Telling a different story: sustainability as a means to increase mission-driven capacity and strengthen communities
Above: A group of children learn about art at the Steffen Thomas Museum.
How does a building energy audit feed hungry people? Serve at-risk youth? Grow an arts program? Believe it or not, this isn’t a nonsequitur – it’s a demonstrated fact. Nonprofits are excellent targets for energy and water efficiency upgrades in their facilities as they are under pressure to reduce expenses and often occupy inefficient buildings that needlessly waste resources.
Through Grants to Green and the Nonprofit Energy and Water Efficiency (NEWE) Initiative, nonprofits are able to free resources of revenue and time and redirect them to their core mission. By reimagining nonprofit facilities, we can transform lives and measure the impacts of sustainability in new and exciting ways.
Grants to Green
The Grants to Green story began when The Kendeda Fund approached leadership of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (CFGA) in 2007 with an idea. The Kendeda Fund wished to initiate a grant-making program that would transform the nonprofit sector by encouraging nonprofits to renovate or build healthier workplaces that are energy, water and resource efficient. The ultimate goal was to improve a nonprofit organization’s facility in order to reduce annual utility costs so that those dollars could be redirected to mission critical activities.
Collectively, Grants to Green participants have saved more than $4 million on utility bills since the first award was made in 2008; annual savings are approaching $1.7 million dollars! These savings provide real impact when it comes to serving communities.
“We expanded arts outreach staff from 2.5 days per week to four days per week, increased our students served from 750 to 1,000, plus added two adult education programs.”
Lisa Conner, Facilities Director at the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art in Buckhead, Georgia.
The Grants to Green program has been recognized locally for its excellence and impact as a strategic partner in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge and by the Metro Atlanta Chamber as winner of the Community Strong Award at the 2016 E3 Awards. On a national level, program participants including the Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta Neighborhood Charter Schools and The Frazer Center, an agency that serves children and adults with disabilities, were recognized for their building performance in the EPA’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition. Participants such as the Atlanta Community ToolBank, Atlanta Realtors Center and Rhodes Hall have also achieved ENERGY STAR certification. ENERGY STAR certified facilities outperform 75 percent of similar facilities across the country.
In 2015, Southface created the Nonprofit Energy and Water Efficiency (NEWE) Initiative in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Feeding America. This effort expands the Grants to Green mission nationally through a $2.79 million grant from The JPB Foundation.
“I can’t tell you what it means to save hundreds of dollars per month. To paint a more vivid picture for you than just numbers, a donor to our organization can sponsor a low-income child for $350 for an entire year of service. Thank you all for your help with this project! It won’t just impact our organization. It will also impact real kids with real needs. What else is more important?”
Walter “J.R.” Davis, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Georgia.
Grants to Green and NEWE Initiative truly represent sustainability in action. Through energy and water efficiency, nonprofits do profit – by strengthening their impact and improving the lives of the communities they serve.
Chandra Farley, Program Manager, Nonprofit Energy and Water Efficiency Initiatives, Southface.