Gold Leaf Challenge

Gold Leaf Challenge Launch - recording and slides 

On February 15, 2024, we hosted a webinar introducing the official launch of the Gold Leaf Challenge! Learn more about the program development, how to participate, get to know the resources, and hear from our pilot participants.

What is it? 

The Gold Leaf Challenge focuses on pathways for communities to take local climate action. Using the GreenStep program resources, this new program aims to challenge, assist, and recognize your efforts for completing any NEW actions from: 

What are the benefits to participating in the Challenge? 

  • Continuous improvement pathway for communities to take climate action and helps you track progress for completing ambitious, multi-year climate projects. 
  • Saves staff time in researching proven, cost-effective actions for cutting energy use, decreasing your carbon footprint, and accomplishing other climate goals that exceed regulatory requirements. 
  • Publicly recognizes the good work being done by Minnesota communities on tackling climate change, and helps them communicate that progress. (See “Recognition.”)
  • Provides opportunities for peer learning, partnerships, and grant collaboration.
  • Provides technical assistance and information on how to complete all 44 actions, which are continuously updated with Minnesota-specific information, with comprehensive support from GreenStep staff to ensure you have what you need. (See “Support.”)
  • Open to many community types, which helps to break down silos between various government types and foster collaboration, while still allowing for flexibility and program adjustments to ensure that all community types can participate.
  • Each action delivers co-benefits to communities beyond climate action, such as social, economic, and financial benefits, and positions you to more easily apply for competitive grants and assistance programs.
  • Home-grown, independent program tailored by and for Minnesota communities that provides maximum flexibility and total control in how to implement a proven best practice. 
  • Challenges participants to be ambitious in taking climate actions by integrating community and state climate goals into the program, and it helps communities hit greater climate targets they may have signed onto (i.e. U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, or Sustainable Development Goals).
  • Provides leadership and action roles for community members, students, businesses and institutions so as to stretch limited public funds and strengthen a civic culture of engagement and innovation.
  • Provides a narrow menu of actions for communities to pick from and a framework to prioritize those actions. 
  • Serves as a climate action plan if your community doesn’t have one, as it provides a ready-made, prioritized list, with resources, to take climate action.
  • Utilizes the existing GreenStep reporting program, so there isn’t an added burden on communities for participating in both GreenStep and Gold Leaf.
  • Incentivizes reporting climate actions, expanding an ongoing repository of examples for peer communities
Getting Started: Read MoreTake Action: See the 44 actionsMeet Goals: see integrated goalsReporting & RecognitionAdditional Support: Read moreFrequently asked questions: read more

Who can join the Gold Leaf Challenge? 

The Gold Leaf Challenge is open to a wide variety of community types because all communities and levels of local, tribal, and regional governance are faced with a changing climate and can take action to prepare for climate change, build resilience, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, involving all levels of governance will break down artificial silos and barriers that so often impede effective planning, coordination, and action.

You DO NOT need to be a participant of the GreenStep Cities or Tribal Nations program to join the Gold Leaf Challenge. 

Community types that can join: (If you don’t see your community type here, please reach out!)

  • Tribal Nations 
  • Regional Organizations/ Government
  • Counties
  • Cities
  • Towns/ Townships
  • Neighborhoods
  • Homeowners Associations (HOAs)
  • Conservation and Watershed Districts/ Organizations
  • County/State Fairgrounds
  • Educational Institutions
  • Etc.

Questions? Contact us at 651-757-2793 or