Eric Urbaniak

Eric Urbaniak, a former Bay Area Community Foundation (BACF) Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) student, has made incredible strides in the realm of sustainability.

On November 15, BACF Staff and Eric's friends and family gathered for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Mid-Michigan Chapter National Philanthropy Day to honor local individuals who have a heart for generosity and bettering our community. Eric, a current college senior at Central Michigan University (CMU), graciously accepted the award of Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy. He has dedicated his life thus far to creating sustainability programs that better our region. The love he has for his community is apparent through the work he has done and continues to do.

In high school, Eric was part of BACF's YAC. While working with other students in the area on grants, community outreach and social issues, Eric realized how important it was to give back to your community. As he decided on school majors, he knew he had to stick true to his love of science, but also chose to couple that knowledge with public and nonprofit administration.

He quickly got to work creating programs that would not only better the community today, but will shape waste management as we move into the future.

“I love creating new things that benefit people,” Eric says.

Between October 2019 and April 2020, Eric led a team of students, staff and faculty from CMU and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in a cultural exchange and composting initiative. During seven months, the team built a composting program at the Andahwod Continuing Care Community (a tribal elderly home) which diverted nearly three tons of food waste from going to landfills.


For the past two years, Eric has coordinated the Campus Race to Zero Waste at CMU. This is a national waste reduction competition in which nearly 300 universities compete to reduce their waste through best practices, innovative solutions and student engagement. Eric recruited and led student leaders to facilitate education and outreach activities which engaged nearly 500 students, staff, faculty and community members. Eric's outreach, education and engagement efforts in part earned CMU the 2022 Large Campus Organics Category first-place award. This is CMU's first-ever award in the Campus Race to Zero Waste.

“If we can get everyone to do 2% more than they are right now, that will make a difference.”

Eric, along with a coworker, built the CMU office of sustainability, Central Sustainability, from the ground up. Through the development of a university sustainability website, sustainability walking tour, sustainability pledge, sustainability YouTube channel, sustainability blog, project-based work and education efforts, Eric created a campus and community hub for sustainability engagement and progress.

“Bringing people together is one of my strengths. Figuring out whom we need to bring into the room and how to accomplish goals using everyone’s unique skill sets is the most amazing part of creating programs.”

This work earned CMU it’s first-ever "gold" rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, as well as the 2021 Sustainability Public Education Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Because of Eric's work and achievements, he was selected as the CMU 2021 Newman Civic Fellow. Each year, hundreds of universities select one student for this honor. Recipients meet virtually to learn about public policy, public engagement and how to be a change-maker for good.

In 2022, Eric was named a Udall scholar. This indicated that he is one of the top students pursuing environmental and sustainability work in the country, making a difference for people and the planet.

“A big part of my work is trying to figure out how sustainability and DEI interconnect… For people to take care of the environment they need to take ownership of it and people won’t take ownership of anything until they feel included.”

Eric’s plans for the future include continuing his work in sustainability, and, hopefully, bringing that knowledge back to the Bay Area to build a better community for generations to come.


Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter: Sign Up

Keep in touch...

Hear stories of how grant dollars and scholarship funds are impacting our community, For Good. For Ever.


Join Our Email List>

Visit Us

Pere Marquette Depot - Bay City, MI

Pere Marquette Depot in Downtown Bay City

Summer Office Hours:
Mon.-Thurs. 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Fri. 8:30 am - 3:00 pm

1000 Adams St., Suite 200
Bay City, MI 48708
Phone: 989.893.4438
Email: bacfnd@bayfoundation.org
Privacy Policy