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, recycle, reduce household hazardous waste, conserve energy, protect pollinators, and improve our air and water quality.

The Green Partners program consists of four groups with varying levels of support and requirements. The Green Partners program also includes environmental education networking opportunities and a newsletter featuring environmental education events and resources.

Expand all information

Environmental education grants and program evaluation

The Green Partners environmental education grants program provides funding, training and support to organizations to implement projects that motivate residents to take action to protect the environment. Grants are awarded in two groups - Branch and Root. 

Over the past five years, we have worked with 133 grantees and awarded more than $1.3 million in grant funding. These projects have successfully engaged audiences throughout Hennepin County in learning about and taking action to reduce waste, recycle, reduce household hazardous waste, conserve energy, protect pollinators, and improve our air and water quality.

Program evaluation

We recently concluded an evaluation 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. 

The evaluation process and public engagement findings

Through the evaluation, we heard from current and past grantees, past applicants, community groups, grant managers from other programs, and Hennepin County staff. 

Feedback was collected through surveys, a public meeting, interviews with organizations that we don’t currently have a relationship with, and staff meetings. Staff also reviewed and collected information from program records and grantee project reports.

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.

Recommended changes and follow-up survey

Through the evaluation, we identified about 20 changes to make to the Green Partners program. Review all of the recommended changes (PDF).

Then, tell us what you think by answering our short seven question survey. The survey will be open until Friday, June 22, 2018. 

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 late spring or early summer 2018. Sign up for the Green Partners newsletter to be notified when grants are being accepted.

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

Grants for organics recycling outreach

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.

 Participating organizations

The following community groups are receiving funding in 2018 to engage their audiences in learning about and participating in organics recycling programs:

  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association will engage 500 residents in the Cleveland, Folwell and Jordan Neighborhoods, focusing their outreach to people of color, renters and youth. They will table at events, conduct workshops for the block leaders and do monthly door-knocking.
  • Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group will engage 500 neighbors by training block leaders on residential curbside organics collection, participating in the annual neighborhood celebration and holding composting cafés. They will also engage youth in making a video on organics recycling and promote their activities through social media.
  • Kingfield Neighborhood Association will engage 390 residents in the Kingfield neighborhood. They will focus on training block leaders who will lead engagement on the block-level as well as at community events. They will have home-based events, outdoor events and three workshops to train the block leaders.
  • Linden Hills Power and Light will engage 300 residents in project activities in Linden Hills and four neighborhoods in Northeast Minneapolis – Bottineau, Holland, Logan Park and Sheridan. Building on past efforts and success in Linden Hills, they will apply the same outreach model in Northeast Minneapolis by recruiting block leaders established through city programs. They will train block leaders through a workshop and table at events to encourage sign-ups for residential organics recycling.
  • Lyndale Neighborhood Association will engage 750 residents in project activities in the Lyndale and Bryant neighborhoods through peer-to-peer mentorship, an organics resource fair, and learning labs. They will also conduct outreach to the Somali and Latino communities.
  • Northside Residents Redevelopment Council will engage 150 residents in the Near North and Willard Hay neighborhoods through workshops, youth engagement and block leaders. They will have some outreach focused specifically on reaching Hispanic and Somali communities.
  • Recycling Association of Minnesota will engage 150 residents in project activities in St. Louis Park. They will provide residents with information, education, tools and resources through neighborhood and community events and follow up workshops.


Applications are not being accepted at this time.

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.

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

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 about once a quarter.

Dates for 2018 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 fall 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

May 2018

In this issue

  • Recommended changes to the Green Partners environmental education grants program
  • Options for managing ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer: new website and education materials available
  • Hopkins wins metro and state Envirothon to advance to nationals 
  • Grant opportunities: MPCA Environmental Assistance Grants
  • Environmental education resources 
    • Youth recycling education kit now available
    • New articles on hosting a green graduation party, living green at the cabin, the 3 Rs of furniture, and cleaning up litter
  • Events and training opportunities
    • SciGirls training on gender equitable STEM teaching
    • Last change to register for the AASHE Sustainability, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workshop
    • U of M Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative webinar series
  • Green Partners project highlights
    • Black Storytellers Alliance
    • Cycles for Change


Sign up!

Sign up to receive the Green Partners e-newsletter.

Collapse all information