The Natural Resources Council of Maine’s Sustainable Maine program encourages individuals, communities, and the state to adopt practical, effective measures that conserve and protect our natural resources. To help advance sustainable community initiatives throughout the state, we are offering two types of seed grants for schools, organized committees, and start-up groups to help them reach their goals.
- NRCM’s School Sustainability Seed Grant encourages schools to adopt innovative, practical, effective measures to reduce school waste. This grant program helps schools give the next generation the tools, knowledge, and skills to divert food waste and single-use plastics from the landfill. We strongly encourage all applicants to first download NRCM's School Food Recovery Handbook for more information and resources.
- NRCM's Community Sustainability Seed Grant exists to support local nonprofits and other community groups in their efforts to reduce waste and improve sustainability in their neighborhoods. Previous projects include publicity/signage for waste reduction campaigns, educational documentary screenings, community garden supplies, reusables for economically disadvantaged community members, etc.
For this year’s grant program, there were three deadlines for funding requests to be reviewed by our staff: applications for projects in the fall-winter seasons were due by September 30 or December 16, 2022. Applications for projects in the spring-summer seasons were due by February 24, 2023. After the deadline, grant applicants should expect to be notified about their status within three weeks.
Seed grants are not to exceed $2,000. We have limited funds available for projects, so requests will be considered if they meet the following criteria:
- Relevance to NRCM’s Sustainable Maine Program; initiative must contribute to a sustainable community
- Strength of the group’s organizing skills; demonstrated ability to carry out the project plan
- Need for funding to reach the goals of the sustainability initiative
For community initiatives, preference will be given to sustainability initiatives undertaken by start-up groups (less than two years in existence) or mature organizations if the initiative itself is new (less than one year in the making).
Highlights from Past Seed Grant Recipients
- Bring Your Own Bag Midcoast is a robust group of local activists in Brunswick and Topsham who were successful in banning foam food containers and regulating single-use disposable bags. NRCM’s seed grant funds were used to purchase reusable cloth bags for distribution to needy families and children, and to print and pay postage for postcards to Topsham residents urging them to come to the annual town meeting. Brunswick's Town Council voted to ban foam food containers and plastic bags. Topsham’s voters banned foam food containers and supported a fee on plastic and paper shopping bags.
- Presque Isle Community Garden creates and maintains a sustainable community garden for predominantly low-income and underserved persons living at the Presque Isle Housing Authority and others living in the community. NRCM's seed grant was used for expanding the community garden infrastructure through the purchase of a new rain barrel, seeds, corner brackets, and cedar lumber for the construction of raised beds.
- Food Fuels Learning’s Sustainable Practices Action Group is a diverse group composed of schoolteachers, administrators, nonprofits, waste service providers, parents, and community members. Together, they partnered with the Portland Public Schools’ Nutrition Department and Facilities Department to explore the costs and opportunities of switching from single-use plastic cutlery to reusable silverware at Rowe Elementary School. NRCM’s seed grant was used to purchase reusable silverware and additional supplies. For more information about this project, check out our Rowe Elementary School silverware pilot project case study.
Request Application for NRCM Sustainability Seed Grant
Use this form to request an application for either a School or Community Sustainability Seed Grant
Thank you for your interest in NRCM's Sustainability Seed Grant Program! As you prepare to complete the official grant application, please consider the following questions:
- Does your project address challenges in reducing waste at the source; implementing reusables; beginning or maintaining recycling and/or food waste recovery programs; providing education; and/or increasing accessibility for sustainability programs for your school/local community?
- What is the goal of your project?
- Roughly how much funding will be needed and what will the funds be used to purchase?
- Which individuals or groups will be involved in your project?
- What progress has been made so far, and how can NRCM provide additional in-kind support?
- What is the timeline for completing this project?