Bay Mini-Grants


Bay Mini-Grants are competitive awards that fund environmental restoration and education projects in the Tampa Bay watershed with a focus on community-led initiatives. This funding program stimulates environmental stewardship and science literacy among those who live, work, and play around Tampa Bay.

The maximum award is $5,000 per project. Schools, governments, nonprofits, and businesses are eligible to apply. The current application period will close on September 13, 2024.

If you have an idea for a project and you’re looking for help turning it into a competitive application, contact Jessica Lewis or submit a project concept for feedback at any time.

bay mini-grant logo

Bay Mini-Grant Details


Applicant Eligibility

Nonprofit organizations, businesses, and educational institutions are eligible to receive grant funds. Government agencies may apply if a project has strong volunteer or community involvement.  A federal employer identification number (FEID) or state tax exemption is required.  Funds will not be awarded to individuals.

Past award recipients have included nonprofits, educators, filmmakers, neighborhood associations, artists, and researchers.  Projects that are led by, empower, benefit, or engage communities that are underserved and/or overburdened are encouraged to apply. Additional potential awardees include chambers of commerce, professional associations, and other affinity groups.

Project Eligibility

Projects must be within the Tampa Bay watershed.  Applicants may submit up to two proposals, but only one proposal per organization may be awarded.  Being listed as a project partner in a different organization’s application does not preclude any organization from applying and receiving an award.

Projects must address one or more of the priorities listed in the Tampa Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP).

  1. Improve water quality and reduce contaminants of concern in the bay
  2. Increase and preserve healthy bay habitats in Tampa Bay
  3. Protect and enhance fisheries and wildlife
  4. Improve spill prevention and response
  5. Reduce the occurrence of invasive species in the bay
  6. Increase public education and involvement
  7. Improve responsible public use of the bay
  8. Improve the resiliency of bay habitats to climate change
  9. Incorporate CCMP goals and targets into local land use plans and other planning and development guidance tools

Budget Guidelines

The application must include a detailed budget.  A template and an example are available in the “Helpful Links” section below.  Everything in the budget must be directly related to the project.  Keep project deliverables in mind as you complete the Budget Worksheet.  Provide enough detail for the reviewers to understand what the funding is being requested for and how each item fits into your project.

These costs are not eligible for Bay Mini-Grant funding:

  • Administrative support of long-standing, established programs
  • Reimbursement for costs outside the grant’s scope of work
  • Purchase of commercial software and hardware
  • Contingency funds
  • Depreciation
  • Entertainment
  • Purchase or printing of clothing
  • Fines and penalties
  • Debts
  • Interest and financial costs of borrowing
  • Lobbying expenses
  • Non-native flora or fauna

Funds will not be awarded to projects on private property unless there is public access, an existing conservation easement, or the property has a direct link to Tampa Bay.

Salary costs are allowable in the budget, but salary costs above 25% of the total project budget are not considered competitive.

Food costs are only allowed for scheduled volunteer events and shall not exceed 25% of the total budget.  Reimbursement limits: $6/person for breakfast; $11/person for lunch; $19/person for dinner.  Reusable packaging is strongly encouraged.

Mileage may be reimbursed at $0.445/per mile and should not exceed 10% of total budget.

You are encouraged to include all project costs in your Budget Worksheet.  Matching funds are not required, but costs that will not be paid for with Bay Mini-Grant funds should be listed in the “Matching Funds” column and include a description of the Match Source.  Volunteer time can be represented as matching in-kind funds at a rate of $31.80/hour.

Award Amount and Selection Process

The maximum Bay Mini-Grant award is $5,000.

The selection committee is composed of members of the TBEP Community Advisory Committee.  They will provide findings to the TBEP Executive Director who will make recommendations for approval to the TBEP Management and Policy Boards .  The selection committee, TBEP staff, or Board members may make recommendations for modifications to the submitted scope of work and budget, prior to final approval by the TBEP Policy Board.  The award total may be less than the requested amount.  Refinements to the final scope of work may occur prior to executing an agreement and issuing a notice to proceed.


2025 Bay Mini-Grant Application Timeline – now accepting applications!

  • May 8, 2024: Application period opens.
  • June 11, 5:30-6:30pm, and August 1, 6-7pm: TBEP staff hold an open webinar for interested applicants.  Attendance is optional but strongly recommended.  Both webinars will provide the same information.  There is no need to attend both.
  • September 13, 5pm: Application period closes.
  • October: Selection committee meets to discuss applications.
  • November: Award recommendations are made to TBEP Management and Policy Boards.  Award notices are then sent out to applicants.

