The Pitt Sustainability Challenge is an open call for integrated, impactful, durable, and feasible solutions to advance carbon neutrality with lasting benefits for the Pitt community. Solutions must be integrated with Pitt’s existing efforts, particularly the Pitt Sustainability Plan and Pitt Climate Action Plan. The Challenge will identify up to five (5) Finalists who will have the opportunity to refine their ideas based on Evaluation Panel feedback and prepare for an in-person pitch event on campus in September 2023. Following that pitch event, one (1) Awardee will receive a $300,000 grant to implement their project.
The public is invited to put forth their best ideas to the Pitt Sustainability Challenge! Pitt students, faculty, and staff are (of course) invited to participate, but applications are also open for external nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Teams are highly encouraged. Proposals must be led by an eligible Lead Organization. An organization can submit only one (1) application as the Lead Organization, but can also partner on other teams for multiple applications -- provided that each application proposes a separate, distinct solution.
Individuals and government agencies may not apply as Lead Organizations, but may partner on applications from eligible entities.
We’re looking for projects and teams that are:
The scoring rubric provides full detail on each of the four (4) criteria above. Please note that projects must be located on an existing University of Pittsburgh campus and/or serve one or more University of Pittsburgh communities. They must also be able to be implemented within 1 to 2 years.
First review this Challenge website to assess your fit and eligibility for this opportunity, paying particular attention to the Rules and scoring rubric. Then, register no later than Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. Registration is required and is a simple two-step process. First, create a username and password and check your inbox to confirm your registration. Next, complete the online registration form. Once you are registered, submit your application online no later than Wednesday, April 5 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
Once the submission deadline passes, the Pitt Sustainability Challenge team will perform an administrative review to confirm each submission meets the rules and application requirements. All eligible applications will move on to the Evaluation Panel and receive written scores and comments from five (5) judges. All reviewers will use the scoring rubric and all scores will be statistically normalized to ensure fairness.
The Pitt Sustainability team will review the top-scoring submissions and request additional information as needed to select up to five (5) Finalists based on considerations that may include (but are not limited to) Evaluation Panel rank order and feedback, organizational capacity, diversity of solution type, and feasibility. Finalists will have several weeks to revise their proposals and prepare for a live pitch to the Selection Committee on Pitt’s Pittsburgh campus in September 2023. The Selection Committee will make a final awardee recommendation, and one (1) team will receive $300,000 to implement their proposal.
In general, we entrust applicants to identify how funds will best serve their proposed solution. We've found that those who are more specific and focused on program-related costs when responding to budget questions are likely to score higher on criteria like feasibility. Funds must be used for the solution described in the application. Expenditures on travel should be minimized. Unallowable expenses are governed by University of Pittsburgh financial policies, but may definitely not be used for:
Funds may be subgranted a Lead Organization to other team members to implement the proposed solution, but not for outside activities unrelated to the solution.
Once you have registered for the competition, we will send important notifications throughout the competition to the email address associated with your account, as well as to the primary and secondary contacts listed on your registration form. There are three (3) critical steps you can take to make sure these messages are received promptly:
Yes, existing University of Pittsburgh Departments, Divisions, Centers, Offices, or other official units organized within the University of Pittsburgh may participate, provided they have their own internal account code.
You may use the “Other Considerations” section for this purpose.
For the purposes of this Challenge, we’re referring to the people who live and work within the geographic boundaries of one or more University of Pittsburgh campus and/or off-campus locations. We expect many projects will also benefit the communities in which the University of Pittsburgh is embedded, which is welcome and encouraged. While the location of your proposed project is not required to be contained within the geographic boundaries of one or more Pitt campuses, you should specify how those who live and work on one or more of those campuses will benefit from your proposal.
Outside organizations interested in partnering have a number of options. If you register prior to the March 8 registration deadline, you will have access to the Pitt Sustainability Challenge forums in the login platform, where you can post a message that will be visible to all other registrants. You may also reach out to Pitt student groups and departments directly. Most should be well apprised of the Pitt Sustainability Challenge. If you want to partner with a sustainability-focused or -related group specifically, the Pitt Student Office of Sustainability (SOOS) is a good place to start.
Please email us and provide a short description of your needs and we will help direct your question appropriately.
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