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, conserve energy, and protect air and water quality.

The Green Partners program consists of four groups with varying levels of support and requirements.

  • Branch Group: Receive up to $20,000 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.
  • Grow Group: Pilot program in which participating organizations attend training and then develop a project plan to engage their audience in organics recycling.
  • Seed Group: Receive free field trip transportation and activity supplies.

The Green Partners program also includes environmental education networking opportunities and a newsletter featuring environmental education events and resources.

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Apply for Branch and Root grants

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 $20,000 to engage at least 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 projects use existing environmental education resources, like Hennepin County environmental education activity guides and learning trunks, or implement a new project that motivates people to take action.

Root groups may be awarded up to $8,000 to engage at least 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 for the next round of Green Partners Root and Branch grants will be accepted in the fall. Sign up for the Green Partners newsletter to be notified when grants are being accepted. The following are the grant documents from the spring 2017 grant round for reference.

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.

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.

More information

Get information about funding requirements, receive feedback, and learn tips to fill out an application by contacting the Green Partners program manager, Patience Caso, at Information meetings for the next grant round will be scheduled for September and/or early October with applications due in mid-to-late October 2017.

Green Partners Grow pilot organics outreach grant program

Hennepin County is conducting a pilot project with the goal of increasing participation in residential organics recycling programs through peer-to-peer outreach. Participating organizations will receive training, funding and environmental education resources to conduct a project in their communities.

Program set up

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.

Eligible organizations

Eligible organizations include registered nonprofit organizations such as community groups, neighborhood groups, youth organizations, faith-based organizations, and community education programs in cities where a citywide organics recycling program is available to all residents. These cities are Loretto, Maple Plain, Medicine Lake, Medina, Minneapolis, St. Bonifacius, St. Louis Park and Wayzata.


Applications to participate in the Green Partners Grow program were due August 11, 2017.

The application form gathers information about your organization’s interest in participating, experience with your audience, and organizational capacity to attend training and develop and carry out a project plan.

Learn more

See the Green Partners Grow flyer (PDF) to learn more about program guidelines and requirements. If you have questions, contact Jessica Arika at or 612-348-3025 or attend an information meeting.

Information meetings are a chance to get more information about the program and tips for completing your application. Meetings are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, July 25 from 10 a.m. to noon at the St. Louis Park library in the meeting room
  • Tuesday, July 25, 2017 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Webber Park library in the Victory Memorial Meeting Room

RSVPs are appreciated but not required. RSVP to Jessica Arika at or 612-348-3025.

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, and reusable bags.

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

August networking meeting: trees and forestry field trip

The August networking meeting will be an opportunity to learn about all things trees during a tour of tree planting and forestry sites. Topics covered will include tree planting, tree care, tree identification and emerald ash borer.

  • Date:Tuesday, August 22, 2017
  • Time: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Location:The tour will start and end at Fort Snelling State Park, 101 Snelling Lake Road, St Paul, MN 55111, with stops at the Jordan Tree Orchard and the North High School gravel-bed nursery in north Minneapolis

Bus transportation to and from Fort Snelling State Park, light breakfast refreshments, and lunch will be provided. Free parking will be available at Fort Snelling State Park with a Hennepin County Green Partners sign provided at the meeting.


Networking meetings are open to the public. RSVP is required to Patience Caso at or 612-348-9352. A more detailed schedule for the day and transit/parking instructions will be provided after you RSVP.

June networking meeting: environmental education for youth

The June networking meeting featured a presentation of the results from the Envisioning the Future of Environmental Education for Youth conversations and survey that were conducted in fall 2016. This project gathered information from our partners on how we collectively define environmental education, what the most important benefits of and barriers to environmental education are, and what strategies should be pursued. Meeting attendees then provided their feedback on the results and next steps.

If you were not able to attend the meeting but would still like to provide feedback, review the results presentation (PDF) then take the survey.

Green Partners 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.

