Eco-Equity Challenge

eco-equity hero


Think Sustainability. Think Justice.  Make Eco-Equity.

The Office of Sustainability and the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service provide a biennial opportunity to support GW students in their social entrepreneurial efforts to address environmental and social justice issues in Washington, D.C. The application deadline for the 2017-18 academic year is February 16, 2018.

Read more about the first round of funding in 2015:

2015 Challenge Launch in GWToday.
2015 Challenge Winners in GWToday.
2015 Challenge Winners in The Hatchet.

Eco-Equity Winners with Siemens Representative and GW Staff

Questions for the competition cycle:

Who is eligible?

GW undergraduate and graduate students. Projects may be individual or team submissions; teams can include up to 5 students. Applicants must be enrolled for the next full academic year. 

What will the project entail?

With support from Challenge staff and in collaboration with a local partner organization, GW students are invited to propose a project that enhances the local community. The project must have both environmental AND social impact in an underserved or low-income neighborhood. 

Winning students or teams will be awarded between $500 and 5,000 for their projects. Students are required to work with a GW faculty or staff mentor as a resource and are not prohibited from receiving other funding for their projects. 

All winners must attend a one-day environmental justice seminar on Saturday, April 1st. Project deliverables will include three blog posts and an end-of-project event/presentation.

What support is available?

Each winning project is eligible to receive $500-$5,000 in funding. Students are required to work with a GW faculty or staff mentor as a resource and are not prohibited from receiving additional grants for their projects. 

Where will the project be located?

Projects must have a positive impact within an underserved or low-income neighborhood in or around Washington, D.C. Projects can build on past or ongoing work with a community partner, or a new relationship can be established. Projects on the GW campus will be considered and should demonstrate a local impact beyond campus. All projects must raise awareness within the GW community about environmental or climate change.

What are the final deliverables?

Project deliverables will include three blog posts and a final event (such as a public presentation, celebration, video screening, service project). Deliverables also include the project itself and a plan to sustain the project beyond the life of your funding.

What is the project timeline? 

The application deadline will be announced soon. Projects will be executed over the course of the following academic year.

How do I receive guidance on developing a project proposal?

Interested students should contact Naamal De Silva ([email protected]) with questions or to schedule a time to discuss project ideas in person. We will hold two project development sessions (the first will be in November, the exact date will be posted here soon). 

How do I apply? 

An online application form is available here, the sample budget template is here, and the sample timeline is here. Please email completed applications to Naamal De Silva (ndesi[email protected]).

Resources to get inspired

In Washington, DC, much environmental justice work centers on access to healthy organic food (nutrition education, gardens and urban farms, farmers’ markets, school-based programs), river restoration (especially on the Anacostia River), air quality, and housing (lead, mold, and other health hazards, but also access to nature). Climate justice will become increasingly important over time. Often, the biggest challenge is sustaining new efforts over time.

In 2015, winning eco-equity challenge project ideas included community-based mapping and geography education for middle school students, a peace garden for an afterschool program, floating wetland islands to support river restoration, and a rooftop community garden at GW. Other student ideas included an app-based game to encourage environmental awareness and small community-based service projects. Blog posts from past winners provide information about their specific ideas, successes, challenges, and how they addressed these challenges. The mapping team also had their own blog, which includes lesson plans, reflections, and videos.

The EPA has useful background information on environmental justice. Here are a few videos that talk about environmental justice more generally: Green Mapping for Eco-Justice and Environmental Justice in Action. Here are a few videos that talk about environmental justice more generally: Green Mapping for Eco-Justice and Environmental Justice in Action.