Green Fund

As part of the University of Chicago’s commitment to student research, scholarship and innovation around sustainability, Campus and Student Life has launched a Green Fund in collaboration with the student-led UChicago Environmental Alliance (UCEA). Up to $50,000 in grants will be available in the 2021-22 academic year to support student-led research and projects for improving campus sustainability and reducing the University’s environmental impact.

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Application Forms

To apply to the Green Fund, please read the following webpage carefully for eligibility requirements and process. Please fill out the Proposal Form and submit it through the Application Google Form by the following deadlines to be considered: 

  •  Fall cycle: Friday, October 29, 2021 at 11:59pm CST (Week 5)
  •  Winter cycle: Friday, February 4, 2022 at 11:59pm CST (Week 5)

Green Fund applicants can expect to receive a funding decision via email by the end of the quarter during which they applied.

Who Can Apply

All current University of Chicago undergraduate, graduate and professional students and student groups are welcome to apply. Students may apply as individuals, teams or as part of a Recognized Student Organization (RSO). Teams may include faculty, other academic appointees and staff, but the project lead(s) should be students. Students must be enrolled and in good academic and disciplinary standing for the duration of their funded project. Grant awardees will be required to submit a Midterm Report detailing the progress of their project one quarter after receiving funding, and are expected to present their findings at the Green Fund End of Year Symposium in the spring.

Proposal Criteria

Successful proposals will seek to examine and reduce the environmental impacts of University operations, broadly defined, via either original scholarly research or a stand-alone project.  The research and/or project should have practical and tangible implications for one or more campus functions and UChicago’s overall sustainability goals.

  • Research proposals must examine the environmental impacts of campus life, broadly defined. Student research should have practical implications, such as identifying areas of opportunity; establishing a baseline; or proposing ways to reduce environmental impacts. Applicants should discuss how they will communicate their findings to University decision-makers, faculty, students, or the general public after research is completed. The Green Fund grant may be used to fund the acquisition of data or tools (e.g. software licenses or equipment) necessary to conduct the research. Research proposals should include a rigorous data and methodology section, detailing how the qualitative or quantitative data will be collected and analyzed. Collaboration with other students and/or faculty members is strongly preferred.
    • Examples:
      • Energy audit of Henry Hinds Laboratory building
      • Feasibility study of using biofuels to provide energy for UChicago’s dining halls
      • Impact analysis of UChicago’s greenhouse gas emissions on air quality in the South Side of Chicago
  • Project proposals must reduce the environmental impacts of campus life, broadly defined. The student project should have tangible impacts; generally, one-time events will not be approved unless the event(s) are part of a larger initiative with tangible impacts. Applicants should discuss how the project will be implemented, identify relevant stakeholders and create potential contingency plans.
    • Examples:
      • Establish composting in campus cafés
      • Create a community garden or greenhouse on campus
      • Implement a zero-waste initiative for major RSO events

Tips for successful proposals:

  • Connect with relevant campus partners and get approval or confirmation of collaboration.
  • Create supporting materials such as graphics, images, surveys, etc. to further illustrate your project or demonstrate campus need (please note that supplemental materials must be anonymous and have no identifying characteristics).
  • Seek an advisor or mentor for the project.
  • Spend time creating an accurate and feasible budget.

Application Process

Green Fund grant proposals for 2021-22 can be submitted by one of the two following deadlines:

  • Fall cycle: Friday, October 29, 2021 at 11:59pm CST (Week 5)
    • Midterm Report Due: Monday, February 21, 2022 (Week 7)
  • Winter cycle: Friday, February 4, 2022 at 11:59pm CST (Week 5)
    • Midterm Report Due: May 9, 2022 (Week 7)

A maximum of $25,000 will be awarded in each application cycle. Applicants will be notified of their funding status no later than three weeks after the application deadline. Grants of $500-$5,000 will be awarded for impactful, short-term (≤1 year) research or projects. Grant proposals requesting over $5,000 for long-term (>1 year) research or projects will be considered with increased supervision and mentorship expectations.

