FAQ

Choose a section to jump to your question:
Committee Meetings and Membership
Funding
Campus Stakeholder Relations
Project Applications (Proposals, Timelines, Budgets)
Involvement
Technical Difficulties

Committee Meetings and Membership

When are CSF committee meetings?
CSF committee meetings are open to the public and happen weekly during the academic year. Please see our Committee Meetings page for exact times and locations.

How can I be on the CSF committee?  (UNDERGRAD)
As an undergrad there are 3 ways one can get on the CSF committee.  The ASUW Senate appoints one seat, the ASUW Board of Directors appoint three seats, and the Environmental Stewardship committee appoints one seat.  The ESC seat is open to either an undergraduate or a graduate student.

We recommended dropping a line to the ASUW President (asuwpres@uw.edu) and ASUW Community Relations Director (asuwbdcr@uw.edu), let them know you’re interested in being their representative to the CSF committee and want more info about their processes (sometimes they just have you send a resume, sometimes they have a little SurveyMonkey style intake form for you to fill out, etc.; it’s different every year).

If you’re interested in the Environmental Stewardship committee appointment, simply email them and let them know.  They can be reached at frerec@uw.edu, oess@uw.edu and through their website at http://esc.washington.edu.

How can I be on the CSF committee?  (GRAD)
As a graduate student there are 2 ways one can get on the CSF committee.  The GPSS appoints two seats and the Environmental Stewardship committee appoints one seat.  The ESC seat is open to either an undergraduate or a graduate student.

We recommended dropping a line to the GPSS President (gpsspres@uw.edu), let them know you’re interested in being their representative to the CSF committee and want more info about their processes.  Sometimes they just have you send a resume, sometimes they have a little SurveyMonkey style intake form for you to fill out, etc.; it’s different every year.

If you’re interested in the Environmental Stewardship committee appointment, please email your statement of interest and resume to Claudia Frere-Anderson at frerec@uw.edu

Funding

How many projects applications does the CSF receive annually? How many do you approve?
The number of applications received and approved vary by year. On average, the CSF annually receives 25 letters of intent and 12 of those projects make it through the entire application process to receive funding. See the list of projects approved by year here.

How much do project applicants usually ask for?
The variety of projects that the CSF has funded ranges from small, $250 projects all the way up to $89,682 (our largest single project award to date).

What types of projects does the CSF fund?
Our mission is to create a sustainable campus and foster an environmentally conscious university culture by funding student-led project that lesson the university’s environmental impact. Preference is given to projects that:

  • align with the UW’s commitment to sustainability.
  • are able to repay the CSF through a revolving loan fund or other mechanism;
  • create a strong student-participation component;
  • can obtain matching funds from sources other than the CSF;
  • impact UW Seattle sustainability “closer to home.” For example, priority will be given to projects that directly address sustainability on campus over projects which address the city-wide environmental impacts of UW Seattle’s campus operations.

Does the CSF fund research?
No, we do not fund research unless it is a feasibility study that leads to a project-based, actionable component or pilot project. If you are strictly looking for research funding, try looking into the Green Seed Fund, another funding opportunity on campus that is focused on advancing sustainable research and contributing to campus sustainability goals.

How much money does the fund distribute annually to projects?
Depending on the SAF award for that particular year, the CSF usually has between $250,000 and $310,000 available for student-led sustainability projects.

Can CSF funds be used to pay for student hours?
CSF prefers to fund time and labor expended by UW students working on CSF projects where and when that funding supports the creation of a formal internship under a Faculty member and/or Campus Unit.

Preference will be given to projects that clearly and transparently explain the project tasks to be completed during any paid time funded by the CSF.  In addition, it is strongly encouraged that projects include in their budgets any available information that explains and justifies the requested amount of paid time funded by the CSF.

Please make sure all positions comply with University of Washington Department of Human Resources guidelines.  Additionally, you will need to check with the campus department in which the position will be created to ensure that their guidelines are adhered to (including salary, benefits, and hours worked).

CSF will not fund time and labor expended by UW faculty working on CSF projects.

What happens if a project is not completed? To what extent do those who work for the CSF see the learning that happens during the implementation of the process as more important than the end result? In other words, what is more important, process or product?
While the CSF supports the learning that happens for students as they spearhead a project, we give preference to proposals that have an actionable component placing a premium on product. Should an approved project go incomplete, the project’s remaining balance is returned to the CSF for reallocation at the discretion of the CSF committee.

Campus Stakeholder Relations

Is it better to have more or fewer campus stakeholders involved in a CSF project?
In almost all situations, it is better to have more campus stakeholders involved with a CSF project than fewer.  While this approach does have potential to create slightly prolonged project timelines, we believe the benefits of broad stakeholder involvement with a project are too significant to ignore on account of perceived efficiency. 

Is it important to connect with most stakeholders before the grant proposal in order to get their input and them on the same page, or is it better to wait until the project is funded on behalf of increased legitimacy? In other words, when should I start establishing stakeholder meetings?
Beyond simply needing to present Project Approval Forms from various campus stakeholders with your proposal upon final submission in order to be awarded funding by the committee, there is no way in which early connections/meetings/planning between CSF projects and campus stakeholders is a bad thing.  By all means, earlier is better, don’t wait til the last minute to make these connections.

Project Application (Proposals, Timelines, Budgets)

When are project applications due?
The CSF funds projects in two cycles each academic year.  Deadlines for funding cycles are set by the CSF committee.  2014-2015 dates have not been set yet as the CSF is still assembling its committee for the year.  However, historically, Letters of Intent (LOIs) are typically due around Veterans Day (mid-November) and full proposals are due around MLK Jr. Day (mid-January) for the first round of funding.  For the second round, LOIs are typically due in early March and full proposals in late April.

