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 next application period will open on May 8, 2024 and close on September 13, 2024.

If you have an idea for a project and you’re looking for helping 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

Any nonprofit organization, business, or educational institution that has a tax identification number (EIN or FEID) or state tax exemption documentation is eligible to receive grant funds. Government agencies may apply if a project has strong volunteer or community involvement. 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, which includes parts of Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

Applicants may submit multiple applications, but only one grant per organization may be awarded.

Projects must address one or more of the priorities listed in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Tampa Bay (CCMP). How the project will address the CCMP goals that are listed in the application must be clearly laid out in the scope of work.

CCMP Goals:

  • Water and Sediment Quality
  • Bay Habitats
  • Dredging and Dredged Material Management
  • Fish and Wildlife
  • Spill Prevention and Response
  • Invasive Species
  • Public Sccess
  • Public Education and Involvement
  • Local Implementation
  • Climate Change

Projects that support the following actions are strongly encouraged to apply for the 2024 Bay Mini-Grant:

  • Mangrove planting (BH-X)
  • Promote public involvement in bay restoration and protection (PE-1)
  • Promote public education about key issues affecting Tampa Bay (PE-2)

Budget Eligibility

The application must include a detailed budget. A template and an example will be available in the “Helpful Links” section below. Each item in the budget must be related to the project.

Food cost shall not exceed 10% of total budget. Food costs are only allowed for scheduled volunteer events. Reimbursement limits: $6/per person for breakfast; $11/per person for lunch. Reusable packaging is strongly encouraged.

Mileage may be reimbursed at $.445/per mile and should not exceed 10% of total budget. Salary costs should not exceed 10% of the total budget.

Matching funds are not required, but applications showing matching fund commitment through in-kind services such as volunteer hours are encouraged.

Budget Restrictions

Costs not allowed include: ongoing administrative support of 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 T-shirts or other clothing, fines and penalties, bad debts, interest and financial costs of borrowing, attendance at conferences and meetings, lobbying expenses.

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.

Award Amount and Selection Process

The Bay Mini-Grant maximum 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 to the TBEP Management and Policy Boards for approval.

The selection committee, TBEP staff, or Board members may make recommendations for modifications to the submitted scope of work and budget. The award total may be less than the requested amount.


Details for this year’s application period should be reviewed for specific dates once the application period is open. The timeline below is a generic timeline that’s followed every year.

  • July: Application period opens.
  • September: Application period closes.
  • December: Awardees are announced.
  • January 1: Bay Mini-Grants begin.
  • April, July, and October: Quarterly Progress Reports are due.
  • December 31: Projects wrap up, and Final Reports are due shortly after.

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 eligible
    • 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 </= $5,000
    • 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 CCMP priority(ies): XYZ (5 points)
  • The applicant clearly described 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 the ability of the applicant to complete the project is clearly demonstrated, 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 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 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 brief descriptions of recent Golden Mangrove Award-winning 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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