Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

A Sustainable Future

What is the name of your solution?

A Sustainable Future: Eco-Activism Opportunities for Youth

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Harnessing and sharing the power of data to create mindful and sustainable resource consumption habits in the academic setting, one school at a time. Enabling our youth to overcome their barriers to activism through equal-access activism opportunities for all.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Everyone has heard of the consequences associated with climate change, yet not many are cognizant of a minute, yet persistent underlying cause: the irresponsible consumption and production of paper products. 

Excessive paper production results in more than just deforestation; clear-cutting forests is displacing millions of wildlife inhabitants and releasing enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In 2021, the paper and pulp industry was responsible for emitting 190,000,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, a historic high in the sector and the 4th largest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in the US overall (IEA and The World Counts). Moreover, paper production also requires significant amounts of energy and water. It takes 500 liters of water, 2 kg of solid waste, and a substantial amount of often non-renewable energy to produce a single stack of paper--totaling 8 billion trees a year to satisfy global paper demands (Statista). Although trees are renewable resources, the pace at which they grow makes it difficult to replace felled trees or reverse disruptions to ecosystems. Aside from the 30 million acres of forest that paper production destroys per year, paper waste accumulation in landfills is also a notable cause of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. This is detrimental to both the environment, for unrecycled paper emits potent methane that is 25x more toxic for the atmosphere than CO2 (The World Counts), and to human health, considering incinerating paper waste also generates air pollution (National Resource Defense Council).

Within this issue, ASF has identified a further barrier to combatting irresponsible paper consumption and general climate action: an "activism anxiety" that may inhibit youth from fully participating in environmental activism. 

While some youth are undeniably passionate and actively involved in change-making, others may feel disengaged from these issues, whether stemming from cultural, economic, or political factors.

One of the key factors that can limit youth engagement in activism is access to information and resources. Many young people may not be aware of the seemingly-mundane issues in their communities or have mentors who can help them recognize their potential for impact. This is particularly true for youth from marginalized communities, who may face additional barriers to accessing opportunities while remaining unaware of the implications these issues hold for their futures. More practical barriers like time constraints due to school, work obligations, or geographical barriers may also impede youth from participating in "traditional" activism like attending protests, thereby dissuading them from partaking in activism at all.

"Activism anxiety" is evidently a significant issue, particularly because youth are the most promising combatants of paper waste where it remains a pressing reality: in our schools. According to A Sustainable Future's research, the average high school uses up to 4 million sheets of paper--400 trees worth--in a single year. The Reflective Educator estimates that educators in the US use over 47 billion sheets of paper each year (Errera).

Although addressing the irresponsible consumption of paper is hardly a one-step solution, change can start small--starting with our students and our schools.

What is your solution?

A Sustainable Future (ASF) is a student-run, nonprofit environmental initiative that focuses on reducing paper consumption within the academic setting. Although we may be young and relatively small in number, we are committed to doing our part in decreasing the stress of both planet Earth and the demands associated with modern climate advocacy by helping our fellow students overcome their barriers to activism! ASF provides online workshops and lessons for students to educate themselves and others on sustainable paper consumption, as well as guidelines (complete with 1:1 meetings and personalized instruction!) for students to conduct paper consumption research in their own schools. Originally founded as an advocacy project for SDG 12, ASF has been educating students and communities ever since through the mediums of videos, sustainable recipes, and presentations. 

ASF is proud to offer its Sustainability Programs--namely its Paper Consumption Model Program--free-of-charge for all students, which facilitate their educational, social, and personal growth as environmental advocates. The online Paper Consumption Program not only introduces students to academic research, but also the analysis of large-scale data through fundamental machine learning and statistical techniques, real-world presentation/socio-emotional skills, and critical community outreach tactics to raise awareness on sustainable paper consumption. Upon completion of the program, students will have created a customized paper budgeting plan for their schools based on data they've collected through their school-based research, thereby helping their schools better gauge their paper consumption and take steps to mitigate extraneous usage. While conducting research, organizing collective action, and pioneering district-level change may intimidate students, ASF offers the skill-building, resources, and experience needed to accomplish this environmental endeavor. Additionally, students can enroll in guided lessons to bring environmental advocacy to their own schools through supplemental events like enacting composting programs and hosting presentation nights, which come complete with full support and instructions needed to participate. Through all of the aforementioned, students understand their own agency/potential for impact and organize collective action for sustainable paper consumption.

As members of the ASF network, students not only engage in hands-on environmental advocacy but also contribute to the primary ASF output/product: the national ASF Paper Consumption Model. 

