Project Archive

Below is a collection of notable projects from CAFES grants.


Musicália is a student-run and led music, and arts community-building event focused on specifically representing folks of historically marginalized backgrounds. Student performers, local and regional bands, and a couple of small major independent bands (Thythy, Bluphoria, Chainsaw Girl, Betty Masenqo, QT Anon, No Other Option, Sol Caracol, Hardwood) played at the event, with workshops and activities hosted by students that encompassed different organizations supporting students’ needs. After two years of isolation from the pandemic, Musicália successfully built community among students and allowed for the promotion and celebration of BIPOC businesses, organizations, and performers in the community.

CREC Period Product Dispensers

The Campus Recreation Center (CREC) utilized funding to install 9-period product dispensers and provide free period products to all campus recreation facilities. This includes Sparks Fitness Center and Montag Center bathrooms. Through the commitment of CREC staff, these dispensers will continue to serve the Willamette community in heightening accessibility to period profits on campus for years to come.

P.A.I.D. Fund

The Professional Advancement & Identity Development (P.A.I.D.) Fund is a needs-based initiated by the Career Development Center to alleviate financial barriers to undergraduate students’ professional development and advancement. Students can request funding for any professional development opportunities, including but not limited to conference registration and travel fees, MCAT/LSAT registration, graduate school application fees, purchasing professional attire, registration for courses/certifications, and supplemental classroom materials. Priority is given to undergraduate students who identified as low-income, first-generation, and/or BIPOC on a first-come, first-serve basis. Through this project, numerous students have been able to attend and afford opportunities that otherwise would have been financially impossible or burdensome.

Empower Hour

Empower Hour served as an opportunity for students from historically excluded backgrounds (including BIPOC, LGBTQ2s+, international, DACA and undocumented, first-generation, low-income, neurodivergent students, and students with disabilities) to gain access to professional development through a catered lunch and a panel of diverse alumni to speak on their life after Willamette. Panelists provided authentic, transparent insight into how to prepare for professional life beyond WU and how their identities have contributed to their professional development. This program built connections necessary for future success and offered free professional headshots for student use in the advancement of their future careers and job applications.

Operation Renovation

Operation Renovation is a collaborative project with the Outdoor Program, Farm Club, and Zena to transform the preexisting former greenhouse at Zena forest into a camping space. Intending to provide sustainable resources and support for marginalized students on campus, this project aims to bridge barriers for those who may find outdoor activities and camping inaccessible due to cost, safety, accessibility, and knowledge. This project aims to intentionally create both physical space and an atmosphere for comfortable socializing or small group facilitation to learn skills and build community by repurposing the physical structure of Zena Farm's old greenhouse to create a sustainable camping space.

SOAR center

The Students Organizing for Access to Resources (SOAR) Center was created to meet the needs of all students, through equitable access to food, personal hygiene products, professional clothes, commencement regalia, school supplies and books for WU students. The SOAR Center was created from three other mutual aid programs in 2018; the First Generation Bookdrive, the Bearcat Pantry, and the Clothing Share. The SOAR Center is student-run and student-focused with an emphasis on protecting user privacy and confidentiality.

Student Struggles for Racial Justice: Learning from local activists

This collaborative research project aided Professor Jonneke Koomen in her research on Oregon student activism for education equity and racial justice. Wherein two first-generation students of color enrolled in SOC 399 Education/Power/Resistance were recognized, documented, and compensated for their assistance in Professor Koomen’s research and for the built knowledge of local activism among WU students that deepened campus-community collaborations. In addition, the students hosted campus-community events with local Salem and Woodburn activists that brought awareness to activism and activists and facilitated more student volunteer opportunities within the Salem community.

Reusable Utensils for Sustainability

Due to the emergence of COVID-19, Goudy Commons dining hall switched from providing
metal silverware to plasticware. This change resulted in a huge increase of the plastic waste produced on campus. This project provided all CAS students with reusable utensil kits and access to a washing station in Goudy commons, which promoted the reuse of these utensils. This project aimed to reduce plastic waste on campus, thus reducing Willamette’s carbon footprint, while not placing a financial burden on students.

Stewarding our Oregon White Oaks

The Stewarding our Oregon White Oaks project aimed to take steps towards reconciliation with Salem’s Indigenous community, who have faced many recent and past injustices perpetrated by colonizers, through the replanting of Oregon White Oaks. The planting of young Oregon Oaks is a symbolic act that acknowledges the settler-colonist history of white “pioneers” damaging ecosystems, traditional patterns of land management, and cultural life of the Santiam Kalapuya. Oregon White Oaks also have an essential role to play in Oregon’s biodiversity. The oaks are keystone species that interact with over three hundred native species and are necessary for the preservation of Oregons’ ecological balance. Indigenous tribes have a long cultural history with these Oregon Oaks, and the replanting of these Oaks is a start towards restitution for settler-colonialism within the Willamette Valley.

