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Green Partners environmental education grants

Engage, educate, act and collaborate for the environment

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

Through the Green Partners grant program, Hennepin County supports organizations to actively educate, engage, and motivate residents to become environmental stewards and make positive behavior changes, such as taking action to prevent waste, recycle, reduce household hazardous waste, combat climate change, care for trees, protect pollinators, and improve our air and water quality.

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Proposals are currently being accepted for Green Partners grants.

About the grants

Hennepin County awards two types of environmental education grants. An additional type of grant for youth green jobs is in development.

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) and projects of interest (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) and projects of interest (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.

Applying for a grant

The application period for the 2022 round of Green Partners grants has closed. Subscribe to the monthly email Environmental education news to be notified when the 2023 grant round opens for applications. 

Information meetings

Virtual information meetings will be held each spring to provide information about the grants and answer questions. Virtual information meetings are a chance to find out more about the grant program, hear about and share project ideas, understand the county application process, and get questions answered. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend an information meeting or contact the Green Partners grant program manager for feedback on project ideas before applying.

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 focused on environmentally sustainable behaviors:

Journey map planning worksheet (PDF)
This worksheet will help you consider your audience's journey to taking action and planning outreach to support them in making change.

Barriers discussion guide (PDF)
Grantees are required to conduct some audience interviews to research their barriers and motivations related to the actions you are focusing on.

Motivating behavior change checklist (PDF)
This checklist provides tips and steps for planning an environmental action projects.

Outcomes report document (PDF)
Find ideas for outcomes grantees can measure to demonstrate participants have made changes.

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.

Hennepin County will be piloting a dedicated youth green jobs grant opportunity through the Green Partners grant program in 2022. The goal of this pilot is to invest in green jobs education and training programs for youth, especially those geared toward youth that face racial and other disparities.

In February, Hennepin County hosted a meeting with environmental education network stakeholders to discuss priorities for a green jobs program for youth. Participants learned what the county heard from surveys with youth green job providers, environmental educators, and youth. County staff held discussions with stakeholders to gain additional feedback on community priorities, perspectives, and preferences for the program. Participants were asked to share their experiences and provide input on several aspects of the pilot program before it launches later this year. Their responses are summarized in the Youth Green Jobs February 2022 meeting notes (PDF).

View a recording of the meeting:

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

Reporting documents for projects ending August 2022

Environmental action projects

Youth environmental education projects

Budget reports for all projects

Green Partners grant reporting webinar recording

Presentations and documents from orientation

Video recording of orientation

Watch the video recording (YouTube).

Presentation slides from orientation

Additional resources

Environmental education grants awarded in 2021

In August 2021, grants were awarded to 22 organizations totaling $288,700.

The Green Partners grant program supports the county’s goals of promoting environmental stewardship, engaging communities, enhancing quality of life, and protecting the environment for current and future generations. 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 5,700 residents in becoming environmental stewards and taking action to protect the environment. These projects are expected to reach more than 100,000 residents with environmental messages. Of the 22 projects, 15 projects engage Black, Indigenous, or communities of color and residents that live in areas of concern for environmental justice and nine serve youth.

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 183 grants totaling more than $2.1 million.

Youth environmental education grants

Gaia Democratic School

$10,000 to engage more than 200 youth in learning about sustainable farming techniques such as active composting, companion planting to reduce pesticides, attracting pollinators, rain water collection, and water recycling.

Highpoint Center for Printmaking

$14,500 to engage 175 youth in 5th grade from Nellie Stone Johnson and Bourroughs Community Schools in their Creative Clean Water Stewards Project to study nearby rain gardens and bodies of water and learn printmaking skills to share what they learned.

Minneapolis Nature Preschool

$10,000 to engage 1,135 students from the preschool, Bryn Mawr Elementary, Anwatin Middle School in outdoor, nature, and forestry programming.

Organic Oneness

$10,000 to engage middle and high school youth from the Minneapolis Baha’I Center and neighborhoods around 38th Street and Chicago in placemaking, environmental design, community gardening, and outdoor environmental education.

Project Sweetie Pie

$20,000 to engage 150 youth from north Minneapolis in creating a food forest in North Minneapolis, centering youth environmental stewardship and community engagement throughout the process through their Shared Fruit initiative.