Applications for the Small Projects Fund are reviewed on rolling basis throughout the school year. For more information on Small Projects, see question below.

What is the Small Projects Fund and when are project applications due?
As of Fall 2013, the CSF is adjusting its processes to be more accommodating to small projects that fit the CSF's core criteria but not necessarily its funding cycle timelines.

Projects asking for less than $1,000 are welcome to submit a request through the Small Projects process on a rolling basis throughout the school year. Small Projects must submit a Letter of Intent form to be considered for funding in the Small Projects Process; these projects will be evaluated based on this LOI. Small Project LOIs must contain a detailed budget and timeline. The committee will review these LOIs and decide within two weeks (barring school holidays or breaks)

How does the committee respond to project proposals that are clearly over- or underbudgeted?
Historically, the CSF committee has responded to these scenarios in all of the following ways:

  • requesting a project submit a new budget based on a specific gross % reduction
  • requesting a project submit a new budget that includes contingency
  • awarding a project a smaller amount than their budget proposed
  • awarding a project a larger amount than their budget proposed (extremely rare)
  • The bottom line is that how the committee responds greatly depends on the project proposals themselves and the committee at the time.  This question can be largely avoided by creating and submitting a high quality budget.  Examples can be referred to here.

Is it better to have a very specific, itemized budget that has a higher risk of changing/being incorrect, or to have a generalized budget and contingency funds?
Either approach is sufficient and has seen success in CSF’s history of awarding projects.  While the committee very much encourages specific, itemized budgets, the CSF understands that this level of detail is not always feasible, and is happy to consider more broad budgets provided the project is still strong.  See a variety of budget examples here.

What are some specific criteria of the most successful projects you've encountered, not just in terms of obtaining a grant, but also in terms of execution and results?
The following list of “recommended best practices for CSF project success” is by no means comprehensive, but should serve as a good start in proposing and executing your project:

  • Continued communication and responsiveness to CSF Staff and Committee
  • Continued communication and responsiveness to UW Stakeholders
  • Planning for transition.  Many CSF projects can take 1-2 years, which can be longer than many students are able to put into a project (graduation, need to focus on academics, etc.).  Ensure that your work can be passed on to a new leadership team if need be.
  • Interdisciplinary Teams.  Recruit from around the university for specialized expertise on the inherently complex nature of sustainability projects.  Technical specialists, outreach coordinators, purchasing officers, etc.  A team where specific tasks can be distributed evenly rather than taken on exclusively by one or a few individuals will be much more sustainable in the long run.
  • Monitoring.  Design into your proposal a way to obtain concrete data that can demonstrate the success or effectiveness of your project.  Obtain that, and submit with quarterly and final reporting.
  • Diversify your revenue stream.  Not only will the CSF be more receptive to approving your project if we are not the sole funding source, it will provide you more security and resilience in the event of project setbacks and challenges, and ultimately increase your capacity over the long term.  Look for matching opportunities/offers, additional/external grants, in-kind support, etc

Involvement

I want to get involved but I don’t know where to start. Help?!!
There are many ways to get involved with the CSF. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you are interested in starting your own CSF project, browse our Project Ideas List and Approved Projects to find inspiration. Follow up with a visit to our Department Contacts page to reach out to the appropriate campus representatives.
  • Attend a CSF committee meeting. These weekly meetings are open to the public and provide insight into the general operations of the fund.. All are welcome, so feel free to stop by!
  • Get involved with a CSF project. There are currently many CSF projects that are active and looking for some extra hands on deck. Browse our Approved Projects for active projects and connect with the projects that appeal to your interests using the contact information provided.
  • Connect with CSF Staff. We are two student staff members (1 graduate, 1 undergraduate) who are here to work with you if you are interested in getting involved with the fund. Email CSF Coordinator at csfcoord@uw.edu and CSF Outreach Coordinator at uwcsf@uw.edu.

Can you come speak to my class about the CSF?
Yes, absolutely! Please contact the CSF Outreach Coordinator at uwcsf@uw.edu to coordinate.. 

Technical Difficulties

As a project transitions from the Letter of Intent stage to the Full Proposal stage, it may be helpful to know a few things about the Full Proposal web form. Below are some answers to common questions:

Who can access and edit the proposal?
Aside from the CSF Coordinator and our web administrator, only your UW Net ID will be able to access your project's application. However, if you need to transfer your access to another user, please send an email informing us who you'd like to transfer access to. (email csfcoord@uw.edu & deklund@uw.edu)
Why does the Full Proposal include LOI information? The form should still have your LOI information included in it, we leave this for reference.

Can I save and come back later?
You may save and review your full proposal as many times as you'd like, however, when the deadline is approaching and you are ready to submit, please make sure to check the correct ready to submit button near the end of the form.

Can I format my proposal?
A limited amount of formatting is possible within the text boxes, but the committee is judging on content not necessarily visual appeal. With that said, it's best to copy and paste without formatting, and choose any special formatting within the web form.

What about spell check?
The text editing toolbar does have spell check, please remember to use this feature if you didn't before writing or pasting information in. 

What if I already have my budget or timeline as an excel file?
The budget/timeline tables can either be uploaded from a .csv file (Excel files can be saved this way) or can be manually input. While manually inputting information, if you begin filling in the table and realize you do not have enough room, the table can be resized without losing already entered data, just indicate the total number of rows and columns needed in the fields just under the table.

Who can I contact if I am having technical issues?
Please direct technical issues to Daimon Eklund at deklund@uw.edu and cc the CSF Coordinator at csfcoord@uw.edu. We do not want you stressing over technical issues at the last minute, so try to get the majority of your proposal completed before the deadline.