Green Partners Environmental Education Program

Engage, educate, act and collaborate for the environment

Hennepin County provides funding and support to organizations to to actively educate, engage and motivate residents to become environmental stewards and make positive behavior changes.

We focus on actions to prevent waste, recycle, reduce household hazardous waste, conserve energy, care for trees, protect pollinators, and improve our air and water quality.

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Environmental education grants

Proposals are not currently being accepted for Green Partners environmental education grants.

Applying for a grant

Applications for the 2021 to 2022 round of Green Partners environmental education grants will be accepted in spring 2021.

About the grants

Hennepin County awards two types of environmental education grants:

Environmental action grants

These grants are for projects that focus on motivating adults to do more to protect the environment by focusing on one or two environmentally friendly actions using behavior change strategies. Read the environmental action grant guidelines (PDF) for more information.

Youth environmental education grants

These grants are for projects that engage youth in learning about the environment and becoming environmental stewards using youth environmental education best practices. Read the youth environmental education grant guidelines (PDF) for more information.

Levels of funding

  • If you have received an environmental education grant before, you can apply for up to $20,000 for a one-year project or, if you meet the criteria, up to $40,000 for a two-year project.
  • If you have never received an environmental education grant before, you can apply for up to $10,000 for a one-year project.

Eligible organizations

  • Registered nonprofit organizations such as community groups, youth programs and congregations
  • Park districts
  • Private and public schools and school districts, including community educations programs like early childhood family education

View the environmental education grants flyer (PDF) for a comparison of the grant options.

Learn more

Two information meetings were previously held to provide more information about the grants and answer questions. Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the information meeting materials or contact the program manager, Patience Caso at patience.caso@hennepin.us or 612-348-9352, for feedback on project ideas before applying. 

Information meeting webinars are a chance to hear about the changes to the program, navigate the county application process, learn about effective education and engagement strategies, get assistance with your application or project ideas, and network with other organizations to share ideas and discuss partnership opportunities.

Have your organization’s tax ID number to get help registering your organization with Hennepin County during the meeting. 

Resources to help you complete your application

Best practices

To help organizations develop successful proposals and projects, we've compiled the best practices for grant projects (PDF). These were developed based on input received from past Green Partners grantees about how they define success and their advice for other project managers.

Sample applications

Motivating behavior change resources

The following resources will help with planning environmental action grants with adult audiences:

Insurance requirements

Hennepin County requires organizations to have insurance in order to conduct Green Partners environmental education projects. See the insurance requirements (PDF) to learn what is required. Some projects may require more insurance than what is listed; Hennepin County will contact you if this is the case.

If your policy does not meet these requirements, contact the Green Partners program manager at patience.caso@hennepin.us or 612-348-9352 for more information.

Program evaluation

We conducted an evaluation in 2018 of the grant program that allowed us to reassess goals, analyze project outcomes, check alignment with community needs and county goals, and look for efficiencies in program management. Read the Green Partners evaluation: feedback report and program recommendations (PDF) for a detailed summary of the feedback we received and the corresponding program changes being recommended.

Get field trip transportation and environmental education activity supplies

Virtual field trip options

We are currently compiling a list of virtual environmental education field trip options. If you offer a virtual field trip option and want to be included on our list, please email angela.ziobro@hennepin.us.

Activity supplies

Orders for environmental education activity supplies temporarily suspended 

Please note that due to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Hennepin County is unable to fulfill orders of environmental education activity supplies until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  Please sign up for our Green Partners newsletter to stay informed about when these resources will be available again. 

Receive free activity supplies to engage people in environmental education activities. Available supplies include spray bottles to make homemade, green cleaners, and reusable bags. Eligible groups include any organization that serves Hennepin County residents, except businesses and political groups.

Remember, you can find activity ideas in our environmental education activity guides and reserve environmental education kits. See environmental education resources for more information.

Field trip transportation

Field trip transportation temporarily suspended 

Please note that due to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Hennepin County is not providing field trip transportation until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  Please sign up for our Green Partners newsletter to stay informed about when this resource will be available again. 

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, and the majority of participants must be Hennepin County residents. Eligible groups and organizations include schools, nonprofit organizations, community groups, youth groups, congregations, watershed districts, environmental clubs, and cities, located within Hennepin County.

Select a field trip location and activity that aligns well with the age group and interest of your audience and your educational goals. To more easily get approved for funding, select a field trip site and activity from our pre-approved list (PDF). You can go to field trip sites not listed in this document, but you will have to provide more details about the field trip location and activities and how they align with the county’s goals for this program.

Green Partners meetings

Future network meetings

Networking meetings provide an opportunity to learn about environmental topics, share resources and project ideas and network with fellow environmental educators.

Network meetings are held about once a quarter. Network meetings for 2020 have not been scheduled yet.

Check back for details on future meetings or sign up for the Green Partners e-newsletter to receive updates.

Information for current grantees

The following is important information and documents for current Green Partners environmental education grantees.

Reporting documents for projects ending August 2021

Environmental action projects

Youth environmental education projects

Budget reports for all projects

Presentations and documents from orientation

Additional resources

Recently awarded grants

Environmental education grants awarded in 2020

In September 2020, grants were awarded to 20 organizations totaling $304,600. 

The grants provide training, support, and funding to organizations to implement projects that engage residents to protect and improve the environment. 

The program offers two types of grants: environmental action grants for projects that focus on motivating adults to take environmentally friendly actions, and environmental education grants for projects engaging youth in environmental education and stewardship. Returning grantees are eligible to receive up to $20,000, and new grantees can be awarded up to $10,000.

