Green Engagement Fund

The University of Southern California Green Engagement Fund (USCGEF) was created in 2014 to fund student-driven projects aimed at increasing sustainability  at USC while increasing awareness in environmental stewardship.

Although a number of groups provide funding to bring inspirational speakers on environmental topics to campus, there are few funding sources that allow students to put their energy, knowledge, and skills into action towards improving sustainability at USC in a more lasting way.

The fund currently contains $24,000 for students to imagine, design, and implement sustainability projects, which may require materials and resources not usually available to external entities. With support from USG and GSG, we will continue to help create a more sustainable USC!

Applications will be available in September 2018 (date TBA) and will be due by 11:59pm Friday, November 9th for projects to be implemented in Spring 2019.

HOW TO APPLY

  1. Download the application here: USCGEF Application 2018-19
  2. Submit your application to uscgef@usc.edu
  3. Questions about approval process? Need help connecting with collaborators? Contact the USCGEF Chair at uscgef@usc.edu
  • USC Environmental Student Assembly will be holding Green Engagement Fund information sessions during the Fall semester.
  • Don’t have an idea yet? No problem! These information sessions will provide examples from previous years and universities, and is a great opportunity to connect with like-minded students who might be interested in collaboration.
  • Can’t make one of the scheduled information sessions? Meet with the Green Engagement Fund Chair, one-on-one to get all of your USCGEF questions answered.

HOW THE GREEN ENGAGEMENT FUND WORKS

The Grant Allocation Committee is composed of 10 members: 6 student representatives and 4 non-student representatives with the right to vote:

  • Graduate Student Government President
  • Two graduate students appointed by Graduate Student Government
  • Undergraduate Student Government President or Vice President
  • One undergraduate student appointed by the Undergraduate Student Government
  • Environmental Student Assembly (ESA) Executive Director (Olivia Pearson)
  • Co-chair of the Sustainability Steering Committee (Office of Sustainability Manager, Administrative Operations)
  • Staff member from Facilities Management Services (FMS)
  • Faculty Member-At-Large, selected by the Grant Allocation Committee Chair (Paul Adler, Professor of Business and Darren Ruddell, Professor of Spatial Sciences)

The Grand Allocation Committee has two officers, a Chair and Vice-Chair. The Chair presides at all meetings and functions as the meeting and proposal facilitator. The Chair must be a voting student member of the Grant Allocation Committee. The Vice-Chair will assist the Chair with his/her duties and is responsible for keeping the meeting minutes.

FAQ

  1. What types of projects are eligible for funding?
    1. USCGEF funds student-driven projects on campus that improve overall sustainability and awareness at USC. This fund is not primarily available for events, which have other sources of funding on campus, but rather operational and/or long-term projects. Preference will be given to projects that demonstrate the greatest reduction in USC’s negative environmental impacts for the least cost provide the largest cost savings to USC, and/or obtain matching funds from sources other than USCGEF.
  2. What is a project student lead?
    1. An undergraduate or graduate student currently attending at USC can serve as the project student lead. This person will be responsible for completing the application, developing a team for project implementation, and ensuring execution. Other students can also be on the team, and we encourage interdisciplinary teams, as most projects will require knowledge from multiple disciplines in order to be implemented. If the project student lead is graduating before the project can be implemented, the application for the project should identify another student that will serve as the lead once the project student lead has graduated.
  3. Do I need to be in a student organization to be eligible for the fund?
    1. No. You do not need to be in a recognized student organization to form a team for the fund, but a student organization may be a good place to find other students interested in your project to help with the concept and implementation.
  4. Is it required to have an adviser?
    1. Yes, all projects must have a faculty or staff project adviser.
  5. Who are potential collaborators?
    1. Potential collaborators are likely USC staff that will help ensure that the project is feasible, will ensure long-term management, and/or are critical for implementation. We encourage students to look at a project holistically and consider how the project will be sustainable in the long-term and how to ensure longevity beyond the graduation.
  6. How often are funding cycles?
    1. Applications will be due in the fall semester for spring projects.

