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Clean Energy for Sacred Spaces: Grand Rapids Grant Announcement

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

We're excited to announce a new grant program for houses of worship. This pilot project will provide energy efficient retrofitting for qualifying religious buildings in low-income neighborhoods.

Learn More about the Sacred Places Grant

The project will provide grants to ten low-income congregations in Michigan for $100,000 each to make their buildings more energy efficient and will also explore the possibility of finding funding for solar energy for those houses of worship. Requirements include:

  • The congregation's annual budgets must be less than $250,000
  • The congregation must have at least 50 members
  • The congregation must have been operational for ten years
  • The congregational must be in a public building. It may not be a residential property.
  • All grant recipients must operate active programs responding to human needs, like food pantries, health clinics, ministries with returning citizens etc

Grand Rapids-based World Renew is the recipient of a grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to fund a pilot project focused on places of worship in Grand Rapids and throughout Michigan. This pilot project will provide energy efficiency retrofitting for qualifying religious buildings in low-income neighborhoods.

World Renew helps free families from poverty in 30 countries worldwide. Through relief aid, World Renew responds to disaster survivors with food, medicine, and volunteer assistance.This non-profit also works to fight the effects of climate change and to end gender-based violence, both in North America and around the world.

World Renew has developed this Michigan-based pilot project as a way to address two challenges: first, the urgent need to address climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gasses; and second,the harm caused by the climate crisis in low income neighborhoods, which can least afford to make changes.Through this grant, houses of worship in Grand Rapids will be able to reduce their consumption of the fossil fuels that they currently rely on for electricity, heating and cooling.

Kris Van Engen, Justice Mobilizer with World Renew, notes that past environmental injustice makes this type of grant even more important. "One of the stories that deserves attention is how environmentalists’ efforts have historically ignored both the reality of environmental racism and the potential leadership contributions towards solutions from communities of color. We expect that this grant will be a resource for and will bring deserved positive attention to leaders who are already making a difference on environmental justice issues in their communities.”

This grant will provide needed reductions in high electric and gas bills. The savings created by making these public buildings more energy efficient will allow houses of worship to turn that money to more services to their communities. According to Richard Killmer, a consultant with the Climate Witness Project, this effort will provide a practical model for future Net Zero efforts in the state of Michigan and throughout the United States. “This [grant] project will provide a model for government agencies, denominations and philanthropists that want to help low-income congregations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. They too can financially support the efforts by low-income congregations to achieve energy efficiency consequently reducing their emissions.”

World Renew’s Climate Witness Project will provide consultation and support, helping houses of worship to both apply for the grant and then walking with the congregations through the process of retrofitting and receiving Energy Star Certification.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer praised the grant’s focus, saying, “Houses of worship are often at the heart of community life, and the Climate Witness Project will help them save money and more effectively serve their neighborhoods. With these EGLE grants, congregations can invest in climate-friendly building upgrades and focus their resources on offering vital services to families and neighbors instead of paying high electric and gas bills. We will continue working together to lower costs and build a healthy, prosperous clean-energy future with faith communities and all sectors of our society and economy.”

Grant applications for qualifying houses of worship in Michigan are open now. To learn more about grant guidelines and application steps, visit the Sacred Spaces Clean Energy Grant website.

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