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, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, 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

Note that changes have been made to the Branch and Root groups for the spring 2016 funding round. 

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 proposals utilize existing environmental education resource, like Hennepin County Environmental Education Toolkits and Learning Trunks, or implement a pilot project that motivates residents to take action.

Root groups will 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, November 6, 2015. 

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, October 13 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the North Regional Library in Minneapolis. Information and time to talk to program staff will be provided from 4 to 5 p.m. after the Green Partners Networking meeting on organics recycling.
  • Tuesday, October 20 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Nokomis Library in Minneapolis
  • Tuesday, October 20 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Walker Library in 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

October meeting: organics recycling

Join us to learn about organics recycling. Organics recycling programs are becoming more widely available to residents and at schools, organizations and businesses. The meeting will be an opportunity to hear about organics recycling programs from Hennepin County and City of Minneapolis staff, learn about the materials accepted in organics recycling programs, and discuss outreach strategies with fellow environmental educators.

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.

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 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.

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.

Root Group awards

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.

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.

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

September/October 2015

In this issue

  • Grant funding available for environmental education
  • Natural resource protection grant funding available
  • New Green Disposal Guide tells you the best way to get rid of your stuff 
  • Fourth and fifth grade students learn about protecting water
  • Recycle Everywhere Campaign continues
  • Metro CERT Seed Grant applications due October 26
  • Events 
    • Green Partners Networking Meeting
    • Fix-It Clinics
    • Natural resources partnership meeting
    • Metro CERT annual event 
    • Do it Green! Green Gifts Fair
  • Environmental education resources
    • River Watch interactive map
    • Rethink Recycling articles and social media posts
  • Green Partners project highlights: Project for Pride in Living, Spark-Y and YEA! MN


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