School Forest Outdoor Learning Grant

collage of four images of students learning outside.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to assist Minnesota School Forest sites to improve, increase, or create outdoor learning for students during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Applicants can request up to $500. There is no minimum request. The total amount of grant funds is $20,000. Approximately 50 grants will be awarded. No match is required.

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must:

  • Be a designated Minnesota School Forest site.
  • Have used the School Forest in the past three years, as shown in the school's annual report

Eligible projects include but are not limited to:

  • Materials for outdoor classrooms including weather protective coverings (tarps, tents, awnings, shelter, etc.) and outdoor seating
  • Educational tools such as magnifying lenses, binoculars, diameter tapes, field guides, etc.
  • Contract for environmental education assistance, speakers, or teacher mentors from nature centers, naturalists, environmental education centers, etc.
  • Bussing costs to School Forest location
  • Weather protective gear for students
  •  Outdoor recreational equipment including snowshoes and cross country skis

Application requirements

Applicants must:

  • Address how the request will increase outdoor learning for students.
  • Show the ability to implement the materials or project by June 1, 2021.
  • Plan sustainability of project outcomes. Document the success of the completed project with students or outdoor learning outcomes.
  • Documentation can include photos, articles, student quotes, or written statements.


Feb. 10 2021

School Forest Outdoor Learning Grants announced to the public.
Grant application materials available.
Application period beings.

Feb. 25, 2021

Application period ends. Eligible projects are reviewed and rated.

March 5, 2021

Applicants receive notification if successful or not.
Awardees complete necessary forms, sign and return grant agreements. Project work can not begin until awardee receives executed agreement from DNR.

June 1, 2021

All reimbursable grant project work must be completed.

June 30, 2021

Deadline to submit all expense reimbursements and final project report.

How to Apply

Review the grant request for proposals and submit a completed grant application any time before the application deadline of 4:30 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. 

DNR staff will follow up with you once your application is reviewed. Applications will not be reviewed until after the application deadline. If you are awarded a grant, you will be notified regarding next steps.

To complete the application, download the grant application and save it to your computer. Open it in Acrobat Pro or Acrobat Reader to complete the application. Email the completed application to: [email protected]


Is an outhouse eligible?
Yes, having a bathroom on site can help more teachers feel comfortable taking trips to the site, especially at School Forests located a distance from the school.
We would like to purchase gravel for creating easier access along a swampy trail entrance. Is that eligible?
The school should work with their DNR forester to ensure the project is appropriate and the school should have a proper timeline for the project.

Questions may be submitted by phone or email to Karen Harrison at [email protected]. All answers will be posted within two business days on this page. Please submit questions no later than 4:30 p.m. Central Time, on Feb. 21, 2021.