CERTs Seed Grants

Catalyzing Grants for Communities



Thanks so much to everyone who applied for a CERTs seed grant. We appreciate your time and effort in applying. 

By December 3, all applicants will be notified of funding decisions. Thank you for your patience as our Steering Committees review applications and meet to determine project funding.


Video About CERTs Seed Grants

Seed Grant Request for Funding Details

Important Dates: By December 3, 2021, all applicants will be notified of funding decisions. Projects may start work in early December 2021 and must be completed by January 6, 2023.

Primary Objectives:

  • Encourage community-based clean energy projects in each Minnesota CERT region. Clean energy projects can include projects such as: energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy, electric vehicle-related projects, and energy storage.
  • Spur projects that are highly visible in their community and can be replicated by others
  • Provide an opportunity for community education about clean energy and its many benefits

Regional Funding Availability for 2022: Each region has its own pool of funding: $30,000 per region. Each regional CERT Steering Committee will make the funding selections for its region. See map of regions. Funding for these projects is provided through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.

Amounts: These are considered seed grants. Projects have historically received funding for amounts between $2,000 and $5,000. There are usually more requests than funds available.

Eligible Costs: CERTs seed grants can be used for labor and minor materials and supplies. They cannot pay for equipment.

Get Support: Wherever you are with your project idea, you can contact us. Staff are available to assist you throughout your project including with completing your initial application. Start by contacting the coordinator for your region of Minnesota.

Seed Grant Timeline:

  • July 7, 2021 - CERTs Issues RFP and begins accepting applications.
  • July 7 - October 8, 2021 - CERTs staff available to assist applicants with seed grant ideas, questions and applications.
  • October 8, 2021 at 4pm - Final deadline for applications.
  • October 11 - November 12, 2021 - Steering Committees review applications and meet to determine project funding.
  • November 19 - December 3, 2021 - CERTs notifies all applicants of funding decisions.
  • Early December 2021 - Organizations will receive an email notifying them when they can begin work.
  • Early January 2022 - Public announcement of awards; CERTs does media outreach about funded projects.
  • June 1, 2022 at 4pm - Project interim report due. Projects may also submit an interim invoice for up to 50% of the full project award. Any project that has not begun work may have funding revoked. Funds will be redirected to other project(s) in the region.
  • January 6, 2023 at 4pm - Final Invoice and Final Report are due. Project work must be completed.
  • January - July 2023 - CERTs will work with Seed Grant Recipients to develop project case studies.

See All Details in Official Request for Proposals (RFP)

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligible applicants include but are not limited to: nonprofit organizations, community-based organizations, local governments, tribal nations, schools, libraries, civic associations, religious institutions, service clubs, student groups, business associations, cooperatives, food shelves, shelters, and for profit entities if the project has a larger public purpose. The project must take place in Minnesota (and/or on tribal land within the boundaries of Minnesota).

Yes. Applicants may apply for more than one seed grant. However, because there are limited funds available in each region, you may not receive funding for more than one project.

Eligible costs include labor and minor materials and supplies.

  • Examples of eligible labor costs include: consultant fees, design professional fees, electrician costs, installer costs, student interns, or participation incentives.
  • Eligible material and supply costs include: printing, postage, office materials and supplies to conduct outreach and education, training and registration fees, mileage (at approved state rates). 

Not eligible: capital costs, or substantial equipment and hardware. 

Feel free to contact rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org with specific questions.

Equipment and hardware refers to items which, in total, would cost over $5,000. For example, inverters or solar panels which are part of a solar system are considered equipment costs for which the whole system costs over $5,000. Even if the seed grant would not pay for the whole system, these are not eligible.

Materials and supplies could include, for example, small-scale supplies such as basic tools, wiring or fasteners less than $200 for an educational display. 

Labor, minor materials, and supplies CAN be funded by a CERTs seed grant.

Capital costs, equipment, and hardware CANNOT be funded by a CERTs seed grant.

