Proposal Process


Problem: Choose from different impact areas to brainstorm problems related to that area:

  • Energy
  • Food
  • Land and Water
  • Transportation
  • Waste

Specific Problem to address: Choose one from your brainstorm to think more about.

Solution: Choose a broad solution that would help solve the problem.

Target Audience: Consider the universe where you have some influence. What audience do you want to impact?

Behavior Change : Choose a more specific behavior, relevant to your audience, to change that addresses the broad solution you articulated.

Potential Strategies: Brainstorm ways to impact this problem. Can you find ways to reduce, reuse, refuse, recycle, repurpose, find alternative, invent alternative, increase efficiency, produce less, provide incentive? Consider advocacy, innovation, and behavior change strategies that work:

Possible Tactics: Ways to accomplish chosen strategy. The options are infinite – so choose tactics that you will have fun with based on what you like to do.

Tactic Ideas:

petition drive to influence stakeholders

well-researched presentation to stakeholders

art project that gets great PR to pressure stakeholders or convinces individuals to take action (sign a petition, take a pledge, check in to app)

innovation and market test to show your product idea will make a difference

Sample Brainstorm

Problem Topic: Waste

Brainstorm: e-waste, paint, chip bags, paper, empty lotion bottle that still has some lotion left in it, half-used notebook, fingernail clippings, used cooking oil, old team uniforms, single use plastics like bottles, sandwich bags, plastic forks, old rugs…

Choose one: Plastic beverage bottles

Solution: Eliminate plastic water bottles

Target: High School/Students

Behavior change: Stop using plastic water bottles


1. Reduce – Policy Change: Ban plastic bottle sales in school

2. Reuse – Choice Architecture: Refillable cups and drink refill stations in cafeteria

3. Invent Alternative – Design a tablet that quenches thirst without any packaging at all

4. Increase Efficiency – Design water delivery system you can attach to your backpack

5. Refuse – Advocate using Emotional Appeal or Social Incentives: Campaign and pledge to give up plastic bottles

6. Recycle – Choice Architecture: Invent new water bottle collection container to increase rate of recycling (addresses recycling or repurposing not eliminating them)

Make a Plan to Evaluate

Evaluation: How will you evaluate and measure your project’s impact or potential impact? Remember to build a plan for this evaluation into your project proposal. To collect data and do this evaluation you might consider tracking participation with sign in sheets, apps, manual counts, and you might assess future potential impact with research, comparison, a survey or a focus group.

Any of these can help make your case that your project has great potential for impact:

  • Number of people who have already changed behavior (actual or estimated) based on your activity
  • Number of people who are likely to stick with behavior change and why
  • Number of people somehow engaged or aware of your activity who are likely to make change in future
  • Data from similar projects to show likelihood of behavior change once fully implemented
  • Likelihood that what you have set in motion will have future impact
  • Structure or plan to keep project or program in place to impact future behavior change
  • How future change could be accomplished based on what you have started
  • Actual environmental impact affected by actual or potential behavior change (equivalencies)
  • Unintended consequences that have or could arise
  • What you could have done better or differently?

Set Goals

Click here to learn about SMART Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-bound

Your project may have longer term goals that are not realistic and time-bound for this contest, so set some shorter terms goals or milestones that are important in reaching that longer term goal and set something in motion.

Meet with Stakeholders

Click here to see who the decision makers may be in your school.

Develop a Timeline

Try making a backwards plan.

Create a Budget

Click here for some tips on writing a budget. Set a maximum and minimum budget you might need for your project.

Now go fill out your project proposal form and make a trifold poster. Click here for this year’s due dates.