ASF's Paper Consumption Model is an innovative statistical tool that is publicly available to help schools both predict paper consumption and determine appropriate paper expenditures based on various factors such as departments of interest, total number of faculty, month, etc. Trained nationally on data collected from the academic setting, ASF’s consumption model utilizes regression modeling to create a customizable consumption plan, tailored to help individual schools minimize their harmful environmental impact whilst streamlining expenses on the national school. This model guides schools in making sustainable and cost-effective decisions regarding paper purchases, as well as adopting additional sustainable practices (among which include classroom-based approaches for teaching students about sustainability). 

‣ To read more on the paper consumption model, click here

‣ To watch a demonstration of the model in use and the process behind its creation, click here

‣ To access the paper consumption model prototype, click here

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

ASF's solution serves those at the heart of this environmental movement: secondary-level academia and its students. There are approximately 50 million students attending public school in the United States alone (Census Bureau), and ASF hopes to equip every one of them with not only a greater understanding of irresponsible paper consumption but a desire and ability to leave an impact. At ASF, we reach others through the expansive mediums of online workshops, lessons, and visual media--equipping students with the necessary resources to become climate activists in their own communities. 

A Sustainable Future's website currently serves over 200 monthly users and supports 30+ member schools. 


Most importantly, is publically accessible to all. As outlined previously, youth engagement in activism is often limited by a lack of access to information, resources, and opportunities. For example, marginalized youth may not have access to quality educational opportunities or mentors who are able to assist them through every step of conducting and presenting their research. They may also face limitations in transportation, time, or funding requirements to completely build these programs ground up. 

With ASF's widely available Sustainability Programs and accompanying resources, students are given all the tools and instruction needed to take those first steps into environmental advocacy--regardless of where they are from or what resources they supposedly "lack". ASF's Sustainability Programs imbue students with real-world skills and confidence to overcome their barriers to activism, and when students fully recognize their potent power as environmental advocates, they become critical participants in the climate movement. 

Students piloting the Paper Consumption Program have already reported increased confidence levels (from an average of 4.2/10 to 7.6/10) in their presentation abilities and a deeper understanding of basic statistical processes such as linear regression (83% of students had no prior knowledge of statistics prior to participating in the program and 76% of students reported they either "understood well" or "understood greatly" linear regression after completing that chapter of the program). Skills students gain from participating in ASF's Sustainability Programs are skills that will aid them critically in future prosocial careers--environmental or not. As the ASF Network continues to expand, we hope to see student-led environmental initiatives cropping up across the country, making an impact that spans hundreds of schools, dozens of states, and millions of paper products saved. 

Finally, although the ASF Model has been incredibly fortunate to train off printer data from schools and students with the available technology to track it, we recognize this is not the case for all schools. Luckily, ASF's model can be used by any school—of any size, state, and income level. We currently serve 1,216 students in the student body and over 150 faculty members in the districts where ASF's model is currently being utilized; in the next year, we hope to directly and meaningfully affect over 6,314 students. With more data to train on from all different school demographics, we have faith ASF's model will initiate a nationwide environmental movement, ultimately serving 98,577 public education institutions in the US. 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Considering A Sustainable Future is an environmental movement built by students, for students, it only makes sense for all of our team members to currently be students in the public education system. As students, we understand that finding the opportunities to ignite change can be especially daunting without knowing where to start, and wish to help students beyond the scope of our own schools! Luckily, through our ability to connect with others with the power of the internet, we've come to understand student/school opinions and circumstances more thoroughly. 

We incorporate a lot of user feedback into our website. When we initially founded ASF, we wanted to make ASF's approach to environmental advocacy as student-friendly as possible by educating others through the mediums of videos, sustainable recipes, and presentations on sustainable resource consumption. After an early presentation, Sustainable Students, students expressed high interest in using a similar approach to share what they learned with their loved ones, thus inspiring us to make a "database" for all of our resources: A Sustainable Future's website!

Ever since then, it has become A Sustainable Future's top priority to ensure that students of all backgrounds and ages are given the opportunities to make an environmental impact on their schools. Consequently, we sent out a survey to gauge interest in ASF's mission through various social platforms, from Instagram to Discord to community forums like GirlUp, and currently use this method to onboard new team members for ASF. 

To also better comprehend student opinions about technological alternatives to paper, we sent out surveys to students in both middle (42 responses received) and high schools (39 responses received). The polls report that 76% of students were comfortable with making a full transition to technology and 81% currently aspired to be more sustainable in schools. These surveys also confirmed our decision to keep ASF’s student resources free for students, considering how they found that 88% of students were interested in contributing to the climate movement, yet only 26% knew how. Furthermore, among feedback received from the 29 student testers who are piloting ASF's Sustainability Programs, we are already revising ASF's Paper Consumption Program to reflect their desires to strengthen specific "chapters" of the program (statistics, cold-emailing, presentations, etc.)!

