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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

Green Partners grants awarded in 2022

In July 2022, the county awarded 26 Green Partners environmental education grants totaling $470,100 to community organizations to engage their audiences in learning about and taking action to protect the environment. Together, these projects will engage more than 6,000 residents in taking action and reach more than 122,000 residents with environmental messages.

The program prioritizes environmental education and engagement with youth, Black, Indigenous, communities of color and other underserved and historically marginalized communities to reduce health and education disparities and advance environmental justice. Of the organizations receiving grants, 20 will work primarily with Black, Indigenous, and communities of color.

The program includes two types of grants – 13 of the organizations will work primarily with adult audiences to motivate environmental actions, and 13 organizations will work primarily with youth on learning about the environment and becoming environmental stewards.

Grant projects focus on a variety of topics, including protecting natural resources, reducing waste and recycling, and taking action on climate change. Grantees will engage audiences in 14 cities throughout the county.

Since the program was established in 2012, the program has awarded 205 grants totaling more than $2.4 million.

Youth environmental education grants

Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

$18,000 to bring together 200 youth at the Metro Youth Climate Convergence where they will identify local climate justice issues and climate solutions they can take in their communities. Youth will be empowered to build relationships and change the narrative of what climate action looks like in the Twin Cities.

Highpoint Center for Printmaking

$18,000 to engage 200 5th grade youth from Burroughs Community School and Nellie Stone Johnson Community School in north Minneapolis in the study of rain gardens, clean water initiatives, recycling, pollinators, and protecting local bodies of water through outdoor education sessions, hands-on printmaking activities, poetry writing, and art exhibitions.

Minneapolis Nature Preschool

$20,000 to engage 750 students and teachers at Bryn Mawr Elementary and Anwatin Middle School in north Minneapolis to grow their connection to the school forest through a variety of student clubs and classes.

Minnesota African Women’s Association

$40,000 over two years to engage 150 Pan African youth ages 14 to 18 in intensive curriculum and environmental action programming around recycling, reducing waste, and removing toxic household products from the home. Youth will also learn leadership, advocacy, and critical thinking skills related to motivating behavior change and teaching others to take action.

Nawayee Center School

$40,000 over two years to engage 150 Native American youth in grades 7 through 12 in the Phillips Neighborhood of south Minneapolis in learning about soil, agriculture, and Indigenous plants by working in the school garden and community gardens around Hennepin County.

Organic Oneness

$20,000 to engage 170 Black, Indigenous, and other youth of color from south Minneapolis in outdoor, place-based learning activities related to the environmental and physical health and well-being of the community, including protecting pollinators through keeping beehives and planting flowers, bushes and trees, learning about local food systems through organic gardening, and beautifying streets and alleyways through planting gardens and cleaning out storm drains.

Orono School District

$15,000 to engage 1,200 students grades K through 5 in learning about the role organisms play in their environment, how some of the changing environmental conditions are impacting populations, and how actions they take can improve prospects for future populations and the overall environmental quality. Students will take trips to the school nature center and learn about the challenges faced by monarchs.

Regents of the University of Minnesota

$17,000 to engage 150 4-H youth in eco-literacy by adding environmental and climate justice topics to programming and providing opportunities for youth to be change agents on the issues they feel most affect them. Youth will be engaged through E-Clubs at North High, Sanford Middle School, and Hall STEM Academy schools, as well as at three summer day camp locations and one summer residential camp.

Reuse Minnesota

$10,000 to engage 50 high school youth in hands-on learning about reuse, including repair, resale, and rental, in ways students can incorporate into their daily lives as well as exploring reuse as a possible career.

Somali American Women's Action Center

$8,000 to engage 200 underserved youth from Minneapolis and Edina in reducing waste by sewing and using a Dambiil (fabric tote bag) instead of plastic bag, learning about connections between consumption, environmental justice, and climate change, and learning about ways to advocate to bring needed change.

South High Foundation

$5,000 to engage 250 youth in making connections between environmental initiatives currently happening at South High, including learning about pollinators and food sources, moving to zero waste through organics recycling and composting, and the impact of water quality on organisms and ecosystems.

The Bakken Museum

$10,000 to engage 100 middle school Native American youth from Minneapolis Public Schools in exploring water science and water protection through an event and a series of experiments, activities, and workshops that explores how urban water systems work, how they can help protect our local water and pollinators, and how urban wetlands and pollinators help our communities.

The Real Minneapolis

$10,000 to engage 150 youth in cleaning and greening their community through gardens and community clean-ups.

Environmental action grants

Community Power

$10,000 to engage 200 renters and homeowners from the Midtown and Phillips neighborhoods in Minneapolis in accessing energy efficiency programs, including joining a cooperatively owned community solar garden in their neighborhood or city and receiving support to take the next step on weatherization and energy efficiency including installing LED light bulbs and distributing window kits and low-flow shower heads.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

$7,300 to engage 150 people in south Minneapolis in converting hundreds of light bulbs to LED bulbs through education focused on overcoming common barriers such as access, cost, and lighting options and preferences.

Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota

$40,000 over two years engage 150 Southeast Asian community members from Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park, and Brooklyn Center to begin recycling at home and on the go and use reusable bags for grocery trips through outreach by their Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Green Team.

Longfellow Community Council

$10,000 to engage 750 members of community, focusing on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and LGBTQ+ residents, in nature activities and waste prevention through building, painting, and placing Leopold benches made from salvaged wood into community nature spaces for participants and the public to enjoy and providing engaging nature programming.

Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association

$9,300 to engage 300 residents of the southeast Minneapolis neighborhood, largely students and renters, in organics recycling and recycling by making it easier and more accessible to participate.

McKinley Community

$6,500 to engage 150 residents from the McKinley Neighborhood in north Minneapolis in preventing waste and composting by providing tools and access to participate in organics recycling or backyard composting.

Metro Blooms

$20,000 to engage 150 residents and youth in north Minneapolis in hands-on learning to create pollinator plantings in yards and community spaces with support and coaching by environmental justice advocates and apprentices trained in sustainable lawn care practices.

Mississippi Park Connection

$10,000 to engage 250 Black, Indigenous, and other people of color from across Hennepin County in connecting with the Mississippi River through outdoor experiences and education about its cultural and environmental significance.

MN Renewable Now

$40,000 over two years to engage 150 residents in north Minneapolis in reducing their carbon footprint by making it easy and convenient to sign-up for and participate in energy audits and renewable energy programs and learn about green energy job opportunities.

Off the Blue Couch

$40,000 over two years to engage 150 Black, Indigenous, and people of color from north Minneapolis in recycling by making it easier to participate by setting up at-home waste stations, helping families sign up for organics recycling, and educating on climate change and waste.

Resilient Cities and Communities

$16,000 to engage 150 residents of south Minneapolis in taking action in their neighborhood to protect water through hands-on, community litter clean-up along streets and shorelines leading to Lake Hiawatha and signing participants up to adopt storm drains.

Richfield Foundation

$20,000 to engage 200 homeowners in Richfield and Bloomington in replacing existing lawns with native plants to support pollinators and reduce the urban heat island and install rain barrels to redirect stormwater for use in native gardens.

Urban Bird Collective

$20,000 to engage 200 people from Black, Native American, LatinX, Asian, and other communities of color across the county in reducing energy use and making their yards more bird and pollinator friendly by providing training, tools, and encouragement from community leaders of color.

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)

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Threats to Minnesota Big Woods (2:45)

Watersheds (2:51)

Birds of the Big Woods (4:14)

 

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