Laurier’s Sustainable Hawk Fund recognized nationally as it opens for the year


Photo by Darien Funk

One of Wilfrid Laurier University’s own environmental initiatives, the Sustainable Hawk Fund, has been recognized nationally for its contributions to fighting climate change.

Canada’s Clean50, an organization meant to recognize projects and individuals in Canada that promote sustainability, recently named the Sustainable Hawk Fund as a 2022 Clean50 Top Project.

The fund is meant to support members of the Laurier community who want to pursue a project focused on sustainability but don’t have the funds or expertise to do so.

“People have concepts and ideas, opportunities where it’s intimidating to want to do something on campus, it’s intimidating to want to do something within the community,” Eric Meliton, manager of the Sustainability Office at Laurier said.

“So, not only do we provide the financial resources to get started a lot of the time, but we also provide them with the access, the ability to support them, whether it be mentorship and coaching or direct referrals and access to the staff and stakeholders who they need to work with.”

The Fund was started in 2015 and since then has supported 38 different projects.

Admissions are reviewed by the Sustainability Campus Committee, a group made up of community leaders, students, staff and faculty.

Typically, five to six projects are supported by the fund each year.

Projects chosen are given a bursary of up to $5,000 and other support that they may need, from the program’s total available budget of $30,000 a year.

A wide range of projects have been funded this way.

This includes EarthSuds, a venture started by Laurier students to reduce environmental waste and which represents Canada at this year’s Enactus World Cup.

The fund also supported the climate mural painted on the back of the theatre auditorium on Laurier’s campus, meant to capture a sense of solidarity and inclusiveness when it comes to climate action.

In terms of the fund being recognized as a Clean50 Top Project, Meliton is hopeful that it will allow the program to be more well known to those outside of the Laurier campus.

“What we’re really excited about with the award recognition is that it establishes external credibility. This program’s been around for six years but it’s really kind of been an insular program,” he explained.

“Alumni aren’t always aware of it, we don’t really have a major [donors] alignment for companies or corporations or stakeholders to contribute to.” 

He was also hopeful that the fund might expand its capacity in the near future to be able to support more ventures.

“We’re trying our best to increase this capacity by seeing if we can double that budget for the remainder of the 2021/2022 academic year so we can have more projects be invested in by the program,” Meliton  said. More information on how to apply for funding, as well as on the projects the fund has supported in the past, can be found on Laurier’s website here. Applications opened November 15 and are due by Jan. 14, 2022.

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