To be eligible for review, grant proposals must include the following:

  • Executive summary
  • Experiences and Qualifications of the applicant(s)
  • Needs Assessment: Problem or need at UChicago
  • Project Goals and Outcomes
  • Implementation Plan
  • Impact Statement
  • Evaluation Plan and Timeline: Metrics and key milestones for measuring project impact and defining success, including how results will be communicated to University stakeholders
  • Itemized Budget

Please note if your project receives funding, all corresponding promotional materials must state that the project was funded by the Green Fund.

Updates for 2021-22

The Green Fund will continue to award grants during the 2021-22 academic year following COVID-19 guidelines from the University and CDC. There will be a section on the application for applicants to describe how many people will be involved and how safety precautions will be followed during proposal implementation (i.e. masks, social distancing, density, etc.). Safety during this time is of great importance and proposals will be evaluated based on the clarity and adherence to COVID-19 guidelines in this written section.

Previous Recipients

Off-Campus Composting Subsidy Initiative 

The Phoenix Sustainability Initiaitve’s Off-Campus Composting Subsidy Program provides logistical and financial support to students interested in residential composting services, as well as comprehensive educational resources aimed at fostering waste sorting best practices. After being awarded a Green Fund grant in Fall 2020, we have successfully rolled out our composting initiative by partnering with the Urban Canopy and subsequently increased the number of students composting in off-campus residences.

Example Proposal

Cummings Life Science Centre (CLSC) Tip Recycling Box 

This project is utilizing funding to purchase large recycling bins for empty pipette tip boxes to be placed on each floor of the Cummings Life Science Centre (CLSC). A small proportion of the funding is also being used to pay for laminated signs to promote the use of these recycling stations and raise awareness around the building.

Energy-Aware Job Scheduling to Reduce Power Consumption and Cost in the UChicago Data Center using the Midway HPC Computing Cluster 

This project supports the implementation of a new job-scheduling algorithm on the Research Computing Center (RCC) HPC Midway systems hosted in the UChicago 2.6 MW data center. The algorithm will minimize power costs by instrumenting workloads and automatically scheduling more power-intensive jobs for times where the cost of electricity is lower, thus reducing the expense. It will also reduce power consumption by minimizing power-intensive operations that the cluster must perform to run each job. Given the significant amount of power that computer racks consume, this reduction is projected to significantly improve campus sustainability while also lowering the cost of operating UChicago’s computing resources.

Sustainable Pritzker Residential Composting Project 

This project is implementing a composting program aimed at medical students living in off-campus housing in Hyde Park in order to improve sustainability at the University of Chicago by 1) reducing the amount of student-produced food waste and 2) facilitating

sustainable living practices. By offering composting services to students in partnership with local compost businesses, much of the food waste produced by students can be diverted from landfills, converted to compost, and used in agricultural and gardening practices around the city to support local economies. To encourage composting among medical students, Sustainable Pritzker aims to provide financial and logistical support to those interested in composting services, along with a map of current composting drop-off locations and comprehensive education on best waste-sorting practices.

DivaCup Initiative 

The project utilizes Green Fund funding to implement the DivaCup Initiative, a quarter-long distribution and training program that provides free menstrual cups to students on campus. This initiative aims to reduce the waste caused by disposable period products and facilitate a transition to reusable menstrual cups.

Battle of the Buildings 

Battle of the Buildings is a collaboration between Facilities, HRL and UChicago students to create an annual competition to reduce energy and water usage in the dorms. Each year the House that reduces its energy and water use by the largest amount will respectively win a prize and plaque. This 2020-2021 theme is “energy vampires,” which are devices that pull energy while they are not in use, such as printers, motors and TVs. During the competition, which will last throughout April, our team will provide students with electricity meter plugs that allow them to see their energy use in real time. As this is the first year, the Green Fund also supported the development of competition messaging, including posters that will remain in the dorms for years to come.