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PSF Grants Promote Sustainability Projects

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Michael Benesch
$30,000 from the President's Fund for Sustainability will be allocated for student-developed sustainability projects reviewed by PACS.

The President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (PACS) at Pomona College is accepting applications for student-developed sustainability projects until Nov 16. $30,000 from the President’s Fund for Sustainability (PSF) will be allocated to projects reviewed and approved by PACS as part of an ongoing effort to promote sustainability on Pomona’s campus. 

PSF’s resources accumulate from year to year if they are not used. PSF currently holds more money than in any previous years, when around $10,000 was available.

According to the PSF’s request for proposals application, “the purpose of this grant program is to provide funding for infrastructural or operational improvements to the sustainability of Pomona College.” The application is available through the Sustainability Integration Office (SIO).

Past projects that received PSF money include drying racks in the residence hall laundry rooms, native landscaping at Sontag Hall and Frary and post-consumer composting in the dining halls.

Jen Schmidt PO ’14 initiated the composting program in the dining halls through a PSF grant she received as a first-year.

“We had had composting in the dining halls at the high school I went to, so when I came here that was something I wanted to see. I was working as compost driver at the time, so it was a natural progression,” Schmidt said. “The PSF process for funding is really helpful because it gives you an administrative approval for your project. It helps to achieve institutionalized change in both the school and the administration.”

Lena Connor PO ’13, Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Commissioner of Environmental Affairs, hopes that the prospect of funds will attract a diverse range of students to submit project proposals.

“Sometimes sustainability projects are perceived to be exclusively environmental projects, created by people who are studying or already heavily involved in subjects like environmental analysis. We want people to be creative. We want people who don’t specialize but have an interest in sustainability to feel free and confident to apply,” Connor said.

The application process includes a request for funding, which requires a proposal outline, including a preliminary budget and a preliminary list of other possible necessary resources.

Laura Carr PO ’13 served as an assistant at the SIO last summer and also serves as a member of PACS. She stressed that both PACS and the SIO are ready and willing to collaborate with students on their applications at any step in the process.

“The application process is fairly iterative. You submit your application to PACS, and then they review the application, and if they need more detailed information in a certain section, they will communicate that back to the student and the student can then give them that information. So it’s not as if it just goes into the committee and they just axe it if it’s not perfect. We want student to be inspired, and we want projects, and we want to be able to fund them,” Carr said.

Both Carr and Connor mentioned a new component to this year’s application that will require statistical updates on the progress of the project in addition to the standard post-project presentation PACS has requested in previous years.

“The hope of the PSF is that with that initial fund, the project will be kick-started and then become institutionalized, because the projects are supposed to be infrastructural and affect how the college functions systemically,” Carr said.

Carr pointed to the post-consumer recycling in the dining halls as a prime example of institutionalized sustainability resulting from a PSF proposal.

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