Sustainability Grants: An Introduction

Caring for the environment is a good cause, especially considering its present state. Anyone can start from simple things at home like; sorting rubbish for recycling, turning off electrical appliances, conserving water, and using chemical-free cleaning fluids. However noble these simple practices are, there is still a need for actions greater in both size and scope if the planet is to survive indefinitely. In light of the alarming rate at which the Earth’s natural resources are being depleted because of human activity, it would take more than a little time, effort, and money to implement countermeasures that will hopefully end the depletion and take care of natural resources. Time is money and with a little helping hand to fund the efforts of scientists and engineers we can help reduce our impact on the planet.

As part of their commitment to social responsibility —giving back to the environment and the community at large other than providing their main line of services— some government agencies and even non-profit foundations have been providing funding for many of the private sector’s medium to large-scale projects aimed at protecting and conserving whatever natural resources are left. Often termed sustainability grants, these forms of voluntary financial sponsorship augment the usually limited funds available to project teams which consist of local businesses, small-scale non-profit organizations, or private citizens hoping to make the world a cleaner and better place for themselves and their community. The amounts of sustainability grants depend on what the projects are for and how much the sponsors can actually provide, but the bottom line is that a grant will be provided for a feasible project that is well-planned and beneficial to the environment. Often the grant-makers do not directly benefit from the project in any way.

A sustainability grant can help address a variety of issues, and slow down entropy!

Sustainability grants are often awarded to projects that will benefit the natural environment and, subsequently, the people in a specific area, usually ranging from towns to states. The most common are state or even federal government grants for activities initiated by a community, the examples of which include: organic farming that reduces the risk of hazardous chemicals being exposed to fertile ground and vegetation and provides the community with an additional means of income; solar cells that serve as alternative sources of electricity as well as a reduction on utility costs; and harvesting of rainwater for future use in homes instead of relying on traditional waterways, many of which are operating below optimum capacity.

All these and other sustainability projects—however feasible, well-planned, and beneficial—have very little chance of getting off the drawing boards with the scarce budget most communities have at their disposal. Key project people may then turn to the government or to foundations, lobby their cases, and hope for a favorable response. Once the green light is given, they can begin on their projects assured of adequate funding, finish within the agreed-upon period, and enjoy the benefits of the projects as they themselves had promised their generous sponsors. Of course, failure to do so would result in immediate termination of funding and even rescinding grants from the recipients, regardless of the project’s current state.

Whatever the amount, a sustainability grant is a huge responsibility. Generous entities are in effect staking their credibility on activities that will only succeed through people’s diligence and sincere intentions to do their part for the environment on a much larger scale. -E.MESKHI

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