Power52 Partners with Living Classrooms Partners to Transform Community Centers into Emergency Resources
In 2016, Power52 Foundation, in partnership with Living Classroom Foundation, was awarded a grant from Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) to convert Living Classrooms’ three community centers (POWER House, UA House at Fayette, and Patterson Park House) into Resiliency Hubs, serving public housing communities within the Baltimore Target Investment Zone (TIZ) – a 2.5 sq. mi. area in East Baltimore that encompasses some of Baltimore’s most disadvantaged areas, whose residents are commonly at the highest risk during emergencies.
Living Classrooms’ Resiliency Hubs have been created to provide an immediate resource and assist residents in the recovery from (1) natural emergency events such as high heat, flooding, hurricanes, coastal storms, earthquakes and high wind conditions, (2) man-made disasters such as fires, explosions, or uprisings, or (3) large-scale service outages. Each hub provides access to electricity, fresh food, water, radios, two-way radios, charging stations, snow shovels, blowers, etc.
“Our community centers are trusted resources within the communities that we serve and we are grateful to Power52, the city, and our funders for helping us expand our services so we can make sure that our students and families are safe in the event of an emergency,” said James Piper Bond, President and CEO of Living Classrooms Foundation.
The POWER House is the first solar powered, community-based resiliency hub in the nation. Graduates from the Power52 Energy Institute Baltimore City, based at Living Classrooms’ UA House at Fayette community center, were contracted through Power52 Energy Solutions to install a grid-tied 12.24KW Solar PV and battery storage system on the POWER House. The system is being used as a resource for the community when the grid fails, creating enough clean energy to provide seventy-two (72) hours of sustainable power to the community center. Funding for this innovative project came from Investment Tax Credit, grants, and debt. The tax equity and debt were provided by Power52 Energy Solutions. Grant funding was provided by The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) and the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), the State of Maryland’s EARN Maryland Grant Program, administered by the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation, and France Merrick Foundation.
“Power52 is excited for our organization and graduates to be a part of bringing resiliency to those most vulnerable in the face of disasters,” said Cherie Brooks, Executive Director of Power52 Foundation. “We look forward to expanding our model and footprint to further benefit low-mid income (LMI) communities throughout the country.”
Thirteen (13) Living Classrooms staff and community residents have already completed the 2-day Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). Staff developed and administered a community needs assessment to determine how prepared TIZ residents are in dealing with natural or man-made emergency events. The survey asked specific questions about what people do when there is a flood or loss of electricity. The data collected was instrumental during the development of processes, procedures, protocols, and determining critical needs of the community.
“The residents of Perkins Homes have already experienced a situation where their power was out during one of the hottest days of summer and many took refuge at POWER House while electric service was restored. They are already grateful to have such a resource nearby,” said Colin Jones, Director of POWER House for Living Classrooms Foundation, who grew up in Perkins Homes.
Power52 and Living Classrooms created a workforce development partnership which allows graduates an opportunity to be included in the installation of the solar panels and battery storage. Living Classrooms combined its experience providing workforce training and case management with Power52 Foundation’s solar development experience, accreditations/credentials, and access to a robust energy industry network to provide residents with solar installation training. Funders include ISC and the State of Maryland’s EARN Maryland Grant Program, administered by the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation. To date, 52 individuals have graduated from the Power52 Energy Institute Baltimore City’s 11-week Energy Professional training program, the first Clean Energy Private Career School accredited by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Living Classrooms career coaches provide work readiness workshops and assist individuals with removing any barriers that could potentially affect their graduating from the training program and securing employment.
“Today we celebrate a critical investment in a community often overlooked when investments are doled out. This investment, which offers the field a scalable model, brings triple bottom-line impact. The trainees’ lives have been transformed – given a solid workforce skill in a rapidly growing industry and using those skills to build a resource for their local community – already providing access to power for neighborhood residents, during an outage, and residents and the community at large exposed to new information and new resources. ISC is proud to be a supporter of this tremendous work said,” Sarita Turner, Director of Inclusive Communities, Institute for Sustainable Communities.
Living Classrooms has partnered with Baltimore City Department of Planning’s Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management to assist with Baltimore’s existing Preparedness Plan that identifies the POWER House as a Resiliency Hub for the City of Baltimore. As a designated Resiliency Hub, Living Classrooms’ staff will act as facilitators between the community and the City’s emergency management team, connecting with individuals in the community who have the knowledge and resources to best assist in the case of an emergency. Staff will also provide feedback to the City regarding services rendered during each emergency activation. The City will alert Living Classrooms of emergency situations, provide Phase I emergency supplies, and conduct Community Emergency Response Training (CERT).
NOTE TO MEDIA: A ribbon cutting ceremony to publicly announce the opening of POWER House as a Resiliency Hub is scheduled for Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 10:00am at 316 S. Caroline Street. The Lt. Governor and local dignitaries, the Executive Director of the Housing Authority, Power52 team (including Ray Lewis), representatives from the Institute of Sustainable Communities, and residents of Perkins Homes will be in attendance. A Media Advisory will be sent as a follow up to this Release with further details of the event.
About Power52 Foundation: In the aftermath of the 2015 riots, a Baltimore-based solar developer, a Real Estate Executive, and an iconic NFL star found themselves talking about how to re-inject hope and pride in underserved, at risk communities across the nation. Over the next year, Rob Wallace, Cherie Brooks and Ray Lewis laid the foundation with three unique and impactful entities and forged Power52 Foundation, a 501(c) 3 non-profit. POWER52 provides career training and job placement opportunities in the renewable energy sector, bringing forth equitable opportunities and inclusion to an underrepresented demographic and population. Like @power52official on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. For more information: www.power52.org.
About Living Classrooms Foundation: Living Classrooms Foundation is a Baltimore- Washington, DC-based nonprofit that disrupts the cycle of poverty and makes our community safer, stronger, and healthier by meeting individuals where they are and giving them skills for life. We inspire children, youth, and adults to achieve their potential through hands-on education, workforce development, and health and wellness programming, using urban, natural, and maritime resources as “living classrooms.” Living Classrooms Foundation has been proudly serving the community since 1985.
About the Baltimore Target Investment Zone (TIZ): Living Classrooms Foundation has launched the Baltimore Target Investment Zone, a comprehensive strategic community initiative that concentrates core education, workforce development, health and wellness, and violence prevention programs within a 2.5 square mile area of East Baltimore, focused on disrupting a cycle of generational poverty. The TIZ is home to over 40,000 people, 9,100 students in 18 schools, and over 2,200 public housing units that span five communities and 122 acres, including Pleasant View Gardens and Perkins Homes, and neighborhoods surrounding Patterson Park and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Oldtown /Middle East, Fayette Street Corridor, and McElderry Park. These neighborhoods experience high poverty, high-density crime and recidivism rates, chronic health problems, low educational achievement, and high unemployment.
A key strategy of this approach has been the establishment of Community Hubs in East Baltimore including two early childhood education centers, two workforce development centers, a public charter middle school, and three community centers. Living Classrooms has successfully worked with the community to create, renovate, and manage several inviting, accessible neighborhood facilities that are providing comprehensive multigenerational and supportive services to residents of all ages. Living Classrooms uses its performance management system, LivingClassrooms.Stat to measure, monitor, and evaluate the quality and efficacy of all programs and services.