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. Applications are accepted between July and September each year.

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.

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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

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria.  This criteria may be updated ahead of the next grant application cycle.

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)
  • Project promotes Specialty License Plate through social media and/or newsletter postings (10 points)

Strength of Application (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)
  • Project success metrics are clearly outlined (5 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)
  • Include letters of support from partnering organizations (5 points)

Ability of Applicant (10 points)

  • Ability of applicant to complete proposed project is demonstrated (5 points)
  • 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)
  • Match funds enhance project justification (3 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

Zoom in on the map to view recent Bay Mini-Grant projects by clicking on the colored pins.  The red line on the map shows the Tampa Bay watershed border.

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.

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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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