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Harvard Student Group Gives $10,000 in Sustainability Grants

By Truelian Lee, Crimson Staff Writer

An undergraduate consulting organization has granted $10,000 to 13 Harvard affiliates and groups to advance sustainability initiatives this year.

Harvard Undergraduate Consulting on Business and the Environment consults companies in the technology, life sciences, and sustainability fields. CBE launched the grant program this year, opening applications in the spring and selecting the recipients based on the viability and impact of their pitched initiatives.

President Kevin Stephen ’20 said the organization spearheaded the program after its members expressed their belief in the “moral imperative” of using the club’s resources to help people. He said the board saw a chance to use revenue gained from the club’s “explosive growth” over the past couple of years to support the Harvard community.

“We thought there was a strong opportunity for us to help a lot of people,” Stephen said. “We have a lot of small, environmental groups on campus that are doing great work, but that didn’t really have the resources or the capital to make a strong impact.”

Managing Director Dhruv Gupta ’20 said grants ranged from a few hundred dollars to almost $2000.

Gupta said he has been “really excited” to hear about the ways the recipients have used the grant.

“It's really cool to see even the small amount of money we may have given out have a large impact on the individuals or the people that they helped," he said.

One of the grant recipients was Refresh Bolivia, a 501c(3) nonprofit building health infrastructure, education, and research in the country.

Executive Director Akshay Swaminathan ’19 said the grant would go toward “our biggest and most ambitious project to date” — building a community health clinic in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Swaminathan said the funds would help equip the clinic with “critical” medical equipment including weighing scales, thermometers, and over-the-counter drugs.

“What makes this clinic special is that it address various barriers in healthcare — physical, economic, and linguistic,” Swaminathan said. He noted that without the clinic, residents would have to travel for two hours to the city center, where “they may not even find affordable medicine.”

Another recipient, the Harvard Social Innovation Collaborative, is using the grant money to reimburse speakers and panelists for its ninth Igniting Innovation Summit, the largest undergraduate-run conference about social innovation.

Summit Co-Director Connie Cai ’21 said the grant allows the summit to “continue having as much reach as before.”

“I don’t think we would have been able to get as many really high-profile speakers and people from a lot of different backgrounds if not for this grant,” she said.

Cai said she thought it was “really nice” that a Harvard organization is helping other clubs on campus.

“The grant program is really cool,” Cai said. “I’ve never heard of a student organization giving grants to another student organization before.”

Christina M. Bear ’20 applied for the grant on behalf of BubbleBox, a mobile hygiene unit aimed to help migrants, refugees, and the homeless. Bear said the team will use the funding to build a minimal viable product.

“We’ve really enjoyed being a part of this initial sustainability grant,” Bear said. “Not only has the money been helpful, but so have the connections we’ve been able to make with CBE and other organizations.”

Stephen said he hopes to expand the grant program in the future.

“We'll definitely do something similar to this next year and expand the program to give out more grants,” he added.

—Staff writer Truelian Lee can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @truelian_lee.

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