PAST PROJECTS

Fall  2017

Magnet School Community Learning Garden, awarded to RaeAnn Noakes (Sociology, 2020) in the amount of $2,728.85.  Project advisor: Kelly Sanders (Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Empowering Citizen Science and Environmental Education, awarded to Lyndsey Franklin (Environmental Studies, 2019) in the amount of $2,500.00.  Project advisor: Jessica Dutton (Special Projects Director, Wrigley Institute)

USC Trojan Sense, awarded to Simon Blessenohl (Philosophy, PhD candidate, 2021) in the amount of $3,134.52. Project advisor: Kyle Konis (Assistant Professor, Architecture)

Wrigley Institute Conversion of Waste Cooking Oil into Biodiesel, awarded to Kylee Mansfield (Chemical Engineering, 2018) in the amount of $809.44. Project advisor: Jessica Dutton (Special Projects Director, Wrigley Institute).

Birnkrant Solar Initiative, awarded to Jacob Totaro in the amount of $306.00. Project advisor: Kelly Sanders (Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Native Plants at the Williams Scoring Stage, awarded to Conor Cimo in the amount of $4,300.00. Project advisor: Jeffrey B. De Caen (Associate Dean of Operations, Thornton School of Music)

Parkside Garden, awarded to Philine Qian (Environmental Studies, 2018) in the amount of $3,300.00.  Project advisor: Yael Wolinsky-Nahmias (Associate Professor, Environmental Studies and Political Science)

 

Spring 2017

PSYCHO: Water Conservation PSA, awarded to Rajendra Thakurathi and Lareina Joelle Wong in the amount of $3,300.00

Addressing the Water Energy Nexus at USC: Solar and Skywater Upgrades to the USC Wrigley Institute, awarded to Autumn Gupta

Sustainable Gardening at the USC Wrigley Institute, awarded to Natalie Hayashibara

 

Fall 2016

Native Plant Garden Expansion, awarded to Rebecca Weber and Zach Manta in the amount of $4,000.00

Rain Barrels in Light of Droughts, awarded to Elizabeth Shakhnazaryan in the amount of $2,385.75

 

Spring 2016

Solar Power Aquaponics Learning Garden, awarded to Thomas Domenique De Clerck in the amount of $3,875.12

Recycling Bins on the Row, awarded to Allie Schmiesing in the amount of $300.00

 

Fall 2015

Solar Panel Umbrellas in the Tutor Campus Center Courtyard, awarded to Keoki Kakigi in the amount of $23,809.11

Water Bottle Fill Stations at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, awarded to Nicole Hamasaki in the amount of $4,473.54

Rain Barrels at Catalina Island, awarded to Caitlan Martin in the amount of $1,606.28

Solar Power for USC Urban Garden, awarded to Natalie Kra in the amount of $2,338.33

Operation Firefly, awarded to Axel Hellman in the amount of $8,000.00

Native Plants in Queen’s Courtyard, awarded to Rebecca Walter and Zach Manta in the amount of $2,797.00

 

GEF BYLAWS

The mission of the Green Engagement Fund is to fund student-driven, innovative projects aimed at increasing sustainability at USC while increasing awareness in environmental stewardship.

ARTICLE 1 — GRANT ALLOCATION COMMITTEE

Section 1.1 — Powers and Voting

The Grant Allocation Committee has authority over the University of Southern California Green Engagement Fund (USCGEF). Official and funding decisions require a majority vote by the Committee membership except as provided by these bylaws. Quorum for a funding decision meeting requires two-thirds of voting members. An individual member has no particular authority aside from his/her stipulated function within the Committee.