The grants awarded will engage more than 6,500 residents in becoming environmental stewards and taking action to protect the environment. These projects are expected to reach more than 200,000 residents with environmental messages. Of the 23 projects, 21 projects engage Black, Indigenous, or communities of color and residents that live in areas of concern for environmental justice. 

Research and past project outcomes have shown that these models of environmental engagement are effective in motivating participants to take actions that have a positive impact on the environment.

Since the program was established in 2012, the program has awarded 165 grants totaling more than $1.8 million.

Youth environmental education grants

Bolder Options

$10,000 to engage 150 youth in becoming Bolder Youth Environmental Advocates. Youth will participate in outdoor nature activities and learn about household hazardous waste, bicycling for transportation, reducing food waste, environmental benefits of gardening, composting, and identifying natural resources.

Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities 

$20,000 to engage 1,625 youth in environmental education by participating in outdoor nature activities such as canoeing, hiking, camping, and citizen science at Voyageur Environmental Center in Mound and Earth Day activities at club sites throughout Hennepin County.

Brooklyn Center ISD 286

$10,000 to work with 12 teachers across grades K – 5 to integrate environmental education curriculum that will engage 300 students in environmental education and stewardship.

Emerge Community Development

$19,500 to train 48 youth who will educate community members in Minneapolis about green cleaners, safe use of cleaners during COIVD-19, and protecting pollinators.

Footprint Project

$10,000 to engage 230 youth in creating their own future climate simulations using proven, interdisciplinary curriculum led by University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. Participants will also take part in a climate solutions workshop and create hands-on energy projects with Renewable Energy Partners.

Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)

$10,000 to engage 20 Latino teenagers in learning about climate change and sustainable transportation through workshops and activities. The teens will conduct outreach to more than 150 community members about actions they can take to reduce their impact.

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

$10,000 to engage 200 youth and their families from Little Earth of United Tribes, Project for Pride in Living, and others in their Artful Advocates for Environmental Justice project, a 3-month series of online art workshops to inspire elementary aged youth to care about the environment.

Loring Elementary, Special School District 1

$10,000 to engage 400 youth and parents at Loring Elementary in Minneapolis in environmental education through hands-­on, place­-based, and cross­-disciplinary lessons about local habitats, composting, pollinators, and trees. The project will culminate in the creation of a school mural of the web of life.

Metro Blooms

$20,000 to engage 175 older youth and young adults from north Minneapolis and affordable housing communities in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park in a skill building and green infrastructure career pathway program focused on sustainable land care practices. The training will involve hands-on stewardship of local native landscapes and urban stormwater management features.

Minnesota African Women's Association

$20,000 to engage 150 Pan-African youth ages 14 to 18 in environmental education curriculum and activities from the perspective of their African values to increase recycling, reduce waste, and conserve energy at home.

Pollinate Minnesota

$20,000 to engage 350 3rd and 5th graders from Dowling Elementary School, and Loring Elementary School, and Success Academy in virtual pollinator education through the creation of Bee STEMified Virtual Reality lessons. The lessons will be free to classrooms across the county.

Somali American Women Action Center

$10,000 to engage 200 East African youth in learning from their cultural perspective about reducing the use of plastic bags and single use plastics. The Dambiil Challenge will help participate make the connection between climate change, environmental justice, and waste. Dambiil is a Somali word that means tote bag.

The Highpoint Center for Printmaking 

$14,600 to engage 150 fifth grade youth in the study of waterbodies and rain gardens. You will learn about factors threatening water and pollinators and actions they can take to prevent pollution through outdoor, place-based environmental education and the art of printmaking. 

Environmental action grants

Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy

$20,000 to engage 150 participants from low-income, indigenous, and communities of color in interactive and culturally specific workshops on energy conservation and home weatherization through their Energy Education Series.

Congregations Caring for Creation (dba Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light)

$20,000 to engage 200 households from faith communities in creating personalized climate justice action plans and taking specific actions to reduce their carbon footprint, starting with changing their light bulbs, recycling, and composting at home.

Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota

$20,000 to engage 100 Project Green Ambassadors from the Southeast Asian community in reducing, reusing, and recycling using the “Teach English, Teach About the Environment” curriculum from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which supports cultural practices and environmental protection.

Minneapolis Climate Action and Fortune, Relief, and Youth Empowerment Organization (FRAYEO)

$20,000 to engage 150 East African residents from Minneapolis in learning about climate change and reducing their use of single use plastics.

MN Renewable Now

$10,000 to engage 150 households in north Minneapolis in reducing energy use and using clean energy through their Power North campaign. The campaign will help residents sign up to receive energy audits, obtain energy efficiency upgrades, or join local renewable energy programs.

Off The Blue Couch and Minnesota Africans United

$20,000 to engage more than 400 Black and African residents in improving their recycling and organics composting habits by featuring their Rusty mascot, inviting participants to become part of Rusty's Crew, and teaching about the intersection between climate change and waste.

Tangletown Neighborhood Association

$10,000 to engage 200 residents of Minneapolis in reducing their textile waste by repairing or buying used clothing. Activities will include seasonal panels and events with opportunities to learn to repair, donate, purchase, and swap used clothing.

2019 grants that have been extended

The following youth environmental education grant projects have been extended to 2021 due to requirements for distance learning and decreases in-person activities due to COVID-19 and damage from the unrest in Minneapolis.

MIGIZI Communications

$10,000 to will engage 250 community members and American Indian youth in learning and teaching others about ecosystems, renewable energy, and traditional American Indian sustainability practices.

St. Anthony ­New Brighton ISD 282

$18,500 to engage 150 high school students and community members in curriculum and service learning projects about climate change and solar energy.

University of Minnesota – Regents, Hennepin County 4H

$10,000 to engage 150 youth from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center and two additional Minneapolis parks in learning about ecosystems and waste.

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