Happy Birthday Green Fund!

Happy Birthday Green Fund

Please join us in wishing the Green Fund a Happy Birthday!

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the UT-Austin Green Fund (formerly known as the Green Fee). What began as Jacob Bintliff’s undergraduate research project resulted in a competitive grant program that has awarded over five million dollars to UT students, faculty and staff for sustainability projects and research. After learning about the Green Fund movement on college campuses across the county, Jacob worked tirelessly to create a similar program at UT-Austin during the 2009-10 school year. His efforts resulted in a successful student referendum campaign in Spring 2011 (71% yes votes). Karen Blaney was the program’s initial coordinator, helping establish the student-majority committee and first grant awards in Fall 2011. Since then, the Green Fund Committee has approved over two hundred grants to twenty-five departments across fourteen colleges, twenty non-academic units, and thirteen student organizations and funded over one hundred paid student positions and numerous volunteer opportunities on the UT-Austin campus and its affiliate locations including the Pickle Research Center, McDonald Observatory, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Brackenridge Field Lab, and Marine Science Institute. Jill Parrish has been the Green Fund Coordinator since 2016.

The Green Fund is the result of passionate, focused and hard working students and is funded by student tuition dollars. As such, Green Fund administrators are committed to creating student leadership opportunities and supporting student sustainability efforts. The Green Fund committee is comprised of six students and three faculty and staff. The committee carefully reviews and discusses each grant application before making its funding decisions and serving on the committee provides valuable experience in the grant-making process. In 2013, the grant program expanded eligible projects to include student research and the committee has since funded over twenty-five undergraduate and graduate research projects.

Another priority of the Green Fund is to facilitate staff/faculty/student collaborations utilizing campus as a Living Laboratory. Numerous grants to faculty have resulted in changes to campus operations after successful and productive collaborations with campus staff. In addition, the Green Fund provides a great opportunity for staff to pilot innovative sustainability ideas on campus. Over the last ten years, approximately 30% of all grants were awarded to staff for energy and water conservation efforts and waste reduction projects.

There have been many meaningful and impactful Green Fund projects over the years, but a few include a grant to Landscape Services to fund a student/staff collaborative research project on efficient irrigation practices utilizing drone technology, a grant to graduate students for a zero-waste theater production, a Student Government grant to install water bottle fillers across campus to encourage the use reusable water containers, and one of the first Green Fund awards to the Campus Environmental Center to establish an organic farm which is still thriving to this day.

Never underestimate the power of a passionate undergrad. Here’s to another ten years of the Green Fund!

For more information or to apply for a Green Fund grant, visit the Green Fund website.


Dec. 2, 2021