As for ASF's Paper Consumption Model, feedback from current ASF member schools has been invaluable: from streamlining the user interface to enhancing the model's overall accuracy. We value user insight greatly and have reached out to the intended users of our paper consumption model--administrative decision-makers--to gain feedback on beneficial features to incorporate into our model. Furthermore, from observing our “competitors” and speaking with more experienced environmental organizations, ASF was encouraged to incorporate more environmental impacts from the paper usage calculations into the model and also to develop stronger user incentives for using the model.

For a humble, youth-led organization that began as a group of passionate students who wanted to change their school for the better, we are honored to see ASF come this far.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable learners to bridge civic knowledge with taking action by understanding real-world problems, building networks, organizing plans for collective action, and exploring prosocial careers.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Randolph, NJ

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • United States

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization testing a product, service, or business model with a small number of users

How many people does your solution currently serve?

We currently serve 1,216 students in the student body and over 150 faculty members in the districts where ASF's model is currently being utilized. The ASF Network is comprised of 30+ member schools, 29 students who are currently piloting the ASF Paper Consumption Model Program, and 30 actively engaged youth who are volunteers with A Sustainable Future

Why are you applying to Solve?

We are applying for the opportunity to both engage in a supportive, innovative, intellectual community and help brainstorm ways for ASF to overcome its current challenges. What ASF asks of the Solve community is similar to what it asks any of our partner organizations:

  1. Exposure
    1. While ASF's network has undeniably grown, it is still difficult to approach schools not local to current ASF Outreach Coordinators
      1. ASF would like to tap into Solve's extensive community of innovators
        1. Data collection, event outreach, etc. 
      2. ASF hopes Solve can connect ASF with other organizations and innovators that can accelerate its campaign!
    2. Cultural: changing the attitude around paper consumption 
      1. Academia currently exhibits a significant reliance on paper products, making viable transitions strenous at-worst and lengthy at-best
      2. ASF would like to introduce more students to its pilot Paper Consumption Model program as well as its other sustainability programs!
    3. Commitment/Structure: ASF is entirely student/volunteer-run, meaning if not for the wholehearted dedication and passion of our team members, ASF would likely not be able to support its operations. We aim to onboard individuals in more permanent positions, such as an Executive Board of adult advisors 
      1. This is quite an awkward request to make, particularly as we do not know where to find interested individuals nor wish to burden our mentors further 
  2. Data sourcing and collection
    1. Forms must be designed and distributed to minimize bias as much as possible 
      1. Difficult if it is hard to distribute surveys in the first place 
      2. Random sampling methods are tedious (but necessary!)
    2. Legal: IRB Forms
      1. All student researchers must first obtain IRB approval before administering any surveys to students
      2. The process--although not arduous--can delay response rates to surveys, as students must receive additional parental permission to fill out the survey. 
  3. Forming partnerships
    1. Convincing schools to use our consumption model
      1. Schools most likely have their own methods of determining how  funds are allocated towards certain resources, even if those funds are ill-spent
      2. Time/logistics: Narrow window to present budgeting plans (end/beginning of school year)
    2. Providing ASF's students with more concrete resources (ex: monetary) when approaching School Boards with their models
      1. Organizing meetings with district supervisors may be difficult for students in certain areas due to a variety of issues
      2. Our own meeting was successful, but other students may require more support when presenting their own models
    3. ASF is extraordinarily grateful for the mentors and partnerships that support it, but we are always looking to partner with more innovative minds and organizations for the largest impact! 
  4. Polishing our consumption model
    1. Logistic: Need more crowd-sourcing/exposure to collect school data representative of the entire nation
  5. Technical: The app for ASF is currently in production, and we would greatly appreciate further feedback and advice!
    1. Our physical technological paper alternative is currently in development (similar to Rocketbook's Smart Notebook), but we need more access to advanced scientific resources and potentially laboratories to continue refining and building off our hypothesis/prototype. 

