Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants Program

The Office of Sustainability and the Institute of the Environment started a funding program to support student-faculty projects that enhance environmental sustainability and campus-wide engagement with sustainability issues at the University of Connecticut and in Connecticut communities through research, authentic community engagement, campus operations, or education. Projects must increase both environmental and social sustainability at UConn, and address one or more of UConn's strategic sustainability goal areas (climate change, energy and buildings, waste, outreach and engagement, water resources, food and dining, purchasing, transportation, or grounds, open space and conservation areas) and one or more related social challenges (fostering inclusion of diverse perspectives, addressing systematic inequalities, environmental justice, social and health inequity, community development, etc). Project activities occur at any of the UConn campuses and extend to Connecticut communities outside of the University campuses. Special consideration is given to interdisciplinary projects that advance equity and justice or incorporate the arts and humanities. Funded teams present their project findings and impacts at a symposium in the Fall following their Spring award.

The current funding round is now closed.

    Fall 2022 Awardees

    These seven student-led projects were awarded funding for the 22/23 grant period:

      Non-Violence Mindfulness Training for Environmental Justice and Mother Earth Day Festival

      In the Spring, we’re offering non-violence embodiment training to students, held by students and national experts. It’ll culminate in a campus event around Mother Earth Day for the students and other groups to showcase art and connect to the UCONN community by teaching embodiment and non-violence.

      • Students: Juan Pablo Yepes Tobon, Laura Augenbraun ’24 (CLAS)
      • Faculty Mentors: Phoebe Godfrey, Professor-in-Residence of Sociology, Stacy Maddern – Assist. Professor-in-Residence of Urban and Community Studies

      Renewed Outdoor Classroom and Chestnut Orchard

      Locally and sustainably-sourced raw materials will be produced by students to create infrastructure for teaching, outreach, meeting, and artistic performance space that is ADA accessible. This project will also materially advance development of a planned American chestnut seed orchard.

      • Students: Isaac Betts ‘23 (CAHNR), Andrew Muller ’23 (CAHNR), Zachary Bates ‘23 (CAHNR)
      • Faculty Mentors: Thomas Worthley, Extension Educator Forest Sustainability, Robert Fahey, UConn Forest Director and Assoc. Professor

      Huskies for Harkness

      Huskies for Harkness is an initiative immersing New London high school students into conservation and sustainability, addressing the systemic barriers surrounding historically gatekept fields. It does this through a vocational enrichment trip to Harkness Memorial Park, focusing on education, engagement, and exploration.

      • Students: Jessica Bostick ‘23 (CAHNR), EcoHuskies
      • Faculty Mentor: Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet, Assist. Professor of Anthropology

      UConn Gleaning Corps

      The SVSF Gleaning Interns will assist the WCFN to expand gleaning in Eastern CT. Gleaning is the practice of harvesting excess produce that doesn’t get sent to market, and is instead used to support people experiencing food insecurity. The student farmers will harvest, wash and deliver produce to various pantries in the Willimantic area. They’ll also develop a training guide to be used by volunteers to keep the program running in the future.

      • Students: Sydney Clements, Ph.D. Candidate in Geography
      • Staff Mentor: Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm

      Reimagining a Community Garden

      EcoGarden is reimagining our student club’s garden space. Educational signage, a new composting area, a variety of new perennial plants, and an outdoor picnic area are coming to EcoGarden. Community gardens are important as we move forward into the future of climate change and food deserts!

      • Students: Kristopher Dow ’24 (ENG, CLAS), EcoGarden Club
      • Staff Mentor: Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm

      Ecoposium, UConn

      Ecoposium, UConn is an organization that serves to plan and promote UConn's first student-led environmental symposium. We strive to spread awareness and educate the UConn community about relevant environmental issues through symposium sessions covering environmental topics elected by the organization.

      • Students: Claire Lee ’24 (CLAS), Ecoposium Club
      • Faculty Mentors: Dr. David Wagner, Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Scott Wallace, Assoc. Professor of Journalism

      Material World: Design for a Healthful and Equitable Future

      This project will create an interactive and sustainably-built pop-up exhibition educating students on the impacts of environmentally and socially sustainable design methods and materials aimed at empowering them to act as agents of change in their professional careers and personal lives.

      • Students: Cameron Slocum ’23 (SFA)
      • Faculty Mentors: Chris Sancomb, Assist. Professor of Industrial Design, Shareen Hertel, Professor of Political Science

      Fall 2021 Awardees

      These five student-led projects were the first cohort to be awarded funding:

      • Farm to Institution Local Food Procurement Study: Working to Highlight Sustainable Options for Students
          • Students: Matt Chen ‘22 (CLAS, CAHNR), Hannah Colonies-Kelley ‘22 (CAHNR)
          • Faculty Mentors: Cristina Connolly, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics
        • Spring Valley Student Farm Privy Project
            • Students: Phoebe Mrozinski ‘22 (CAHNR), Andrew Muller ‘23 (CAHNR), Isaac Betts ‘23 (CAHNR)
            • Staff and Faculty Mentors: Phoebe Godfrey, Associate Professor, Sociology. Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm
          • UConn Swap Shop
              • Students: Lyla Andrick '24 (CAHNR), Madeline Kizer ‘24 (SOB), Efua Koomson ‘22 (CLAS)
              • Staff Mentors: Megan Baro, Program Assistant for Inclusion & Global Initiatives, Honors Program. Katie Britt, Leadership Programs Coordinator, Werth Institute
            • Solar Photovoltaic Tie-in at Spring Valley Student Farm
                • Students: Rory Monaco ‘23 (CLAS), Zachary Stone ‘22 (SOE)
                • Staff and Faculty Mentors: Ali Bazzi, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering. Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm
              • Green Practice and Pedagogy: Enhancing UConn Avery Point’s Sustainability Performance and Programming
                  • Students: UConn Avery Point EcoHusky Club, Sakshee Patel ‘24 (SOB), Kelsey DiCesare, Richard Krenitsky ‘22 (CLAS), Ian Bradley '22
                  • Faculty Mentors: Syma Ebbin, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics

              Fall ’22 Call for Proposals

              Eligibility: All currently enrolled University of Connecticut undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply. Students must be full-time during the time period of the grant. Applications can be submitted by an individual student or teams of students. Students can lead only one proposal each and can collaborate on up to three proposals (but can participate in no more than three proposals total).

