Sustainability Fund

NC State students began contributing a sustainability fee per semester in fall 2013 following a student-led campaign that included pledges of support from more than 2,000 students and letters of support from faculty, staff and other campuses with sustainability fees. The fee generates $150,000 per year for the Sustainability Fund, which awards grants for campus sustainability projects that impact students. A student-led board manages the fund, which offers competitive grants for sustainability-related campus facilities improvements, educational programs, research, and student internships that create high-impact experiences for the student body. The fee is currently assessed at $5.00 per semester but will increase in small increments over time.

The application period for 2019-2020 fiscal year grants is now closed. Applications for FastTrack mini-grants will open in fall 2019, and the application for Sustainability Fund grants will open late fall semester 2019.

Grant Opportunities

Project Grants

The Sustainability Fund offers Project Grants to NC State students, faculty, and staff with a specific project idea to improve the sustainability of NC State’s campus and community in a visible and engaging way. There is no set award amount for Project Grants as we award funds to projects of all sizes. Historically, awards have ranged from $1,000 to $50,000. Around $150,000 will be available each year for the Project Grants program. The Sustainability Fund is specifically looking for those projects that help advance the goals of the university’s Sustainability Strategic Plan and result in high-impact experiences for students, faculty and staff. Proposals were due in February 2019 and winners will be announced in April 2019. Funds will be available in July 2019 for project spending through June 2020.

FastTrack Grants

The Sustainability Fund offers FastTrack Grants to student organizations with a specific initiative to improve the sustainability of NC State’s campus and community. Each FastTrack Grant will award $1,000 to registered student organizations that submit a proposal for an innovative use of the funds. We accepted applications for FastTrack Grants in early Fall 2018 and announced the winners in December 2018. Funds will be available to the selected recipients in January 2019 for use before June 2019. 

Important Dates

  • 2018 FastTrack Grant Application Opens: September 14
  • 2018 FastTrack Grant Application Deadline: October 19
  • 2018 Sustainability Showcase: November 6
  • Normal Project Grant Application Opens: November 16
  • FastTrack Grant Recipients Announced: By December 7
  • Normal Project Grant Application Deadline: February 15
  • Normal Project Grant Recipients Announced: Celebration of NC State Sustainability (RSVP). Please direct questions for more information regarding these events to

Funded Projects

2019-2020 Grant Cycle Recipients (learn more)

  • The establishment of an orchard on the Agroecology Education Farm. The orchard will grow diverse fruits for the NC State community and serve as a novel teaching tool for classes and workshops.
  • Installation of a rainwater catchment system with water storage and a solar-powered irrigation system for the Agroecology Education Farm.
  • Advancements of the aquaponics systems with a goal to ensure food safety and setting-up mobile table-top-sized aquaponics systems in high-trafficked areas for increase awareness and educational potential.
  • Creation of new connections to the energy industry across the state and learning at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center through engaging field trips across the state, student internships and more.
  • Technical and material support for Engineers Without Borders. The group plans to design and develop 18 water catchment systems that will provide a Guatemalan community with clean water.
  • The establishment of monitoring protocols for multi-year studies across campus to ensure our infrastructure is green and to highlight potential areas for improvement.
  • The implementation of a study to convert cars to hybrids on some of NC State’s fleet vehicles. This will reduce the school’s maintenance and fuel costs, as well as campus carbon footprint.
  • A pilot program to reduce single-use plastic straws on campus by providing reusable metal straws.
  • A concert by the Raleigh Civic Symphony and Chamber Orchestra highlighting social sustainability.
  • The establishment of a club focused on an exciting fitness trend to pick up litter while jogging, otherwise known as plogging.
  • Technical and material support for the solar-powered car development team on campus as the team finalizes its vehicle.
  • The relocation of the NC State’s SOUL Garden to Parents Park to improve student accessibility.
  • The establishment of the Student Energy Club, which will engage students in seminars with top leaders in the energy industry and connect undergraduates with research.
  • The construction of sustainably-managed mini vertical ecosystems that will beautify campus and serve as a unique educational experience for students, particularly those in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department.

