Brandeis Sustainability Fund
The Brandeis Sustainability Fund provides financial support to Brandeis undergraduate students willing to undertake projects and/or activities to improve Brandeis’ environmental sustainability efforts.
Recognizing the importance of environmental stewardship for the future of Brandeis University and the larger global community, this fund provides a student-driven funding mechanism that allows undergraduate engagement in the efforts to improve Brandeis’s overall environmental legacy. In time, the fund will enable Brandeis to actively pursue a more sustainable future for our campus and the community we live in, positioning the university as a leader in environmental sustainability.
Information for Applicants
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Students may apply at any time. Download the application.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Brandeis Sustainability Fund receives approximately $50,000 per year in student fees; unallocated funds rollover to the next fiscal year. The highest amount ever awarded for a single project is $90,000, in 2018 for the Shapiro Campus Center LED lighting project. The BSF committee can choose to fund projects below or above requested levels.
Yes! Events related to sustainability are part of the scope of the sustainability fund.
Yes, the Brandeis Sustainability Fund is open to any group with at least one undergraduate student.
- Theater in the Year of Climate Action ($2,650). The Parsnip Ship, a Brooklyn-based theater company, collaborated with students in THA 71A on the creation of short plays about climate action. The plays were performed for the public and recorded for podcast on April 21, 2023, in the Festival of the Creative Arts. The event included the play readings, a musical performance, and interviews with the playwrights, recorded for The Parsnip Ship's podcast. Sponsored by Arts Engagement with support from the Brandeis Alumni Arts Network Brandeis Sustainability Fund. Funds covered travel expenses and artists
- CAST 189A: Project Design Practicum ($5,600). This term’s work was a continuation of the CAST songwriting project below. Students took the oral histories they conducted in the Fall and the creative projects they produced, and, in collaboration with Boston-based artist Andy Li, designed and produced a public art project that will be on campus during the Festival of the Arts in spring 2023, and then somewhere in the town of Waltham. The funds covered materials and artist honorarium.
- Deis Water Confidence Testing ($4,200). The purpose of this project was to encourage everyone to use the water dispensers offered on campus and building students’ trust in the drinking water on campus by testing the quality of the water. Students proposed various means (detailed in ‘Communications’ in Section III) to educate students about the environmental harm of excessive plastic bottle consumption, as well as inform students about the water testing process through water quality reports.
- Move-out donation program ($14,270). This program captures the discarded items students would leave behind or put in the trash during move-out, to divert thousands of pounds of usable items from landfill and incineration. The program partners with Grad Bag, which provides a more equitable transition to college by collecting, refreshing, and repackaging lightly used dorm room essentials for redistribution to incoming students in need in the greater Boston area, including making items available to incoming Brandeis students in need. Grad Bag operates out of a temple in Newton, MA, where summer high school interns work to refresh and repack all the lightly used dorm supplies they receive.
- Battery-powered lawn equipment ($34,750). Building on the sustainable grounds management initiatives, funds will be used to purchase Brandeis’ first commercial-grade electric lawn mower. Benefits include an estimated annual 8 MT reduction in CO2e emissions, a 72% reduction over a comparable gas-powered mower.
Free copies of Beginning to End the Climate Crisis for students ($3,125). Brandeis University Press, the not-for-profit publisher, is published Prof. Sabine von Mering's translation of German youth climate activist Luisa Neubauer and Alexander Repenning’s Beginning to End the Climate Crisis. A History of Our Future. On March 30th, in conjunction with the Year of Climate Action and the Center for German and European Studies’ 25th anniversary, the book was launched in a book talk moderated by WBUR’s environment reporter Miriam Wasser. All students in attendance were offered a free copy of the book.
- CAST songwriting project ($4,000). Climate change topics were central in this year’s version of CAST 150b, Introduction to Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation. The last 7 sessions of the course were devoted to a design lab on climate justice, where the students prepared for and conducted oral history interviews with people in the Waltham area who have been selected by the Charles River Watershed Association. For this semester, the Design Lab culminated in a song-writing workshop that engaged students (and others who participated in the Design Lab) in reflecting on and synthesizing their learning in a creative, community-building, and energizing way. The Design Lab was a collaboration between CAST and the Charles River Watershed Association, with intensive participation from ENVS, Creative Writing, and the Office of Sustainability at Brandeis.
