Thank you for participating in the Pitt Sustainability Challenge. We recommend reading all requirements before you begin. Portions of this application, including but not limited to: Project Title, Project Overview and Video Presentation, may be published on this website. The remainder of your application will be viewed by the Pitt Sustainability Challenge team, Evaluation Panel judges, and Selection Committee.
All applications must be submitted in English. This provides consistency across all entries during our review process and reduces the risk of translation error or misinterpreting an application.
Be sure to review your application as it will appear after it’s been submitted (link at the bottom of the page) and confirm your changes have been saved. When you have completed all of the requirements, a message will be displayed on the screen. At that point, you can submit your final application.
Once you have submitted the application, you will no longer be able to make changes and the status on your dashboard will confirm submission (you will not receive an automated email confirmation).
You must submit your application no later than Wednesday, April 5, 2023, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
A. QUICK PITCH
This is your opportunity to make a strong first impression. Offer a brief and compelling overview of your proposal. Avoid using jargon or language that a layperson may not understand. The information in this section is likely to be made publicly available in a variety of online settings.
Project Title (20 words)
Provide the title of your project. Choose a name for your project which easily identifies your solution and distinguishes it from any other projects.
Project Description (25 words)
Provide a short description for your project in one sentence.
Executive Summary (150 words)
Write a one-paragraph overview of your project that answers the following questions:
- What is a brief description of the problem that you are trying to solve?
- How will you solve it?
- What are your intended outcomes?
Focus on explaining how your solution will improve the University of Pittsburgh community you wish to serve. How would you best describe the projected benefits to your target beneficiaries? Your Executive Summary should be a stand-alone statement of the problem and solution. It should not require any other context to clearly explain what you are seeking to accomplish.
Please select the location of your proposed project (Select One).
- University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh campus
- University of Pittsburgh, Bradford campus
- University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg campus
- University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown campus
- University of Pittsburgh, Titusville hub
- A solution located on one or more University of Pittsburgh campuses
- A location outside of any designated University of Pittsburgh campus, but that would serve one or more University of Pittsburgh communities.
You are required to submit a video that captures your project and why it should be funded. The video is an opportunity to showcase your passion and pitch your story in a succinct format. We want you to share your vision with the judges in a way that is different from the written proposal format. This DOES NOT need to be a professionally produced video.
In order to complete this part of your application, your team will upload a short digital film using YouTube. Set the Privacy Settings on your video to Public or Unlisted – do not set them to Private.
Your video may be extracted from your submission and made available to the public and other donors. Appeal to a broad audience. Video submissions should follow these guidelines. Failure to do so may render the application as ineligible:
- A length of no more than 90 seconds.
- Your pitch must be primarily in English. If it includes segments in another language, those segments should be subtitled in English.
- Your video must be captioned. See these instructions on how to use You Tube automatic captioning.
- Your video should not include any copyrighted material (including, but not limited to, music) for which you do not have a license.
Here are general suggestions for delivering a high-quality video pitch:
- Introduce yourself and your organization(s) and/or team.
- Describe the problem that you are committed to solving.
- Explain your solution.
- Explain what is unique about your solution.
- Describe how you plan to measure success and achieve meaningful impact.
- Do not simply read a slide deck – instead, try to connect with your Evaluation Panel judges.
B. YOUR TEAM
Now that you’ve provided a brief overview of your project, focus on the talent and management of your team.
During registration, you identified the Lead Organization(s) responsible for taking accountability and for receiving grant funds, as well as providing the direction, control, and supervision for the project. If the Lead Organization has changed, please Edit Registration Form from the Profile menu to update this information.
Collaboration Among Organizations
Does your team consist of two or more organizations with an executed MOU? (Select one)
- Team consists of two or more organizations and has an executed MOU
- Team consists of two or more organizations, but there is not an executed MOU
- Team does not consist of two or more organizations
Partners (100 words)
If your team consists of two or more organizations, please name those partner(s) here. While neither government agencies nor individuals may act as a Principal Organization for any team, you are welcome to identify government agencies or individuals as named partners. Offer the legal name of each of your partner(s), separated by commas. If your team does not consist of two or more partners, please enter “Not Applicable.”
