Community Engagement Mini Grant Program

Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Grant amount: Up to US $5,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit Government Entity

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Maryland

Location of residency: Maryland

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About this funder:



NOTE: This program runs annually; we begin accepting applications at the start of June every year.

Requests for this Mini Grant Program are accepted on an on-going basis until funds are fully expended for the fiscal year. 

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit grant-making organization dedicated to improving the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers through environmental education, community outreach, and local watershed restoration. Since its inception in 1985, the Trust has awarded $80 million in grants and engaged hundreds of thousands of citizen stewards in projects that have a measurable impact on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. 

The Trust is supported by the sale of the Maryland Treasure the Chesapeake license plate, donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form, donations from individuals and corporations, and partnerships with private foundations and federal and state agencies. Ninety percent of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its Chesapeake Bay restoration and education programs.

Mini Grants for Community Engagement

The Mini Grants Program for Community Engagement is designed to engage Maryland residents in activities that enhance communities, engage residents, and improve natural resources.

Program Goals & Importance of Inclusion

Through this funding opportunity, the Trust seeks to engage new applicants and organizations from a diverse array of communities in small-scale projects that enhance communities, engage residents, and, ultimately, improve natural resources.

One of the Trust’s core values is Inclusion: We feel that a broad range of communities can benefit from healthy natural resources, even if their primary focus is on other issues. Human health, the economy, jobs, community livability, education and our children are all connected with a healthy environment.

As a result, the Trust is investing in grants through this Grant Opportunity primarily to new (for example: communities of color) applicants who have yet to frequently engage with the Trust. Our goals are:

  • To provide funding to groups that have traditionally been under-engaged with environmental issues, but who have a project idea that benefits both their communities and natural resources (such as local parks, rural or urban forests, streams, rivers, and other natural spaces)
  • To engage residents in community-based restoration and protection
  • To provide to applicants who may not be experienced in applying for grants an introduction to the grant lifecycle

The Trust is committed to the advancement of diversity and inclusion in its grant-making and environmental work. As a result, the Trust strongly encourages grant applications directly from underrepresented groups and for projects that increase awareness and participation of communities that are traditionally underrepresented, such as communities of color.

Sample Eligible Projects

The Trust encourages projects that seek to accomplish multiple benefits, such as meeting community goals and improving environmental health. This objective can be met through applications from organizations new to environmental work, groups engaging audiences through on-the-ground work, and new creative partnerships. We are willing to fund elements of projects that may not have a primarily environmental purpose but that have an ultimate connection or potential to improve natural resources.

Example ideal goals of a project proposed through this grant program may be (but are not limited to):

  • Educating residents about the connection between their communities and natural resources such as wildlife, local water bodies, local parks, or trees;
  • Involving new or under-engaged groups, connecting their goals with the goal to improve or protect natural resources
  • Engaging residents in community-based restoration and protection projects and encouraging behavior changes that benefit environmental health;
  • Promoting collaborative restoration solutions among multiple partners;
  • Encouraging organizations, when pursuing natural resource projects, to engage the communities in which they work.

Eligible projects types include (but are not limited to):

  • Projects that capture rain water and improve wildlife habitat such as pollinator habitat plantings and rain gardens;
  • Community greening projects, such as tree plantings, which have been shown to beautify communities, improve health via air quality improvement, save money due to energy reduction value of shade, and lead to reduced crime, as well as improve stormwater;
  • Community clean-ups that benefit both communities and local waterways;
  • Community gardens that combine a water quality practice, lessons about local food, and education about natural resources;
  • Projects that combine art with an increased awareness of stormwater issues, such as storm drain stenciling or rain barrel installations;
  • Projects that educate and get residents outdoors, which have been shown to improve human health.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Organizations must be one of the following types:
    • 501(c)3 Private Nonprofit Organizations;
    • Faith-based organizations;
    • Community Associations;
    • Service and Civic Groups;
    • Municipal, County, Regional, State, Federal Public Agencies;
  • Only applicants who have received three grants or fewer from the Trust in the past are eligible to apply. 
  • Applications are particularly encouraged from organizations who have never received a grant from the Trust.


  • This grant program does not fund the following:
    • Projects and programs located outside of the state of Maryland;
    • Indirect costs;
    • Endowments, building campaigns, annual giving, or venture capital;
    • Mitigation or capital construction activities such as structural erosion control measures;
    • Political lobbying;
    • Reimbursement for a project that has been completed or materials that have been purchased.
  • This grant program does not support applications for school related projects or requests for sponsorships for conferences or events