Saving the Planet Starts at the Local Level

Partners for Green Places (PGP), a collaborative movement and grant program designed to inspire organizations and nonprofits to implement sustainable measures, launched a community-wide initiative towards a greener future on Monday, October 14. With a theme of conservation and environmental stewardship, organizations, businesses, and the community alike celebrated sustainability and Sarasota County’s largest solar installation at Girls, Inc. of Sarasota County.

“No single champion is going to change the climate on climate change,” says Teri Hansen, President | CEO of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. “It’s going to take all of us to expand dialogue and do the work necessary to make our future greener. Our local government and nonprofits are the ones leading the way in our community.”

Designed to engage, connect, and forge a commitment toward energy efficiency and sustainability, Partners for Green Places aims to use energy assessments coupled with energy- and water-efficiency projects to reduce operational costs for human services and environmental nonprofits. The launch event also illuminated the broader impact that the Partners for Green Places movement brings to the community as well as its vision for a greener future.

Partners for Green Places was founded through a cross-sector partnership including Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the City of Sarasota, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, DreamLarge, University of Florida IFAS and Sarasota County, and William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. The founding partners are inviting other organizations to get involved.

“This initiative starts by showing nonprofits and their donors that not only is it possible to invest in sustainability, but those investments can also free up more funding to support their core missions,” says Mark Pritchett, President | CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “Beyond that, we can go even bigger and catalyze a movement that makes sustainability and conservation our ‘way of work’ here on the Gulf Coast.”

$375,000 in funding was secured through the partnering foundations and a matching a grant from the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. These funds will provide nonprofits with “energy roadmaps” that outline cost-saving opportunities through investment in efficiency and renewable energy upgrades and assist them with implementing priority projects at their facilities.

Additionally, an anonymous donor with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has granted $200,000 to fund a pilot solar investment program. Nonprofit organizations will be able to apply for low-interest funding to finance renewable energy investments and capital to adopt on-site solar power. As the low-interest funding is paid back, funds will be used for community-wide sustainability education projects.

“While on-site solar energy has been proven to be a more affordable, long-term solution, many local nonprofits are often constrained by a lack of available funds to explore these opportunities,” says Roxie Jerde, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “We are proud to support organizations and programs like Partners for Green Places, who tirelessly work to make these opportunities accessible to nonprofits throughout our community.”

There are currently three ways to get involved in the Partners for Green Places movement. Organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit, can join an alliance of partners and become an official Partner for Green Places. Businesses and nonprofits that have already adopted sustainable measures are invited to share their stories and be featured. And businesses and nonprofits interested in adopting sustainable measures can apply to get an energy audit from a PGP implementation partner. All of these can be done through www.PartnersforGreenPlaces.org.