The CU President’s Office invites students to present their ideas for sustainable innovations and solutions for the University of Colorado System and its Campuses in competition for a cash prize.

The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and the CU Environmental Center will be celebrated on April 22nd and will include the award of a $2,000 grand prize for the first CU President’s Sustainable Solutions Challenge (PSSC). PSSC is a competition series that seeks to encourage student led innovation in sustainability on CU campuses or through the CU system.

The competition will take place in two stages. The first stage will be a Pitch Night competition hosted on each campus and open to entry for students enrolled at that campus. The winners of each campus’ Pitch Night will be awarded a prize of $1000, and the top two teams from each campus will be advanced to the grand prize round, which will be simulcast event broadcasted from CU Boulder’s Glenn Miller Ballroom. Both rounds will see student teams present their ideas to a panel of judges with experience in sustainability.

For the competition, students (as individuals or teams) are invited to develop multidisciplinary approaches that result in short-pitch presentations that describe proposed sustainability initiatives to address environmental quality, natural resource

use, and social justice with economic longevity on a CU campus or through the CU system. Qualifying teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges in both rounds and will be evaluated on anticipated impact, innovation in addressing a sustainability issue and the feasibility of the idea. Prize funding will be directed toward the individual or teams and not to project implementation. All proposals will be shared with appropriate campus units for consideration for potential implementation.

Competition Structure

So you have an idea for an innovation on campus that will lead to less environmental impact or promote social justice? If you want to be rewarded for that innovation and get a chance to see it implemented on you campus this is you opportunity to accelerate your vision. Here are the steps that you will go through on you way to seeing you idea take shape on campus.

1. Register for the Competition

Registration for this event will be open to all CU students. You may register as an established team with an idea or as an interested individual and join a team later. To register, you will need to provide a brief description (150 words) of your innovation, the area of impact that your idea is focused on (i.e. food, water, transportation, energy, etc.), and the names and contact information of each team member. To qualify for the competition, all team members must hold a valid CU Student ID Card. Your team may also include a mentor or advisor from within or outside the CU community. The registration period will be open between January 29 and March 9. Find the registration portal at

2. Attend your campus Information Session and Pitch Workshop

In preparation for the competition, PSSC Campus Organizers will host two sessions.

First, each campus will host an open information session in mid February. All interested teams, including those who have not registered yet, are invited to join. Here you will learn about strategies and resources for success, get more detail on the advancement and selection criteria as well as the purpose of the competition, and have an opportunity to ask questions that you may have about competing in the PSSC. This is optional for participants.

The second session to attend is a Proposal Workshop to help develop your proposal and pitch. The Proposal Workshop will be held on each campus in early March. In a two-hour coaching session, you will have access to professionals to help you develop your main points, justifications, and sharpen the delivery of your idea in front of judges and an audience. This will also be an opportunity for you to network with professionals and potentially connect with a subject matter expert for advice. Neither event is mandatory to attend but both will provide valuable resources to strengthen your run at the prize the prize.

3. Develop your Idea and Pitch

While the PSSC Implementation Team will provide the two resources above, teams should note that other resources for developing their projects and coming up with ideas for projects exist on their campus. These could be student clubs, entrepreneurship and leadership training series (such as New Venture Challenges), environmental showcases, sustainability grant funds (such as UCCS Green Action Fund), See the list of resources available for your campus by going to the PSSC website and selecting the link for your campus. Teams are also allowed to seek the assistance of a mentor or advisor to help them develop their idea and pitch. Attend your campus workshop and contact your campus organizer for help identifying an appropriate mentor.

4. Submit Your Final Proposal

Final proposals for the competition will be due on April 1 for all teams on all campuses. Final Proposals will be evaluated by a proposal review committee, and the 20 best proposals from each campus will be carried forward to compete in the Campus Pitch Night. See below for submission requirements. Proposal Submissions after the deadline will not be considered for entry.

Final Proposal Submission Requirements

Project submissions should be in the form of a 2 page (maximum) written summary with a pitch deck and must address the following:

  • Team name, team point of contact and group members' names
  • What is the sustainability innovation(s) proposed? How does it address sustainability in a novel way or in a way that has not been attempted on campus in the past?
  • What resource area does your innovation address, or what problem does it attempt to solve? (Energy, food transportation, water, social justice, etc…) 
  • What are the expected/intended benefits of the innovation?
    • What stakeholder groups will benefit from your innovation? (On or off campus)
    • Evaluation of proposals will favor teams that cite relevant sustainability frameworks (i.e UN Sustainable Development Goals, Carbon Disclosure Project, Project Drawdown, etc…) 
  • What resources will be required for your innovation to be implemented and operate? What is the estimated cost of the innovation? 

5. Campus Pitch Night and Grand Prize Night

In early April each campus will host its own pitch night as a competition among the entrants from that campus. A panel of local judges will assess each pitch based on the criteria outlined below. The winning team or individual will receive an award of $1,000. The top two proposals will be invited to compete for the Grand Prize on April 22, Earth Day.

The final component of the competition is the Grand Prize Night. This will entail pitches by the top two teams from each campus to a panel of judges. The event will be held as part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day on the CU Boulder campus, and simulcast to all campuses from the CU Boulder Glenn Miller Ballroom. The winning team will be announced and receive a $2,000 cash prize.

Prize funding will be directed toward the individual or teams and not to project implementation.

Evaluation Criteria**

Innovation Pitches will be evaluated on their answers to the questions below in addition to the pitch team’s ability to justify the Innovation’s anticipated impact and support their claims. The Campus Pitch Night and Grand Prize Night will evaluate teams on slightly different criteria. In addition to the evaluation of Innovation, Impact, Feasibility, and Justification on the Campus Pitch Night, teams presenting in the Grand Prize round must show how their innovation can be scaled to other campuses, to the CU System, or into the community. See the evaluation framework below.

Campus Pitch Night Evaluation Criteria

 See attached document below

Grand Prize Additional Evaluation Categories

  1. Scalability. Evaluate the team’s plan for or explanation of the idea’s potential to scale beyond the campus.
    1. What is the “market potential” or “target audience” for the idea?
    2. Does the team have a clear “business plan” or similar path to scale?
    3. How well does the team justify their analysis of the idea’s scalability?

**check your campus page for specific evaluation criteria used for your campus competition.

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