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DNR mini grants to help get children outside early and often (published October 25, 2021)

Apply starting Dec. 2 for funding aimed to increase outdoor experience, education and stewardship

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is excited to announce the availability of mini grants through the extremely popular No Child Left Inside Grant Program. These grants help more children cast a line, study animal tracks, hike or bike, or simply learn more about nature.

“We’ve had a great response to the first couple phases of the grant program and we’re excited to be able to continue to support getting more kids outdoors,” said Jeff Ledermann, DNR education and skills team supervisor. “These mini grants are here to boost outdoor programs and initiatives all around the state, especially in communities with limited opportunities to connect with nature.”

Public entities and non-profit organizations serving youth under age 18 are able to apply for mini grants. A total of $200,000 is available for programs all around Minnesota. The minimum request is $500 and the maximum is $5,000. Future phases of the grant program will have larger grant awards with more extensive application and review processes.

Applications can be submitted starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2, and awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis. The application period will close once all the money is awarded. All the reimbursable grant project work must be completed by June 30, 2023.

The 2019 Minnesota Legislature authorized the No Child Left Inside Grant program, which supported 59 mini grants that reached over 12,000 youth, as well as funding  dozens of larger grants, many of which are still in progress. The 2021 Minnesota Legislature provided an additional appropriation of $900,000 to continue this work.  

Funding can be used for outdoor recreation equipment, transportation and related natural resource education expenses. Successful grants will:

  • Be distributed in a way that ensures statewide impact
  • Provide students direct experiences and understanding of nature
  • Use research-based, effective environmental, ecological, agricultural or other natural-resource-based educational curriculum
  • Maximize the number of participants
  • Serve children with limited opportunities to outdoor activities
  • Use public parks and other natural resource venues and personnel as resources
  • Commit matching funds or in-kind support.

For more information on the grant program and a link to the application, visit