Section 1.2 — Member Numbers and Representation

The Grant Allocation Committee shall be composed of ten members, six student representatives and four non-student representatives with the right to vote. The members include:

  • Graduate Student President
  • Two graduate students appointed by Graduate Student Government (GSG)
  • Undergraduate Student President
  • One undergraduate student appointed by Undergraduate Student Government (USG)
  • Environmental Student Assembly (ESA) Executive Director
  • Chair of the Sustainability Steering Committee
  • Staff member from Facilities Management Services (FMS)
  • Sustainability Program Manager
  • Faculty Member-At-Large, selected by the Grant Allocation Committee Chair

Section 1.3 — Officers

The Grant Allocation Committee shall have two officers, a Chair and Vice-Chair.

The Chair shall preside at all meetings, and function as the facilitator and running meetings to the agenda in a timely fashion. The Chair must be a voting student member of the Grant Allocation Committee. The Vice-Chair will assist the Chair with his/her duties and is responsible for keeping the meeting minutes. In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair shall assume all duties of the Chair. The Vice-Chair must be a member of the Grant Allocation Committee.

Student appointees for the following year will be submitted to Grant Allocation Committee in the spring, and the Chair and Vice-Chair for the new academic year will be selected by the current Grant Allocation Committee.

Section 1.4 — Terms of Office

Each member of the Grant Allocation Committee shall be appointed for one year. Student terms will set to the academic calendar. Terms begin on the first day of the fall semester and end on the final day of the following summer semester.

Faculty and staff terms will run from January 1st to December 31st of the term year. The staggering of Committee terms is intended to preserve institutional memory. The Chair and Vice Chair shall hold office for one year. Committee members may serve no more than two consecutive terms but the total number of terms they may serve is not limited.

Section 1.5 — Member Qualifications

All student members of the Grant Allocation Committee must be registered (full or part time) USC students during their term of office. Students graduating at the end of the spring semester or a subsequent summer session are still eligible for committee membership, even though their student status may technically expire prior to the end of summer. Staff and faculty members of the Grant Allocation Committee must be currently employed by USC.

Section 1.6 — Proxy Voting

A member may vote by proxy for a funding decision meeting only if the member has notified the Chair or Vice-Chair in advance of the proxy’s name and title, the member has reviewed funding applications with the proxy and conveyed voting decisions to the proxy, and the proxy attends the meeting and votes on behalf of the member.

Section 1.7 — Member Replacement

A Committee member may be removed by a motion for removal by another member if the motion to remove is approved by a supermajority of the other Committee members. Removal is justified for unexcused absence, conflict of interest, or other reasons the committee deems appropriate. Any committee member under a motion for removal is guaranteed a presentation of at least three minutes of why he/she should not be removed from the committee.

In the event that a Committee member is removed or resigns, the original appointing body will select a replacement to serve for the duration of the original member’s term. Replacement member must coincide with representation stipulations articulated in Section 1.3.

Section 1.8 — Conflict of Interest

The Grant Allocation Committee shall conduct itself so that conflicts of interest are minimized and all potential conflicts of interest are made public (i.e. organizations of which a Committee member is a part). Where appropriate, the Committee member must refrain from using personal influence and recuse him/herself from voting on grant allocations for projects proposed by his/her respective group. For such votes, the “full Committee membership” as defined for voting majority purposes shall be decreased to account for the Committee member’s recusal.

When any such interest becomes relevant to the discussion or voting of any grant or any matter requiring action by the Committee and its entities, the member having any possible conflict must call it to the attention of the Committee Chair prior to the discussion of that item. However, any interested party who is excluded from the voting may answer pertinent questions.

ARTICLE 2 — FUND ALLOCATION & PROJECT SELECTION

Section 2.1 — Fund Allocation

As noted in Section 1.1, the Grant Allocation Committee shall decide the delegation of funds to approved projects by a majority vote. The Committee may elect to fund only a portion of the proposal.