Why Your Team (250 words)
Explain how your team is uniquely positioned to deliver results and why you are the best choice to help Pitt advance carbon neutrality. Emphasize why you believe you have the right capabilities, experience, and commitment to execute your project. Showcase your combined talents to meet your team’s goals. If your team consists of two or more organizations, present a clear case as to why it is important to collaborate. What can your team members accomplish together that they couldn’t accomplish alone? Your response may include, but is not limited to:
- How your solution aligns with the primary purpose of your organization(s) or (if there is loose or indirect alignment) explain why you have decided to attack this opportunity.
- Your team's previous performance or relevant experience that highlights your ability to deliver results.
- Description of the largest project you've overseen (financially and/or in terms of team members involved and/or beneficiaries served).
- Description of what draws the leader or the group to this project on a personal level. What are your team’s core values?
- If a collaboration, why you believe this will be an effective collaboration. Have the entities successfully collaborated in the past? Explain how the partnership is positioned to deliver the solution as an integrated team.
- Description of how your team composition reflects the targeted beneficiaries you aim to reach, if relevant.
C. THE CHALLENGE
Demonstrate your understanding of the problem that you want to solve.
Challenge Statement (250 words)
Describe the specific problem related to carbon neutrality that your team will solve, using non-expert language (do not cite papers or studies). Share the most specific articulation of those issues and, if appropriate, connect it to any larger social concerns or systems. As part of your description address:
- Who is impacted by the identified challenges?
- Why does the problem exist?
- What are the most influential ways to effect the necessary change?
- Where are the leverage points where the smallest change can have the biggest impact?
Focus on setting the stage for your solution (versus describing how you intend to solve it).
Local Conditions (200 words)
Please describe the local conditions in and around where you intend to implement your solution. This is your opportunity to showcase that you’ve taken time to understand the issues that are important to the larger University of Pittsburgh community both inside and outside the campus(es) or the proposed location of your solution. Please include specific references to any local stakeholders or groups who may have an invested interest in your success or failure.
D. YOUR SOLUTION
Explaining how you intend to solve the problem.
Solution Deep-dive (250 words)
Please address the following questions:
- Explain the technical aspects of your proposed solution; this is your opportunity to explain how the solution works, but we encourage you to use language that a non-expert might appreciate.
- Describe the impact your solution will have on the chosen problem over a minimum period of 2 years. Will it have broad impact on a large population within the University of Pittsburgh or on specific campus(es)? Or will it have deep and intense impact on a small population within the University of Pittsburgh or on campus(es)? Later, in the Projected Impact section of your application, you can expand upon any assertions made here.
- Showcase how your solution leverages your target University of Pittsburgh community’s interests, any shared resources, and any long-term plans within your focus area.
Planned Integration (200 words)
By relying on some of the resources available through this website (including, but not limited to, the Pitt Sustainability Plan and Climate Action Plan), explain how your proposed solution builds on the University of Pittsburgh’s larger agenda to balance equity, environment, and economics so current and future generations can thrive. Pitt has invested deeply in engaging the campus community to ensure that sustainability and climate action efforts are coordinated, measured, and tracked to meet larger goals. It is your responsibility to show that you have a working knowledge of those efforts. You may rely on explicit aspirations, key performance indicators, impact statements, and other objectives that embody the University of Pittsburgh’s ambitions to achieve long-term sustainability. Show that you understand how your solution fits within this larger framework. Your planned integration must show a direct and explicit statement of how your solution will benefit the students of the University of Pittsburgh.
Stakeholder Engagement (200 words)
Explain how you have engaged or will engage campus and/or local stakeholders to garner their respect and support. You have already declared your understanding of the local conditions; this is your opportunity to explain how you have (or plan to) engage constituents to ensure that your plans are welcomed and that they reflect the values of those who will benefit from your proposal. The Pitt Sustainability Challenge is open both to teams currently working with or within the University of Pittsburgh community, as well as teams who may be currently working outside of the Pitt community. If you are not yet familiar with those stakeholders, you may illustrate your plan to engage them in a meaningful way during your implementation process. Please explicitly address how you will engage students of the University of Pittsburgh.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (150 words)
Explain how you intend to engage and ensure the active participation of a broad range of targeted University of Pittsburgh community members, including those who may have historically experienced inequitable representation or inclusion. How will you include them too?
