Sustainability scholarship, internship programs get financial boost
Author: Laura Gleim, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: January 16, 2013

Dovetailing with the launch of the first ever Portland State sustainability scholarship program this past fall, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) recently received a $50,000 grant from the Fred W. Fields Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF), which ISS will use to help expand and sustain the scholarship program.

Last fall, four incoming freshmen were awarded sustainably scholarships funded by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation challenge grant through the University Honors program. Each student was awarded $5,000 per year for four consecutive years and is expected to engage with research projects focused on urban sustainability, one of ISS’ focal research areas. Next year’s scholarships for the four returning sophomore students and four new freshmen will be funded from the OCF gift. 

“We’re excited to be able to support more undergraduate work on urban sustainability, and are honored by the Oregon Community Foundation’s confidence in our efforts,” said Jennifer Allen, director of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

With the costs of education soaring, financial assistance is becoming increasingly important for many students. Today, half of PSU students are the first in their family to attend college, and nearly 65 percent of PSU students graduate with debt from loans, which can impact career choice. 

“A university education is the most determinant social escalator for ending cycles of poverty and preparing people for the work force,” said Scott Shlaes, development director for sustainability initiatives at PSU. 

In addition to the scholarship program, ISS plans to use the OCF funding to expand the sustainability internship program. Over the past three years, PSU has partnered with organizations such as Ecotrust, the city of Portland, the Museum of the City, and Sustainable Northwest to offer paid internships to students through the Career Center

“Many PSU students are unable to take an unpaid internship because the lack of income causes financial hardship. But in today’s work environment, real-world experience is not a luxury, it’s a necessity to be seen as a viable employee,” said Shlaes. “These scholarships and internships provide needed assistance, helping promising students reach their goals.”

If you’d like to join others across the PSU community and support sustainability focused scholarships or internships, please click here.

To learn more about the new sustainability scholarship program through University Honors, visit