- Field trip and guest speakers for Soc 112b, Social Class and Social Inequality ($1,000). Prof. Karen Hansen designed this year's course to dovetail with the Brandeis Year of Climate Action. The final four-week unit focused on Environmental Justice and students’ group project centered on an environmental justice issue. For each unit (structural inequality, employment, and wealth), the class examined pathways for change. The students took a field trip to the ICA Watershed in East Boston and welcomed guest speakers who are activists in environmental justice to talk about and debate the merits of their approach, as well as its limitations, to help students learn about future choices and multi-faceted strategies for creating change.
- The Caterpillar Lab @ Brandeis ($2,750). In collaboration with the Environmental Studies Program, The Caterpillar Lab set up displays on campus during the peak of caterpillar season to discover, discuss, and delight in our backyard pollinators. The lab brought their exhibit to Fellows Garden, including caterpillars and adult moths, butterflies, and the parasitoids and predators who rely on them. Students spent two afternoons with large, charismatic caterpillars, microscopic leaf-eaters, and knowledgeable caterpillar naturalists to explore the whole story of insects, plants, and biodiversity in our green spaces.
- Warming Stripes Banner ($623). With the help of students, Prof. Sally Warner sewed a large banner depicting “warming stripes,” which show how much global temperature has risen over the past 140 years due to climate change. The banner was hung around the railing in the Shapiro Campus Center. Several students joined the sewing party to create the approximately 43-yard-long banner. Funds covered banner materials.
- Climate Change in Calculus course development ($2,000). The Math Department was awarded funds to pay graduate assistants to create a climate change-themed version of the standard Calc I (Math 10a) course at Brandeis. The course was subsequently offered in the 2022-2023 academic year and beyond. The course covers all the same material as the regular Calc I course, so that students still meet prerequisites for other classes and requirements for majors, but the course material will be centered around climate change. The course was inspired by Prof. Thomas Pfaff at Ithaca College: http://sustainabilitymath.org/. The climate change aspect of this course will serve as motivation for the fundamental techniques of calculus, and students will also gain some fundamental literacy in the analysis of climate-related data.
- Create your own Year of Climate Action programming (for clubs and campus groups) ($5,000). This program was created for Brandeis student groups that wish to create programming related to climate change, climate justice and/or sustainability during Brandeis' Year of Climate Action. The goal of this program was to allow students to create the kinds of events they would like to attend, with the climate change-related content they care about most, using funding outside of the regular Marathon schedule to allow for maximum flexibility. Funds could be used for food, screening fees, speaker fees, and more. The event itself must focus on a climate change-related theme. The maximum amount of funding available is $500. Funds were awarded for a bus to attend the Boston Climate Rally; for the Hold Thy Peace theater group; for a residence life event organized by CA Jolecia Saunderson; and to student Daniel Block for his project with the Lemberg Children's Center garden.
- Environmental Maker in Residence (Brandeis MakerLab) ($2,500). The MakerLab has partnered with the Brandeis Office of Sustainability to offer micro-grants and technical support for Brandeis community members who want to have a positive impact on the environment. Open to students, staff, and faculty, the micro-grants (up to $500 each) can be used for materials or equipment for projects that will have environmental benefits on a local, regional, or global scale. The MakerLab is deeply committed to stewarding this planet which sustains us, and was excited to launch this program in concert with Brandeis’s Year of Climate Action. Especially encouraged will be projects that support regenerative or circular economies, ecological restoration, or climate mitigation and resilience.
- Organizer in Residence from Our Climate ($20,000). In collaboration with the Vic and Bobbi '63 Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation, Eben Bein, the Massachusetts Field & Education Manager for Our Climate and Administrator for the Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition, came to campus to provide several four trainings for students on how to advocate for the science-based, equitable and intersectional climate justice policies, which were formatted in a series of "action dinners." He then prepared and organized meetings with the MA State Legislators representing campus, inviting students to join, in January of 2023 during the annual youth climate lobby day.
- Sojourn Theatre Residency ($17,000). Using Brandeis' Year of Climate Action as a point of inspiration and frame of reference, The Department of Theater Arts brought the Sojourn Theatre to Brandeis to collaborate with Brandeis Students during a two-week residency from September 11-24, 2022. Students worked with two Sojourn Theatre Artists to create Year of Climate Action / A Devised Participatory Performance. The work was created in collaboration with Sojourn Theatre Artists using a variety of techniques Sojourn Theatre uses to create their signature performances using a "best practice model" for arts-based civic dialogue. Each 20-30 minute presentation was followed by an audience discussion facilitated by Sojourn Theatre Artists and Brandeis students. One of the performances was also included as a Critical Conversation.