With the proper mentorship, support, and exposure that ASF needs, we know we can face these setbacks head-on--powering forward to innovate A Sustainable Future.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Carolyn He

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

One day, we hope A Sustainable Future can unfurl into a nationwide environment movement, designed by students for students. As of today, many “solutions” for climate change that youth are exposed to can be daunting in both their magnitude and scope, thus discouraging many of our youth from actively participating in the climate movement. According to a Global Climate Change survey conducted by former MIT Solv[ED] winner, ECAP, "40% of youth are very motivated to take more action on climate change but only 3% are very involved". Personally, we, too, have talked to many students who feel they cannot make a tangible environmental impact if they are not Greta Thunberg, per say. A Sustainable Future hopes to destigmatize and alleviate the pressure associated with “saving the environment”, proving that actions needn’t be grand nor bombastic in order to enact true change. Therefore, ASF is one of the first student-led organizations that provides students with the resources (presentation workshops, lessons on sampling methods and surveying, coding and machine learning units, etc.) to educate themselves and others on sustainable resource consumption--to conduct local research and initiate their very own environmental movements in school. After all, every student deserves the opportunity to make lasting environmental contributions to academia. 

Upon launch, we also expect the impact of our consumption model to be far-reaching and resonant, as its purpose caters to a large majority of schools in America. In terms of mathematical novelty, ASF's model differs from others in that it uses advanced statistical regression techniques to model paper usage—specifically considering input from factors like department size, average faculty usage, and time of the year—rather than conduct rote calculations. 

Perhaps most importantly, ASF’s model offers tangible solutions and recommendations to aid schools in reducing their paper usage. We provide budgeting plans for schools to base their paper usage on (our estimates were cross-referenced with an actual school’s resource allocation plan as well), and we also provide specific recommendations for schools to enact more sustainable practices based on their current capabilities.

Aside from the solution itself, our approach is innovative in that it is proactively addressing an issue that many are unaware of, or even worse, choose to ignore. During our initial research phase when conceptualizing ASF, we were surprised by the sheer lack of research conducted on academic paper consumption. Ironically, schools in the United States are one of the largest paper consumers in the world. Thus, we ultimately decided to conduct our own, thereby innovating research in this area! 

Although ASF may have started as a local movement, we have faith it will unfurl into a nationwide environmental initiative with the support it needs. This first step--bringing irresponsible consumption to the attention of others--is the first step towards creating A Sustainable Future. As one organization, we can only do so much, but with each student we empower to pursue their own environmental movements, we know our actions can have resounding impacts. It is our generation’s time to innovate for the climate’s future.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

A Sustainable Future has ambitious plans as it continues to expand and promote sustainability in the upcoming years, as summarized by the following 3 categories and 4 impact statements:

  1. Technological

  2. Social

  3. Organizational 

Improve the accuracy of ASF's paper consumption model to be utilized by any educational institute in the United States 

  • Amp up crowdsourcing efforts to collect more data from schools nationwide, including sending the prototype for various schools to test out

  • Continue collecting printer data from local schools and schools across the US from different demographics, socioeconomic backgrounds, and environments. 

  • Ask for user feedback, particularly from local schools 

  • Source additional mentorship to gain input on model as needed 

Publish the paper consumption model that will assist United States schools to minimize extraneous paper consumption while simultaneously streamlining expenses

  • ASF Outreach Coordinators will continue contacting local schools in their areas to test out ASF's Consumption Model and further train it 

  • Finetune user interface after receiving feedback from schools and analyze results of the Impact Assessment Form

  • Code app to house consumption model with interactive user interface

  • Assess feasibility of sustainability recommendations provided to schools, in addition to general efficacy of model estimates post-implementation 

Strengthen the ASF Network and increase our presence to promote sustainability on communal, digital, and academic levels 

  • Reapproach local districts with budgeting plan and advocate for potential implementation (especially after our initial success!)

  • Complete research paper on Paper Consumption within the Academic Setting and publish it in student journals and scientific expositions 

  • Reinvigorate networking attempts with local and broader communities to spread A Sustainable Future's consumption model and website through content creation and posting

  • Grow ASF staff to 45 members by the end of 2023 and continue supporting each staff member in their environmental advocacy, continue increasing staff count by 15-30 members each year.

  • Increase the number of ASF member schools from diverse academic backgrounds throughout the United States, growing the ASF network to at least 45 member schools by June 2023 and at least 60 member schools by December 2023

  • Continue increasing the number of ASF member schools by 10 schools each year 

  • Increase our digital presence by creating official accounts for ASF on more social media platforms such as Tiktok!

  • Continue developing ASF's gallery of ASF student members' original artwork, features, and essays. 

