Eco Equity Challenge


The GW Eco Equity Challenge


With a campus located four blocks from the White House and adjacent to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, it would be easy for GW students to continually think on a national and international scale, forgetting that there are communities right next door experiencing their share of urban social and environmental challenges. Our Eco-Equity Challenge Program aims to help undergraduate and graduate students connect with residents of Washington, D.C., to share their skills and find solutions to environmental and social justice issues.

In 2015, GWs Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and Office of Sustainability partnered with Siemens Industry, Inc. Building Technologies Division to launch the program. Applicants must develop their projects in collaboration with one or more community partners, and be supported by a faculty member. GW student entrepreneurs receive funds, training, and mentoring from Sustainability and the Nashman Center to implement their projects. To qualify, projects must also raise awareness within the GW community about environmental or climate justice. The program links students to the broader community, helping build their understanding of challenges in an urban environment — and how to solve them — and sharing what they learn with others at the university.

Application Details

  • Interested students are encouraged to meet with Kimberly Williams in the Office of Sustainability to discuss project ideas prior to submitting an application. Reach Kimberly at [email protected].
  • Interested students are encouraged to submit a proposal as a team, and must have a GW Faculty Advisor and a local community partner.
  • Project proposals must incorporate an environmental and social justice component.
  • Application deadline is February 7 each year, and the project is to be completed the following academic year.


Eco Equity Challenge Application

Past Projects

A project led by GW student Logan Malik aimed to address the impacts of climate change in Washington, D.C. by expanding an existing greenhouse gas monitoring project into underserved communities in the District. Logan worked with high school students to build and install rooftop CO2 sensors that monitor greenhouse gas emissions. He then developed curriculum to educate the students on climate change and its impact on communities like theirs.  By engaging the students in the construction of the sensors and showing them a practical use of engineering, computer science, and chemistry, Logan helped to bridge the gap between scientific research and local community members

students install carbon dioxide sensor on school roof



In the first round of the Eco-Equity Challenge, several students partnered with Higher Achievement, a nonprofit organization providing middle-school enrichment programs, to develop a year-long program of community-based mapping and geography education for middle schoolers in an underserved neighborhood of D.C.


“The students were keen to work with Legos, maps, paint and other mediums to help them learn about the physical world through more tactile activities. We hope to introduce the students to concepts like climate change, gentrification, food security, environmental degradation, global cultures and many others through the use of novel and innovative new approaches to geographic education” -Arzoo Malhotra, GW student.


Another project involved teaching local students to use mapping technology to spotlight green spaces and other natural features in their own neighborhoods. Ellie Davis was a GW Eco-Equity Challenge student participant. She has since graduated and was able to apply the experience to her University of South Carolina Geography PhD program.


“The Eco-Equity Challenge provided my team with an opportunity to bolster environmental education and communication, a critical first step to ensuring a clean, safe, healthy world for current and future generations"-Ellie Davis, GW student.