Green Grants Guidelines
NYU Green Grants fund an array of projects that aim to improve the university’s sustainable operational performance, increase environmental literacy, foster community engagement, advance applied research and design, and demonstrate the viability of emerging practices and technologies for sustainability. At the Office of Sustainability, we define sustainability as addressing the needs of future generations while meeting our current needs, by recognizing and respecting nature’s limits socially, economically, and ecologically.
This application guide is meant to help you understand the process of applying for a Green Grant, what we are looking for in a project, and provides advice on how to submit the strongest possible proposal.
Proposal submissions are due either on or around the first Sunday of each month, while the optional preliminary Expression of Interest (EOI) can be submitted at any time of the year (though it is HIGHLY encouraged that you submit an EOI a few weeks before the proposal submission deadline). Fixed dates for proposal reviews and blank proposal forms can be accessed from the Green Grants home page. Applicants are to download the .doc format form and e-mail completed proposals and any supplementary materials to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1.3 EXPRESSION OF INTEREST (EOI)
Prospective applicants have the option of submitting a brief preliminary Expression of Interest, which outlines the concept, scope, and budget of a project you are considering submitting as a full proposal (this is not a required step to submit a full proposal, but is HIGHLY encouraged to increase the chances of successfully receiving a grant and adhering to all program policies).
Program staff reviews EOIs, often with support from the current year's Green Grants Selection Committee where possible. Program staff aim to provide preliminary feedback for EOIs within two weeks of submission, and further consultation may be available if desired.
EOI feedback is designed to highlight obstacles that applicants should address before submitting full proposals, suggest dialogue between applicants developing similar or synergistic ideas, and share initial reactions to the scope and intent of applicants’ projects. EOIs also enable program staff to connect applicants with relevant university experts, administrative decision-makers, and other useful resources.
Projects that pilot innovative ways to improve material, physical, or infrastructural elements at NYU, from food services to energy reduction. Proposed projects may not include green roofs, which fall outside the scope and scale of Green Grants.
Activities that foster a campus culture of sustainability, such as efforts to improve environmental literacy, projects which stimulate behavior change, and activism.
RESEARCH AND/OR DESIGN
Research or design projects that create new sustainability opportunities. These projects must be integrated with the university campus or community through use of NYU as a test-bed for data collection, or by producing deliverables with potential to catalyze operational, academic, or cultural change at NYU. “Living Lab” projects are encouraged as they cyclically engage both data collection and application. Entrepreneurial ideas typically fall under this category, and both for-profit and non-profit ventures are eligible.
Projects which improve the university’s capacity for educating around sustainability, including curricular initiatives. We highly recommend that faculty are involved in these projects.
Grants may also explore any combination of the above categories.
STEP 1: Understand our grant policies and application procedure by thoroughly reviewing this guide.
STEP 2: Submit an EOI before your intended proposal submission date (optional).
STEP 3: Once you’ve received feedback on your EOI, make the appropriate edits and craft your proposal. Further consultation may be available where possible.
STEP 5: Once you have received notice that your grant has been awarded, schedule a contract signing meeting with the Office of Sustainability.
STEP 6: Once you've signed the contract, you will review the Green Grant Purchasing Guide and can begin working on your project. Budget tracking sheets will be updated throughout your grant.
STEP 7: At the blog post deadlines finalized during the contract signing, submit your blog drafts detailing your progress, including the metrics you have been using to track your progress and impact. More information can be found in the “Blog Post Guidelines” document shared during the project launch.
FINAL STEP: At the end of your project, submit your final report detailing the progress made, achievements, and impact as indicated by the metrics stipulated in your proposal.
3.2 POINTS TO TAKE NOTE OF
- Because NYU is a large and decentralized institution, be prepared to work closely with the Office of Sustainability to navigate the necessary protocols at NYU.
- After project completion, the Office of Sustainability aims to institutionalize applicable projects as permanent parts of NYU.
