(List # 48) Internal Sustainability Funds (part 2)

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

(List # 48) Internal Sustainability Funds (part 2)
Photo by micheile dot com / Unsplash

This week’s list is on how business schools support faculty, students and the community through funds. This is part 2 of a two-part series (click here to read part 1).

A couple of weeks ago, a reader asked me whether any universities offer funds for their faculty to explore sustainability related topics in their work and made a list of 14 innovative approaches to funding initiatives internally and externally and engaging students and staff in the process.

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.  I’m working to turn this page into a ‘How to Embed Sustainability into Business School toolkit’.


The Melbourne Microfinance Initiative (MMI) is the first and largest Australian student-run microfinance organisation. It provides consulting services to microfinance institutions globally, with the intention of making a direct impact on communities in need. As of January 2021, MMI has completed 42 pro bono consulting projects across 12 countries, mainly operating in the Asia–Pacific region. They undertake six projects annually with their student consultants, offering services in surveying social impact, assessing credit risk, market entry due diligence, staff training programs and product development. An example of their recent work is an advisory report on the Filipino microinsurance market, including an analysis of the state of the market, the regulatory environment and a social impact analysis.


Freeman College of Management at Bucknell University in the US has an elective course called Student Managed Investment Fund (ACFM475). During this two-semester course students manage a portion of the Bucknell endowment that now includes explicit investment analysis linked to ESG components (Environmental, Social and Governance).


TU Dublin has allocated resources to the Inclusion Fund 2021 which awards grants to projects promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. Every year a series of priority themes are identified which are currently gender expression and identity. Projects have included creating a physical space in the School to promote Diversity, equity and inclusion, funding a study to map immigrant entrepreneurs in Ireland and a student project to increase awareness within the university of the need for diversity of representation and the value of the student voice.


Australia Catholic University has embarked on an investment strategy to allocate funds raised through the issue of sustainability bonds. In 2017, ACU secured $200 million through the sale of sustainability bonds to some of Australasia’s largest institutional investors. ACU was the first organisation in Australia and the first university in the world to issue a sustainability bond, which offered investors the opportunity to participate in the financing of ACU projects that deliver positive social and/or environmental results. The bond aligns with both the Green Bond Principles (used to support projects with an environmental objective) and the Social Bond Principles (aim to address or mitigate a social issue).


Westminster Business School in the UK launched a pilot Green Fund scheme to provide grants of up £5,000 to students to carry out a project that addresses the SDGs. Students must be in a group with at least one member of staff in the project group to apply. This aims to encourage collaboration and knowledge exchange. Various training workshops are offered to successful project teams. The funds are open to a wide range of projects, from campus greening initiatives to curricular development.


Politecnico di Milano School of Management in Italy offer a “SoM for SDGs” prize, which rewards two MSc final theses and two MIP Master’s project work assignments that can have an impact on Sustainable Development Goals (1,000 Euros per winning thesis or project work). The winners are selected by a Jury Committee based on the degree of impacts on the SDGs, innovation, scientific validity and transferability of each submitted work.  Amsterdam Business School in the Netherlands has a similar award,  the annual George Molenkamp Sustainability Thesis Award sponsored by KPMG.


Harvard University’s Office of Sustainability founded the Student Grant program in 2010 to provide students with seed funding to support new ideas and innovative projects on that address global sustainability challenges with on-campus applications. The program website offers a list of potential projects to inspire students. Projects are taken both from projects the university is interested in exploring further as well as projects that staff members would like to see happen and would be willing to collaborate with students on. Project ideas include measuring food insecurity on campus, urban biking classes, lab recycling solutions and developing a sustainable events training program for student groups. To see the full list of potential projects, click here.


I'm looking for examples of how schools approach and define the topic of Leadership.  Email me if you have examples you'd like to share.