Funded by revenues from the Tarpon Tag plate sales, Bay Mini-Grants are competitive awards (up to $5,000) to community organizations for projects that address restoration and education priorities in Tampa Bay. To achieve Tampa Bay Estuary Program goals, specific topics are announced annually. Projects which address the targeted theme are prioritized for funding. The Bay Mini-Grant funding program empowers community scientists, promotes environmental ethics, and stimulates community stewardship of Tampa Bay.

Bay Mini-Grant Applications are accepted each year between July-September.

Do you have a project idea, but need help transforming it into a competitive project or do you simply want more information? Contact TBEP Community Programs Scientist, Sheila Scolaro. Interested applicants are also encouraged to submit a project concept (accepted on a rolling basis).

The Bay Mini-Grant program has funded projects all throughout the Tampa Bay watershed. Use the map to learn more about previous projects and to find inspiration for your own.

Bay Mini-Grant Information


Money Available

The Bay Mini-Grants Program is financed by annual sales of the Tampa Bay Estuary specialty license plate, also known as the “Tarpon Tag“. The Program is seeking individual proposals for amounts not exceeding $5,000.

Grant monies are typically dispensed through reimbursement of expenses related to the grant project. Reimbursement can be made as often as once per month, and must be accompanied by an invoice and documentation of expenditures. Other grant dispersal methods will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Application Timeline

Applications for Bay Mini-Grants are accepted July to September each year. Grant announcements will be made in mid-December. To stay up to date on the next round of funding sign up for our Email List.

Who can apply?

Groups and organizations from Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Polk, and Pinellas counties may apply. Funds will be dispersed through contracts. Both non-profit and for-profit organizations are eligible.

What kind of projects will be funded?

Projects must address an action or activity in the TBEP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Each year, a different Action is prioritized for funding. Priority Actions will be announced in July each year.

Applicants should use the Criteria for Competitive Applications document to aid proposal development.

Grant Eligibility
  • Organizations must be within the Tampa Bay Watershed, which includes Pinellas, Manatee, Hillsborough, and parts of Pasco counties.
  • Both for-profits and nonprofits are eligible to receive grant funds. Bay Mini-Grants are not designed to be a funding source of government projects, however, governments may apply if a project has strong volunteer or community involvement and supports the spirit of the program.
  • A federal employer identification number (FEID) or state tax exemption is required for issuance of a purchase order for disbursement of grant funds.  Funds will not be awarded to individuals.
  • Applicants may submit as many proposals as they like, however, only one proposal per applicant/organization may be awarded.
  • Proposals for the same project will be funded no more than two-times in a 5-year period.
  • If awarded, Bay Mini-Grant funding can only be used for items listed on the approved budget and purchased after the purchase order start date.

To be eligible for funding, applicants MUST submit a project scope of work and budget to an online form. Templates for these document are available at Emailed applications will not be reviewed.

What won't be funded?

Proposals seeking funds for ongoing administrative support of established programs will not receive consideration. Costs not allowed include: 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. Grant funds will not fund projects on private residential property, unless there is public access, a conservation easement established, or the property has a direct link to Tampa Bay.

Food costs are allowed for scheduled volunteer events.  Per person costs must include items such as drinks, utensils, etc.  Food/meals not associated with a scheduled event will not be reimbursed.  Use of reusable/compostable packaging is strongly encouraged to decrease consumption of single-use plastics.

Food cost shall not exceed: 

  • $6/per person for breakfast; 
  • $11/per person for lunch; 
  • 10% of total budget.

Local mileage will be reimbursed at $.445/per mile and not exceed 10% of grant total budget. Food and mileage costs stated above based on Florida State Statute, Section 112.061.

Salary costs are allowed, but must be less than 10% of the total requested budget.

Are matching funds required?

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

Independent Sector currently values volunteer time at $31.80 per hour.

Selection Criteria

Proposals submitted to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program will be evaluated according to the following criteria.

Program content will be evaluated for:

  • Strength of Proposal (30 points)
    • Project clearly addresses one or more of the CCMP priorities (10 points);
    • Applicant describes realistic and meaningful project outcomes (10 points);
    • Project goals are clearly defined (5 points); and,
    • Project success metrics are clearly outlined (5 points).

    Ability of Applicant (10 points)

    • Ability of applicant to complete proposed project is demonstrated (5 points); and
    • Project  is located on community-owned, public-owned, or conservation easement  (5 points).

    Cost Justification (10 points)

    • A project budget is included in application packet (3 points);
    • Budget is detailed and costs are appropriate to scope of work (4 points); and,
    • Match funds enhance project justification (3 points).

    Demonstration of How Project Will Improve Tampa Bay (30 points);

    • Narrative explicitly states how project will target bay issues (10 points);
    • Project provides measurable benefits to restoration, enhancement, or protection (10 points); and,
    • Project promotes Specialty License Plate through social media and/or newsletter postings (10 points).

    Demonstration of Community Support (20 points)

    • Project shows long-term support for implementation, maintenance, and monitoring (5 points);
    • Project enhances community stewardship through hands-on participation or involvement (10 points); and,
    • Include letters of support from partnering organizations (5 points).
Selection Process

A selection committee composed of members of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Community Advisory Committee will review each proposal. Findings will be forwarded to TBEP Executive Director and presented to the  Management and Policy Boards for final approval. 

Based on input from the TBEP Community Advisory Committee and TBEP Policy Board, TBEP may modify the proposed scope of work before the issuance of a purchase order.    After both TBEP and the applicant have agreed upon a scope of work, the applicant will be issued a purchase order and can begin working on their project immediately (project period details below).

  • September: Applications deadline
  • December: Grant decisions announced
  • January:  Projects begin
  • December: Projects completed
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