New Fund to Foster Ideas for Sustainability Projects

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance, in collaboration with the Campus Sustainability Initiative (CSI) and the Chancellor’s Sustainability Committee recently announced the creation of the UMass Amherst Sustainability, Innovation and Engagement Fund to foster a strong culture of sustainability on campus by funding student, faculty and staff projects in environmental stewardship and conservation.

The fund will accept applications on a rolling basis until all money is awarded, said Ezra Small, campus sustainability manager. Any student, faculty or staff member, office or academic department, student group, academic class or student and faculty/staff team can propose a sustainability project. To help the campus community generate ideas, CSI will hold a number of “Ideation” workshops this semester, he added.

Small said, “We are incredibly excited about the launch of this fund. There are so many great ideas at this university for making our community a more sustainable place. Now students, faculty and staff will have an opportunity to share those ideas and to make an even bigger difference on this campus.”

The total available fund of $50,000 will be awarded as mini-grants. Campus groups can receive one per year. The fund will accept proposals for two project types:

  • Those with a quantifiable economic payback within five years that will refresh the fund over time
  • Those that may not have an economic payback but do engage the campus community in reducing environmental impact, enriching student experience, adding aesthetic value to campus, creating social equity or increasing environmental awareness and comprehension

All proposals must demonstrate how the project will support activities that significantly engage the campus community and lead to progress on campus sustainability goals, in particular those of the campus Climate Action Plan, and all must demonstrate a long-term value to the university. No proposal may exceed a quarter of the current value of the total fund and none can pay for faculty, staff or student salaries or wages, or for purchasing carbon offsets or off-site renewable energy.

A committee of students, faculty, and staff will review proposals and may request an interview with groups for more information about proposals.