Graham Sustainability Institute

Carbon Neutrality

Distinguished Awards Frequently Asked Questions

Distinguished Award

What is a Distinguished Award?
A Distinguished Award supports teams who compete for project funds to support local-global initiatives focused on climate change and the circular economy. Awards support project teams who complete their work in 11-12 months.
Who is eligible?
Any U-M Ann Arbor graduate (master's or doctoral) student currently enrolled in classes and in good academic standing. Applicants must demonstrate their experience and interest in working collaboratively on an interdisciplinary project.
If I am a Dow Fellow, can I also apply for a Distinguished Award?
Dow Fellows (current and alumni) are not eligible to apply for a Distinguished Award. 
Is there a limit to how many students can be on a project team?
Each team should represent minimally 3 different disciplines and be comprised of 4-5 students. 
Where do I submit my application?
Applications are submitted online through the Dow Distinguished Awards, see the Call for Project Proposals.
How many Projects are Supported?
Up to 2 projects are supported annually.
What types of projects are typically conducted?
Projects must focus on climate change and the circular economy. Teams develop project plans to address energy justice for a community, assist small businesses in efforts to eliminate waste, and typically work on projects that may be replicated for other organizations or communities. Project teams must identify and confirm a client/sponsor external to the university. 
Can I use a project idea from my faculty advisor and use this in a proposal?
Yes. Your project may be based on an existing research. But Dow Distinguished Award projects must be student-led. Faculty advisors may provide student teams with ideas and can connect teams with partner organizations.
What are the typical expenses for projects?
Project support activities of teams that may involve travel and events to engage with organizational partners and stakeholders. Support can be used for meetings and workshops, to develop a prototype of a new product, or to conduct research and analysis to address a specific need.  Expenditures for equipment are discouraged.  
Do I need to submit any references?
No, references are not required. But all team members, including a faculty advisor must agree to a firm commitment to implement the project as described in the proposal with demonstrable results delivered by the deadlines and according to the Dow Distinguished Award guidelines.
When is my Project Proposal due?
Please see the application details for due dates. Applicants interested in competing must apply online, submit a letter of intent, and include  a scope of work and budget with a full proposal.
Who supports this effort?
The Distinguished Awards Competition is supported by the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan.

Benefits of Participating in a Dow Distinguished Award Project

Why should I join a Distinguished Award team?
Participation in this program provides relevant experience for those seeking a career in the sustainability field. This program provides an opportunity for students to work in interdisciplinary teams to achieve a common goal and to apply the skills they have learned in classes to solve sustainability challenges. Working with an organizational partner provides valuable practical experience beyond the classroom.
Can Distinguished Award funds be used for tuition?
No, the program supports direct expenses of the projects including, but not limited to, engagement with organizaitonal partners.