Equipment for Zena Food Systems, Wellness Activities and Biodiversity

CAFES funded a walk-behind tractor, an essential tool that is used by farm club students at Zena. This project increased the accessibility of the Zena farm and decreased the workload for students and supervisors. This tractor allowed for more students to be involved in the maintenance of Zena farms, and gave way for more student-led projects within the Zena farm due to this newfound, increased efficiency. The tractor provides a learning opportunity for students interested in farming and land stewardship, as well as maximizing the students’ time and energy spent on the farm.

Wellness Garden

Former Farm Club leader, Arabella Wood, received funding to create an on-campus wellness garden on the east wall of the Hatfield library. This garden provides a space for the intersection of food justice, environmental restoration, and education through the installation of raised gardening beds and native plants. The space is open to everyone on campus for relaxation, research, and other wellness activities.

Grac Binders

Chest binders are an important resource for trans community members who may experience body dysmorphia or are interested in chest binding. CAFES funded the GRAC to provide free and safe chest binders for students who would like them. 24 chest binders in total were distributed to students through the GRAC.

Condom Dispensers

The Condom Dispenser Pilot Program seeks to increase awareness of and access to preventive sexual health resources by introducing free vending machines for condoms (latex and latex-free), dental dams, and menstrual hygiene products in discrete but accessible locations throughout residence halls and community hubs.

Zoom Personal Training

WU Personal Training Program’s “Movement Series” created a safe, fun space for Willamette prospective, undergraduate, and graduate students, staff and faculty, and alumni to move, dance, and exercise together three times a week for free during the 2020 spring semester. The sessions are weekly and include upbeat music as well as guided exercises that don’t require equipment.

Zena Bees and Irrigation

A set of two projects intended to improve Zena Farm. The first funded five beehives and beekeeping equipment which will be used to educate students about beekeeping and the importance of pollinators. The second intends to improve the irrigation system that is used by the Farm and Garden Coordinator, farm club, and other school organizations. Combined, they increase the programs offered at Zena and expand the educational opportunities there.

Latinx Discussion Panel

The Latinx discussion panel brought together Latinx leaders and community groups that are at the forefront of intersectional environmental justice, labor, and immigrant rights organizing in Oregon. Discussion included next steps for environmental and racial justice in Oregon, which is exactly what the Green Fund hopes to achieve through projects like this.

Campus Wildlife

Ducks and squirrels on campus benefit students’ mental health and have become a symbol for Willamette. Previously Dean Wentworth, the Botanical Curator of the Martha Springer Gardens, fed them out of pocket. However, since his retirement, the animals would no longer have a supplemented diet to keep them alive through the winter. CAFES funded their feed to continue their happy presence on campus.

Students of Color Conference

CAFES funded the attendance of 14 students at the Students of Color Conference at Gonzaga University. This conference develops leadership skills on campus and allows Students of Color to feel empowered to make changes on campus that have never been done before.

Bearcat Pantry and Clothing Share Wages

The Bearcat Pantry and Clothing Share, now part of the SOAR Center, provide essential services to the WU community. The closing share offers free professional clothing to students who need it for professional events or job interviews. The Bearcat Pantry offers free food for any students who may need it.

Water Bottle Filling Stations

Water bottle filling stations greatly reduce plastic water bottle use on campus. This project funded four water bottle refilling stations in Eaton, Smullin, Collins, and Cascadia to reduce plastic waste and educate students on the importance of these stations.

La Chispa de Salem

La Chispa de Salem, also known as the Salem Spark, contributes to the Salem-Keizer community sustainability and environmental justice advocacy efforts by building connections, distributing resources, conducting programs and workshops, and more.


This project supported six student interns and the operational budget for Students for Sustainability. SfS, under the Sustainability Institute, organizes and implements student led initiatives involving sustainability and community service on campus like food waste or composting programs.

Condoms and Menstrual Cups for E&E

This project funded the addition of free condoms and menstrual cups at the Student Center for Equity and Empowerment. Offering free supplies like this supports marginalized or low-income students who otherwise may not be able to afford these products. The project also educates students about the benefits that reusable menstrual cups have on the environment as well as promotes safe sex.

Farm and Garden Coordinator

This project funded one part-time gardening and farming coordinator to support curricular and extracurricular activities surrounding farming on-campus and at Zena Farm. The farm and garden coordinator plays an important role in managing the greenhouse in Olin, on-campus gardens, and Zena gardens which help educate students about a multitude of environmental and agricultural subjects.

Women in Sustainable Agriculture

The Annual National Women in Sustainable Agriculture conference in Portland aims to bring together a diverse community of individuals and experiences to share information,

build skills, and ultimately expand the success of womxn farmers and ranchers. The project funded the attendance of passionate young womxn to learn about sustainability at Willamette and potential future careers in sustainable agriculture.

Montag Bike Racks

This project funded the addition of bike racks near Montag to add to the limited bike parking on the eastside of campus. Increasing safe bike parking availability on campus allows and motivates students to choose to bike to campus rather than drive, which reduces Willamette’s overall carbon footprint.

