“The Green Fund’s main goal is to raise awareness about sustainability practices on campus with an emphasis on encouraging students to practice eco-friendly actions,” says Theo Noussi, UNCG Green Fund committee member. “We want to show that local action can have a ripple effect on the Greensboro community in a positive way.”
In 2016, UNC Greensboro students elected to allocate a portion of their student activity fees toward environmental stewardship and created the UNCG Green Fund. Since then, the campus-based grant program has invested in 77 projects related to sustainability. While the overarching goal is to support the UNCG Climate Action Plan, the committee prioritizes proposals that focus on Just Sustainabilities and Sustainability Outreach and Education.
Funding Sustainable Projects
Governed by a committee of students, the Green Fund financially supports projects that champion at least one of UNCG’s four fundamental pillars of sustainability: social equity, environment, economy, and aesthetics. While faculty and staff experts assist the committee through the proposal review process, they do not have voting rights. All decisions to fund projects are decided by a majority student vote.
“Over the last few years, the majority of proposals have been submitted by faculty and graduate students. We get a number of requests from facilities, for example, for more sustainable lighting for dorms,” says Green Fund Co-Chair Catherine Bowlin. “But we accept proposals from all students and staff.”
“One of my favorite and probably most impactful projects we’ve funded is a public art display on Gate City Boulevard,” Bowlin adds. “It is a collaborative project between the College of Visual and Performing Arts and Industries of the Blind. It’s a great example of how environmental awareness and love for the environment can be nontraditional. The art is off campus, but it definitely positively affects both the Greensboro and UNCG communities.”
“Last semester, we funded two solar-powered picnic tables on campus,” says Noussi. “They have charging stations, so you can hang out while you charge your phone or laptop. Maybe it will make people think about how it’s working and trigger interest in sustainability because it’s fun and more appealing to students. This was proposed by a 9th grader at UNCG Middle College. We were fascinated by the whole proposal.”
The tables should arrive by the end of the Fall semester and will be placed next to the fountain in Moran Commons Plaza.
As a PhD candidate in Nanoscience, Noussi considers his tenure as a committee member a great learning experience. “My advisor recommended I look into applying because he knew I was interested in the environment and environmental protection based on my research. It’s been interesting being on the other side of proposals, and I now understand how it works from both the writing and reviewing perspective. I’m learning and growing as an individual. It’s been a rewarding experience.”
Bowlin, a PhD candidate in English Literature, sees serving as a committee member and now co-chair as “a practical way to make a small difference on campus. As an English major, I spend so much time reading and writing, and I focus on reading and writing about the environment. I make a concerted effort to actively participate in environmental stewardship; this is a good way to do that.”
The Green Fund members are always looking to welcome more undergraduate and graduate students to the committee and encourage everyone to submit proposals even if they aren’t perfect. “It’s okay to send a proposal with the expectation that we will help develop your idea over the semester. Just go for it!” Bowlin says. Students need to have a UNCG employee (faculty or staff) serve as an advisor on their project and sign their proposals before submitting them to the committee.
Visit the Green Fund proposal web page for information about submitting your proposal.
Explore the UNCG Green Fund
To learn more about the UNCG Green Fund and the projects it has funded, visit the website!
Story by AMBCopy, University Communications
Photography provided by Martin W. Kane