The Campus Sustainability Innovation Fund supports projects that use Harvard’s campus or the neighboring community as a test bed for envisioning and piloting innovative solutions to sustainability challenges, including, but not limited to, climate and health.

Projects must tackle real-world challenges faced directly on campus or in the community, and lead to the practical application of emerging technologies or strategies that can be used to inform the University’s implementation of its Sustainability Plan.

The Fund will provide support for both research assistantships and original projects that are working directly under the guidance of a Harvard faculty member or researcher. The Fund is available to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral fellows, attending any of the Schools of Harvard University.

Application Process:

For the 2016–2017 academic year, there will be two deadlines, but applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Priority will be given to projects submitted earlier.

  • Fall Deadline: November 14, 2016
  • Spring Deadline: April 7, 2017

Applicants must fill out the application form.

Apply now

Application Checklist:

  • Project leader’s name
  • Project leader’s email address
  • Name of the project
  • Name of faculty sponsor
  • Name of staff partner (e.g., from the Office for Sustainability)
  • Names of other team members
  • If other funding is available/secured for other parts of this project, please describe
  • Project period
  • Please carefully explain the problem/challenge that the project is looking to address.
  • What (if any) research has already been conducted to assess the problem and/or to test the proposed solution?
  • One-page project plan that includes (1) goals, (2) strategy, and (3) outcomes
  • Summary/abstract
  • Requested $ amount
  • Budget and budget justification
  • How does the project relate to the Sustainability Plan?​​


Additional Fund Details:

  • Successful projects will aim to have an impact on operations and decision-making at Harvard’s campus, but may also provide scalable solutions that can be applied to other organizations or lead to a commercialized venture.
  • Projects must map directly to at least one of the goals, standards, or commitments in the Harvard Sustainability Plan, organized around the five core topics of emissions and energy, health and well-being, campus operations, nature and ecosystems, and culture and learning.
  • Projects from any discipline are welcome (e.g., the arts, humanities, sciences, business, law, policy, design, health, philosophy, engineering).
  • Project teams can include multiple Harvard students/postdoctoral fellows, but there must be one primary project leader.
  • Applicants must identify a faculty advisor and a staff partner (e.g., from the Office for Sustainability).
  • IRB approval is required for all projects that involve human subjects.
  • Projects of all sizes are encouraged and proposals up to $10,000 will be considered. Those projects with smaller budgets will have the opportunity to be reviewed on a shorter timeline.
  • Grantees will be required to submit an impact summary and a simple financial report at the end of the project period.
  • Grantees and their projects will be showcased in a public forum.
  • Multi-disciplinary projects are encouraged.

Evaluation Criteria:

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Impact on-campus and beyond
  • Innovation (originality, creativity)
  • Scalability/replicability
  • Connection to the Harvard campus
  • Connection to the Harvard Sustainability Plan

Resources available to applicants:

Mentoring and consultation from the Office for Sustainability is recommended and available to all potential applicants. Contact David Havelick:

Advisory Committee:

  • Harvard Office for Sustainability
  • Harvard Strategic Procurement
  • Matthew Guidarelli, Assistant Director, Social and Cultural Impact, Harvard Innovation Lab
  • Professor William C. Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Professor John Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Additional funding opportunities related to sustainability available around campus:

Student Sustainability Grants (Office for Sustainability)

  • Incubation fund that provides seed funding for creative student projects that align with the University’s sustainability and climate goals.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to submit proposals on a rolling basis, with a deadline of October 13, 2016.

Climate Change Solutions Fund (Office of the Vice Provost for Research)

  • Supports research and policy initiatives intended to hasten the transition from carbon-based energy systems to those that rely on renewable energy sources, to develop methods for diminishing the impact of existing carbon-based energy systems on the climate, and to propel scientific, technological, legal, policy and artistic innovations needed to accelerate progress toward cleaner energy and a greener world.
  • Faculty and students are invited to submit proposals no later than October 1, 2016.

Harvard University Center for the Environment Undergraduate Summer Research Fund

  • The Center for the Environment’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fund provides financial support for student research projects related to the environment in the form of independent research projects or research assistantships. Specific opportunities can be found here

The Campus Sustainability Innovation Fund is managed by the Harvard Office for Sustainability and Office for Strategic Procurement and is made possible due to the generous support of the W.B. Mason Corporation.