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, 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

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.


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 January 26, 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.

The following Branch group projects were awarded August 11, 2015:

  • Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy:$15,000 to engage low-income and multicultural communities in conserving energy and protecting air quality. Participants will attend hands-on workshops to learn how to weatherize and save energy at home, review their energy consumption and learn about existing energy assistance programs. In addition, participants will learn about proper disposal of household hazardous waste and less-hazardous alternatives.
  • Climate Generation, A Will Steger Legacy:$15,000 to work with high school environmental clubs to develop projects that address climate change, waste and environmental action at their schools.
  • Congregations Caring for Creation/Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light: $15,000 to work with youth through the youth-led Be the Spark program to engage congregation members at 12 churches, mosques and temples to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Youth will explore natural areas to learn about climate change and identify strategies and solutions. Youth will then facilitate community climate conversations and develop plans to reduce their congregation's carbon footprint.
  • Freshwater Society: $15,000 to train Master Water Stewards on practices that protect water quality through a series of hands-on workshops. Master Water Stewards will then install practices that reduce runoff and engage residents in taking action to protect water quality. Freshwater Society will also extend the reach of the Master Water Stewards program by incorporating online instruction in addition to on-site instructors.
  • Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate:$15,000 to educate the community about protecting land and water and enhancing wildlife habitat through composting, capturing stormwater and re-establishing native pollinator plants. Participants will learn to design and create gardens and natural areas in their communities. Additionally, community stewards will be trained to lead neighbor-to-neighbor teachings to extend the project's reach.
  • Spark Youth (Spark-Y): $15,000 to educate students at Roosevelt High School about using waste as a resource, water systems and climate change. Students will care for indoor and outdoor agricultural systems using the school's aquaponics system and greenhouse. Spark-Y will also partner with district and school staff to create a sustainability class for elective credit.

Root Group awards

The following Root group projects were awarded on January 26, 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.

The following Root group projects were awarded on August 11, 2015:

  • Do It Green Minnesota: $1,200 to host two community clothing swaps in Minneapolis and create a how-to guide for community members to organize and host their own community clothing swap.
  • Eden Prairie Early Childhood Family Education: $7,900 to engage families in hands-on activities focused on restoring natural areas with native plants, reducing waste by buying in bulk and using reusable bags, recycling more,saving energy at home, reducing household hazardous waste by making green cleaners, and composting food and yard waste at home.
  • Greater Mount Vernon Baptist Church: $8,000 to engage congregation members in making green cleaners, reducing waste, properly disposing of household hazardous waste and recycling. The congregation will organize field trips to waste and recycling facilities, plan recycling and waste reduction events, offer green cleaning workshops and host an Earth Day celebration.
  • Minnetonka Early Childhood Programs: $4,500 develop an outdoor learning center and associated curriculum to educate families about natural areas and protecting water.
  • Phyllis Wheatley Community Center: $8,000 to work with youth to design a waste reduction challenge for the community and develop lesson ideas for child development center staff that will engage preschoolers in reuse projects.
  • Robbinsdale Area Schools Early Childhood Programs: $8,000 to integrate environmental education activities into all of their program areas. They will also facilitate reuse through during their Earth Day event and garage sale.
  • Rogers Elementary: $6,200 to teach students about their role in protecting the environment by caring for raised-bed gardens planted at the school, composting, and learning about life cycles, pollinators and the impacts of food.
  • University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment: $8,000 to work with faculty and students from colleges and technical schools in Hennepin County to start or expand projects to reduce waste, address climate change pollution and protect water on their campuses. Students will attend the 2015 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference in Minneapolis in October, which includes student-focused workshops intended to empower students to take leadership roles in sustainability activities. Students and faculty will collaborate with their peers at other institutions to collaborate through this newly established Environmental Student Leader Action Network.

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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