- Organic landscape management pilot ($12,893). In 2022, as part of our Year of Climate Action, Brandeis piloted several organic land management practices. The pilot included:
- Replacing the herbicide Roundup, which contains glyphosate, with an organic and non-glyphosate product on an as-needed basis.
- Replacing a pesticide used to treat grubs, insects that feed on the roots of grass, with an organic product on an as-needed basis.
- Using organic fertilizer instead of synthetic fertilizer on the 7 acres of lower campus (area south of Loop Road).
- Purchasing its first electric leaf blower and electric trimmer in an effort to eliminate some use of gas-powered equipment. The team already uses an electric chainsaw and electric hedge trimmers.
- Incorporating additional measures to improve the soil naturally, such as applying compost to nourish the vegetation, and purchasing and applying more drought-tolerant grass seed.
- Research Educational Field Sites to Fight Climate Change ($300). This project funded Emmy Huefner '22 in an independent study to help Professor Warner design a new Environmental Studies course called Our Local Waterways. This course, now offered by Prof. Warner, focuses on connecting Brandeis students to local organizations (non-profit and government) that are working toward healthier and more resilient waterways including the Charles River, Boston Harbor, and Massachusetts Bay. Emmy's role in the project was to research and visit local sites around the greater Boston area that will engage students in experiential learning that revolves around learning about and reducing the impacts of climate change. Funds from BSF covered expenses incurred while visiting sites and organizations.
- Guest Speakers for ENG 113b, Performing Climate Justice ($1,300). Proposed by faculty member Thomas A. King, Associate Professor of English, on behalf of 30 students enrolled in ENG 113b, Performing Climate Justice. Events may also be opened to Brandeis students in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation; English; Environmental Studies, and Theatre Arts. Speakers included both those working on climate justice and in solidarity with those struggling against environmental racism, and artists exploring creativity as a response to climate inaction and the continued acceleration of fossil-fueled, consumption-based economy. Having guest speakers supports the course’s goal of centering the embodied know-how and critical thinking of artivists, change agents, community organizers, journalists, and others who may not have traditional access to the academy.
- Integrating Climate Change Topics into the Curriculum Faculty Workshops: In preparation for the Year of Climate Action, BSF funded up to $14,000 to hold a series of workshops for faculty across disciplines focused on ways to integrate sustainability/climate change into their courses. The first workshop was held in January 2022.
- Compostable Cutlery, Bowls, and Plates for Midnight Buffet: This project provided $700 to the Student Union for compostable products to be used during the Midnight Buffet event.
- Project Pollinator Expansion: Building on the success of our first pollinator garden located at the Science parking lot hill, this project was awarded $6,300 to both expand the existing pollinator garden and plant a new garden outside the Rose Art Museum. The garden was planted in collaboration with the Rose Art Museum, Prof. Colleen Hitchcock, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, and Chair, Environmental Studies Program, and the Lemberg Children's Center Environmental Action Force (LEAF) program. The garden was planted by the LEAF interns from Waltham High School. The gardens will continue to be used as part of Biol23 Ecology and Biol17 Conservation Biology for biodiversity studies.
- Compost Bags for Student Rooms: To support students who want to compost waste created in their rooms and suites, Brandeis Sustainability Ambassadors handed out free compost bags.
- Brandeis Clubs Stop Being Trashy: An initiative by Students for Environmental Action to provide student clubs access to an inventory of free compostable items as well as compost bins for use at their club events.
- Sustainability Education Grants: Award $500 grants to faculty members to incorporate education and materials that focus on issues of climate change and sustainability within their specific course topic.
- Green Waltham Project: An initiative by the Heller Environmental Justice Working Group to plant more trees on campus and in the surrounding community. In cooperation with facilities administration, the group identified space for nearly 20 trees to be planted on campus, and planted several trees.
- Water Coolers for Café Areas: In cooperation with Sodexo and procurement and business services, install rented water coolers at Einstein’s, Starbucks, Domenic’s, Dunkin' and the science and Mandel cafés, thereby eliminating the need for these vendors to sell bottled water.
