Abrams Challenge

Kill-a-Watt, a U-M student organization, won the 2011 Abrams Action Challenge for their expansion of an on-campus energy reduction competition between residence halls.

Kill-a-Watt, a U-M student organization, won the 2012 Abrams Action Challenge for expanding an energy reduction competition between residence halls


The Abrams Environmental Action Challenge is a competition that encourages undergraduates  to create an action plan to influence groups of people to promote environmental health and sustainable practices. 

The student or team that submits the best action plan proposal will receive $1,000 to put the plan into action.

Who can apply? +

Individual U-M undergraduates or teams of undergraduates who want to make a difference in their community can apply. MSA registered student organizations are welcome and encouraged to apply. However, proposals that center around an already existing project or initiative must focus on going beyond previous efforts (e.g.  extending past efforts to a new location or group).

What is the timeline? +

Projects can be of any duration, but must start in the W14 term and be completed no later than December 2014. PROPOSAL DEADLINE: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27th (5pm)

How to apply? +

Download the application here and email the completed application to environment.program@umich.edu by 5:00pm on Thursday, February 27, 2014.

What issues or problems can action plans address? +

The sky is the limit! But here are some ideas to get you started:

  • The challenges of realizing urban agriculture as a source of foodstuffs
  • How the presence of art can renew the sense of environmental stewardship
  • Developing and implementing renewable energy policy
  • Developing and implementing alternative transit systems to reduce automobile use
  • Addressing distribution, consumption, and conservation of water
  • Developing livable or “sustainable” cities
  • Providing environmental education initiatives (K-12, park service, etc)
  • Driving ecosystem conservation efforts

This is not an exclusive or exhaustive list. Other ideas are encouraged!


What kind of action plans are best suited to win? +

Action plans must clearly and concisely describe your objectives, and must also
describe the activities proposed to achieve these objectives. For example, do you plan to organize a campus-wide event, start an initiative, host a symposium of environmental leaders?

Successful plans will also answer each of the following questions:

  1. Scale: what is the scale of your plan: individuals, families, small groups, municipalities, counties, states, national government, public organizations, trusts … etc.? As an extension, how many people do you hope to influence?
  2. Collaboration: who will be your collaborators, i.e., what organizations and/or individuals will be involved? (Please list)
  3. Resources: what resources will you need, i.e., financial/logistical support?
  4. Implementation: what makes you think the idea will work, i.e., what information do you have that indicates the idea can be readily implemented?
  5. Success: how will you know if it works, i.e., what are your metrics for success?


Who is Abrams? +

This challenge is named after Wendy Abrams, an environmental advocate behind the “Cool Globes” Initiative and public art display to promote awareness of climate change. Wendy gave a presentation to PitE students in 2011. Inspired by students' passion for the environment, she and her husband Jim established this challenge.

How should the winning group or student follow up with PitE? +

The winning student or student group must provide photos of the event, project, or initiative and a 3-5 page report about how the project worked out. The report should address how well the objectives were met, how many students were reached, their reactions, what was learned and recommendations for improving the initiative or project in the future.  Video clips are also welcome.