Section 2.2 – General Requirements for Proposed Projects

All projects to be considered for USCGEF must meet the following criteria:

  • Project proposals must be submitted by USC students, with advisement from staff and faculty. Individuals and organizations outside of USC may not submit proposals independently.
  • Proposals must be signed by a faculty advisor that has evaluated the project and will continue to serve an advisor for the duration of the project.
  • All proposals must include a line item for signage that credits the project as “funded by the USC Green Engagement Fund” and logo with the year it was funded, which should be added to the project upon completion.
  • Projects must directly address environmental sustainability on USC’s campuses or community.
  • USCGEF Funding will not support projects already mandated by law or USC policy directive.
  • All projects must have defined and measurable outcomes and evaluation and reporting requirements.
  • All projects must comply with any other requirements determined by the Grant Allocation Committee.

Section 2.4 — Preferences and Guidelines for Proposed Projects

The Grant Allocation Committee shall give preference and priority to project proposals that also meet the following criteria. However, meeting these criteria is not required for projects to be considered for USCGEF funding. Preference will be given to projects that:

  • Demonstrate the greatest reduction in USC’s negative environmental impacts for the least cost,
  • Provide the largest cost savings to USC, and/or
  • Obtain matching funds from sources other than USCGEF
  • Projects have not received funding from USCGEF in the past
  • If a USC Department is receiving a benefit from a project’s implementation, the Committee is going to assume that in kind costs are absorbed by that department (e.g food, housing, transportation)
  • USCGEF Funding will not support direct wages or stipends
  • USCGEF Funding will support services provided by supporting departments (e.g. Facilities Management Services, etc.)

Section 2.5 — Additional Project Criteria at Discretion of Committee

The Grant Allocation Committee may determine additional requirements or preferences for each year’s funding cycle, provided that these criteria are consistent with the overall mission of USCGEF and its bylaws.

Section 2.6— Other Rules for Funds

The fund shall allocate 10% of its annual starting budget for contingency of projects. The use of these funds for contingency can be permitted by the Chair and Vice Chair of the committee if a project requires additional finances for items included and/or allocated for in the funding decision up to 10% of the original request.

In the case that a funded project requires additional finances for items not included and/or allocated for in the funding decision, the project team must submit a “grant enhancement” application to be voted on during a future committee meeting.

Any funds not allocated in a given year shall remain in the USCGEF account for future use. Funds allocated to a project that are not spent within the project timeframe shall be returned to USCGEF for reallocation. USCGEF funds are not to be used or reallocated for purposes other than those described in this document.

USCGEF shall continue to operate even after student fees are no longer collected into the Fund as long as sufficient monies remain or are deposited into the account from alternate sources.

ARTICLE 3— ACCOUNTABILITY, RECORDS, & REPORTS

Section 3.1 – Accountability of Projects

All projects funded by USCGEF shall report to the Chair at a prescribed date near the end of every grant cycle, annually from the project’s inception (if it is funded for multiple years), and at the project’s conclusion. The report must in the form of a poster that includes a comprehensive summary of the project, which includes the project objectives, alignment with the mission of the Green Engagement Fund, learning outcomes and benefits of the project, timeline, budget detailing the spending of funds, any relevant photos/videos that represent the project, and other requirements outlined by the Grant Allocation Committee.

Upon review, the Chair shall judge whether the funds were spent within the scope of the project. If the Chair feels the funds were spent outside of the project scope, the Chair may recommend that the Grant Allocation Committee terminate support for the project and/or require return of the funds to USCGEF.

Sections 3.2 — Records and Reports

USCGEF must keep on record minutes of meetings, accounting for the fund, projects selected each year, project reports, and annual reports published and available to the public on a website. The annual report should be sent to the Undergraduate Student Government, Graduate Student Government, Office of Sustainability, Academic Senate, Staff Assembly, administrative departments or officials (as requested), and Environmental Student Assembly.

ARTICLE 4 — AMENDMENTS OF BYLAWS

A supermajority vote by the voting members of the Grant Allocation Committee may amend, create, or repeal portions of these Bylaws, unless doing so would materially and adversely affect the mission of USCGEF.

 

Link to Green Engagement Fund Application