              Faculty/Staff Mentor Requirements: Each project must have at least one faculty or staff mentor who submits a support form with the application and will actively participate in the project. Mentors must be able to accept and manage grant funds on the students' behalf. This includes responsibility for any student hiring. The mentor is responsible for ensuring the project budget is executed according to UConn policies and procedures, adheres to the guidelines outlined in this application and is expended at least three weeks before the close of the fiscal year. Faculty/staff members can collaborate on no more than three student proposals each.

              Funding: Limited funding is available for proposed projects with budgets up to $10,000. Proposals should provide strong justification for all budgetary items. Awards will be announced by December 2022. Funds will transfer early January 2023 and should be fully spent by June 30, 2023.

              Deadlines: For full consideration, all proposal documents must be submitted by October 11 18, 2022 at 4:00pm  Letters of support from faculty or staff members may be submitted through the google form application or via email to sustainability@uconn.edu. Projects should not extend past the start of Fall '23.

              How to Apply: There is a google form application which asks for contact information and a few short essay questions. You are also required to submit a project budget and faculty mentor support form. Download each form, complete, and then you can upload them into the google form application.

              Application Questions

              Part I

              1. Project title:
              2. Name of Student Principal Investigator: This is the main point of contact for any grant-related activities, and must be a UConn student during the time period of the grant.
              3. Student PI email & cell number
              4. Name of Faculty or Staff Mentor: This must be a UConn employee that will provide guidance and financial oversight for the project. They must have the ability to accept and manage funds on your behalf. They will also be responsible for student hiring if applicable to your project. The mentor is responsible for ensuring the project budget is executed according to UConn policies and procedures, adheres to the guidelines outlined in this application and is expended at least three weeks before the close of the fiscal year.
              5. Mentor email & cell number

              Part II

              In these next questions, tell us about your idea - why is it an important activity to fund? What path will you take to accomplish it? What will the outcomes and final deliverables be? You may wish to use Word to copy/paste your answers to stay within character limits.

              1. Context & Rational (1000 character limit)
              2. Materials & Methods (1000 character limit)
              3. Expected Outcomes & Deliverables (1000 character limit)
              4. Who does your project impact and how are their needs known? Is anyone on your team part of your target community?(1500 character limit)
              5. How does your project contribute specifically to sustainability outcomes? (1500 character limit) - Don't worry, we don't expect you to solve climate change! All scales of sustainability impact are considered.
              6. Summary: (300 character limit) - Now that you've covered the details of your project, please give us a short summary - distill what you wrote into the essence of your project. Think about how you'd describe your project to a stranger if you only had a minute to talk to them. If you are awarded the grant, we may use this description in public announcements.
              7. What other students, faculty, or staff are part of the project team? You are not required to have additional members, but please share if applicable. For each collaborator involved, share their NAME, EMAIL, and ROLE in conducting the project.
              8. What is the timeline for your project's completion? (1500 character limit) Must be finished before the start of Fall semester '23. When do you expect to begin and accomplish major milestones of your project? Example: Apply for IRB Survey Study Approval - early February '23, Recruit participants - late February '23, Conduct Surveys - first week of March '23, etc.
              9. Itemized Budget Request Upload. If funded, what would the money go toward? If this request is part of a larger project or you have already found partial funding, please include that in your budget. Appropriate expenses include student salary for completing the project (up to $3000 per student and $6000 maximum), materials and supplies, and travel. The salary of faculty or staff members cannot be included in requested funds. Here is a sample budget: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1EQb6VuGzPMgE2M2gbS1C-dXDbNXrLr6O/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=102659157238664148208&rtpof=true&sd=true
              10. Faculty or Staff Support Letter(s) (can be submitted together or separately from the application): Please share the following Word document with your mentor to fill out and sign (~ 1 page). Please upload it, otherwise ask your mentor to email it to sustainability@uconn.edu. Document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_-N_KdvWCE_AURc9s0clOniWrFjE4Kxj/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=102659157238664148208&rtpof=true&sd=true 

              Background: The Office of Sustainability joined the Institute of the Environment when the Institute was formed in 2019. The mission of the Institute of the Environment is to catalyze environmental scholarship, education, and engagement across all facets of the University to address some of the most challenging issues facing society today. The Institute of the Environment comprises four administrative units (the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, Natural Resources Conservation Academy, and the Office of Sustainability). Within the Institute, the Office of Sustainability works with senior administrators, students, faculty and staff to set and achieve strategic sustainability goals in the areas of climate action and resilience, energy and buildings, waste reduction and diversion, water resources, food and dining, grounds, purchasing, transportation, open space and natural resource stewardship. The Office develops outreach and engagement programs that feature experiential learning to raise awareness and improve performance around sustainable practices and behaviors.

              Questions about this call for proposals should be directed to sustainability@uconn.edu or Betsy Mortensen (betsy.mortensen@uconn.edu).