E. PROJECTED IMPACT
This section provides the opportunity for you to offer evidence that supports your proposed solution.
Evidence of Effectiveness (250 words)
You may share an example of where your proposed solution has previously been implemented. Describe the local conditions that the intervention measurably improved and how. Present any internal or formal academic evidence you may have, including any results from complementary or previous work. If you have not previously implemented such a solution, please offer the basis upon which you have previously asserted any projected positive impact for target beneficiaries.
Ability to Scale (200 words)
What is the evidence or why do you believe your results can be replicated or scaled beyond the specific context in which you propose to implement your solution? How might your solution serve as a model for other communities both within or external to the University of Pittsburgh?
Timeline, Milestones & Measurement of Results (250 words)
What is your expected timeline for the project completion? What outcomes will you track to know if you are successful or on track to be successful over that timeline? Your timeline should occur over a 12 to 24 month period (with interim progress report(s) and an end report on impact and lessons learned).
Barrier Assessment & Risk Mitigation (150 words)
Describe the most threatening barriers to the short and long-term success of the project, along with any potential unintended consequences and your plans to mitigate them. Barriers can include problems inhibiting solution scalability, political or campus policy concerns, and/or any other potential operational or tactical hurdles that may hinder your solution’s success.
Other Considerations (150 words)
This is your final opportunity to raise any other considerations. Here, you may emphasize or expand upon a previous point or provide new information, as necessary. For example, we encourage teams to show how their solutions align with other aspects of the Pitt Sustainability and Climate Action Plans.
F. RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS
Indicate and describe the financial resources required to successfully implement your team’s project.
Budget Narrative (200 words)
Offer a general overview for how your team would spend $300,000 to implement your proposed project over a 12 to 24-month period. Please explain what portion of the budget (if any) is expected to be spent on capacity building (a perfectly acceptable use of funds) to ensure effective execution on the project. Please also specify what portion of the budget is expected to be spent on measurement and evaluation of results. Otherwise, please offer a narrative breakdown of your spending plan for $300,000 of Challenge Prize funds.
Provide specific line items from your team’s budget narrative (above). To help us understand your team’s priorities, please provide this detailed budget according to how you would spend $300,000 of Challenge prize funds to realize your proposal. Please make sure that any funds identified in this table reflect and clarify your team’s general explanations provided in your team’s budget narrative above.
Other Needs (150 words)
In addition to the $300,000 (USD) budget that you have specifically outlined (above), please describe any non-financial needs that you may have. For instance, if you require more support from key leaders within the Pitt community, local regulatory authorities, or others, please describe them here. This is your opportunity to seek non-financial support beyond your $300,000 budget. We welcome a frank and open explanation of all the key ingredients required for your team to succeed.
Other Resources (100 words)
If the successful execution of your proposed project includes the provision of other resources which have already been committed from other sources, please describe them here. While your proposed grant budget may not exceed $300,000, we invite proposals which may exceed funds provided by Pitt. If this is the case, please explain those other sources of funding and describe the level of commitment from additional or necessary partners. If no other sources are required, please enter “not applicable.”
G. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED
If your team is invited to participate in any future phases of the Pitt Sustainability Challenge, you may be required to provide additional information (refer to the RULES and Timeline), including but not limited to:
- A Tax Determination Letter
- Articles of Incorporation, Charter, or similar documentation.
- Any formal MOU between the relevant parties, if the team consists of two or more organizations.
- A more comprehensive Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Plan for the project.
- Existing policies (if any) addressing conflicts of interest, whistleblowers, internal controls, anti-money laundering, intellectual property, code of conduct, ethics, gifts, and any similar policies governing the organization(s).
- If you are selected as a Finalist to this competition, you may be required to show proof of consent for anyone appearing in your YouTube video.
The Pitt Sustainability Challenge reserves the right to perform background checks on key individuals associated with the project; the refusal by key individuals to provide necessary authorizations will give reason to reject any application for further consideration. Background information and results of any background checks will be kept confidential.