If applying to multiple regions you must request the Multiple-Regions Application Addendum from Lissa Pawlisch at 612-624-2293 as described in the Official RFP. You will indicate and provide information about the project work and activities in each region in the Addendum.

We will accept a variety of forms of documentation of project partner involvement. This request is not intended to burden applicants. Instead, we simply want to confirm that any partners listed on an application are indeed aware that they are included on the proposal. Examples of appropriate documentation include an email from a project partner confirming their participation or an official letter of support on letterhead. This documentation should be submitted electronically with your application.

This table is intended to show the whole project budget and the portion of the budget CERTs funds will support. Please list other funding you have or will pursue to complete the project. This can include matching funds or in-kind contributions that are going toward the completion of your project. Please list pending and secured funding sources. If the project is still seeking additional funding sources, please note those funding amounts in the table as “pending”.

We will accept a variety of forms of documentation of “Secure” contributions. Examples of appropriate documentation include a letter of awarded funding or a letter documenting donated materials, equipment and/or someone’s time (labor). This documentation should be submitted electronically with your application.

Application materials need to be received by Friday, October 8th, 2021 at 4:00 pm at rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org. Please include your Region and Project Name in the subject line. Application materials include the CERT Seed Grant Application Form and any documentation from project partners or to demonstrate secured funding for the project. If you are applying for funding from multiple regions, you must also include the Multiple-Regions Application Addendum. You will receive confirmation within 1-2 business days of the receipt of your application.

CERTs Seed Grants are typically paid on a reimbursement basis. Projects may invoice for up to half of their seed grant funds by June 1st, 2022, or when half of the work is completed. You must submit an Interim Report to receive payment. Final invoices may be submitted as soon as project work is complete but no later than January 6, 2023 at 4:00pm. Final invoices will not be paid until Final Reports are reviewed and approved for completeness. If your project is completed before June 1st, you may submit the Final Report with the Final Invoice at that time.
For applicants for whom having a delay in payment would be burdensome, or would even discourage applying, please contact Lissa Pawlisch (at either pawl0048@umn.edu or 612-624-2293). We may provide advance payments for up to one third of the awarded seed grant amount for a limited number of projects (no advance payments can be given for the Southwest CERT region).

If you are having difficulty completing your project, we ask that you contact CERT Staff immediately. You can always contact us via the rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org email. Maggie Kozak is the primary point of contact for any contracting questions and would be glad to discuss an issue with you over the phone. Her phone number is 612-626-0555. Please know that while we want to work with all funded projects to help ensure their completion, if you are truly unable to complete your project, our intent is to put the money toward a project that can be completed. If your project has not begun work before the interim reporting date of June 1, 2022, we may have to reallocate the project funds to another project. This is not to penalize projects that cannot move forward, but rather to ensure that we’re able to catalyze local projects with these dollars. 

If you have a question that has not been addressed by this FAQ, please email your question directly to rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org and we will try to respond within 3-5 business days.

You may also attend CERTs' virtual office hours.

Spread the word!

Seed Grant Press Release
Language Ready to Go for Sharing
Seed Grant Poster
Seed Grant Postcard
Application (Spanish) / Formulario de Solicitud (Español)
RFP (Spanish) / Llamado a presentación de Propuestas (Español)
Outreach language (Spanish) / Lenguaje Promocional (Español)
Seed Grant Postcard (Spanish) / Tarjeta (Español)
Press release (Spanish) / Comunicado de Prensa (Español)

Growing Local Efforts


CERTs awards Seed Grants to community groups for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across Minnesota. We’ve awarded over $1.3M to 393 projects since 2006.

Explore past funded projects in the map, stories, and lists below to get inspired!


Seed Grant Project Map

The map below includes all projects funded by CERTs. Choose on a map marker to learn more about individual projects, drag to move, and use the + and – buttons to zoom.

Seed Projects by Grant Year

2020 Grants
2018 Grants
2016 Grants
2014 Grants
2012-2013 Grants
2012 Grants
2010 Grants
2008-2009 Grants
2008 Grants

Get notified about funding & stories