  • Continue speaking on podcasts, panelist boards, and webinars to discuss sustainable resource consumption and ASF's impact (have already spoken at Inspirit AI's Generative AI symposium, a podcast for young entrepreneurs called Talk of Fame, several local Environmental Action Clubs, and an international leadership program held by Scholars for Change)

Increase user traffic on the ASF website while improving the content and resources currently available 

  • Improve user experience by adding features to enhance the website's functionality, such as automated 24/7 user support and adding additional user-interactive interfaces

  • Reorganize website layout to be more user-friendly; improve upon current aesthetics 

  • Better present and organize resources currently available on the website (write captions and tutorials)

  • Source mentorship from individuals more experienced in website development

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

A Sustainable Future will be measuring its progress using a variety of different indicators:

  • Actions
    • The number of successful events held by A Sustainable Future
      • Currently planning for the ASF Climate Convention this June with the aid of funding from Roots & Shoots!
    • The continued dedication and involvement of ASF volunteers to support ASF's operations 
      • Holding weekly meetings, summits, etc. 
  • Individuals Impacted (students and schools)
    • The number of students who have successfully completed ASF's Paper Consumption Program 
      • Currently in its pilot-program phase, 29 student-testers 
    • Through ASF-held events like the ASF Climate Convention, we will be measuring the magnitude of ASF's success by both membership numbers & the convention's funds raised. 
      • Here is our statement: By the end of June 2023, ASF will hopefully have educated at least 50 others and raised awareness on the sustainable consumption of resources, in addition to a prospective 150+ dollars raised from vendor wares! 
    • Sheets of paper conserved by each ASF Member School using ASF's Paper Consumption Model
      • Related to the paper waste index at each school 
    • Number of schools willing to shift their resource (paper vs. technology) policies post Paper Consumption Model use
      • Includes the adoption of suggested sustainability practices and the incorporation of ASF's lesson plans/activities into school or club curricula 
    • Numerical evaluations of feedback given by each school after using ASF's Paper Consumption Model
    • Number of schools that have provided paper data for ASF's use
      • Will also be measuring this in terms of the number of states covered, socioeconomic demographics addressed, etc. 
    • The number of student volunteers onboarded by ASF to fulfill the following roles:
      • Technology Developer
      • Outreach Coordinator
      • Research Director
      • Social Media Producer
  • Publications
    • The number of works created by ASF Research Directors
      • Original poetry, artwork, articles, and essays on sustainability and the environment
    • The number of views and interactions associated with each piece created by ASF Research Directors 
    • ASF's Research Paper on Paper Consumption in Academia
      • The number of conferences and plenary speaker invitations we receive 
  • Digital Presence
    • The sustained podcasts we speak on
    • Following on each of ASF's social media platforms (TikTok, Youtube, Instagram, etc.)
    • Number of guest speaker invitations we receive 
      • 1 in the past and 1 currently upcoming! 

As A Sustainable Future has grown as an organization, our metrics for success and impact have also evolved. Whereas we once measured our success by the tangible number of schools enrolled in the ASF Network or students who applied to become a part of the ASF team, today we measure our impact by the effective ambassadorship of ASF's student members, the number of students and organizations we meaningfully impact with our resources, the cumulative environmental effect we've had on schools across the country, or the passion present in the works produced by ASF's Research Directors. Simply put, there is no single measure to characterize our impact. Our milestones for progress are measured both quantitatively and qualitatively; we are proud of both the number of students we've helped in their own climate journeys and the life-long leadership and advocacy skills we've imbued in each of those students. 

What is your theory of change?

ASF utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to advocating for sustainable paper consumption--through both the ASF Website and the ASF Consumption Model--for our target market of high school students and teachers. The long-term and short-term impacts of both will be outlined below. 

ASF Website/Resources:

Activities: Students enroll in ASF's Sustainability Programs that facilitate their educational, social, and personal growth as environmental advocates. While ASF's Sustainability Programs are currently in their pilot stages, we have already received significant student feedback on the Paper Consumption Plan course from our pilot testers. Among our 29 student testers include a few ASF Outreach Coordinators, whom I have interviewed directly regarding the merits and drawbacks of ASF's Sustainability Programs. From their feedback, we are already revising ASF's Paper Consumption Program to reflect their desires for more statistical content and for more mini "masterclasses" on effective presentation and cold-emailing techniques! 

Outputs: Students develop a paper budgeting model that can be presented to and utilized by their respective schools. Through this program, students gain competency in the following areas of environmental advocacy:

  • Understanding irresponsible paper/resource consumption, a real-world problem impacting their daily lives as students in academia
  • Conducting academic research
  • Synthesizing and analyzing large-scale data through fundamental machine learning and statistical techniques 
  • Developing presentation, socio-emotional, and additional real-world skills 
  • Strengthening critical community outreach skills to educate others on sustainable paper consumption and organize plans for collective action

Short-Term Outcomes: Students demonstrate an enhanced knowledge of conducting and presenting original research + the additional benefits outlined above. Students participating in the Paper Consumption Program have already reported increased confidence levels (from an average of 4.2/10 to 7.6/10) in their presentation abilities and a deeper understanding of basic statistical processes such as linear regression (83% of students had no prior knowledge of statistics --> 76% of students reporting they either "understood well" or "understood greatly" linear regression after completing that chapter). 