Future topics for 2017 networking meetings will be:

  • Summer: youth environmental education, including a summary of feedback gathered from conversations and a survey conducted in 2016 and a discussion about next steps
  • Fall: trees and forestry, including an introduction to new environmental education activities and resources about trees
  • Winter: food waste and organics recycling

Dates for these networking meetings are to be determined. Check back for details or sign up for the Green Partners e-newsletter to receive updates.

Information for current Branch and Root grantees

The following is important information and documents for current Green Partners Branch and Root grantees.

Reports and materials for projects starting spring 2017

Reporting documents


Presentations and documents from orientation

Reports and materials for projects starting spring 2017

Reporting documents


Presentations and documents from orientation

Additional information

Recently awarded grants

Hennepin County awarded grants to 11 organizations in August 2017 to engage their audiences in taking action to protect the environment. The groups will engage more than 3,700 residents in reducing waste, recycling, organics recycling, composting, conserving energy, improving air and water quality, and protecting pollinators. 

Branch group awards

  • Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy: $20,000 to engaged 1,000 youth from high school green teams in Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins and Minneapolis in developing projects at their schools to reduce waste, improve recycling, conserve energy, protect pollinators and improve air quality.
  • Congregations Caring for Creation/Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light: $20,000 to engage 700 youth from congregations in Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Plymouth amd Osseo to promote waste reduction, recycling, energy conservation, and water protection in their congregations.
  • Freshwater Society: $20,000 to engage 160 residents in northern and western Hennepin County in protecting water by training and supporting Master Water Stewards in four watersheds that are not currently involved in the Master Water Stewards program.
  • Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota: $19,900 to engage 150 southeast Asian immigrants, refugees, and youth in Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs in recycling and reducing household hazardous waste through a train-the-trainer program.
  • Minneapolis Area Synod: $20,000 to engage 200 middle and high school youth, college students, and congregation members in Bloomington, Maple Grove, Minneapolis and Plymouth to learn about a variety of environmental issues. 
  • Robbinsdale Early Childhood Family Education Program: $8,000 to engage 600 families in waste reduction, recycling, and household hazardous waste reduction activities.
  • Spark Youth: $18,000 to work with 210 youth from Northeast Middle School in Minneapolis in waste reduction, recycling, composting, and water and pollinator protection activities.

Root group awards

  • Minneapolis Public Schools: $7,100 to work with 150 students at Roosevelt High School in reducing waste and protecting water and pollinators through their urban farming program.
  • Move Minneapolis: $7,800 to engage 150 employees of a medium-to-large downtown Minneapolis workplaces in protecting air quality and conserving energy by mentoring downtown commuters in making changes to their routines and increase the use of transit, bicycling, and walking.
  • Orono Public Schools: $4,700 to engage 285 sixth grade math students, their families, and 35 high school environmental science students in researching, analyzing, and improving recycling and reducing waste at school and at home.
  • Twin Cities Public Television: $8,000 to pilot a summer Sci-Girls program at Hennepin County libraries that will engage 150 educators and 8 to 12 year old youth from Minneapolis in waste reduction, recycling, and environmental education.

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

April 2017

In this issue

  • Apply for environmental education grants
  • Focus on preventing food waste with the Save the Food campaign
  • Teams of students can sign up to compete in the Envirothon
  • New environmental education resources
    • School reuse and cleanout day guide
    • New articles available on recycling, reuse and protecting water
    • New brochure: emerald ash borer and options for managing ash trees
  • Events and training opportunities
    • Green Partners networking meeting: waste in Hennepin County – how low can we go?
    • Hazardous waste collection events
    • Nature-based learning conference
    • Project Learning Tree curriculum training
    • Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day
    • City cleanups
    • Rain barrel distribution events
    • Resilient yard workshops
  • Green Partners project updates
    • National Park Teen Ambassador Program seeks participants
    • Highpoint Center for Printmaking summer camp and art gallery
    • Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light empowers youth to lead on climate action
    • Alliance for Sustainability fosters lake-friendly neighborhoods
    • Cool Planet works with schools and families on climate change and organics recycling
    • Climate Generation empowers students to lead projects in their schools and communities



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