Spring 2019 FastTrack Grants

 Grants in the amount of $1,000 are awarded to:

  • A group of NC State students in a senior design course developing an innovative tool kit to convert a vehicle from gas-powered to hybrid
  • Period @ NC State, which advocates for increased use of sustainable feminine hygiene products across campus
  • College of Veterinary Medicine students, who will promote sustainable dining options with reusable utensils
  • Zero Waste Wolves student organization, which will introduce a pilot paper towel compost system in Bragaw and Metcalf Residence Hall bathrooms.

Additionally, the Fund’s board awarded a $150 grant to SOUL Garden and the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which have partnered to develop a bike-powered irrigation system.

2018-2019 Grant Cycle’s recipients (learn more)

  • Design assessment for a solar-powered heating system at Bragaw Residence Hall.
  • Implementation of an aerated static pile composting system that allows for closed-loop, on-campus processing of compostable materials.
  • Installation at the Student Health Center of a window film designed to reduce bird collisions with the building while also providing an undergraduate research opportunity to assess the film’s effectiveness.
  • Installation of water bottle refilling stations at the College of Textiles.
  • Expansion of the Food Recovery Network, a student organization that addresses hunger by working with NC State Dining to recover leftover food from campus dining locations and distribute to local nonprofit organizations.
  • A pilot project that installs timers on Bragaw Residence Hall showers in order to raise student awareness of water use and reduce the building’s water consumption.
  • Improvement of trails and signage at Lake Raleigh to encourage running, biking and other outdoor activities on Centennial Campus.
  • Development of an Energy and Justice Service Trip to educate students about social environmental implications while participating in service projects such as clean up of waterways and after hurricanes. Read more
  • Restoration of the longleaf pine woodland on NC State’s Lake Wheeler Road Biological Field Laboratory involving prescribed burns with assistance from Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources students. Read more
  • Two concerts by NC State and Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra to create interdisciplinary conversation about environmental issues and sustainability initiatives. Read more
  • Interactive class assignment that teaches students in Environmental Sciences and other related courses about urban trees. By helping identify and measure campus trees, students will provide vital data to ensuring sustainable tree landscaping on campus. Read more

2017-2018 Grant Cycle’s recipients (learn more)

  • Project Complete: The completion of a roof-top garden on Talley Student Union, which will expand research, education and production of local food in an urban campus environment. Story
  • Project Complete: Installation of solar-powered scoreboards in University Recreation’s Method Road Field Complex. Story
  • Project Complete: Creation of a composting program in Wolf Village Apartments that will reduce waste while also educating residents about composting. Story
  • Project Complete: Support for the student-led development of a solar-powered vehicle prototype that would seat four people and weigh under 900 pounds. Story
  • Project Complete: Campus installation of “bee hotels,” a series of solitary bee nesting habitats, along with signs to educate the public about the importance of these pollinators Story and Video
  • Project Complete: Improvements and expansion of the student-built aquaponics system that is in On the Oval restaurant on Centennial Campus
  • Project Complete: Research on healthy urban trees, which will maximize campus tree health while educating the public about best practices in tree care
  • Project Complete: Make-a-thon, a four-day challenge during which student teams research, design, prototype and build a new solution that addresses a sustainability challenge. Story
  • Project Complete: Installation of a campus bin for safe, responsible disposal of prescription medications at Student Health Services pharmacy. Story
  • Project Complete: New vegetables and infrastructure to deter deer at the student-led SOUL Garden on Centennial Campus. Story
  • Project Complete: Installation of a water-efficient drip irrigation system for garden beds at SOUL Garden
  • Project Complete: Educational campaign in NC State dining halls about food sustainability

2016-2017 Grant Cycle’s recipients (learn more)

