SIU community members can apply now for Green Fund grants

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Although Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s official school color is maroon, the university has been “green” for decades, and that commitment remains strong as it accepts applications for the 21st round of Green Fund grants.

Workshops to assist applicants will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Rooms 150/160 at the Student Services Building Friday, March 1, and Tuesday, March 5. All SIU students, faculty, staff, registered student organizations, offices and departments can submit a Green Fund grant proposal by April 1.

The university has already awarded more than $3.5 million to 325 diverse sustainability projects. The funding for the grants comes from a student Green Fee of about $10 per semester, adopted in 2009 as the result of a student-led initiative.

Past winners have been quite varied, from solar power to converting waste oil to viable diesel fuel, from installing green roofs and recycling bins to adding water bottle filling stations to vermicomposting and so much more. Check out previous projects.

Winners announced on Earth Day

The winners will be announced on April 22, which is Earth Day 2024. A special ceremony and presentation will take place at 3 p.m. that day in the John C. Guyon Auditorium at Morris Library.

“The Green Fund Committee is excited to see the grant submissions this year and looking for a wide range of inspiring submissions,” said Aimee Lemrise, SIU sustainability director. “This year’s Earth Month theme is ‘Planets vs. Plastics.’ It emphasizes the need for collective action to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics to mitigate their harmful impacts on wildlife, marine life and human health. Earth Month is designed to inspire individuals, communities and nations to take meaningful action toward building a more sustainable and resilient future for our planet and all its inhabitants, and we hope our celebration does that as well.”

Lemrise said something special is happening for the first time in 2024. Students are invited to participate in the inaugural Student Writing Competition, composing a 750-word essay, submitted to They are asked to write about the Imagine 2030 sustainability pillar and how it relates to the students’ interests, including how they are personally impacted by sustainability. The essays are due April 1, and the winner, selected by the Sustainability Council, will claim a $750 scholarship and speak at the Green Fund award ceremony.

Other awards and presentations are also slated that day, including the Environmental Ambassador Awards, honoring students who volunteer numerous hours for sustainability efforts. Earth Day service activities are planned as well.

Grants enhance SIU’s commitment and mission

Preference for the grant awards is given to submissions that address all three pillars of sustainability (environmental health, social equity and economic prosperity) in one or more of these areas: energy, water, waste, buildings, transportation, grounds, food/dining, purchasing, outreach, social practices, academics and research, social equity and education.

The proposals should enhance environmental and societal sustainability and contribute to aspects of SIU’s Second Nature Climate Commitment. Applicants should use the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), under which SIU has earned a silver star ranking, as a guide.  

The proposals should include signed approval by relevant campus units/departments prior to receiving funding and have plans for any necessary local, state or federal permits, if required. They should also include a plan for long-term maintenance and operations, as appropriate.

Preference will be given to projects that:

  • Feature significant student involvement or students in leadership role(s).
  • Incorporate education, outreach and research components.
  • Can secure matching funds in addition to the support requested from the grant.  
  • Clearly articulate the greatest benefit to the SIU community for the lowest cost.
  • Are collaborative in nature, involving multiple units and departments.
  • Support existing campus sustainability priorities.

Find the application at

Students play instrumental role

The Green Fund Committee, whose membership includes four students, one faculty member and one staff member, will review all proposals and make recommendations to the full Sustainability Council for award selection.

Learn more about SIU’s nationally recognized sustainability efforts at Email or with questions.