Eco-Equity Challenge to Fund Student-Led Environmental and Social Justice Projects

Undergraduate and graduate students can submit applications until March 17.

January 28, 2015

By Brittney Dunkins

George Washington University students with solutions to pressing social and environmental problems have a new opportunity to bring their ideas to life: the Eco-Equity Challenge (EEC).

Up to $15,000 will be distributed for undergraduate and graduate student projects through the grant program, which is funded by the Siemens Corporation. The initiative is a partnership between the GW Office of Sustainability and the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.

“We want students to be innovative in developing proposals that tackle all types of social and environmental issues through community partnerships,” Sustainability Project Facilitator Ronda Chapman said. “With Siemens’ support, we can reinvest in students and in the community.”

Proposals will be accepted until March 17. Students will work with a community partner, such as a nonprofit or other organization, to complete their projects during the 2015-16 academic year.

Ms. Chapman said that when developing a proposal, students should consider how social and environmental problems are interconnected. For example, issues such as poor indoor air quality in affordable housing units or access to healthy food and obesity rates in low-income communities, have a combined social and environmental impact.

“Students who are selected will have an opportunity to think critically about social and environmental justice issues and devise solutions that meet the needs of the community,” said Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service Executive Director Amy Cohen. “They will also benefit from working closely with community organizations throughout every step of the process—carrying out this type of project demonstrates important skills to employers.”

GW faculty and staff from the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and the Office of Sustainability will help students design practical plans for their projects and navigate relationships with community organizations.

“Faculty and staff will serve as a primary resource for students, helping them walk through the process,” Ms. Chapman said. “It’s similar to GW’s other service-learning opportunities in that these projects will be truly student led and benefit everyone involved—students, the university and the D.C. community.”