EFC Announces the LEAF ‘Sustainability, Energy, and Education Development’ (SEED) Grant Competition

Share this on Social Media...

Friday, November 11, 2016


The Environmental Finance Center at UNC aims to increase awareness of, and interest in, environmental finance. 

To achieve this goal, the EFC has created the Literacy in Environment and Finance (LEAF) program, which educates students and community members on environmental finance and environmental services while promoting finance as a solution to achieving environmental protection, not as a barrier. This program allows the EFC to offer itself as a resource to schools, educators, and students looking to develop environmental projects and connect environmental finance to their curriculum.

This program is being developed through a partnership with AmeriCorps and The Conservation Trust for North Carolina. The project addresses both environmental and financial literacy among youth and community members by developing school curricula, lessons, and activities, and offering workshops that educate community members about environmental services and conservation.

One of the goals of this project is to support environmental projects at schools and in the community that are founded in sustainable finance. To do this work, the EFC created the LEAF SEED Grant competition to support student-led sustainability projects in schools while building the environmental and financial literacy of students and the wider school community.

This grant program provides one first place team with $500 for supplies and materials related to their proposed project, as well as ongoing support and advising from the EFC to plan and carry out the project. In addition to the first place prize, selected student teams will receive guidance in developing a business plan, implementation plan, and outreach plan, as well as assistance in finding additional sources of funding to support their projects.

The EFC is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural LEAF SEED Grant competition:


First Place

Carrboro High School Eco-Action Club Raised Garden Beds

The Eco Action Club’s immediate goal is to spark increased volunteer and educational opportunities for HS students, their families, and community members. Additionally, the EAC will work with local middle schoolers to foster interest in, and increase knowledge of, healthy foods and sustainable agriculture.

This grant will fund capital and infrastructural improvements; the funds will help pay for new raised garden beds, deer fencing, a water catchment system, and healthy soil.  Construction, installation, planting, and continued garden maintenance will be coordinated and conducted by EAC student leadership through volunteer work days. 

Ultimately, the EAC plans to expand viable grow-space, improve Carrboro High School’s composting and organic waste program, increase gardening and educational opportunities, and teach healthy food programs (i.e. cooking) to students and community members. The EAC also intends to continue cultivating student leaders and young sustainability activists through weekly student-coordinated gardening days and events.



East Chapel Hill Solar Panel Project, East Chapel Hill High School

The goal of East Chapel Hill High School’s Solar Panel Project is to have East Chapel Hill High School partially run on solar energy while providing educational opportunities for students to learn about green energy. The group plans to achieve these goals on three different fronts: 1) decrease the amount of energy consumed by East Chapel Hill; 2) install solar panels and; 3) incorporate a green energy unit in the AP Environmental Science and Earth Science classes.

To decrease the school’s energy consumption, the team plans to run a student-led energy audit working to build a case to present to the CHCCS Administration install solar panels. During these activities, fellow students will be educated on the positive impacts of green energy and the importance of energy efficiency.

The Solar Panel Project team requested funds to pay for two solar-energy measuring meters for classroom and student-use, in addition to funding support to hire an energy auditor to go through East Chapel Hill and provide professional feedback. The EFC will work with this team to identify and pursue additional funding sources for their project.

Carrboro High School Classroom Composting 

The compost group at Carrboro High School hopes to implement in-school composting stations in half of the classrooms in Carrboro High School to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and increase the student knowledge of composting in general. The group aims to change the behavior and attitudes of students so that composting follows them to their home and into the future.

The Carrboro HS Composting Group wants to increase the overall participation in recycling, compost, liquid waste, and trash programs. They are especially focused on the correct disposal of compost because they see so much food waste and food/drink containers thrown away at Carrboro High School that are compostable. The group hopes to implement a program that fully equips classrooms with shelving units with three sections: one for recycling, one for compost for worms (vermiculture), and one for composting. The EFC looks forward to working with this group and the CHCCS Sustainability Office to think through and pilot a student-led composting program.

Phoenix Academy Chicken Coop

The Phoenix Academy Earth Science class wants to better understand how healthy food is grown and raised for human consumption. To achieve this goal, their class developed a LEAF SEED project that proposes to build a chicken coop and purchase and care for four chickens over the next year. The class hopes to gain insight into growing food and the challenges of getting quality healthy food from farm to fork.

This group is excited about the opportunity to deepen students’ understanding of the connection between eating fresh unprocessed foods with positive health outcomes, in addition to teaching about practical sustainability and fostering an interest in students for animal-care and being outside. Their project is a collaborative effort between their class, the Phoenix Academy “Get ‘er Done” Club and the CHCCS Sustainability Office. The students will be responsible for designing, constructing, and installing the chicken coop. The EFC is looking forward to partnering with Ms. Adcock’s class to implement this project at Phoenix Academy.