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. 

Subscribe to the Green Partners newsletter to get the latest environmental education updates. See the most recent edition for an example of the content.

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Environmental education grants

Proposals are being accepted now for Green Partners environmental education grants.

About the grants

Hennepin County awards two types of environmental education grants:

  • Adult environmental action grants for projects that focus on motivating participants to take one or two environmentally friendly actions using behavior change strategies. See the motivating behavior change guidelines (PDF) for more information.
  • Youth environmental education grants for projects that work on developing an environmental ethic and interest in environmental stewardship using environmental education best practices. See the youth environmental stewardship grant guidelines (PDF) for more information.

Two levels of funding are awarded:

  • 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

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

Applying for a grant

Application due date

Proposals are due by 3 p.m. on Monday, May 6, 2019.

You can find the application materials on the Hennepin County supplier portal. You must submit your application through the supplier portal.

If you need assistance registering or submitting your application documents, contact the Supplier Portal Help Desk at 612-543-5412 or, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Before you can submit your application, you must:

  1. Register an individual account with Hennepin County Online Services, THEN
  2. Go to the supplier portal, log in, and register your company's information or register as a new user with your organization. Learn more and get instructions.

Information meetings

There are no more information meetings scheduled for this grant round.

View the information meeting presentation (PDF) or watch a replay of the information meeting webinar.

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

Outcomes reporting 

Environmental action projects with adults must report outcomes to demonstrate participants have made changes in their behaviors. The behavior change outcomes reporting ideas (PDF) provides ideas for applicants to use in developing their project proposals.

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 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.

Funding for organics recycling outreach in Minneapolis

Funding is available to neighborhood and community nonprofit organizations in Minneapolis to conduct outreach focused on increasing participation in the city's residential organics recycling program. Participating organizations will receive training, funding and environmental education resources to conduct a project in their communities.

Program set up and schedule

  • Organizations can apply for up to $10,000 to conduct outreach from May through December. Up to 10 organizations will receive funding.
  • Organizations will receive tips and supplies to help them carry out their select outreach activities.
  • At least two representatives from each organization will attend a one-day training on Wednesday, May 1 to learn more about organics recycling, uncover the barriers to organics recycling with their audiences, and refine their project plan.

See the organics recycling outreach funding guidelines (PDF) for more details.

Participating organizations will:

  • Attend two days of training to learn about organics recycling, uncover the barriers to organics recycling with their audiences, and develop a project plan. Two representatives from each organization will receive a $250 stipend for completing training, conducting barrier and benefit research with their audiences, and submitting a project plan.
  • Receive a grant of up to $10,000 and free supplies to engage their audiences in signing up for or increasing their participation in organics recycling programs.

Apply now

Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12, 2019. Learn more and apply.

Get field trip transportation and environmental education activity supplies

Activity supplies

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.

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, 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. 

Apply for field trip transportation.

Green Partners meetings

Integrating behavior change into environmental education programs

  • Thursday, May 9, 2019
  • 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Washburn Library, meeting room, 5244 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419 (Map)

Learn how to plan programs around proven approaches to get your partners and participants to change their actions. This will be a deep dive into barriers, strategies, and the journey of behavior change. Hear examples of how Hennepin County environmental education and outreach staff have been using the psychology of behavior change to meet environmental, program and outreach goals. Come ready to participate, learn, start to plan applications for your work, and have fun networking with others working in environmental education in the county.

The registration deadline has passed for this training.

BEETLES Introduction –Teaching Observational Skills

  • Thursday, August 8, 2019
  • 9:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • French Regional Park, 12605 Rockford Rd, Plymouth, MN 55441 (Map)

Are you looking for new ways to lead programs that are inclusive, student-centered, or inquiry-based? Are you interested in strategies that support outdoor science education and are research-based? If so, then BEETLES would be a great resource for you! BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) is devoted to creating student activities for use in the field. This session, led by Three Rivers Park District staff, will help participants directly engage students with the natural world through scientific observation. It provides participants with basic skills, behaviors and tools to use with students to help them become curious about nature. The goal is to empower students to engage with the natural world after their experience at your program.

Light snacks will be provided.

Space is limited to 30 spots for this training. Please RSVP here. 

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 about once a quarter. 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 starting winter 2019

Behavior change projects

Youth projects

Budget reports for all projects

Presentations and documents from orientation

Additional resources

Recently awarded grants

Hennepin County awarded grants to 14 organizations in November 2018 to engage their audiences in taking action to protect the environment. The groups will engage more than 5,400 residents in a wide variety of environmental actions, including reducing waste, recycling, composting, conserving energy, signing up for renewable energy, adopting storm drains, planting and maintaining sustainable landscapes, installing rain barrels, and learning about ecosystems.

Projects will engage residents throughout the county. Ten projects will work with underserved and hard-to-reach communities, and nine projects will engage youth.

Grants to promote environmental stewardship with youth

  • Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy will engage 200 youth from high school green teams in climate change education and environmental leadership activities.
  • East Side Neighborhood Services will engage 150 youth in Minneapolis during out-of-school programs in learning about water protection through a project called H2 Whoa! 
  • Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys will engage 200 girls in hands-on, outdoor learning through a series of "Adventure Out, Explore In" environmental stewardship events.
  • Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (Congregations Caring for Creation) will engage 700 youth and members of faith communities in environmental education activities to encourage energy conservation and environmental stewardship.
  • North Hennepin Community College will engage 150 American Indian and Indigenous high school and college students in environmental stewardship and care for water through the Dave Larsen American Indian Immersion Experience: Nimino-bimaadiziwininaan (environmental stewardship is our way of life) and Ganawendan nibi (care for the water).
  • Partnership Academy in Richfield will engage 150 students in grades 4 through 6 in learning about environmental topics, using resources wisely, food, population growth, and pollinators. 
  • Spark Youth will engage 250 youth from Pillsbury Elementary, Northeast Middle, and Edison High Schools in Minneapolis in waste reduction and recycling.

Grants to motivating behavior change with adults and older youth

  • Clean Water Fund will engage 150 of their members and people working in downtown Minneapolis in preventing waste through their "Rethink Disposables" campaign that focuses on reducing disposable on-the-go food packaging items.
  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association will engage 150 youth and residents of the neighborhood in picking up litter, preventing waste, recycling, and cleaning up storm drains.
  • Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development will motivate 250 St. Louis Park residents to use renewable energy in their homes by signing up for renewable energy programs, installing solar, and/or participating in solar energy programs through a youth-led solar energy outreach initiative.
  • Metro Blooms will engage more than 2,500 people in multifamily residences in Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis in learning about green landscaping techniques and participating in activities to design, practice installing, and maintain native and water friendly landscape features.
  • Minneapolis Toy Library will engage 250 parents in preventing waste by borrowing toys for home, travel, and special events and using green cleaners.
  • Northside Residents Redevelopment Council will engage 150 residents from Willard Hay and Near North neighborhoods in water protection by hosting workshops about stormwater and providing rain barrels installation support to 20 community members.
  • Tree Trust will engage more than 200 residents in learning about and taking care of trees in Hopkins, including taking steps to treat or replace ash trees threatened by emerald ash borer.
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