Energy-Efficiency Education Grant Boosts Funding for Knoxville Smarter Cities Partnership

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Energy-Efficiency Education Grant Boosts Funding for Knoxville Smarter Cities Partnership

Posted: 10/16/2014
October 16, 2014 - The Knoxville Smarter Cities Partnership has been awarded a total of $60,000 to support energy-efficiency education initiatives.

Knoxville is one of 10 communities across the country to receive a Partners for Places grant, which is matched locally by the United Way of Greater Knoxville and the East Tennessee Foundation.

Partners for Places is a project of the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, and its aim is to help communities connect local government and philanthropy to invest in sustainability projects that promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and well-being for all residents.

The Smarter Cities Partnership, a coalition including the City of Knoxville and more than 17 community agencies, seeks to improve the quality, comfort and affordability of inner-city homes through energy efficiency.

The partnership was formed in response to Knoxville's participation in the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant program, which offered $400,000 in technical assistance to evaluate how to connect energy-efficiency services with utility bill assistance and other programs serving lower-income populations.

One of IBM's main recommendations was that the Knoxville community should implement a coordinated, end-to-end education campaign to engage residents through multiple types of media, effective messaging and interactive, peer-to-peer learning. The Partners for Places funding will allow the Smarter Cities Partnership to act on this recommendation by designing and launching an education and engagement campaign that empowers disadvantaged residents in Knoxville to reduce utility bills through energy-efficient behaviors and no- or low-cost upgrades.

"The Partners for Places grant will allow us to strengthen existing energy-efficiency education resources and create new tools for engaging residents," said Mayor Madeline Rogero, who chairs the leadership council of the Smarter Cities Partnership.

"It will support the efforts of the Smarter Cities Partnership to coordinate local resources in order to provide better services for the community."

The City of Knoxville's Office of Sustainability worked with partners at United Way of Greater Knoxville, the East Tennessee Foundation and Community Action for Affordable Neighborhoods in applying for this grant, which will support the efforts of the Knoxville Smarter Cities Partnership.

United Way and the East Tennessee Foundation each contributed $15,000 of local foundation funding, which will be matched 1-to-1 with national foundation funding from the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.

"The Partners for Places initiative is the beginning of a potential tide shift in our community," said Caleb Fristoe, United Way's Manager of Community Outreach and Special Initiatives.

"It shows that Knoxville has the ability to achieve its creative and collaborative potential by thinking about the problems, both seen and unseen, that affect our community in new and thoughtful ways. United Way of Greater Knoxville is proud to be a part of this great initiative."

Michael T. McClamroch, East Tennessee Foundation's President and CEO, said the foundation "is pleased to have participated in successfully securing the Partners for Places matching grant that will support a coordinated campaign to empower low-income residents to improve home quality, comfort and affordability through energy efficiency."

Community Action for Affordable Neighborhoods - which is administered by the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee - will receive grant funds on behalf of the Smarter Cities Partnership.

Jason Estes, CAC's Housing and Energy Services Director, said CAAN is appreciative of the community support that made the Partners for Places grant possible.

"Education is the key to making sure that weatherization works, that residents actually use less energy and have more affordable utility bills," he said.

National funders of Partners for Places grants invest in local projects developed through local partnerships, such as the Knoxville Smarter Cities Partnership. Through these investments, Partners for Places fosters long-term relationships that make urban areas more prosperous, livable and vibrant.