Applications for Northwestern Sustainability Fund move forward

Julian Gerez, Reporter

Students are one step closer to receiving $50,000 in grant funding for their sustainability projects.

Applications for the second round of grant funding for the Northwestern Sustainability Fund were submitted Monday. The fund will allocate money to student projects that involve energy and sustainability.

The fund was established in spring 2013 as a cooperative effort between the Associated Student Government sustainability committee and the Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee. In the first set of ventures supported by the NSF, six student-run projects received nearly $10,000 in funding.

Grant committee member and Weinberg senior Mark Silberg said NSF “is a pretty substantial opportunity for us to really catalyze student engagement in energy and sustainability on campus.”

Six projects were given grants in the first set of applications, including Engineers for a Sustainable World’s Solar Tree, a tree-shaped, solar-powered charging station for laptops and cell phones. Another project is the Lonely Switch, an automated lighting technology designed to reduce energy usage. Pura Playa, the plastic waste reduction team, similarly received a contribution.

Other groups are using the grant money to fund their events. The Living Green Event hosted by off-campus eco-reps scheduled to be held Thursday was funded, and the Northwestern Energy Technology Group will likewise benefit from a grant to bring several speakers, including a Fortune 500 speaker to discuss sustainability on a corporate scale.

The NSF is also allocating funds to support increased programming for the Green Cup competition currently in progress. This is the first year Green Cup has been held during Fall Quarter and included students living off campus. 

Even though the NSF was officially founded in the spring, Silberg said it took about a year for the organization to build a “very cohesive case to the University (that) this was a sort of deficiency within our incentives structure of the institution.”

The fund was instituted so students, as the primary recipients of the benefits of sustainability projects, could contribute to campus-wide efforts involving sustainability.

“I see the NSF as filling an important gap in funding for projects that deal with the many environmental awareness and sustainability initiatives that various student groups and individuals want to pursue but are unsure of where to find sponsorship,” said John Secaras, a Weinberg senior on the grant committee.

Although Silberg could not disclose information about the projects that have currently applied for the second round of funding, he said it would be about two weeks until the decision is made for the next set of ventures to receive funds.

“We’re excited to continue to support student projects in energy and sustainability in all facets of the University,” Silberg said.

The fund empowers students “by providing a source of funding, guidance, hands-on experience and networking,” according to its bylaws.

Any student groups with ideas that may have missed the current deadline or the one before need not worry, Silberg said, because there will be another round of applications due at the end of Winter Quarter.

“I’m looking forward to reviewing more applications after today’s deadline and seeing more of the proposed initiatives come to fruition as the year progresses,” Secaras said.

Twitter: @jgerez_news