education, including a summary of feedback gathered from conversations and a survey conducted in 2016 and a discussion about next steps
  • Fall: trees and forestry, including an introduction to new environmental education activities and resources about trees
  • Winter: food waste and organics recycling

Dates for these networking meetings are to be determined. Check back for details or sign up for the Green Partners e-newsletter to receive updates.

Information for current Branch and Root grantees

The following is important information and documents for current Green Partners Branch and Root grantees.

Reports and materials for projects starting spring 2017

Reporting documents


Presentations and documents from orientation

Reports and materials for projects starting fall 2016

Reporting and survey documents

Presentations and documents from orientation

Additional information

Recently awarded grants

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 January 2017:

  • Black Storytellers Alliance, Minneapolis: $12,000 to engage 200 African-American, East African, Southeast Asian, and Hispanic youth and community members in recycling, composting organics, and water protection through community events and the Karamu Community Garden in the Near-North neighborhood.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Mound: $15,000 to engage 500 adults at Voyageur Environmental Center and K-12 youth in programming on waste reduction, recycling, and composting education and activities at the environmental center and Minneapolis Boys and Girls Clubs.
  • Center School, Minneapolis: $14,500 to engage 200 Native American high school youth and community members in the Phillips Neighborhood in protecting pollinators, improving water, and exploring natural areas through culturally appropriate curriculum and community partnerships with elders and natural resource experts.
  • Cycles for Change, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage 300 youth and residents from underrepresented communities from the Cedar Riverside, Longfellow and Phillips neighborhoods in protecting air quality and conserving energy by learning about biking and bike maintenance. They will focus on youth leadership by expanding their youth ambassador program.
  • Greater Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church, Minneapolis: $12,000 for the Cherish Our Church Green Team to engage 300 congregants and community members in the Near-North neighborhood in waste reduction, recycling, composting organics, using green cleaners, and properly disposing of household hazardous waste.
  • Metro Blooms, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage underemployed adults, natural resources volunteers, and 200 high school youth in protecting water through a pilot rain garden maintenance program in collaboration with community partners in north Minneapolis. They will also work throughout the county to maintain rain gardens that have already been installed.
  • Minneapolis Toy Library, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage 200 parents of children under seven in reducing waste by sharing toys and recycling old toys.
  • Minnesota African Women's Association, Brooklyn Center: $15,000 to engage 500 women from African immigrant communities in waste reduction and recycling at community meetings.

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.

Root Group awards

The following Root group projects were awarded in January 2017:

  • Clean Water Fund, Eden Prairie, Plymouth, Robbinsdale, St. Anthony and Wayzata: $8,000 to engage 150 families, including immigrant families, in reducing waste and making green cleaners through Early Childhood Family Education programs.
  • Kids for Conservation, Minneapolis: $5,100 to engage 150 Native American youth in waste reduction, recycling, energy conservation, and water protection through a six-week summer program with the Little Earth Youth Development program in the Phillips neighborhood.
  • Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis: $8,000 to work in partnership with Summit Charter School and Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church to engage 300 congregation members, K-6 youth, and staff in reducing waste, increase recycling, and implementing organics composting in the church, school, and community.
  • Pollinate Minnesota, Minneapolis: $8,000 to engage 180 youth from Anderson United Community School in protecting natural areas and pollinators by planting a pollinator garden at the CEPRO site in Minneapolis and building classroom curriculum on the life cycle of honey bees.
  • Wayzata Community Sailing Center, Wayzata: $5,000 to engage 600 youth in recycling, composting organics, and protecting water and natural areas through outdoor education.

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.

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

April 2017

In this issue

  • Apply for environmental education grants
  • Focus on preventing food waste with the Save the Food campaign
  • Teams of students can sign up to compete in the Envirothon
  • New environmental education resources
    • School reuse and cleanout day guide
    • New articles available on recycling, reuse and protecting water
    • New brochure: emerald ash borer and options for managing ash trees
  • Events and training opportunities
    • Green Partners networking meeting: waste in Hennepin County – how low can we go?
    • Hazardous waste collection events
    • Nature-based learning conference
    • Project Learning Tree curriculum training
    • Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day
    • City cleanups
    • Rain barrel distribution events
    • Resilient yard workshops
  • Green Partners project updates
    • National Park Teen Ambassador Program seeks participants
    • Highpoint Center for Printmaking summer camp and art gallery
    • Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light empowers youth to lead on climate action
    • Alliance for Sustainability fosters lake-friendly neighborhoods
    • Cool Planet works with schools and families on climate change and organics recycling
    • Climate Generation empowers students to lead projects in their schools and communities



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