Summer 2022 Sustainability Fellows: Gabriella Benacquisto and Gabrielle Holland
Partner: Sustainable Campus
Project: Sustainability Research and Grant Funding
Students: Gabriella Benacquisto, First Year Graduate Student in Urban and Regional Affairs, and Gabrielle Holland, Second Year Graduate Student in Social Work/Public Administration
In Summer 2022, Gabriella and Gabrielle worked with Sustainable Campus to create a 250+ page report on sustainability research, teaching, and programs that aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and identify external funding sources to support future SDG initiatives.
Gabriella was interested in continuing her work as a Sustainability Fellow to help others make more sustainable choices. Gabrielle’s background in fundraising and grant management made her an ideal team member for the project, as she was interested in making sure communities and programs are sustainable through the lens of grant research and development.
The UN SDGs are a collection of seventeen interlinked global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. By connecting FSU researchers and courses with the SDGs, FSU can better identify how its academic work aligns with international efforts to combat climate change and further sustainable development.
As Sustainability Fellows, Gabriella and Gabrielle worked with Laurelin Haas, Academics and Partnerships Coordinator, to build on the previous semester’s SDG project and write an in-depth report on the Fellows’ findings. Specifically, Gabriella was tasked with creating chapter summaries for each of the seventeen SDGs, identifying faculty members and courses to spotlight, and developing graphics such as pie and bar charts.
Throughout the semester, Gabrielle developed a research methodology that allowed her to identify 34 potential funding sources, including at least one funder for each SDG. Gabrielle used the SDG definitions to find aligned grant opportunities using databases such as Grants.gov and the PIVOT database. She used information such as the funder, grant amount, and application period/deadline to determine whether the grant should be included in the report. She also selected criteria for “higher education” to ensure eligibility for FSU faculty, staff, and students.
The final 258-page report included the following sections: Introduction, Methodology, Key Findings and Next Steps, Individual SDG Chapters, References, and Appendices (including the FSU SDG Keyword List, FSU University Review SDG Definitions, Potential Funding Related to the UN SDGs, Alignment with the UN SDGs by College, the FSU Sustainability Research Inventory Categorized by UN SDGs, and the FSU Sustainable Course Guide Categorized by UN SDGs).
“What the students have accomplished is very impressive,” said Gene Cilluffo, Sustainable Campus Engagement Coordinator. “It’s a huge service to the university.”
For Gabriella, the Fellowship was an opportunity to gain a better understanding of all of FSU’s sustainability resources and the SDGs.
“I see so much potential for FSU in terms of sustainability and the SDGs,” said Gabriella, who will be joining the Sustainable Campus team in Fall 2022 to continue her work on the project. “I think that the fellowship has really allowed me to be able to understand sustainability as not mutually exclusive. In order to achieve positive change in one area, you almost definitely need to make positive change in many other ways, and it’s important not to leave anyone behind.”
Gabrielle was new to the SDGs when she began the project, and she felt that the opportunity was a great way for her to gain experience in a topic she was unfamiliar with.
“I really appreciate that the fellowship is open to all disciplines,” said Gabrielle. “That way, everyone can learn from each other. We worked so well as a group, and we respected each other’s interests. I learned so much that I will definitely take with me, and I’m thankful to be a part of this great experience.”
To learn more about the Sustainability Fellows program, visit sustainablecampus.fsu.edu/sustainability-fellows.