Yale Environmental Incubator

Have you ever thought about tangible ways to promote environmental
sustainability here at Yale? Or even new ways to catalyze change
beyond the city of New Haven? Need some funding to get your project off the ground? If yes, you've come to the right place!

YSEC is home to the annual Yale Environmental Incubator, a student-run accelerator that aims to catalyze and nurture promising initiatives led by current Yale University students. Several grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 are distributed every year in order to fund new and
innovative sustainability-related projects.

The application is simple. The two criteria we look for are:
1. How impactful is your project?
2. How realistic is your project?

Perhaps you want to start a sustainability initiative for a big campus group that you’re a part of, or host a conference about a topic that you’re excited about, or launch a startup that aims to transform the status quo of an industry you work in. The guidelines are designed to be flexible — think big! 


We seek all types of ideas from all types of groups, ranging from 2 to 10 core team members. Your team can be part of a larger campus organization, or it can be a group of friends who simply want to work together. Regardless of whether your venture is a project that you’ve been thinking about for months or an idea that you just had five minutes ago, we welcome proposals at all stages of the ideation process.

The short application consists of a project summary, mission, and budget, as well as a team description. The deadline is rolling; please apply whenever you feel ready. The application can be found at this link: https://forms.gle/hrvfTFmVEAvXStxu9

Read the FAQs below for more information, and if your team has any further questions, reach out to YSEC at lila.brady@yale.edu. We encourage you to schedule a meeting if you have additional questions.

Am I eligible?
All applicants must be full-time Yale University students. Members within the same team may attend different schools or programs at Yale.


Can my idea be a for-profit venture?
Yes, but preference will be given to not-for-profit projects and groups, as resources for startups are readily available at Yale. Check out CBEY if you have a cool for-profit idea.


What are my chances of winning?
Our goal is to distribute as much capital as possible — and we don’t want to turn down any amazing ideas. We do not plan to set a quota on the number of winners.


Who is judging the challenge?
The YSEC Board will carefully review each submission, with the consultation of our faculty advisors as needed. Although the judging process does not aim to be entirely anonymous, the names of all applicants will be redacted prior to evaluation.

Can I apply with more than one project or more than one team?
No, we encourage you to select your best idea in order to focus on exploring that idea.


What if I’ve never been involved with YSEC?
This prize is focused on nurturing new ideas and groups (YSEC’s coalition groups already have access to ad-hoc funding from YSEC throughout the year). Whether you’re a seasoned environmentalist or not, we want you to apply!

What happens if we win?
If selected, each team member agrees to take full responsibility for the project, no matter if the proposed initiative is part of an existing organization or an entirely new venture. Photographs and receipts will be requested upon depletion of your funds, but otherwise, the program is inherently flexible. The YSEC Board will also provide winners with publicity, resources, contacts, and office space.


Who has won the grant in the past?
Past winners include a national student conference about corporate sustainability and sustainable investing, a waste-reduction program that allows student groups to check out reusable dishware and utensils for campus events, and a student initiative to solarize food trucks on campus.

Do you have any other advice?
The two most common problems with campus sustainability initiatives are (1) it already exists in some form (e.g. the Yale Office of Sustainability is currently working on your idea or a similar one), and (2) it requires permission from/cooperation with Yale administrators or staff, which may be difficult to receive. Contact YSEC if you believe these may be potential issues facing your project.


Looking forward to reading your applications!