Long-Term Outcomes: Students fully recognize their potent power as environmental advocates, thereby spreading the message of sustainable consumption and production of resources to their local community. Moreover, they introduce other students to ASF's programs, who too are able to engage in the unique process of designing a statistical paper consumption model. As the ASF Network continues to expand, we hope to see these environmental initiatives cropping up across the country, making an impact that spans hundreds of schools, dozens of states, and millions of paper products saved. 

ASF Consumption Model 

Activities: Schools use ASF's national Paper Consumption Model to predict their paper consumption and receive suggested budgeting amounts. 

Outputs: Schools gain an enhanced understanding of their paper consumption statistics and their impact on the environment. 

Short-Term Outcomes: Schools are encouraged to take steps to actively mitigate extraneous paper usage by following ASF's provided sustainability recommendations (among which include classroom-based approaches for teaching students about sustainability). 

Long-Term Outcomes: As more schools are introduced ASF's Model and the concept of sustainable paper consumption, the academic attitude toward paper consumption shifts to more sustainable habits and less reliance on natural resources. 

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

ASF's ventures employ a vast array of technology, whose functions will be described below: 

  1. Wix Website Builder: 
    1. Developed the ASF website using the Wix Website builder, currently on the free subscription plan 
      1. The ASF website is an integral part of our project--the digital culmination of months worth of hard work and advocacy 
      2.  All of our resources and findings are presented solely online; without modern-day technology, spreading ASF’s mission would also be significantly more challenging 
      3. We currently have a domain purchased under ASF's name, but we still use Wix to maintain and update our website! 
  2. Artificial Intelligence and Statistical Regression Models (Machine Learning / AI Models):  
    1. Linear and Sinusoidal Regression: defined as a polynomial approach for modeling relationships between an explanatory and response variable (models that predict the value of a variable based on the value of another variable)
    2. Linear regression was used to evaluate the relationship between "Jobs" and "Total Printed Pages" as well as "Department Size" and "Total Printed Pages"
    3. Sinusoidal regression was used to evaluate the relationship between "Month" and "Total Printed Pages" per department 
  3. Javascript, HTML, CSS, Github, Amazon databases:
    1. ASF's Technology Developers currently utilize a whole host of languages and databases to develop ASF's newest user interface and construct the backend architecture of ASF's Paper Consumption Model 
    2. Amazon Botocore, boto3, Flask, etc. utilized in the construction of ASF's backend to ensure our model can sustainably scale to accommodate our growing user base 
      1. Flask backend used to link AWS + Python libraries in web applications
    3. Relational databases (Aurora) = used to help ASF's schools track their paper consumption and for ASF's website to retrieve the personalized paper consumption model 
    4. Github = used for easier collaboration among technology developers
    5. Flutter = currently being used in the development of ASF's app to generate multi-platform code that is compatible with both IOs and Android devices
    6. Elastic Beanstalk = used to deploy Flask
  4. Various Social Media Platforms: 
    1. Used for crowdsourcing data to use in models
    2. Networking with ASF member schools  
    3. Engaging with the broader ASF community! 
    4. Discord allows ASF member to communicate with each other in a timely manner despite different time zones 
  5. Snap! 
    1. Blocks-based programming language built by UC Berkeley
    2. Used to code original prototype user interface was coded 
      1. Chosen for simplicity and user accessibility
  6. Google Suite Applications: 
    1. Google Forms: used to distribute surveys 
      1. Student Technology Survey
      2. Faculty Paper Consumption survey
      3. Teacher-purposes digital/paper preference survey
    2. Gmail: We correspond with nationwide ASF members primarily via email for both accessibility and professional decorum
    3. Google Sheets: utilized during the data cleaning process  
    4. Google Colab: platform of choice (due to easy sharing ability and accessibility to computational resources like GPUs) to process the data and perform data analysis
      1. Python coding language = used extensively
  7. Microsoft Office Applications:
    1. PowerPoint: used to create and film original educational videos 
    2. Forms: used to gather data from middle school students 
  8. Canva:
    1. Digital design tool utilized to create ASF’s logo, promotional flyers, and infographics 
    2. Elevator pitch video edited using Canva; used elsewhere on the ASF website for infographics
    3. Additional presentations that are featured on the ASF website were created using the Canva interface    

Please note that ASF's main technology output, ASF's Paper Consumption Model, primarily uses machine learning packages and software (AI), as well as relational databases and various AWS command line utilities to maintain its operations. The rest of the technology used in our solution is simply for the purpose of promoting and sharing ASF's mission, resources, and paper consumption model! 

