(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is one of eight North American higher education institutions to be awarded grant funding Tuesday from the Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature for innovative, cross-sector climate projects. A preference was given to those that emphasized justice, equity and engagement with communities of color.
SOU’s Social Justice and Equity Center was awarded a $6,600 grant to establish an “equity and climate resilience” program and hire a student Equity and Climate Resilience Fellow. The student will support collaboration between those working toward racial or social justice and others advocating climate resilience and adaptation.
“Southern Oregon University recognizes the intersection of social equity and climate justice, and is delighted to have received funding from Second Nature to help further our work in this area,” President Linda Schott said. “Sustainability is a critical aspect of our Strategic Plan, our values at SOU and our daily operations. We work across the board to ensure our culture is infused with sustainability.”
SOU is developing a rich history with Second Nature, which was formed in 1993 to mobilize higher education toward the goal of sustainability. The university was among 90 institutions to become “charter signatories” in 2016 to the organization’s Climate Commitment, which requires a set of climate targets and progress reports. A year later, SOU was one of just six U.S. colleges and universities to be recognized with Climate Leadership Awards from Second Nature.
This year’s “Acceleration Fund” awards will pay for projects that focus on long-term, campus-community activities that are likely to continue after the one-year grant term expires. The other seven awards went to the College of Menominee Nation in Wisconsin, Drexel University in Philadelphia, Gonzaga University in Spokane, Milwaukee Area Technical College in Wisconsin, Stetson University in Florida, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Second Nature described a highly competitive process for this year’s grants. All colleges and universities that are Climate Leadership Network signatories or University Climate Change Coalition members were eligible to apply.
“We were positively overwhelmed with the number and diversity of applications we received,” said Tim Carter, president of Second Nature. “While it meant that our review committee had to make some tough decisions, it also affirms the higher education sector’s commitment to advancing climate action and climate justice.”
SOU’s new Equity and Climate Resilience Fellow is expected to be recruited and hired in July and begin work in September.
The student will work with the university’s Equity Coordinator for Sustainability and Basic Needs Resourcing to plan and organize working group meetings, workshops and conferences throughout the academic year. A regional conference in spring 2022 will have a theme of “embedding an equity lens in climate resilience and adaptation.”
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.