University of Detroit Mercy wins $3.79M grant to make energy efficiency upgrades for area nonprofits

What’s happening: A new program recently announced by University of Detroit Mercy will partner UDM students and faculty with 13 nonprofit organizations in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park in a coordinated effort to help nonprofits implement energy efficiency upgrades at their facilities. The four-year initiative, UDM Sustaining Service Organization, is complemented by a workforce training program being coordinated by the Focus: HOPE organization.

What it is: The UDM Sustaining Service Organization will have students and faculty perform energy audits and modeling at the facilities participating in the initiative. Focus: HOPE will also recruit a minimum of 10 trainees in each of the initiative’s four years, who will then complete a five-week pre-construction training program before being hired by the contractors tasked with making upgrades to building HVAC systems, insulation, windows and air sealing, lighting, and more.

Why it is: It’s expected that the lower utility costs will allow nonprofits to take the money saved in utility bills and redirect it back into their work, while simultaneously providing new career opportunities for dozens of Detroiters in need.

Who’s involved: The UDM Sustaining Service organization features faculty and students from the College of Engineering & Science, School of Architecture & Community Development (SACD), SACD’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center, and project partner Focus: HOPE.

The 13 nonprofits to benefit from the initiative include Brilliant Detroit, Detroit PAL, East Side Community Network, EcoWorks, Focus: HOPE, Franklin Wright Settlements, Freedom House Detroit, Garage Cultural, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, Mack Avenue Community Church Development, The Avalon Village, University of Detroit Mercy’s College of Health Professions, and Urban League of Southeastern Michigan.

How they’re doing it: University of Detroit Mercy was awarded a $3.79-million grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of State and Community Energy Program’s (SCEP) Renew America’s Nonprofits program, one of just nine institutions to be selected for the grant nationwide. They are supplementing the grant with a $1.01 million match, representing a $4.8 million total investment in the initiative.

What they’re saying: "Focus: HOPE is excited to be one of the partner nonprofits involved in this great initiative,”  Portia Roberson, chief executive officer of Focus: HOPE, says in a statement. “Having the opportunity to work toward reducing our carbon footprint helps ensure our organization and the surrounding community do our part helping to uphold more energy-efficient practices."

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.