Chattanooga is one of eight cities announced on Thursday that has been awarded funding for sustainability projects focused on low-income and diverse communities, ensuring that all residents benefit from a community’s environmental progress. The City of Chattanooga’s Sustainability Office worked with local non-profit, green|spaces, to apply for funding to expand the Empower program, which teaches low-income residents low cost and no cost ways to reduce their utility bills.
The expansion of the program will allow more renters and homeowners in the East Chattanooga, Highland Park, Ridgedale, and East Lake communities to receive training as well as add the Alton Park community to the service area.
The funding will also support neighborhood-led energy efficiency projects in these communities through a partnership with Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise and the City’s Department of Economic & Community Development.
“We know access to electricity and affordability directly impacts quality of life. Chattanoogans shouldn’t have to choose between keeping the lights on or feeding their family,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. “Through this grant, we will help even more Chattanooga families make their homes energy efficient and keep more money in their pockets.”
To expand this successful program that helps low-income neighborhoods, Chattanooga is receiving $40,000 from Partners for Places and $80,000 in local funding from the Benwood Foundation and Lyndhurst Foundation to continue to help communities increase their energy efficiency. Partners for Places pairs city governments with local and national funders to support sustainability projects that promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being for all residents.
“Becoming sustainable and solving the climate crisis may seem daunting, but to get there it has to be done on the local level with public/private partnerships,” said Darryl Young, director of the Sustainable Cities Program at the Summit Foundation. “We’re excited that so many of these ideas put the role of planning solutions in the hands of communities."
The communities for the Empower Program were selected from a study conducted by the City of Chattanooga, EPB, United Way, and green|spaces, which showed that homes in those areas used on average 43 percent more energy per square foot than the average home in Chattanooga during the winter months. Those neighborhoods also had some of the highest call volumes for energy assistance to THE United Way 211 Call Center.
“It has been incredible to see how simple changes and improvements to a home can have such a big impact! Participants, on average, have saved over $400 after attending just one 45-minute class,” said Sam Fulbright, green|spaces Empower program coordinator. “This expansion will allow us to serve hundreds of more families in Chattanooga along with providing them an opportunity use their own ideas to create more energy efficient communities through the neighborhood-led project program.”
Partners for Places, led by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, is providing $514,000 in funding for the eight cities, which will be matched by the other funders listed below. The program is supported by six investor foundations: Bloomberg Philanthropies, The JPB Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, The New York Community Trust, Summit Foundation, and Surdna Foundation.
The Partners for Places recipients are Chattanooga, Detroit, Hartford, Ct., Miami-Dade County, Fl., Minneapolis, Portland, Or., Seattle and Tucson, Az. To date, Partners for Places has awarded more than $4 million across North America in this successful matching grant program, leading to an $8 million impact.