Seed Grants Fuel Sustainable Innovation Projects on Campus

Innovate@BU and BU Sustainability are thrilled to introduce the winners of this year’s Sustainability Innovation Seed Grants. These awards recognize seven exceptional projects that demonstrate forward-thinking solutions for enhancing sustainability on our campus and beyond.

4Rtists: Reduce, Recycle, Reclaim, and Reimagine Art Supplies
Megan Kwan (CFA’27)
4Rtists is a student-run, donation-based initiative at BU’s College of Fine Arts, focusing on sustainability in artistic practices. The program operates on a cycle of reducing, recycling, reclaiming, and reimagining art supplies, making them accessible to art students, especially those with limited funds. 4Rtists plans to establish a dedicated space within CFA to collect, organize, and catalog reusable materials. The program’s core philosophy is to promote sustainability by encouraging students to donate lightly used materials and to utilize available resources, aligning with the broader goal of achieving zero waste in the art community.

“I’m most excited about simply starting my sustainability project. This grant, along with the funding I’ll receive from being a part of Innovate@BU’s First-Year Innovation Fellowship program, will allow my program not only to start but to thrive. Receiving this grant has solidified the idea in my mind that this program can and WILL create an impact within the College of Fine Arts. I cannot wait to begin 4Rtists and start my journey towards contributing to Boston University’s zero waste initiative.”

GreenFoodx: The Ultimate App for Conscious Dining
Ghazale Asadi Damavandi (MET‘23)
GreenFoodx is an app aimed at revolutionizing conscious dining and reducing food waste. It offers a restaurant directory to find sustainable eateries and provides menu improvement suggestions for eco-friendlier options. The app features a food donation and distribution system to minimize waste and includes sustainability tips. It also tracks impact through analytics and incentivizes sustainable behavior with a rewards system, fostering eco-friendly dining choices.

Firstly, the recognition and support that come with this award are profoundly motivating. It validates the hard work and dedication that have gone into my project, and it’s exhilarating to know that esteemed professionals in the field see potential in my work. This grant is not just a financial boost; it’s a vote of confidence in my vision and capabilities.

What excites me most is the opportunity to bring my ideas to fruition with a level of quality and depth. The grant will enable me to access resources, technologies, and expertise that are crucial for the sophisticated execution of my project. I am particularly eager to delve into the research and development phase. This grant allows me to explore innovative approaches, conduct comprehensive studies, and refine my methodologies. The prospect of pushing boundaries in my field and contributing valuable insights is incredibly thrilling. I also want to take this opportunity to thank my dear husband, who has always supported and encouraged me.

History of Art and Architecture Pollinator Initiative: Planting for a Greener, Pollinator-Friendly BU
Graham Stopa (GRS‘24)
The History of Art and Architecture Pollinator Initiative at Boston University aims to support pollinators by strategically planting native trees on campus. This approach extends the bloom cycle and provides a sustainable, low-maintenance solution. Expanding into areas like Nickerson Field, the project increases biodiversity, reduces the carbon footprint, and creates a balanced environment for pollinators and the community.

Idori: Engaging Children in Sustainability Through Stories and Play
Noah Sorin (QST‘24)
Idori is an educational venture that combines fun storybooks and toys with a focus on environmental stewardship to teach children about sustainability. Working closely with educators and experts, Idori employs an engaging, hands-on approach to learning, ensuring lessons in caring for the Earth are both enjoyable and impactful. By integrating these resources into local schools like the Boston Outdoor Preschool Network, Idori not only educates but also actively involves children in sustainable practices from a young age.

“Receiving the Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant will allow us to bring our educational resources into several more schools in the Spring semester. It is so exciting to see Innovate@BU and BU Sustainability supporting this project focused on making early childhood environmental education more fun, engaging, and meaningful for kids across the Boston area.”

Miyawaki Afforestation Project: Cooling Urban Boston with Native Mini-Forests
Megan Ryder (SPH’25)
Miyawaki Afforestation Project is an initiative focused on planting “tiny forests” in urban areas of Boston, particularly in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods impacted by the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. This project aims to utilize small urban greenspaces to create microclimates that combat UHI by planting dense, native forests using the Miyawaki method. This technique involves planting a variety of indigenous shrubs and trees closely together in small areas, about the size of a tennis court, to maximize green cover and ecological diversity.

“What excites me the most in receiving the Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant funding is that I am one step closer to making a small contribution to a Boston community that needs more attention on their quality of life and public green-spaces. The moment I get to step back and witness a Boston neighborhood mobilize around an investment in their well-being is the moment I anticipate feeling most proud to be a Bostonian. The grant funding is going straight to the neighborhoods that most deserve attention in the city – I’ll be holding a town hall to hear the needs of the people straight from the source, and apply that feedback to the execution of my plan to regenerate local biodiversity through Miyawaki Afforestation.”

SharingGround: Practical Tools and Tips for a Waste-Free Boston
Delaney Foster (CAS‘25)
SharingGround is dedicated to fostering zero waste in Boston through community engagement and education. Leveraging social media and email newsletters, the project disseminates valuable information on environmental issues, focusing on practical, immediate actions for waste reduction. SharingGround organizes interactive workshops and educational panels, and participates in sustainability fairs to promote reusing and recycling practices. The project is also developing a student-to-student network for safe item borrowing, aiming to significantly reduce waste on a larger scale by encouraging the reuse of infrequently used items within the community.

Stella: Combining Sustainability and Speed in BU’s Electric Car Project
Maya Rice (CAS‘24)
Terrier Motorsport, BU’s Formula SAE team, is building an all-electric race car for the Formula Hybrid competition. This project brings together engineers, students, and car enthusiasts to design and build an electric vehicle with campus resources. It focuses on practical skills in electric vehicle technology, especially in creating a sustainable, efficient battery pack. The battery is designed to use less material and be cost-effective, with good power efficiency. The team also works to inspire high school students in STEM by sharing their experience with college-level engineering projects.

Want to learn how you can contribute to a greener future in Boston?

Attend our upcoming info session on December 1 for the BU Climate Innovation Challenge and find out!

From Innovate@BU and BU Sustainability, the Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant program invites current BU students and alumni within one year of graduation to apply for funding and resources to kick-start a project or develop an intervention that tackles the leading sustainability challenges facing BU.

More Innovation, More Inspiration