- INaturalist Kits for the City Nature Challenge. In cooperation with the environmental studies and biology departments, purchase and assemble kits comprising clip-on phone camera lenses, petri dishes and butterfly nets for students participating in iNaturalist's City Nature Challenge.
- High-Efficiency Irrigation System at the Lemberg Children’s Center. Install a high-efficiency drip irrigation system at The Lemberg Children’s Center, with a goal of reducing outdoor water consumption by half.
- Field Supplies for ENVS 2a. Purchase field notebooks and hand lenses for use by students enrolled in Fundamentals of Environmental Challenges to identify dozens of species of local trees and study the changing of the seasons in Sachar Woods.
- Compostable Springfest: Purchase compostable cups and plates for the university's annual music festival.
- Cupanion: Provide reusable water bottles to the incoming class of 2023.
- Save Ohno: Sponsor the third annual Save Ohno competition, a computer platform that tracks real-time actions in energy-saving and sustainability performance.
- Stickers: Distribute stickers promoting tap water and reusable water bottles to members of the Brandeis community.
- Water Fountains: Install more water bottle filling stations around campus, with priority given to freshman and sophomore residence halls.
- Brandeis Earth Day: A full day of activities designed to focus the entire campus on ways to put Brandeis at the forefront of the sustainability movement.
- Charles River Grad Housing Energy Efficiency: Install and test energy-efficient technology designed by Telkonet in the Charles River Apartments.
- Food for Thought: Provide students with reusable green boxes for use at Sub Connection in Upper Usdan dining hall.
- Green Move-Out: Implement a program that encourages students to recycle and donate furniture and other possessions as they vacate their residence hall room at the end of the year.
- Green Space: Create a space for students to study in the presence of greenery and growing plant life.
- Heller Composting: Institute a successful composting program at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management in support of its mission of social change and core value of environmental sustainability.
- People Towels:Distribute free, high-quality, eco-friendly hand towels from the company People Towels, and promoting sustainable hand-drying practices through flyers featuring our mascot, Petey the Towel Owl.
- Plant Power: Provide training to the Sodexo chef in the preparation of quality vegan food options for campus dining halls.
- Save Ohno: Sponsor the second annual Save Ohno competition, a computer platform that tracks real-time actions in energy-saving and sustainability performance.
- Winterizing and Sustaining the Rooftop Farm: Install sturdier cold frames over part of the Brandeis Rooftop Community Farm atop Gerstenzang Science Library.
- Zero Waste Events Pilot: Purchase waste bins and hire staff to facilitate waste diversion at catered campus events.
- Athletes Going Green: Raise sustainability awareness among student-athletes by placing a recycling bin, compost bin and educational flyers in each athletic team's locker room.
- Eat What You Take: Create signage encouraging sustainable food consumption for display in campus dining halls, and collect food waste every day for a week to measure results.
- Flip the Switch: Develop a mobile app that shows energy waste in empty campus rooms where lights were left on.
- Greener Dorms: Purchase five-minute shower timers and cold water laundry detergent for use in residence halls to reduce campus water and electricity usage.
- Greening the Festival of the Arts: Print advertising materials for the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts on recycled content, in support of this year's theme of sustainability.
- No Misturns, Only Cisterns: Fix the turbine battery circuit that powers the current cistern in Mandel Center for the Humanities.
- Solar-Powered Picnic Tables: Install solar-powered picnic tables in frequently used outdoor spaces, beginning with the Fellow Garden area.
- Water Filler Expansion Project: Expand upon the Save-A-Latte program by promoting the use of reusable water fillers on campus.
- Project Pollinator: Restored field habitat by planting native plants near the Shapiro Science Center to support native insect populations.
- Save-a-Latte: Distribute free, custom-made, reusable coffee mugs to students.
Grants in Action
A group of Brandeis undergraduate students is developing a tool that puts energy saving in the palm of your hand.
Rabeya Hussaini '20, Miranda Lassar '20, Xinran Xin '20, Bec Sheinkopf '18, James Formigli '18, Lindsay Weiner '18, Ben Humbert '17 and Andrew Elmers '16 are the creators of Flip the Switch, a mobile application tailor-made for the Brandeis campus that allows users to turn off lights in academic buildings using WiFi.