Montag Bike Racks

Previous Campus Recreation Coordinator, Jordis Miller, received funding to place covered bike racks outside of Montag center in October, 2016. After seeing students struggling to find a dry and safe place to store bikes, especially students living on Eastside, Miller decided to do something to address the problem. After the bike racks were installed, Miller continued to explore bike safety and moving the bike shop into Montag, with the ultimate goal of giving students greater accessibility to bikes and the ability to travel Salem.

OMA First Generation Book Drive

The OMA Book Drive collects and distributes new and used books to first-generation Willamette University students from the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). The book drive began receiving CAFES (at the time, Green Fund) mini-grants in 2015 when it first created by Manny Rodriguez and has continued to apply and receive grants almost every year since. It has already donated nearly 2,000 books and continues to grow every year. The continuation of this project creates an important resource for first generation students, and gives a new life to used textbooks. If you have any used textbooks that you not longer want, consider donating them to the OMA Book Drive.

The Salem Spark: Communicating a Culture of Sustainability at WU 

CCM professor Catalina de Onís received a CAFES grant (Green Fund at the time) in Spring 2017 for her emergent communication-focused effort. Guided by Willamette University undergraduates, La Chispa seeks to enact communication praxis, including by developing workshops with Willamette Academy students and coordinating a weekly radio segment on KMUZ community radio called "Worldviews Wednesday." This program seeks to amplify perspectives and experiences that often are marginalized in dominant sustainability discourses and yet are essential for creating a just, equitable, and livable community. If you would like to learn more about how to participate in this project visit their website!

Rally for Science 

In 2017, students Sarah Brush and Connor Rettig requested funding to hold a Rally for Science in conjunction with the nationwide March for Science that called for government support to fund science and the importance of scientific knowledge in the legislative process. The Rally included several faculty speakers and one student speaker who reflected on their experience with science as well as a letter-writing campaign to Oregon state congressmen pleading for support to fund science.  

Evan Greer Event 

Student Sophia Brownstein ‘18 received CAFES (Green Fund at the time) support for bringing Evan Greer, a trans/genderqueer musician/writer/activist, to perform and host an inclusive and interactive workshop for students. Greer encourages college students to use their schools’ entertainment budgets to support grassroots activists and organizers. The workshop focused on climate justice and the connections between climate change and other social issues and how marginalized groups often suffer most from the effects of climate change.

Menstrual Cup Distribution

In November 2015, student Naomi Morgan requested funding in order to distribute menstrual cups to menstruators on campus through Bishop Wellness Center. Feminine hygiene products like pads and tampons are often both expensive and create a lot of waste. Morgan’s project seeked to give students accessibility to menstrual cups while acting in an environmentally friendly manner. The cups were distributed from Bishop and the project proved to be widely successful, leading to another similar project funded in 2017.

Biology Lab Waste 

WU Biology department staff Jennifer Butler requested funding to hire a student (Sarah Brush) to conduct a waste stream analysis for the Biology Department and determine how to reduce waste associated with lab plastics. Sarah’s analysis allowed the biology department to divert over 500 lbs of waste to recycling annually as well as establishment of clear protocols for recycling in labs.

Social Life of a Pizza 

Between June and August of 2016, students Owen Gow and Meredith Marshburn conducted research on the social and environmental impacts of cheese pizza served at Goudy Commons. The overall goal was to produce a quantitative assessment of the impact of the pizza, as well as a qualitative narrative of the people involved in the production process to accompany it. They achieved this goal through a series of interviews, getting in touch with the company that supplied ingredients used, measuring ecological footprint, and analyzing the effort in making the pizzas (through transportation, labor, energy used, etc).


Psych and SustainabilIty Community Service Learning and Outreach Projects

Professor Sue Koger received funding for her Psychology 121 course, in which students work to make a difference on campus or in the larger Salem Community Sustainability efforts. Students were required to volunteer 6-8 hour and to follow up the experience with outreach materials that use psychologically-based principles to educate and inspire more widespread social change. The fund gave Koger and her students funding for printing and distributing outreach materials, specifically relating to removing highly invasive English Ivy in Salem City Parks. Along with the Salem No-Ivy League and Straub Environmental Center, the class helped with outreach to the Salem community through flyers, posters, websites, and social media pages.

Eastside RecycleMania

Student Tod Nakahira received funding for his Eastside recycling competition. The project worked to engage students in sustainability by encouraging them through competition. The competition took place in residence halls on the Eastside, and measured for total waste output and a recycle/trash ratio for 8 weeks on a weekly basis. This competition helped provide a motive for the students to use good waste reduction and recycling habits. It also provided for opportunities for students to be educated on the importance of putting their waste in the right bins. This project also helped lay the groundwork for future competitions like this.

Recycling Bin Standardization

After conducting a bin and sign audit of all recycling, garbage, and composting on campus, student Kristi Fukunaga set out to improve waste bins and signage. Fukunaga helped facilitate change on campus to decrease trash and cross contamination through the cooperation of faculty, staff, and students. Working with a team of associates, bins and signs were replaced and implemented in some place. Fukunaga worked alongside students Layla Flint and Abby Bernhard to expand the signage and bins that were newly established on Eastside.

Willamette University

Community Action Fund for Equity and Sustainability Committee

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