The Environmental Student Assembly announced the Green Engagement Fund on Thursday, a new initiative that aims to fund student-driven projects geared toward increasing sustainability at USC, while increasing awareness in environmental stewardship.Graduate Student Government, ESA and the USC Sustainability Office have been working to implement the project for a few years. Shawn Rhoads, executive director of ESA and chair of the Green Engagement Fund, said the initiative was a long-term goal for the organization.“About two years ago, the Graduate Student Government voted to put aside money within their budget to fund green projects,” Rhoads said. “This was a while back, and no further action was really taken. So, what we’ve been working on this year is putting into place the original idea to create the USC Green Engagement Fund.”ESA decided to team up with GSG because ESA has been limited in the past by the ability to solely distribute funding for event based projects. Students who previously had ideas for campus-based projects were turned away.Rhoads explained that the projects are expected to be student-driven, but should have at least one faculty adviser helping them through the process.“The mission of the engagement fund is to give students the opportunity to start projects on campus that are related to USC,” Rhoads said.He mentioned specific projects students are working on, including increasing the amount of native plants on campus and placing signage in dorms advocating resource consciousness.Other projects include an initiative to make the dining halls more sustainable and create community gardens around campus.A committee was organized to approve applications for funding that is made up of student leaders and administrators. The goal is to make sure the administrative figures that would needed to clear these projects on campus are represented on the funding board.The committee will include Rhoads, a faculty member at large, three graduate students, three undergraduate students, the chair of the Sustainability Steering Committee, a staff member from Facilities Management Services and the sustainability program manager. Roughly $60,000 will be at the disposal of the committee, but Rhoads said that this number might increase.“We are hoping to be able to review applications and give out funding in April,” Rhoads said. “We have a certain amount of money this year, and next year, that will be replenished, and these projects will carry over.”Applications for funding from the Green Engagement Fund are available Wednesday, and will be available until April 6, at 9:30 a.m. They should be turned into the GSG’s office in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.Next year, ESA will hold an application cycle in the fall and an application cycle in the spring. In the future, the committee’s hope is that Undergraduate Student Government and the university at large will adopt similar funding programs to increase sustainable initiatives at USC.