Making an Impact Through The Cougar Changemaker Program

Author: Rachael Weidman

Have you ever dreamt about something green you wanted to see on campus, only to realize that you didn’t have the time or money to make it happen? If so, the Center for Sustainable Development’s Cougar Changemaker program may be right for you!


In case you haven’t heard of it, this wonderful program uses money from students’ Green Fee ($10/semester taken out of tuition costs) to fund & implement student-generated, sustainability-related projects on campus.


For students, this is an amazing opportunity to use the college’s resources and one’s own creativity to create real change on campus. It also allows students to gain important experience in networking, creating a budget, developing critical thinking & systems thinking skills, and more. Regardless of whether a project is selected for funding, this still looks great on a resume!


Due to the creative nature of the program, several professors have even incorporated it into their classes. The Intro to Environmental & Sustainability Studies and Environmental Psychology courses are just two where you might find students collaborating in teams to brainstorm innovative ideas.


This year, we received more applications than ever before! Some amazing new projects have been funded or are in the works. These include mask recycling bins in the J.C. Long & Robert Scott Small buildings, window decals to prevent bird collisions, and a new zero-waste laundry detergent sheet dispenser that will be unveiled this fall in the Stern Center.


Some Changemaker funds are being used to bolster the efforts of other departments. This synergy is imperative for creating resilient partnerships on campus. The construction of a permanent ramp at the Porter’s Lodge entrance to the Cistern, as well as the creation of backyard space with a garden at the Historic Preservation and Community Planning’s 12 Bull Street building are supported by Changemaker funds.


Earlier this semester, in collaboration with Student Government Association (SGA), we hosted a documentary screening about period poverty and the stigma around menstruation, while giving away free Diva Cups! Be on the lookout for another diva cup giveaway this fall.


Also, this fall, there will be a major workday at Stono Preserve where students will plant native plants! During the Weeks of Welcome, new students will be given reef-friendly sunscreen along with information about how to protect their new home’s delicate marine environment. Both projects are being brought to life by Changemaker funding!


We hope that this program will only continue to grow down the road and that CofC students can feel empowered to create visible change as we move toward a more sustainable future.


Want to apply? It’s simple! Applications reopen every semester. First, you submit a basic interest form that discloses your idea. Then, the Changemaker student intern will be in touch to provide guidance. About a month later, you submit a full proposal which will then be reviewed by the Changemaker intern and student committee. As a team, they decide which projects are in the best shape to fund. Once the project is approved for funding, we handle the implementation!


If you’re interested in applying for Changemaker funding, go to our website and be on the lookout for the fall deadlines & forms, which will be posted over the summer. Feel free to send us an email at if you have any questions or are interested in serving on the committee.


About the author: 

Rachael is a senior studying Psychology and Environmental & Sustainability studies. After coming to college, she became super passionate about climate change and humans’ relationship to the earth. While environmental activism can certainly be daunting, she likes to view it as an opportunity to be a part of a pivotal moment in history. Her areas of interest within sustainability include food systems, personal wellbeing & mindfulness, and climate action. Outside of college life, she loves cooking ridiculously good vegan food, walking her pup, and going to the beach regardless of the weather.

Cover photo by Christina Morillo.