Surveys of Energy Trust customers show participation lags among certain customer groups: people of color, people with low incomes and those living in rural areas. This means they are less likely to receive the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy such as lower utility bills, warmer homes in the winter and cooler homes in the summer.
One way Energy Trust is working to change this is by partnering with trusted community-based nonprofit organizations. These groups understand the needs of their communities and how to address them, including how to best deliver information and assistance.
In 2022, Energy Trust awarded its first round of Working Together Grants to 13 organizations across the state. Grants fund a variety of activities with the overarching goal of increasing awareness and participation in Energy Trust programs.
Among the recipients were four groups dedicated to serving BIPOC communities:
- African American Alliance for Homeownership, Inc. received $10,000 to support its Power to the People PDX program, which helps homeowners with low incomes access clean energy resources like home energy audits and low- or no-cost equipment upgrades.
- Taking Ownership PDX received $10,000 to support renovations at Black-owned homes, prioritizing improvements that get homes ready to be more energy efficient.
- Black Community of Portland received $10,000 to develop clean energy educational resources for BIPOC communities, including hosting a Youth Clean Energy Summer Camp and four community-based workshops.
- Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon received $10,000 to promote its new mission of affordable sustainability by hosting workshops and conducting general outreach to help promote Energy Trust programs and services to the communities they serve.
Two other groups received grants to support education and workforce development activities:
- LatinoBuilt Foundation received $10,000 to promote sustainable design, construction and building operations among Latinx contractors.
- Portland-based Youth Organized and United to Help (Y.O.U.T.H.) received $10,000 to teach young people and their families about clean energy, energy efficiency and career opportunities.
Groups across the state are using grant funds to help residents with low incomes access Energy Trust incentives and other resources:
- Northwest Housing Alternatives, which is based in Milwaukie, received $10,000 to provide clean energy resources to residents of its affordable housing properties throughout the state, resulting in more than $50,000 in energy assistance for residents.
- Growing Gardens in Portland received $10,000 to help community navigators share information about clean energy resources.
- Hacienda Community Development Corporation in Portland received $6,805 to connect residents of its Rockwood Village affordable housing property with clean energy resources.
- NeighborWorks Umpqua in Roseburg received $10,000 to promote Energy Trust incentives to homeowners with low incomes and affordable housing property owners in Coos, Curry and Douglas counties.
- Common Connections in Grants Pass received $10,000 to refurbish a donated trailer to use on home weatherization and solar panel installations, giving volunteer construction teams working alongside contractors access to on-site tools and equipment.
Two other groups are using grant funds to promote clean energy topics:
- Community Energy Project received $10,000 to develop and deliver presentations to community-based organizations on energy topics.
- Sustainable Living Center in Walla Walla received $8,372 to deliver clean energy workshops in the Milton-Freewater area in English and Spanish.
Energy Trust’s Working Together Grants are open to registered nonprofit organizations in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Learn about eligibility and future funding opportunities.