Community environmental grants available to nonprofits

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Community Partners on Waste Education and Reduction (POWER) is offering approximately 18 grants of up to $12,000 — from a total pool of $216,000 — to help metro-area nonprofit groups engage their communities in environmental projects.

According to the selection criteria, projects must focus on reducing the amount of waste residents generate, the toxicity of that waste, or both; and they should include both action and education components. An example is an Early Childhood Family Education program in which kids and parents learned about how wasteful paper and plastic bags are and then decorated their own reusable bags, said project manager Ami Voeltz. Projects also need to focus primarily on changing behavior of residents, rather a business or other organization.

The most successful programs, Voeltz said, make use of what organizations already do. For example, the Raptor Center, at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, incorporates information about the danger lead and toxins into their presentations. Voeltz pointed out that schools have special access to families, exemplified by an Edina school that created low-waste classrooms and gave tours to families, who made pledges to make changes at home, she said.

Community POWER also aims to work with “non-environmental” groups and reach audiences that might not otherwise be exposed to reasons and ways to reduce waste. Environmental groups are invited to work with other groups to reach new audiences.

Eligible applicants include 501(c3) nonprofits, public and private K–12 schools and school-district sponsored programs, and past grantees. Bridge-area organizations and neighborhoods that have been awarded grants in the past include Longfellow Seward Healthy Seniors, Southeast Seniors, the Midtown Market, Longfellow, Southeast Como and Seward.

The deadline to submit letters of interest is March 16. Interested groups should talk about their ideas with a Community POWER project manager before applying. Contact Ami Voeltz at amivoeltz@comcast.net or (612)345-7973 or Jen Aspergren at jaspergren@visi.com or (612)724-1200.

For more information, visit www.rethinkrecycling.com/grants.

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