Regents of the University of MN – 4H

$20,000 to engage more than 300 youth in environmental awareness and knowledge to empower youth from diverse communities to see themselves as environmental stewards through school-year environmental (“E”) clubs, day camp and residential camp experiences.

Regents of the University of MN – Institute on the Environment

$20,000 to engage more than 200 youth from Minneapolis and the University in participating in climate change simulation workshops.

Special School District 1 (South High School)

$4,000 to engage 9-12th grade students in an Outdoor Learning Program by learning about and creating a sustainable garden and habitat for the birds and pollinators.

Wayzata Sailing Foundation

$13,000 to engage more than 200 youth in learning about stormwater pollution and aquatic invasive species and educate others in the community about actions they can take to protect Lake Minnetonka.

Environmental Action grants

Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

$20,000 to engage 150 residents in Hennepin County Climate Stories, highlighting the ways they are taking action on climate change, and intentionally engaging BIPOC communities.

Community Power

$10,000 to engage 250 affordable housing residents in reducing their energy bills by learning about energy conservation and purchasing solar credits from a community garden hosted on their residence or nearby site in Minneapolis.

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

$20,000 to engage 600 members in their Climate Justice Household Program to create a climate justice plan for their household using a carbon tracker and guide.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

$5,000 to engage 400 church members in converting 10,000 light bulbs to LED bulbs and encourage neighbors and friends to do the same.

Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota

$20,000 to engage 300 Southeast Asian community members between to begin recycling at home and on the go and use reusable bags for grocery trips through outreach by their AAPI Green Team.

Minneapolis Area Synod ELCA

$10,000 to engage 150 members to cut their use of single-use plastic by picking up trash around waterways, learning strategies for zero-waste purchasing, and preventing waste at home by focusing on single-use plastics for food purchases.

Northside Residents Redevelopment Council

$13,000 to engage 150 adults in installing rain barrels at home, calculating annual stormwater capture potential, and engaging others to participate through their NRRC Rain Barrel Ambassador Program.

Off the Blue Couch

$20,000 to engage more than 100 north Minneapolis residents, with an emphasis in Black/African Immigrant communities in recycling, organics, and climate change by hosting workshops and setting up waste stations in participants’ homes.

Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (dba Rethos: Places Reimagined)

$9,200 to engage 150 owners of older homes in Old Home Energy Efficiency workshops to learn do it yourself skills and tools to rehab and weatherize their homes.

South Uptown Neighborhood Association

$10,000 to engage homeowners and residents in diverting organic waste by signing up for the city program and using drop-off sites or curbside service.

St Louis Park Friends of the Arts

$10,000 to engage 150 residents in protecting water through their Paint the Drain: Art for Clean Water & Healthy Soil program to engage families in 5 neighborhoods to adopt and clean storm drains and learn how to reduce over-fertilization and adopt sustainable lawn care strategies.

Tangletown Neighborhood Association

$10,000 to engage more than 300 residents in learning to live a low waste lifestyle by reducing household food waste and avoiding packaging waste.

Urban Bird Collective

$10,000 to engage 150 residents in enjoying nature, picking up litter, and reducing plastic bottle waste through their The Outdoors are for Everyone! program that engages Black, Native American, LatinX, Asian, and People of Color.

Tree Trek and videos for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities

Western Hennepin County is home to remnants of the Big Woods ecosystem and a special forest community ecologists call maple-basswood forest. It’s also where Voyageur Environmental Center sits, owned and operated by the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. Normally, Voyageur is a nature destination for Boys and Girls Club kids, ages 8 to 14, many of whom are from at-risk communities.

Voyageur, a 2020 and 2021 Green Partners grant recipient, had hoped to spend last year expanding its environmental education with STEAM programming at schools and during in-person experiences at Voyageur. But like all in-person learning in 2020, plans had to evolve.

When COVID-19 hit, Hennepin County and Voyageur staff became inspired to create self-guided learning opportunities for Boys and Girls Club youth and the public. County staff partnered with Voyageur and the University of Minnesota to create the Tree Trek nature trail, with posts highlighting feature facts and offering QR codes to access even more info online. View a close-up of one of the sign posts (PDF).

Voyageur videos

Videos about Voyageur's ecology were also developed:

Seasonal tree changes in the big woods (2:19)


Threats to Minnesota Big Woods (2:45)

Watersheds (2:51)

Birds of the Big Woods (4:14)


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