Energy Trust grant program helps nonprofits reach diverse communities

Energy Trust grant program helps nonprofits reach diverse communities

Woman talking to man at booth

Energy Trust is focused on bringing clean, affordable energy to all. However, certain customer groups – including Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities, residents with low incomes and those living in rural areas – have historically been underserved by Energy Trust’s programs and services.

Recognizing the value of leveraging community-based organizations’ expertise and connections to bring the benefits of clean energy to these customers, Energy Trust began offering Working Together Grants in 2022. This is a competitive grant opportunity with funding up to $10,000 for nonprofits interested in pursuing activities that help diverse customers and communities save energy or use renewable energy.

In October, Energy Trust awarded its third round of grants to 12 organizations across the state totaling nearly $80,000. Funding will support outreach, training, program development, grant writing and organizational capacity.

Awards in this funding round prioritized rural communities and applicants that had not received funding in previous rounds; nearly half of the awardees are based outside of the Portland metro area.

Awardees are pursuing a variety of offers with their funding:

  • The Environmental Center in Bend is dedicating staff time to promote Energy Trust offers within its programs and develop a revolving loan program focused on reaching customers with low and moderate incomes.
  • NeighborWorks Umpqua in Southern Oregon is training staff to perform energy audits to help customers initiate and complete energy projects.
  • Illinois Valley Community Development Organization in Southern Oregon is training staff on existing Energy Trust offers and surveying the community on local energy needs.
  • Seeds for the Sol in Corvallis is conducting home energy assessments and sharing information with The Environmental Center on its loan program.
  • Common Connections in Grants Pass is conducting direct customer outreach to promote awareness of clean energy design in tiny homes and accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.
  • The multi-state Small Business Utility Advocates, or SBUA, is raising awareness about Energy Trust’s offers and services with the small business community via engagement with chambers and small business associations.

Within the Portland area, awardees are developing education and outreach activities to reach diverse groups:

  • Ethiopian and Eritrean Cultural Resource Center based in Portland is expanding access to Energy Trust offers and services through education and direct services in community members’ native languages.
  • Community Services Network in Portland is reducing language barriers by delivering presentations on Energy Trust programs in four languages at its resource fair.
  • Portland-based Northwest Native Chamber is hiring a program manager to engage with communities of color and promote Energy Trust offers.
  • Catalyst Partnerships NW based in Beaverton is integrating renewable energy and energy efficiency into its programs by training staff in energy technology and launching an outreach campaign.
  • Metropolitan Family Services based in the Portland area is developing marketing materials and conducting direct outreach on Energy Trust offers.
  • ReBuilding Center in Portland is developing a curriculum on weatherization for homeowners with low incomes taking home repair classes.

Nonprofit organizations interested in applying for a Working Together Grant can learn more about the offer, including eligibility requirements and the selection process. Individuals can also sign up to be alerted when the next round of funding applications opens.