2025 Bay Mini-Grant Project Timeline

  • December 2024: Awardees will work directly with TBEP staff to finalize a scope of work and budget.  This step should be completed within two months of the award notice.  TBEP will then issue a purchase order that will function as the Notice to Proceed, and the project can begin. Projects must begin within two months of purchase order issuance.
  • January 1, 2025: Bay Mini-Grants begin.
  • March 31: First quarter ends and Quarterly Reports are due within 15 days.
  • June 30: Second quarter ends and Quarterly Reports are due within 15 days.
  • September 30: Third quarter ends and Quarterly Reports are due within 15 days.
  • December 31: Bay Mini-Grants wrap up and Final Reports are due within 30 days.

Selection Criteria

All proposals that meet the basic eligibility requirements will be evaluated based on the selection criteria outlined below.

Requirements (no points are assigned for these criteria because they must be met in order for the application to move forward in the review process)

  • Applicant is a nonprofit organization, business, educational institution, or government agency in good standing with a valid FEID or exemption
  • Project is in the Tampa Bay watershed or provides a direct benefit to the watershed
  • Project addresses one or more CCMP goals
  • The funding request is no more than $5,000
  • Complete scope of work and budget are provided
  • Only eligible and relevant costs are included in the budget
  • Application was submitted properly according to instructions

The points system described below should be used as a guideline for producing a strong application.  Many factors are considered when determining which projects will be funded each year; a high score does not guarantee that an application will receive an award.

How the Project Will Improve the Tampa Bay Watershed and Clarity of Proposal (55 points)

  • Application explicitly states how the project will address environmental restoration, enhancement, or protection, or community education (15 points)
  • Realistic and meaningful project outcomes and goals are defined (10 points)
  • Application clearly defines and describes how the project’s success will be measured (10 points)
  • A detailed budget is provided, and proposed costs are appropriate in amount and relation to the scope of work (10 points)
  • The project supports this year’s funding priority (5 points)
  • The applicant describes how they will promote the “Tarpon Tag” (Tampa Bay Estuary Specialty License Plate) (5 points)

Community Support and Ability to Execute the Project (45 points)

  • The application clearly describes how the project will enhance environmental stewardship in their target community(ies) through active participation or involvement of the community(ies) (15 points)
  • The project shows support for implementation, maintenance, and monitoring (5 points)
  • Application describes or demonstrates the ability of the applicant to complete the project, and why the applicant believes they will be successful in meeting their defined goal(s) (5 points)
  • Application clearly describes how the project engages or assists an underserved or overburdened community (as defined in the TBEP Equity Strategy, or another cited definition), or clearly addresses an issue specifically identified by an underserved or overburdened community (5 points)
  • The role of any listed project partners is described, and letters of support are included (5 points)
  • Matching funds are realistic, appropriate, and included in the project budget (5 points)
  • Applicants that have previously received a Bay Mini-Grant award describe how they will partner with and build capacity in emerging or grassroots organizations or community leaders (5 points)
  • Applicants that have not yet been awarded a Bay Mini-Grant receive a first-time application bonus (5 points)

Helpful Links

For Applicants

To see if your idea is a good fit for this grant, or to garner ideas for future projects, check out the various goals, activities, and actions listed in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Tampa Bay (CCMP) and the list of past Golden Mangrove Award winners. The Golden Mangrove is awarded to a completed Bay Mini-Grant project from the previous year that stood out among other projects.  TBEP’s Community Advisory Committee selects that award winner each year.


For Bay Mini-Grant Awardees

Past Projects


Below are highlights of past projects.  A list of previous awards can be found here.

people spreading pinestraw and planting plants in a rain garden

Sanderlin Family Neighborhood Center Demonstration Rain Garden (2022)

The League of Women Voters of the St Petersburg Area engaged dozens of local volunteers to install a demonstration rain garden at a community center.

man using tools to install a sign on a post at the beach

Using Cameras to Understand Faunal Biodiversity (2021)

Eckerd College professors and students used cameras at Pinellas County’s Fort De Soto Park to document wildlife.

Gulfport Recreation Center Rain Garden (2020)

The Gulfport Sustainability Committee volunteers installed a rain garden and educational signage about the importance of slowing down stormwater before it meets Boca Ciega Bay.

vertical oyster gardens hang rom a dock

Boca Ciega Bay Vertical Oyster Garden Project (2018)

Tampa Bay Watch staff and volunteers installed vertical oyster gardens (VOGs) to provide oyster habitat and improve water quality.

Comparative Study of Seagrass Bed Habitat (2017)

The SCUBAnauts conducted a seagrass assessment to determine if restoration was successful at a mitigation site.

tarpon tag logo

Keep Tampa Bay on the Road to Recovery

Get a Tarpon Tag! Bay Mini-Grants are supported by sales of this specialty license plate.
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