Student Sustainability Center finds new funding home

The Student Sustainability Center is slated to receive $71,000 in funding from the upcoming 2018 financial budget proposed by the Associated Students of Portland State University’s Student Fee Committee, a significant increase from its previous $75 allocation.

The increase by the SFC will go toward paying for student positions and programming as its primary funding source, while a 10-year challenge grant from the Miller Foundation gradually comes to an end in June 2019.

“Last May, SSC received a 50 percent budget decrease from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions—they administer the Miller Grant,” said SSC Coordinator Heather Spalding. “They are beginning to withdraw funds in order to prepare for the transition when the grant ends. Last summer, we made very significant budget reductions in order to handle the transitions, so that our funding needs are about 40 percent lower.”

These budget reductions included decreased hourly pay and work hours and suspending student work during the summer. During this time the SSC began reporting to Student Activities and Leadership Programs, who provided office supplies and administrative support, as well as opportunities to co-sponsor events.

The SSC applied to be a new fee-funded program with the SFC in the fall of 2015, moving the organization closer to being student funded. The SFC initially allocated $75, with the intention to increase funding after the Miller grant came to an end.

The SSC was founded in 2009 after PSU received the Miller Foundation grant.

“SSC received a small portion of that money to offer student engagement and leadership opportunities,” Spalding said. “When PSU received the grant, an external consulting company held focus groups across campus. One of the themes, especially from students and ASPSU, was the need for more support in building sustainability skills, knowledge, experience, awareness, etc. within the student body.”

The SSC’s resources for students interested in sustainability include field trips, the campus bee apiary located in PSU’s community garden, student gardens and the relatively new seed library where students and PSU community members can borrow or donate free seeds of all kinds.

“The seed library will be great for people who want to do some planting in the urban landscape,” said Lencia Holmes, a member of SSC’s marketing and social media task force. “And it’s just another option for students to be sustainable and know where their food is coming from.”

The seed library started during Earth Week in April 2016. Since then, the library has seen almost 200 people borrow seeds.