campus news

UB Sustainability awarded Second Nature Catalyst Grant

Sustainability graphic featuring icons of various sustainability efforts.


Undergraduate English major

Published November 20, 2023

Climate Health, with Derek Nichols.
“The funding will be used to bring our on-campus climate leaders and community climate leaders together to talk about working holistically as a region in climate justice action. ”
Derek Nichols, associate director
UB Sustainability

UB is among 11 colleges and universities awarded Second Nature Catalyst Grants to fund projects designed to spark decarbonization and climate resilience work, and support initiatives that advance climate justice.

The grants from Second Nature, an organization committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education, award recipients up to $10,000 each. The funding is provided through Second Nature’s Acceleration Fund, which supports campus-driven climate action initiatives.

“Receiving this award is exciting. It is called a catalyst award because it will do just that — it will jump start the connections of our climate action plan and climate justice work,” says Derek Nichols, associate director of sustainability.

Second Nature’s Catalyst Grants are intentionally flexible, so campuses can use them for things that are otherwise difficult to fund, such as staffing, supplies or new or existing projects.

At UB, the Catalyst Grant funding will support a series of workshops to build sustainable relationships between faculty, staff, students and community members in order to frame future climate justice work and set long-term goals. 

These workshops will focus on UB’s past, present and future work addressing structural inequalities in the region while advancing solutions that impact the changing climate. Working groups will then develop goals and long-term objectives to advance the ideas generated in these sessions. 

“The UB community will see stronger ties to our external local and regional communities through our institution’s climate work, building robust relationships through not just our academics, but operations as well,” says Jason Corwin, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies, and a member of UB Sustainability’s climate justice committee.

Second Nature praises UB for its innovative Climate Action Plan, which advances 10 key strategies throughout the university to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. 

“We’re excited to support UB’s project to implement their climate justice work outlined in their updated climate action plan,” says Michele Madia, senior director of Second Nature. “Organizing a climate justice coalition that is intent on learning from and co-creating a research methodology that builds and strengthens community relationships is a model we want to support and highlight.”

Last year, climate justice was added as an integrator to UB’s climate action plan, meaning that every policy, program or infrastructure improvement must consider the social justice and equity impacts, as well as recommendations made by the President’s Advisory Council on Race (PACOR).

Climate justice has been at the heart of the university’s work for a while now,” Nichols explains. “We’ve hosted workshops on climate and environmental justice, and have formed partnerships across the university that have connected traditional sustainability or environmental work to equity and justice.

“This grant will allow us to really take the next step in this work,” he says. “The funding will be used to bring our on-campus climate leaders and community climate leaders together to talk about working holistically as a region in climate justice action.”