  • Project Complete: Support bringing the Nile Project to NC State in March 2017 in partnership with NC State LIVE. Story
  • Project Complete: Pilot project for “floating islands” in water basins on Main and Centennial Campuses that will aid in passive water treatment and stormwater management.Story
  • Project Complete: Composting of cotton and fabric waste from the College of Textiles. Story | Photos
  • Project Complete:Sustainability graduate student position to strengthen relationships and build sustainability programs that engage the campus community at NC State Athletics events
  • Project Complete: Installation of a solar bus stop outside Witherspoon Student Center that will allow students to charge electronics while waiting for alternative transportation. Story | Photos
  • Project Complete: Pilot study using electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) in the Biotechnology program to reduce paper usage by 70 percent while also increasing student collaboration. Story
  • Project Complete: Pollinator-friendly landscaping beds at JC Raulston Arboretum. Story/Video
  • Project Complete: Pollinator-friendly meadow on Centennial Campus. Story | Photos
  • Project Complete: Collaboration with the second annual NC State Make-a-Thon, a design and innovation challenge focused on addressing campus sustainability issues. Photos | Story
  • Project Complete: Product development and testing of a student-created sensor that will be placed in campus waste and recycling dumpsters to monitor capacity and alert staff when emptying is needed. Story
  • Project Complete: A new Alternative Service Break (ASB) trip that involves student participants installing solar photovoltaic panels in underserved communities. Story
  • Project Complete: Collection and redistribution of unwanted furniture to students in the Pack Promise program. Story
  • Project Complete: Two performances by the Raleigh Civic Symphony and associated educational events focused on the celebration of nature and the National Parks Service.
  • Project Complete: Installation of water bottle refilling stations in Jordan Hall and D.H. Hill Library and a corresponding educational poster competition.
  • Project Complete: Purchase of food storage pans to support the new student-led Food Recovery Network on campus. Story

2015-2016 Grant Cycle’s recipients (learn more)

  • Project Complete: Two projects to install additional solar trash compactors on campus
  • Project Complete: Performance of the Great Animal Orchestra Symphony during NC State’s Earth Month 2016. Photos
  • Project Complete: Reconstruction of a garden bed and installation of signage at the student-led SOUL Garden
  • Project Complete: Implementation of a “BioBlitz” project that will survey the diversity of campus wildlife. Story
  • Project Complete: Installation of an aquaponics system that will provide food for University Dining and local food banks. Story | Video
  • Project Complete: Marketing materials for the Campus Farmers Market
  • Project Complete: Installation of an outdoor solar charging station near Tucker Hall. Story
  • Project Complete: Student internship and workshop supplies for NC State’s Compost Training Facility
  • Project Complete: Student internship and supplies for NC State’s Agroecology Education Farm

2014-2015 Grant Cycle’s recipients (learn more)

  • Project Complete: Development of a community garden and apiary near the College of Veterinary Medicine.  Story | Photos
  • Project Complete: Purchase of six bikes, bike maintenance items and two smart locks to support the existing residential bike sharing program at the Quad.
  • Project Complete: Installation of a sculptural solar energy system on Centennial Campus. Story | Video
  • Project Complete: Installation of a solar trash compactor, which has five times the capacity of a conventional waste bin. Story

Fund Advisory Board

The Sustainability Fund Advisory Board manages the fund with the oversight of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. Operating under a constitution and bylaws, the student-led board consists of 10 voting members, which include an interdisciplinary group of NC State students, faculty, and staff. If you have questions, please email the Fund Advisory Board Chair at Vacancies on the Advisory Board will be announced on this web page (typically in late Spring). The Board’s responsibilities include:

  • Review FastTrack and Project grant proposals and identify recipients in line with available funding and the university’s sustainability priorities.
  • Assist potential project teams and student organizations with the development of their idea into a solid proposal by offering help sessions and connecting potential projects with past projects that have demonstrated success.
  • Administer the finances of the sustainability student fee assessed as a part of tuition each semester.
  • Set the dates, guidelines and requirements for the funding programs.
  • Monitor the progress of projects and assess the long-term impact of projects.
  • Document the impact of the Fund and communicate the effectiveness of the Sustainability Fund on an annual basis.
  • Participate in marketing and outreach activities for the Sustainability Fund.
  • Promote Sustainability Fund projects through social media and university communications.
  • Participate in an annual review the student fee used to support the Fund with the University Budget Office.

