Professional News

Applications for the UK Sustainability Challenge Grant Program Now Being Accepted

Students take measurements on a street tree as part of a previously funded Challenge Grant Project that focused on preparing urban forests for a changing climate.
Students take measurements on a street tree as part of a previously funded Challenge Grant Project that focused on preparing urban forests for a changing climate.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 21, 2021) — The Sustainability Challenge Grant Program is designed to engage multidisciplinary teams from the university community to foster scholarly, creative and research projects that promote sustainability and advance field(s) of study. Sustainability, in this context, is intended to convey the need to pursue activities that are ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable. 

Applications for the University of Kentucky Sustainability Challenge Grant Program are being accepted now through May 28, 2021. Total project funds available are expected to be $200,000 with individual projects eligible to receive up to $50,000. Application materials can be found on the UK Sustainability website.

This year, program leaders are encouraging proposals that intersect with challenges that have emerged during the pandemic and/or those related to the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of the university.

“This program has been such an important component of our sustainability efforts over the past six years, and we are very excited about the potential it has to serve as support for our faculty and staff who are interested in using sustainability as a framework for engaging with challenges created or worsened by the pandemic, including those connected to diversity, equity and justice,” said Shane Tedder, UK’s sustainability officer, and co-coordinator for the program.

In the six years of the program to date, 43 projects have been awarded a total of $1.15 million to pursue a wide range sustainability-driven projects on campus and beyond.

“The Sustainability Challenge Grant provides a unique opportunity for exploring multidisciplinary and collaborative ideas related to sustainability," said Helen Turner, faculty member in the School of Interiors and co-chair of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. "As co-chair of the President's Sustainability Advisory Committee and a recipient of Sustainability Challenge Grants in previous years, I have seen and experienced the impact of this program on the campus, the community, and the individuals involved.” 

The 2020 Sustainability Challenge Grant winners were:

  • Building Community through Innovation and Sustainability of Kentucky's Forest 

  • Evaluating Twenty Years of Urban Reforestation in Lexington

  • Sustainable Campus Electronics Recycling Program at the University of Kentucky 

  • Place Setting: Enhancing Sustainable Approaches to Food Security and Community Engagement 

  • Research Innovators in Sustainable Energy (RISE) 

  • Aerated manure compost facility for the smaller horse-farm operation 

  • Coordinating and Assisting the Reuse of Assistive Technology in Rural Appalachian Communities 

  • Preparing our Urban Forests for our Changing Climate 

  • Designing for Well-being: Mindful Oasis. Reimagining Gatton Student Center Botanical Gardens 

  • Honoring Kentucky’s Agricultural Excellence 

The program is a collaborative effort of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment and the Office of Sustainability. Funding support for the program is provided by the offices of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Provost and the Vice President for Research as well as the Student Sustainability Council

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The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.