HBCU-led Clean Energy Initiative Receives $250,000 Grant

March 20, 2018 — The Historically Black Colleges and University Community Development Coalition (HBCU CDAC) – a national non-profit organization that promotes, supports, and advocates for HBCUs and minority serving institutions, and community development corporations (CDCs) – was awarded a $250,000 one-year planning grant from The JPB Foundation. The grant was awarded to expand access to clean energy in low-income communities and aligns with two of The JPB Foundation’s program areas – environmental and poverty. The JPB Foundation awarded the grant to the HBCU CDAC in partnership with Benedict College to develop a comprehensive strategic implementation plan to pilot eight (8) clean energy and sustainability projects in HBCU communities across the country.

“The $250,000 grant is a significant milestone in our larger vision of activating HBCUs to leverage their know how and resources to strengthen the vitality of their surrounding communities,” shares Ron Butler, Chief Executive Officer of the HBCU CDAC. “We see clean energy as an opportunity to foster healthy and sustainable communities, create economic opportunity for local residents through job training and entrepreneurship, and close the gap in the innovation economy.

The grant was specifically awarded to support the HBCU Clean Energy Initiative (HBCU CEI), a coalition of fourteen (14) HBCUs established in 2017 pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the HBCU CDAC and the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The MOU formed a partnership between the DOE and the HBCU CDAC to promote clean energy adaptation and economic opportunities in the communities where HBCUs are located. The grant will allow the HBCU CDAC to catalyze the wealth of HBCU faculty and student talent to build on its relationships within local communities and deepen its role as an innovative leader in transforming economically challenged and underserved communities. Further, the grant will help to identify, create, and expand access to opportunities in the clean energy economy for families who live in HBCU communities as well as HBCU students and faculty.

“HBCUs graduate twenty-five percent of African–American STEM graduates, uniquely positioning them and the communities they serve to be global leaders in the growing solar and energy efficiency industries,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams who heads the Congressional HBCU Caucus and has been a strong advocate of the HBCU clean energy initiative. I’m thrilled to learn that HBCU CDAC has received this significant grant to further their investment as these 14 HBCUs, including Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina, and I look forward to continuing to work together to increase the resources available to HBCUs and the students they serve.”

During the year-long strategic planning period, HBCU CDAC will engage HBCU faculty and students, local residents, job seekers, businesses, local government, clean energy experts, and other key stakeholders through a series of round table discussions and targeted conversations to validate the eight (8) pilot projects and gather stakeholder feedback around the projects. The pilot projects include: 1) solar panel installation in low income communities and job training for the installation, 2) ground mount solar on HBCU campuses to reduce utility costs, 3) community awareness and education to include youth employment programs, 4) a national HBCU campus energy challenge, 5) STEM-enrichment program for K-12 students, 6) creation of a sustainable business model for each HBCU community, 7) industry wide diversity and inclusion campaign to create career pathways in clean energy, and 8) developing tools and resources that help grow and develop new and existing businesses in the clean energy economy.

Ultimately, the comprehensive strategic implementation plan developed under the grant will be submitted to The JPB Foundation for consideration for a major grant to implement the pilot projects.

The HBCU CEI seeks to bring to scale the Baltimore Solar Initiative, which became of success of how to create jobs and train local residents to join the solar industry workforce while expanding access to solar energy for low-income residents in the communities surrounding Morgan State University. The Baltimore Solar Initiative was co-led by HBCU CDAC participating institution, Morgan State University, and a number of local Baltimore sustainability stakeholders. The HBCU CDAC seeks to replicate that success given its potential to meaningfully impact the lives of individuals with the greatest need.

Participating colleges and universities include:

Benedict College, South Carolina

Claflin University, South Carolina

Coppin State University, Maryland

Florida Memorial University, Florida

Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina

Morgan State University, Maryland

Norfolk State University, Virginia

North Carolina A and T University, North Carolina

Prairie View A and M University, Texas

Southern University, Louisiana

Tennessee State University, Tennessee

Texas Southern University, Texas

University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Maryland

University of the Virgin Island, USVI

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