Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund Grant

The Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund (PBSIF) offers grants of $5,000 to $50,000 for student-initiated projects that promote environmental sustainability on the University of Michigan Campus. This fund encourages projects of a larger scale and impact than those covered by the Student Sustainability Initiative's small-scale grant funding.

We give priority to projects that are innovative, visible, and transformative. Other criteria include factors such as student involvement and interest, economic payback, and partnerships facilitated within the U-M community of students, staff, and faculty. 

In addition to the proposal criteria listed below, please follow the link to the application page which contains more specific information about the expectations for PBSIF and components that should be included in the final proposal. There is no page limit or specific format for the proposal, but should contain the aspects highlighted in the document.  

Click here to access the online application

If you have questions, please contact the review board at

To view projects supported by the program, please use the search tool below.

Proposal Criteria

What criteria will be used to evaluate proposals?

  • Direct Impact: Projects must have a significant impact on the ecological footprint of campus or on the culture of sustainability at U-M.
  • Innovative: PBSIF encourages applicants to push the boundaries of what has been done to enhance sustainability at U-M, using their unique vision to propose creative, original, and inventive projects. Projects should be outside the realm of what U-M Facilities and Operations (F&O) is already be doing in terms of sustainability. Funding can be used for operational pilot projects or to demonstrate the feasibility of a project that U-M F&O may be reluctant to undertake.
  • Transformative: Projects should be explicit in how they will propel the U-M campus towards a more sustainable future. Funding will favor projects that have a bold vision of how they will contribute to the transformation of the U-M campus to a culture of campus sustainability.
  • Visible: Projects should create a heightened physical or cultural presence of sustainability on campus.
  • Feasible: Applicants should consider the practicality of their project (e.g. land availability, project sustainability over multiple years), and how they will work with U-M staff and faculty, if applicable.  Evidence that conversations have already happened and that practical constraints can be managed will reflect favorably in the review process.

What other factors will be considered?

  • Economic payback: While economic payback is not essential, it will be taken into consideration when choosing projects.
  • Expected costs: Grant funding ranges between $5,000 and $50,000. Budgeting funds in a responsible manner will be considered as a factor in determining projects.
  • Timeline: Projects should be completed within 1-1.5 years of receiving the award; proposed timelines should reflect this constraint. Successfully completing a medium to large scale project necessitates discipline and planning. It is crucial that you submit a timeline and update it regularly as your project evolves and circumstances change.

Who should be involved in projects?

  • Students: PBSIF’s primary goal is to offer funding for student-led initiatives that further campus sustainability. Projects must be led by or include students.
  • Other partners: PBSIF strives to foster partnerships throughout the U-M community and encourages students, student organizations, staff, and faculty to work in tandem, utilizing their diverse skills and perspectives to make U-M a greener place. While not required, priority will be given to project applicants who have obtained preliminary support from administrative or operations units affected by the project.

Frequently-Asked Questions

What will the Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund (PBSIF) pay for?

PBSIF fund projects that promote environmental sustainability, but also welcomes projects that promote social sustainability. That is, we define sustainability broadly. It’s energy efficiency, waste reduction, and local food; but it’s also social justice and community building. Students should think broadly—and with intention—about what sustainability is and why it matters to the University of Michigan.

What will PBSIF NOT fund?

PBSIF will not award funding for anything the university is required by law or policy to implement. It also will not fund carbon offsets, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), travel, or conference attendance.

Who can apply for PBSIF funding?

Students, student organizations, faculty, and staff are eligible to submit project proposals and are encouraged to work together on project teams.

What are the concept proposals?

The first step in applying for funding is to submit a concept proposal as a way to get feedback from the PBSIF Review Board on your project idea. Concept proposals can be submitted for both original ideas and ideas from the Project Ideas list. During the Request for Proposal process, students are encouraged to contact the PBSIF Review Board with any questions about putting their proposal together; they're there to help!

What is the timeline for PBSIF submissions?
  • Application goes live mid September 2019
  • First Round Concept Proposals due  November 24, 2019 by 11:59pm
  • Feedback sent by first week of December 2019
  • Final proposals due January 27, 2020 by 11:59pm
  • Finalists awarded funding by end of February 2020

* All applying students and/or student groups are welcome (and highly encouraged!) to schedule a meeting with the SSI Board to go over their concept proposal or final proposal at any time during the application process.

Dates and times subject to change. 

Funded Projects