The SPF mandate is to build a culture of sustainability on McGill campuses through the development and seed-funding of interdisciplinary projects. It creates opportunities for the McGill community to actively engage in sustainability initiatives on campus, thus empowering individuals to be change agents in their own studying and working environment.
History of the SPF
In the fall of 2009 McGill's three student societies—SSMU, MCSS, and PGSS—partnered with the McGill administration to create the SPF. The proposal was passed by student referendum in November 2009, with 79 per cent of voters on the downtown campus voting to adopt the fund. Some 5,300 students voted, the second-highest total in SSMU history.
Students approved a $0.50/credit fee to contribute to the Fund, which the Administration committed to matching dollar-for-dollar. After an exceptionally successful three-year pilot period (2010-2013) that saw the funding of 92 projects worth $2.9 million, students voted again in a resounding commitment to renew their fee until Winter 2018. The administration extended their commitment as well, for a further five years.
How does it work?
Any member of the McGill community can submit a project application. Submitted applications are reviewed by the SPF Working Group and selected applications receive funding for their projects, in addition to feedback and guidance from the Working Group and SPF staff.
The SPF Working Group
The Sustainability Projects Fund Working Group is a committee charged with providing decision and feedback on projects by consensus. The Working Group, like the SPF, is committed to fostering collaboration between students and the administration, which is expressed in the parity (four students and four staff) Working Group. This parity is important, as more than 85% of approved projects have demonstrated collaboration between students and staff.
The Working Group has eight voting members: four students (2x SSMU, 1x PGSS, 1x MCSS), two academic staff, and two administrative staff. The Working Group meetings are chaired by the Director of the McGill Office of Sustainability, who serves as a non-voting co-facilitator with the Sustainability Projects Fund Steward. The SPF Steward also is a non-voting member, and acts as a liaison with project teams.
Funding for the SPF
The Sustainability Projects Fund was created through the approval of a 'non-opt-outable' student fee of $0.50 per credit to be collected from each SSMU, MCSS, and PGSS student. This amount is matched by the administration with funds sourced from internal and external donations, centrally managed capital and operating budgets of the University, and grants from external agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The estimated yearly total of the SPF is $870,000. Any unspent funds remaining from one year will be rolled over into the fund balance of the subsequent year. No money from this fund may be allocated to any project or undertaking that does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Sustainability Projects Fund Working Group, as described below.
Allocation of the SPF resources
A portion of the Sustainability Projects Fund monies will be reserved to fund the position of the SPF Steward and the SPF Administrator, in addition to some student positions which will occasionally work in tandem with them. The SPF Steward governs the SPF Working Group, coordinates applied student research, and co-facilitates the application process with the SPF Administrator. The SPF Administrator then ensures that approved projects are executed as planned, tracking progress on sustainability accomplishments achieved through the SPF. The balance of Fund monies will be dedicated to a wide variety of sustainability projects.
Click here to see the SPF Evaluation Criteria
Interested in funding research on a sustainability topic? Take a look at the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative.