The Sustainability team at DMU reports on the successful applicants in the 2020/21 DMU Sustainability Seed Grant funding project.

The funding was set up to provide funding to kickstart small-scale sustainability projects at DMU and in the surrounding community. The funding is open to DMU staff, students and alumni and funds projects that have a focus on sustainable development and has direct link to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A total of £2,500 was available for the 2020/21 applicants, with the maximum amount that each application could apply for being £1,000 (a typical budget would be between £150 and £500). This is the second round of Sustainability Seed Grants and this year we were able to fund nine projects.

The type of projects that the funding was designed to support included volunteering, one-off events, workshops, talks and other small-scale projects that required materials.

How did we make our decision?

When the panel sat down to discuss the projects the main factor used in the decision making and funding criteria were if the project had a good link to sustainability and the SDGs. Applicants to the Seed grants were required to highlight the total costs of the project, the deliverables of the project and which of the 17 SDGs the projects aimed to impact upon. The funding process involved discussions with the applicants and suggestion on tweaking their proposals to ensure a positive impact across as many SDGs as possible and to ensure that the funding could be provided to as many applicants as possible.

The projects we ended up funding were:

  • Project Lily: aims to implement strategies that prevent any sort of sexual assault from taking place
  • Sustainability Culture in Industry – Placements Investigation: enhancing SDG awareness among employers through placement students’ review and recommendation
  • Talking about Sustainability blog educational platform – provide at least one educational blog post per week about sustainability, sustainable development, sustainable lifestyles, or wider environmental topics
  • Aspire to – uses the incredible, diverse role models represented in DMU staff, students and alumni as case studies within a child-friendly book. Each person selected to be profiled will have a two-page spread showcasing their story.
  • Coercive control (non-violent domestic violence) educational events – a home film about series of educational events based on a scenario of coercive control
  • Grub’s up! – Research survey understanding the acceptability of insects as a healthy and sustainable food source in UK adults
  • Envirogreen – to create a vertical allotment on the DMU campus to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables and plants. With an aim is to sell the produce to students, the local community, and through the DMU venues
  • Upcycling art, craft and design competition – The competition calls for beautiful art pieces, meaningful artefacts or useful products created through various upcycling processes utilising used or waste products, components and materials
  • ‘Cloth Nappy, Earth Happy’ – Working with the Leicester Cloth Nappy Library the project will support the introduction of cloth nappies, wipes and other sustainable alternatives into a nursery setting.

We had four student projects and five staff ones. We are extremely pleased with how much interest we got from the different groups and how even the split was between projects we funded.

Overall, we used all of the allocated amount of the budget. We were very pleased with how much interest was shown in the seed grants and would like to see a similar level of interest in the following years.

Future funding

If we do keep receiving a high amount of interest, then we would love as a department to see if we could get an increase on the amount of funding, we can offer.

For us the seed grants offer a unique opportunity for the DMU community to consider the SDGs and how they link to the different projects they are working on. It encourages engagement with sustainability throughout DMU and we get to hear about the projects and other activities that are happening on campus. From this we can get a clearer overall picture of sustainability being embedded into the university that we might not have been aware of.

For us having staff and student engagement in the issue of sustainability is extremely important for driving forward improvements across the entirety of the university. The Seed Grants for 2021/22 should be run around November 2021.

Case studies for each of the funded projects will be included on the Education for the Sustainable Development Goals mini-site