- Because so many proposals significantly impact the university’s operational processes and/or physical infrastructure, they frequently require fine-tuning to be practicable and executed. As an example: A student may propose placing a wind turbine on an NYU residence hall, but the building in question may be found to be structurally unsuitable. In this case, the Selection Committee may propose an alternate building. In these cases “conditional awards” are offered, and the Selection Committee may offer an award with revised terms or a reduced budget.
- It is not the intent of the Green Grants Selection Committee to alter the essential goals or outcomes of a submitted proposal without the willing consent of the project’s leader. If proposed modifications are found to be unworkable, applicants should withdraw the proposal from that round of funding and consider resubmitting it in another round.
To be considered for funding, your project proposal must include the following…
- PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION - You must identify the sustainability problem(s) or issue(s) addressed by your project. These can be concrete environmental problems like waste or energy consumption, or more abstract problems like a lack of education around or participation in a sustainability issue.
- PROJECT TEAM EXPERTISE - You (and your team members, if applicable) must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to execute the entire project. For example, your project team must include architects if your project involves siting a structure on or outside of a building. The project leader(s) must be the lead implementer(s) of the grant, carrying out the majority of the project and possessing a working knowledge of all aspects. Additional team members may play important roles and be paid for their work in some cases (see funding policies), but should be incorporated as auxiliary implementers. Students are highly suggested, but not required, to work with a staff or faculty member that can act as an advisor throughout the duration of the project.
- IMPACT MEASUREMENT PLAN - You must include a plan for measuring the effect(s) of your project in relation to the sustainability problem(s) your project addresses. You must also assess your project’s environmental impact and indicating what measures you’ll be taking to minimize it.
- SUPPORTING MATERIAL AND RESEARCH FOR IMMEDIATE START - You should have already thoroughly researched your project so that if it is awarded, you can begin immediately. IF your project is contingent on having permission to collaborate with another entity, you must include a letter of support from affiliated departments or institutions. E.g. If I want to install solar panels atop the Third North Residence Hall, I need to include a letter of support from the appropriate Third North personnel indicating that I will be able to carry out my project and that the building is suitable for having such fixtures installed/construction work done.
- PROJECT LEADER PROOF OF ABILITY (STUDENTS ONLY) - Each project will have at least one project leader responsible for submitting several check-in reports. The project leader(s) is required to submit a resume or letter of reference that demonstrates their diligence, responsibility, and ability to carry out an unsupervised, year-long project. Staff and faculty project leaders are welcome, but not required, to submit letters of support or reference.
5.1 APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY
- Project Leaders must be current NYU students, faculty, administrators or staff. Students are required to plan projects that end at least one month before their expected graduation date.
- All NYU sites within the Global Network University are eligible for Green Grants.
- Eligible applicants may apply together as co-project leaders if they have similar degrees of responsibility within a proposed project.
- Alumni, community organizations, and interested neighbors are permitted and encouraged to collaborate as members of project teams.
- No person may be a project leader on multiple open grants.
- Past Green Grant recipients are ineligible to apply again until they have completed all terms of their prior Green Grant. Students are limited to receiving funding for two green grants during the duration of student tenure at NYU.
- There is no limit to the number of times a project may be proposed for funding.
Proposed project budgets may total $20,000 at maximum. Green Grant budgets must list individual line-items, and thus cannot contain categorical slush funds such as "gardening supplies” (e.g. list out mulch, hoses, seeds, etc.). Note that all line-items listed on your proposal’s budget will stand as maximum spending limits if a grant is awarded; for example, if you are listing refreshments for a presentation in your budget, your spending on refreshments for that presentation will be capped at the value listed on your budget.
The following policies apply to all Green Grants:
- Outside experts, speakers, mechanics, etc. who are not affiliated with NYU can be paid for their services.
- Faculty and staff who already draw a wage at NYU cannot be paid any kind of honorarium or wage.
- Faculty and staff may hire casual student workers if they or a sponsoring department can take responsibility for supervision and approving timesheets. Green Grants staff cannot supervise or sign student timesheets.
- Tools and equipment, such as water meters, textbooks for curriculum development, shovels, etc. so long as they are demonstrably integral to the project.
- Promotional products or giveaways may not be the core aspect of a Green Grant project. These items are allowable only if justified as bolstering a core aspect of a project (e.g. materials that promote awareness or attendance for a core initiative).
5.3 PROPERTY OWNERSHIP
PHYSICAL/STRUCTURAL PROJECT DELIVERABLES
All physical materials purchased under Green Grants must be permanently installed and remain parts of projects for their lifetimes or be returned to the Office of Sustainability after the grant term.
- You should state in your proposal which of these two options you believe makes the most sense for your project.
- When grants are awarded, ownership terms specific to each project are finalized and become part of the Grant Agreement.
- New York University will not make claims to Intellectual Property, earned revenue, or equity on the basis of providing funding through Green Grant awards.
- The university does reserve the right to freely distribute media and information about projects’ impact as shared in final reports submitted by grant recipients.
- Materials which are generated through Green Grants sponsorship must recognize the university’s support (specific language will be provided).
5.4 GRANT SELECTION COMMITTEE
The Green Grants Selection Committee is assembled with representation from sustainability experts across university administration, faculty, and student stakeholder groups. The Green Grants Program requires consensus among Selection Committee members to award a grant.
Q. What is an EOI? How is it different from a full proposal?
A: The Expression of Interest (EOI) is a document that outlines the concept at an earlier stage in development than the full proposal, though they can also be a “dry run” of the proposal. Unlike proposals, EOIs are non-binding and do not require line-item budgets.
Q. Can I give myself an honorarium as part of my budget?
A. Honoraria can only be paid to individuals who are not affiliated with NYU.
Q. Can I pay for food?
A. Food may be purchased when it is integral to your project’s realization. It would be acceptable if your project is about food justice and culminates in an award ceremony with sustainable food, for example. Providing refreshments for volunteer labor is also acceptable. The quantity and price of food must be within reason and itemized on your budget with an explanation for each purchase.
Q. Can I contact the Office of Sustainability to ask questions?
A. If you have read this Application Process Toolkit and you have specific questions that are not addressed here, you can email email@example.com with questions.
Q. If I am proposing a research grant, can I include travel, training and conference expenses?
A. This program is designed for applied project grants, not travel or conference funds. However, if travel or a conference presentation is integral to your project’s success or completion, these expenses are not explicitly restricted, and you may apply to have them funded.
Q. What is the difference between a project leader and a project team member?
A. Project leaders are the individuals responsible for the creation and implementation of the project, and for writing the mid-term and final reports. Projects often require extra people to help carry out aspects of the project, and these individuals are called project team members. Project team members do not need to meet our eligibility requirements.
Q. Can I ask for funding for my thesis, dissertation or faculty research?
A. Yes, so long as your project also adheres to all other criteria contained in this document.
Q. Can my project improve on something that has already been done before?
A. Yes. You should include a clear description of how and by how much your project differs from and improves upon preexisting initiatives.
Q. What is the difference between awareness and education, and why do the Green Grants make the distinction between them?
A. We refer to outreach which results in permanent behavior change as education, while merely informing people about an issue is considered awareness. The best projects would be educational or increase involvement, that is, create systematic change, rather than provide mere information and awareness. Awareness comes before education, but it is not enough to produce the goals of the Green Grants. Green Grants require education, meaning that you can demonstrate that a person’s understanding of something has deepened. Pre- and post-surveys are common tools for measurement, and sustained behavior change is another indicator of learning.
Q. Can I count my Green Grant work as an independent study?
A. You may use Greens Grant funds in support of a thesis, dissertation research, course study or independent study, but you will still need a faculty sponsor as the Office of Sustainability is not the source of academic objectives, nor do we oversee them.