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Big Data
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Ethiopia
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • United States

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Ethiopia
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • United States
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


How many people work on your solution team?

30 full-time volunteers, 4 mentors, 4 organization partnerships (Green Schools Alliance, Environmental Paper Network, Tree-Plenish, The Plastic Project)

How long have you been working on your solution?

Approximately 5-15 months! ASF was initially conceptualized in March of 2022, although we only got started as an organization in January of 2023.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

At A Sustainable Future, all volunteers--regardless of ethnic, socioeconomic, or gender identities--feel valued and respected. We are committed to a nondiscriminatory approach and are extremely proud to provide equal opportunity for employment and advancement in all of our divisions, programs, and activities. Our executive leadership team is an all-female youth board, and our mentors are also women in STEM from underrepresented backgrounds. ASF as a whole is comprised of individuals coming from a multitude of different backgrounds, as we accept applications from individuals from across the world like Pakistan, the Philippines, and Ethiopia. We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages, ensuring all voices are valued and heard.

To provide informed, authentic leadership for equity, A Sustainable Future strives to:

  • See diversity, inclusion, and equity as connected to our mission and critical to ensuring the well-being of our volunteers and the schools we serve.
  • Advocate for and support thinking among all organization members about how systemic inequities impact our work and how best to address that in a way that is consistent with our mission to gather data from schools of all backgrounds and demographics.
  • Help to challenge assumptions about what it takes to be a strong leader at our organization, and who is well-positioned to provide leadership, particularly through the promotion of female POC and other marginalized individuals to positions of leadership 
  • Practice and encourage transparent communication in all interactions, whether it is through email, Discord, or our other social media channels.
  • Commit time and resources to expand more diverse leadership within our team and mentorship opportunities.
  • Lead with respect and tolerance. We expect all ASF volunteers to embrace this notion and to express it when interacting with each other through Discord and with our viewers on our social media platforms. 

A Sustainable Future abides by the following action items to help promote diversity and inclusion in our organization:

  • Pursue cultural competency throughout our organization by creating substantive learning opportunities and encouraging members to interact with other ASF volunteers from around the world.
  • Ensure each member of ASF has equal opportunities to have their work and research featured on ASF's various social channels. 
  • Collect printer data from schools of all cultural, socioeconomic, and demographic backgrounds.
  • Improve our cultural leadership pipeline by creating and supporting programs and policies that foster leadership and representation reflecting the diversity of ASF's multicultural and global team.
  • Respect the cultural values, traditions, and holidays of each of ASF's members through flexible and supportive working policies. 
  • Pool resources and expand offerings for underrepresented constituents by connecting with other environmental organizations through equal-access internship opportunities.
  • Develop a system for being more intentional and conscious of bias during the hiring/evaluating process.
    • Currently, we do not accept any information on our application form regarding the individual's social or gender identity! 

ASF would not be the same organization without the varying expertise, backgrounds, and perspectives of all its members; we are infinitely grateful for and will continue to foster the diversity, equity, and inclusion present in our operations. 

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Project: A Sustainable Future

