Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund Coalition




2022 - present


Three decades ago, 77% of Minnesotans voted to establish the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), which has since provided more than $900 million state lottery dollars to protect and restore the environment. 

Next November, Minnesota voters will be given the opportunity to renew the lottery dedication to continue supporting clean lakes, healthy forests, and outdoor recreation before funding sunsets in 2025. 

If renewed, the amount of lottery dollars dedicated to the environment will be increased to establish the Community Grants Program, a new, more equitable pool of funding. 

Mike Harley and lead bill author Rep. Athena Hollins testify during the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee on Friday, May 5.

Our work

Environmental Initiative and Rainbow Research convene a group of BIPOC leaders and mainstream environmental organizations with a shared desire for the fund to continue and for it to be more accessible to all Minnesotans. Together we are focused on: 

  • Engaging most impacted communities to discuss the Community Grants Program and gather feedback on design and implementation. 
  • Collaborating with and providing recommendations to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which will house the new grant program. 
  • Supporting efforts to encourage Minnesotans to renew the lottery dedication in November 2024.  

Why a new grant program?

Securing ENRTF funding is a lengthy, complex, time-consuming, and resource-intensive process, meaning grant awardees are mainly large, well-established organizations. This creates barriers for Tribes, small nonprofits, and BIPOC-led organizations, preventing them from accessing state conservation dollars. Over the past five funding cycles, nearly 70% of available funds were distributed to state agencies and universities. 

That is why we are focused on building a more equitable funding source so all Minnesotans can access stable funds to build capacity and address environmental challenges. 

Project Contacts

Mike Harley and Sam Grant, Rainbow Research, co-convene the Community Engagement Working Group which is focused on developing an accessible Community Grants Program.

Contact them to learn more or to get involved.

Latest news

Collaborative policy victory: Lottery reauthorization for Minnesota

The Minnesota Legislature recently passed the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund renewal bill. This important legislation will put a question before voters to reauthorize Minnesota State Lottery funds for conservation. It also creates a new $20 million per year community grants program.

Expanding Lottery funds for the environment, for all

Environmental Initiative is part of a coalition of mainstream environmental organizations advocating for the Minnesota State Legislature to get a question on the ballot in 2024 on whether to continue dedicating state lottery funds to the great outdoors. Our organization is focused on convening conversations for proposed changes that would make the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund more equitable.

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