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Our Grant: Vision and Responsibility

One question we lose sleep over at CBE is What are we here for? It’s easy amidst the blur of client-facing project work to lose sight of our higher-level mission and goals, both as a Harvard club and as an organization operating within many larger communities on and off campus.

Since our founding ten years ago, CBE has been an organization committed simultaneously to innovation and sustainability. Even while consulting for industry giants like General Electric and Boeing, we have developed strategy for some of the most exciting environmental startups in Boston—from cloud-based clean water suppliers to solar energy accessibility nonprofits. My first case team at CBE worked with Cambrian Innovation—a young, ambitious biogas renewable energy producer and an increasingly impactful presence in Boston.

Today, however, we have a responsibility to push harder and go further for sustainability than merely our casework. Amidst other factors, the work we do, the political climate in which we operate, and the city where we’re based have put the organization in a unique position to begin living up to our mission—and have given us a duty to do so.

This summer, we’re incredibly excited to announce the first-ever CBE Sustainability Grant Program.

Over the past several weeks, we have selected fifteen local nonprofits, student groups, and research initiatives to receive a collective $10,000 in funding for environmental initiatives to be completed in the next year. Among them are the Harvard-based Refresh Bolivia organization—which is building clean water and public health infrastructure for communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia—the Haitian Vision Foundation, and our own Engineers Without Borders team. You can check out our profiles on our partner projects here.

Some of these initiatives—like that of BubbleBox and James Niffenegger—focus on developing new technology to facilitate sustainable development or aid important conservation efforts, both here in the United States and in emerging economies abroad. Others—like the Harvard Democrats and Students for Carbon Dividends—are centered, although from different perspectives, on the equally vital task of bringing policy awareness to the environmental issues our country faces.

But all are dedicated to one overarching objective: environmentally sustainable development. We at CBE envision a future in which high-growth private sector groups and committed policy efforts work together to prove that human development does not need to mean environmental destruction.

On a practical level, we also aim to show the greater Harvard community that social responsibility can no longer be a side thought for groups in our position. Our privilege and profitability demand leadership for the communities in which we operate, and it’s a call that we must not refuse. My inner Marvel fanboy is reminded of a certain Spider-Man line…

To all our exceptional grant recipients, congratulations. You have CBE’s full commitment and support in all your environmental endeavors. And to our blog readers: if you’re not already working towards sustainable development in your own communities, it might be time to get started. We don’t have much time, and the world is waiting.

Refresh Bolivia students at work in 2015.

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