Venture scholars. Sustainability with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Our funding programs invest in projects and people tackling the world's greatest challenge — creating a vital and resilient future for the global community. By providing start-up money for cutting-edge work on energy, environment, and economic development and fresh solutions, the Atkinson Center supports the pioneering risk takers at the very heart of radical collaboration, creating lasting impact.
From seeding novel, venturesome research through our flagship Academic Venture Fund, to supporting scholars and artists who reshape behaviors and engage imaginations, to providing singular postdoctoral and student opportunities, the Atkinson Center embodies sustainability with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Academic Venture Fund (AVF)
Our flagship funding initiative, this $1.5 million annual program supports seed grants in the $50,000-$150,000 range that are multidisciplinary and have the potential to propel a good idea forward so that it can make a measurable impact. Projects often include engagement with external partners from industry, government, nongovernmental organizations, and foundations.
Rapid Response Fund (RRF)
The RRF facilitates urgent or time-sensitive sustainability research, workshops, and other activities. With unusually flexible guidelines, the RRF is a source of funding for smaller--typically less than $20,000--projects that cover a broad range of sustainability initiatives. RRF proposals are evaluated by the Atkinson Center’s leadership team on a rolling basis.
Innovation for Impact (IIF)
This program links Cornell researchers to leading external organizations working on policy and programs around the world. The IIF builds capacity and shortens response time to emerging and critical challenges. IIF awards finance joint projects with The Nature Conservancy, CARE, and Environmental Defense Fund to foster sustainable solutions for food security, energy transitions, one health, and economic development.
This program is designed specifically to support the sustainability activities of faculty in the social sciences, humanities, and performing arts. Our faculty-in-residence fellowships provide resources for teaching leave and small research grants for one semester, enabling faculty to focus on new or ongoing projects in the sustainability arena.
This unique postdoctoral program seeks creative and highly motivated early-career researchers to work in tandem with Cornell faculty and external partners to address pressing world needs through research and implementation of sustainable solutions. Up to four postdocs are chosen each year for two-year appointments.
In partnership with Cornell and five other leading universities, The Nature Conservancy has established the NatureNet Science Fellows program to create a reservoir of interdisciplinary science talent that will carry out the new work of conservation. One postdoctoral fellow per year is selected for a two-year post at Cornell, working with Cornell faculty and TNC leadership.
Cornell graduate students and postdoctoral research associates from all disciplines are encouraged to apply to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary research outside the purview of their current dissertation or postdoctoral research plan. SBF research proposals will optimally span disciplines, building new collaborations across campus between the award recipient and two faculty advisers.
Growing out of an NSF Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training grant, CSBC awards are granted to early-career researchers engaging in the interdisciplinary study of global climate change on multiple biogeochemical scales. Cornell graduate students from any field with research interests in biogeochemistry and climate change are encouraged to apply.
Each summer, we send undergraduate and graduate students to work side-by-side with leadership at the Environmental Defense Fund and Oceana. The internships expose students to the inner workings of leading environmental policy groups, where they tackle urgent sustainability issues in a vibrant workplace. This program is funded by Jill and Ken Iscol and David and Pat Aktinson.