(List #47) Internal Sustainability Funds (part 1)

How business schools are providing funds to support faculty, students and the community in their sustainability endeavors

(List #47) Internal Sustainability Funds (part 1)
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

This week’s list is on how business schools provide funds to support faculty, students and the community. This is part 1 of a two-part series (part 2 will be posted next Monday).

Last week, a reader asked me whether any universities offer funds for their faculty to explore sustainability related topics in their work. I decided to have a little look around the business school sustainability reports that I've been reading, and found that only 12% (of 267 reports) specifically mention funds available for students, staff, the university or the community. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing fourteen innovative approaches.

I’ll also be adding this as a new section on the ‘Browse by Topic’ page where I will add any new funds I find moving forwards.  


The Integrate Responsible in Action into your classroom project at Jonkoping International Business School in Sweden was designed to encourage and support teachers in innovating courses to align them with sustainability issues. As this process requires time and resources, a prize of SEK 3,000 was provided to 3 selected class activities to help them implement their ideas. One of the recipients was for use in a course on Customer Centric Marketing in New Ventures. The course examiner used the money awarded to provide students with an initial budget to help them realise their new business ideas, allowing them to apply the theories they were learning in the classroom to real life scenarios.

+ What would you experiment with if you were provided with funds to explore innovative tools in the classroom?


Colleagues at Leeds University Business School, Queen’s Management School and the Lincoln International Business School, developed a ‘Seed Funding Competition for Developing Innovative Pedagogic Approaches and Teaching Practices in PRME’ in 2020. The competition is open to all faculty in PRME Signatory Schools in the UK and Ireland. The initiative was developed to encourage innovation, experimentation and impact in PRME related teaching. Four awards of up to GBP1000 each are available annually. One of the winners was Dr. Stephanie Schreven from the University of Dundee School of Business for her work developing a new, third year module on Responsibility, Diversity and Geopolitics.

+ How can we support more innovation not just inside our own schools but across universities?


The revamped Sustainable and Impact Finance Initiative (SAIF) at Haas Business School in the US, now offers Sustainable and Impact Finance as an official Area of Emphasis, enabling students to pursue a more directed course of study related to sustainable finance. The SAIF curriculum has three main components. First, the Haas Impact Fund invests in early-stage impact-oriented start-ups and provides students with experience sourcing, diligence, and portfolio stewardship of early-stage social enterprises. Second, the Impact Investing Practicum pairs teams of MBA students with impact investing firms and organizations for an 8-week project. Third, the student-managed Sustainable Investment Fund is the first and largest student-led SRI fund within a leading business school. Since its inception in 2008, student have more than doubled the initial investment to +$3M USD. SAIF also launched a Student Advisory Board in 2020, providing another opportunity for students to shape future programming.


On 27 April 2020, SKEMA in France launched the SKEMA United Solidarity Fund to support students at the school who were struggling financially due to the COVID-19 crisis. The campaign enabled the school to pay out more than €170,000 to students experiencing financial hardship, in the form of €1,000, €2,000 or €3,000 grants. Grants were provided by alumni, employees, companies, and students. The Fund was recently relaunched to raise money to support victims of the war in Ukraine. The fundraising targets is €200,000 and each donation will be matched 100% by the school. The funds will be used to help SKEMA students who are suffering the consequences of the conflict, whatever their origin.

5.     ON CAMPUS

In 2017, Bentley University’s Green Revolving Fund was established with a $250,000 donation from an alumnus. This fund is used to invest in energy efficiency projects that result in operational savings such as LED lighting upgrades. Electricity cost savings from each project are then returned to the fund for future projects. Projects are selected by the Green Revolving Fund Committee, which meets three times per year to review project proposals from Facilities Management and the Bentley community. It is the university’s goal to grow the fund to $1 Million by 2025.


The Public Value Engagement Fellowships programme at Cardiff Business School in the UK provides seed funding and workload reduction so colleagues can develop relationships to underpin the co-creation of teaching and research. The aim is to engage with external partners to tackle some of the grand challenges facing society. To date, almost all of these projects have been student focused. For example, a partnership between Professor Jean Jenkins, her students, and Anti-Slavery International produced collaborative research to support Baroness Young’s Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill. Dr Deborah Hann’s project on the Real Living Wage led to module assessments developed in conjunction with employers which in turn resulted in those employers making commitments to the Real Living Wage.


The Montreal Social Value Fund (MSVF) aims to create positive social and environmental impact in the Montreal community by investing in local social enterprises, enterprising non-profits, and cooperatives. The fund is composed of undergraduate students from McGill Desautels Business School and HEC Montreal and supported by local impact investors and social economy experts. MSVF invests using an impact-first approach believing that not all important social and environmental issues can be addressed in ways that generate uncompromised, market-competitive returns. It aims to bridge the gap between large impact investment funds and small, high-impact organizations struggling to fund their growth.


If you are a faculty at a PRME Signatory school in Asia, Africa, Middle East or Latin America, we are looking for some additional judges to join the jury for the PRME SIP Recognition of Excellence Awards. If you are interested, please reply to this email.