2018-2019 Advisory Board Members

ChairMadeline Macmillan, Undergraduate Student in Environmental Engineering
Vice ChairKaitlin Brätt, Undergraduate Student in Sustainable Materials and Technology
TreasurerBen Dodson, Undergraduate Student in Environmental Science
Kyra Levau, Undergraduate Student in Environmental Science
Student Government representativeMeredith Bain, Undergraduate Student in Mathematics
Graduate Student RepresentativeAnnie Wang, Doctorate Student in Veterinary Medicine
Undergraduate Student RepresentativeSamuel Shain, Undergraduate Student in International Studies
Faculty RepresentativeDerek Aday, Professor and Head, Department of Applied Ecology
Faculty RepresentativeAndrew Fox, Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture
Facilities Division RepresentativeSumayya Jones-Humienny, Office of the University Architect
Sustainability Office RepresentativeTracy Dixon, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Energy Systems

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is given to each project?

Each year the total amount of project funding grows based on the revenue earned from the Sustainability Fee. Historically, we have distributed around $150,000 each year and divided that up among projects based on needs and scope. Each project receives a different amount based on what they requested in their proposal. In the history of the Fund, project grants have ranged from $1,000 to $50,000. The Advisory Board does not have a requirement that multiple projects have to be funded; all of the funds could be granted for a single project. FastTrack Grants are limited to a maximum award of $1,000 per student organization.

Can Sustainability Fund grants fund student interns?

Yes, the Sustainability Fund can award funds for student interns. However, funds will not be allocated for staff/faculty salary.

Do projects have to complete a final report at the conclusion of the project?

Yes, all projects submit both a mid-year report and a final report to the Sustainability Fund Advisory Board. This provides the Board an opportunity to learn about the impact of the project.

Does the Board prefer a long-lasting impact project that makes a continued difference?

The Board is looking to fund projects that will make an impact in terms of sustainability. We will fund one off conferences or speaker events, solar panel installations, or large-scale sustainable infrastructure improvements as examples. The Board prefers projects that can impact as many students as possible, but a project that deeply impacts 10 students can be just as important and beneficial as a project that briefly impacts 2,000 students.

Can projects be completed before the due date of the following summer?

Funds for Project Grants will typically be available following a disbursement meeting which happens in late August. The project will have the length of the academic year to spend their funds with the goal of finishing the project by the end of the academic year. In special circumstances, we are able to make funds available earlier (in July) or extend the spending deadline (into May). Any unspent funds remaining after June 15 will be forfeited. FastTrack grants will have their funds accessible after their disbursement meeting in early January. The same deadline applies.

Who can apply?

Students, staff, faculty and registered student organizations can apply for grants. Staff and faculty applications must display the project’s impact on students and opportunities for student involvement. Applications for FastTrack Grants must be completed by registered student organizations.

Will the Board partially fund a project? Do they require matching funds?

Partially funded projects occur on a per-case basis. The Board does not require matching funds, though matching funds or an outside monetary commitment can strengthen an application.

Can you submit multiple proposals?

Yes, students, staff and faculty can submit as many proposals as they wish.

How many people can you have on a project?

There is no limit to the number of people on a project, though there should be one or two project leads. Students are encouraged to have a staff/faculty mentor for projects as well.

How long is the application?

Applications can be a maximum of six pages. An attached document section is not counted toward this maximum.

When does the project have to start? And why is the start date July 1?

The start date of July 1 is the beginning of the new fiscal year. Projects are not required to start over the summer, though they are encouraged to start as soon as possible to ensure the project follows its timeline and is successful.

For a project with some optional components in the budget, should I submit one application or two?

If you have a project that has optional components, please include all components in one application and note in the application which components of the project are necessary and which are optional. Please also set up the budget accordingly so the price of each components, necessary or optional, are included. This gives the Board the most flexibility in potentially funding projects in whole or in part depending on each component. Please do not submit each component as a separate application, or separate applications with components added or subtracted. That being said, groups and individuals can still submit multiple applications as long as they are for different projects.

What is the most effective strategy for requesting funds?

For the best chance, we recommend that your project be broken into phases, if possible. We recognize that some projects require all parts to be funded to complete the project. However, if your project can be broken into phases, and we cannot fund the entire project, we could offer to cover some of the phases of the project, rather than denying the proposal outright.

Can I see a proposal of a successfully funded project from previous years?

To get more information on any project please contact the Board Chair.

Since this is our first year offering the FastTrack Grant program, we are unable to offer example projects for this program.