  • Key Resources:
    • For students - ASF Website, access to internet, account linked to Google suites 
    • For schools - ASF Consumption Model, access to internet, ASF app and/or website 
  • Key Activities:
    • For students:
      • Provide students resources with which to educate themselves and others on sustainable resource consumption, a real-world problem impacting their daily lives as students in academia  
      • Give student guidelines on how to conduct research on academic paper consumption within their own schools 
      • Encourage students to synthesize and analyze large-scale data through fundamental machine learning and statistical techniques
      • Help students develop presentational, socio-emotional, and additional real-world skills 
      • Strengthen students' critical community outreach skills to educate others on sustainable paper consumption and organize plans for collective action in their communities 
      • Through all of the aforementioned, help students understand their own agency/potential for impact and engage with issues of power, privilege, and injustice in their communities by advocating for sustainable paper consumption
    • For schools: 
      • Provide schools with ASF's consumption model, which can be used to better estimate their paper consumption on a monthly + yearly basis
      • Compare a user school's paper consumption to a similar, but more sustainable school
      • Recommend simple practices to aid schools in increasing sustainability, while fostering a sustainable mindset in students as well 
      • Provide schools with a recommended budgeting plan / spending estimate to streamline costs and minimize their impact on the environment 
      • Support schools with educator support for classroom-based approaches for teaching students about general sustainability tactics, whether it is through general assemblies or guided curricula 
    • General:
      • Collect paper consumption data from member schools 
      • Update user interface as the consumption model is trained 
  • Type of Intervention (products/services):
    • Product (free): ASF Paper Consumption Model
    • Resources: Sustainability presentations, sustainable recipes, research structure/guidelines/materials 
  • Segments:
    • Customers:
      • Schools (consumption model is free-of-charge to use) 
    • Beneficiaries: 
      • Schools and students 
  • Value Proposition: 
    • For students: 
      • Educating themselves and other on sustainable resource consumption using the resources provided by the ASF website
      • Conducting research on academic paper consumption within their own schools 
    • For schools:  
      • Use ASF's consumption model to better estimate their paper consumption on a monthly + yearly basis
      • Compare their paper consumption to a similar, but more sustainable school
      • Receive simple suggestions on how to incorporate more eco-friendly practices to increase sustainability in the academic setting
      • Cut out unnecessary paper expenses 
    • Impact Measures: 
      • # of Member Schools 
        • # of total students impacted 
      • # of schools that have used the consumption model
      • # of website users 
      • # of students opened to the topic of SDG 12: Sustainable Resource Consumption 
  • Key Stakeholders:
    • Wix website builder 
    • (Currently) Snap! user interface
    • (Future plans) ASF app 
  • Partners:
    • Tree-Plenish
    • Green Schools Alliance 
    • Environmental Paper Network
    • The Plastic Project
  • Channels:
    • In the future - ASF app 

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Revenue Model: 

The revenue streams for A Sustainable Future includes the following:

  1. Award and grant funding 

    1. Ex - Roots & Shoots, Girl Up, etc. 

    2. Have already received funding of $500 from Roots & Shoots 

  2. Funding from partner organizations and potential corporate sponsors 

    1. We are currently in the process of discussing potential collaborations with EPN and Tree-Plenish 

    2. Exposure from our partner organizations will also initiate funding from NGOs! 

  3. Ad placement on website 

    1. To incorporate after ASF purchases its domain 

    2. Note that we do not plan to charge users for website resources at all 

  4. Monetization via ASF Youtube Channel 

  5. ASF Climate Convention 

While grants and external funding are not sustained nor guaranteed, ASF does have several ideas to fund its work in the upcoming future, namely plans to host an environmental convention. The "A Sustainable Future" convention would be a dual conference and fundraising event with the purpose of collecting data, raising awareness, and expanding the ASF Network! At this event, we would educate attendees by bringing in panel speakers to discuss current environmental matters and workshop ways to become upstanding, responsible citizens to the environment. Presentations would also introduce ASF's mission, with aims of encouraging attendees and their schools to become members of the ASF Network. All during this time, attendees can buy upcycled wares from artisans. Such goods will be hand-crafted, sustainable, and designed if not from, then to promote, eco-friendly practices! The ultimate mission of the convention would be to inspire future environmental activists while also supporting ASF’s mission. 

Projected Operating Expenses:

ASF, as a volunteer-run nonprofit, requires minimal funding to maintain its operations. The majority of our tasks are carried out by ASF members, volunteers, and partner organizations who are willing to work for the cause. The only expenses we foresee paying in the future are to buy a website domain and maintain our website. The selected domain has costs of $12/year, whereas website maintenance fees would cost up to $39/month. In the future, we also expect to look into marketing/advertising costs and maintaining a team of web and app developers. Moreover, ASF is looking into Multiplier’s services in the process of becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization; however, additional funding may be required in that area. 

Profit Projection: 

For the first few years of operation, ASF may not generate profits as we have not launched the paper consumption model yet, nor have we monetized our media platforms (including the ASF website). As soon as we begin gaining exposure, however, we expect to see revenue from the streams outlined previously and plan to break even shortly thereafter. For the time being, we will continue applying for grants and competition awards as needed to supplement our current funds. 

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

A Sustainable Future has been incredibly fortunate thus far to receive generous grants from environmental organizations such as Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Organization. ASF was awarded two mini-grants of $250 for a combined total of $500 during the 2022-2023 year, which we will be using towards funding ASF events. Moreover, our team will be contributing personal savings to maintain our website domain for ASF as well as emailing lists for marketing purposes. 

Solution Team

  • Carolyn He A Sustainable Future
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