CSSC Launches Zero Waste Mini-Grant Program

by Sydney Johnson

Starting in Spring 2015, the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC) will be providing mini-grant funding for student-led projects aimed at eliminating waste.

Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded for projects expected to last from January 1 to June 30, 2015. According to the CSSC website, short term projects will also be accepted “as long as they have measurable goals that track progress.” Students are encouraged to merge with existing community and campus projects already targeting the zero-waste goal, or fund an entirely new project. CSSC has listed example projects which include grey water systems, recycled art installations and sustainable dining ware sourcing.

Under the management of both students and recent alumni, CSSC is a network of student sustainability organizations throughout California whose goals include increasing ecological, economic and equitable sustainability. The organization stated online that the goal of the mini-grant program is to “invest in students creating zero waste campaigns and programs that innovatively address and solve for waste management challenges on their campuses.”

The mini-grant program comes as a result of student and alumni efforts to receive funding for solutions aimed at zero waste. “For over a year, I had been thinking of launching a CSSC mini-grant program to support innovative student-led campus sustainability solutions,” said CSSC development director, Zen Trenholm. “After floating the idea at our winter leadership retreat this past January, students requested that we build out a pilot program for this year.”

In partnership with the CSSC mini-grant program is World Centric, a California-based company that according to their website, “focuses on providing zero waste solutions to reduce environmental impact.”

As a part of the partnership, World Centric will be providing the funding for the grants.

“We normally do not collaborate with companies but World Centric’s business practices and authentic recognition of our student-driven autonomy makes them a great partner,” said Trenholm. “I’m excited to continue building out this relationship.”

In addition to helping fund the grant program, Trenholm said World Centric is also partnering to support campus zero waste projects alongside CSSC through workshops, team consultations, and application reviews.

CSSC is not alone in the quest for zero waste, which according to the Zero Waste International Alliance is defined as “designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.” For example, UC Berkeley and Cal Dining have both made it a goal to reach zero waste by 2020. In addition, many cities in California have implemented programs to work towards eliminating waste, inducing San Jose, Santa Cruz and Berkeley.

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Before working at CSSC, Trenholm helped co-found SERC at UC Berkeley. “We founded SERC to be an institutionalized hub for students to develop high-impact, far-reaching, and radical campaigns, programs, and projects that combat the social status quo and deliver sustainable solutions to our biggest issues,” said Trenholm. “This is the philosophy and mission of CSSC and why I joined the organization in 2009.”

“This zero-waste mini grant program is another example in a long-line of campaigns and projects where students lead front and center,” he continued. “Fossil Free UC, Students Against Fracking, TGIF, and SERC are all expressions of this type of passionate, strategic, and impactful student efforts.”

Noting the connection between his work as an environmental student at UC Berkeley and mission of CSSC, Trenholm said he invites the Berkeley community to join in further developing the zero-waste mini-grant program.

“We want our applicants to be open to learning how to better design and implement a solution; we’re looking to support creative organizers and entrepreneurs who want to use this program as a launchpad for bigger impact,” Trenholm said.

And it appears that applicants will not be alone in their zero-waste efforts. “We will be helping our candidates put together strong applications as we want to train students on how to design for success and secure funding for their vision,” Trenholm continued. “I want students to have the tools and willingness to create their own solutions and to think strategically about how we can have the strongest impact with the effort we put in.”

Applications are due to Zen Trenholm at zen@sustainabilitycoalition.org by January 16, 2015 and recipients will be notified of the Grant Advisory Committee’s decision by early February. Check here for more details on how to apply.

CSSC is welcoming feedback on their pilot mini-grant program. To discuss how to design and develop even stronger student incubation services and resources, email to Zen at zen@sustainabilitycoalition.org.

Posted in California Student Sustainability Coalition Magazine, CSSC News, Featured News and tagged , .