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Green Initiatives Fund

Green Initiatives Fund logo

The Green Initiatives Fund was created by the Swarthmore College Sustainability Committee to provide a means for members of the Swarthmore College community (students, staff, faculty and alumni) to initiate projects on campus that contribute creatively to the College’s sustainability commitments. Please submit a project proposal to help transform our campus into a more resource efficient, socially just, and sustainable environment. For an example, see a funded project from 2015

The application is live here -- Spring 2019 applications are due at 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 10 2019. 


The Green Initiatives Fund prioritizes:

  • Innovative pilot projects that have the potential to expand to create greater positive impact on campus (e.g., something piloted on a dormitory floor that is eventually adopted by the whole dorm or all dorms on campus).
  • Projects that help the College move toward a culture of Zero Waste, including by reducing waste generation and by improving our diversion waste streams.
  • Projects that help the College achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2035 (though projects that directly reduce other aspects of the community's environmental footprint are also considered important).
  • Projects that are tied to the curriculum and academic life at Swarthmore.
  • Projects that require a one-time investment rather than a need for sustained investment.

  • Projects that communicate to and educate the College community about the importance of personal responsibility and individual behavior change.

Funding Uses & Availability

Applications will be accepted once per semester, or until all funding for the semester has been allocated. There is no minimum amount that can be requested. Projects generally range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

The majority of funding requested should be used for materials. If necessary, professional labor can be hired for project implementation. Depending on the nature of the proposal, applicants may also be able to receive a stipend (based on the completion of project milestones) or a paid internship for their work. The amount of the stipend and the period of the internship will be determined by the Sustainability Committee.

How to Apply

The application process is as follows:

  1. Optional: Contact the Green Initiatives Fund working group of the Sustainability Committee to discuss your idea or ask questions. Email Melissa Tier, Sustainability Program Manager, at, to get in touch with the working group.
  2. Submit your project proposal via this Google Form. Soon after submission you will be assigned a point person from the Green Initiatives Fund working group who will serve as your point of contact throughout the remainder of the application process.
  3. Each semester, the Green Initiatives Fund working group will review all proposals on a rolling basis up until that semester's deadline (typically around fall/spring break). Your proposal could be rejected at this stage, you could be asked to make proposal changes, or it could be selected for further review by all members of the full Sustainability Committee. If selected for further review, the Sustainability Committee may invite you to attend a committee meeting to discuss your proposal and/or may suggest changes to your proposal.
  4. The Sustainability Committee will select several projects for funding each semester.
Examples of Previously Funded Projects
  • Orientation Reusable Utensils (2018). The GIF awarded $4,600 to Vanessa Meng ’20 in order to provide a set of sustainable, completely reusable bamboo utensils to every member of the Class of 2022 as well as all 2018-2019 Residential Peer Leaders (DPAs, GAs, RAs, & SAMs) during New Student Orientation. Said utensils, produced by To-Go Ware®, included a spoon, a fork, a knife, and a set of chopsticks in a portable carrying case. The intent of this initiative is to divert waste from single-use utensils on campus in order to reach Swarthmore’s goal of increasing community members’ resource consciousness.
  • Sustainable Spring Fling Gifts (2018). The GIF awarded $2,100 to Christie Ashton (Business Office) and Sue Watts (Human Resources) to replace the faculty and staff gifts at the 2018 Spring Fling event with a set of reusable bamboo utensils. The gifts at the event had historically represented the values of the College, and had, in the past, included a reusable lunch bag. The utensils were distributed with the hope that faculty and staff would include them with their daily meals.
  • DivaCups (2017). The GIF awarded $3,000 to Alice Holland (Director of Student Health and Wellness) in order to invest in health-conscious and eco-friendly menstrual products. The DivaCup is a bell-shaped menstrual cup that internally collects menstrual flow, and the Lunapad is a leak-resistant, reusable pad base that only requires changing the top of the pad. Both are washable and reusable, and decrease the chance of exposure to toxic chemicals in disposable menstrual products. These reusable menstrual products are not only environmentally-friendly, but also support the reproductive health of menstruating students.
  • Good Food Project Shed (2016). The Good Food Project received an award from the GIF to expand on its garden and work areas. This project included development of raised beds, signage, and a shed. The Good Food Project, an environmentally- and agriculturally-focused student group at Swarthmore, strives to produce sustenance of a superior quality and accessibility through environmentally-friendly practices.
  • Water-Conserving Showerheads (2016). As part of a GIF project, Scheynen Loeffler ’16, working alongside Garnet Go Green, helped Facilities to replace all of Swarthmore Athletics’ showerheads with new, water-conserving ones. The GIF awarded Loeffler and Garnet Go Green $318 in order to complete this project. The new Delta showerheads use only 1.5 gallons of water per minute, a 40% reduction from the previous showerheads. In addition to this, each athletic facility was fitted with one remarkably water-saving showerhead that uses only 1.35 gallons of water per minute. These showerheads are estimated to save 130,000 gallons of water and 7,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions annually. Go Garnet!
    • The following summer, Facilities dedicated funding to similarly replacing all showerheads in residence hall bathrooms. The planning and installation of this project was lead by Sierra Spencer ’18. You can read her article in the Phoenix about her project here.
  • Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (2015). Erik Jensen ’15 and Tony Lee ’15, as a project for their Engineering 90 course, utilized $10,000 in GIF funding to build two solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations at the College. As their application states, “this system would enable more zero-emission electric vehicles (including electric golf carts), offset daily electricity consumption, and generate aesthetic value while promoting sustainable lifestyle changes throughout the community. Ultimately, we hope that this project will help Swarthmore demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and help the College achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2035." Today, their electric vehicle charging stations stand proudly in the parking lot by the Fieldhouse. Read more about their project here.
  • Installation of Occupancy Sensors (2011). The GIF allocated a total of $5,000 to Facilities in order to install occupancy sensors and switches in bathrooms. In addition to this, the project involved posting signage by light switches in order to remind people to turn off lights when leaving rooms. Lights left on around campus bathrooms, although a seemingly menial nuisance, wasted enough electricity that the payback for this project was a mere three years.