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. 

Deadline extended - apply now

Applications for Branch and Root group funding are being accepted now and are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 24, 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 Friday, October 24, 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 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.

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 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 August 26, 2014, the Hennepin County Board awarded 14 Green Partners Environmental Education grants to support organizations in implementing educational projects that engage and empower Hennepin County residents to take actions that protect and improve the environment. Groups will engage more than 12,000 residents to take action to protect the environment by reducing waste, toxicity and greenhouse gas emissions, increasing recycling, and protecting water. Projects will run from September 1, 2014, through August 31, 2015. 

Branch Group awards

The following Branch group projects were 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. 

The following Branch group projects were previously 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. 

Root Group awards

The following Branch group projects were 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.

The following Root Group projects were previously 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.

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

November/December 2014

In this issue

  • Hennepin County Natural Resources Partnership meeting
  • We’re hiring: Recycling specialists
  • Get your clean energy project moving with assistance from Metro CERT
  • Volunteer to protect water as a Master Water Steward 
  • Master Recycler/Composter volunteers available to do outreach at events, implement recycling projects
  • Celebrate America Recycles Day by taking the pledge to recycle more
  • Events
    • Grant writing workshop
    • Green gifts fair
    • Prepare for the holidays at upcoming Fix-It Clinics
  • Resources available
    • Business and organization recycling best practices guide
    • Updated yard waste information
    • New articles from Rethink Recycling
  • Green Partners project highlight: Eden Prairie Early Childhood Family Education



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