Sustainable CT program facilitates $1 million investment in community projects statewide
Willimantic, CT (11/17/2020) — In excess of 90 sustainability projects in 55 towns statewide have raised more than $1 million through Sustainable CT's Community Match Fund since the program's inception in September 2019. Sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, the Community Match Fund provides a fundraising match to community-driven sustainability projects.
From public murals to greenway trails, community gardens to tree plantings, pollinator corridors to composting programs and more, Connecticut's towns and cities have grown greener and more resilient in the past year. Through the CT Community Match Fund, every project runs a crowdfunding campaign to raise half its budget, with Sustainable CT matching all donations.
The Community Match Fund leverages Sustainable CT's institutional funding alongside small-dollar community investment. To date, Sustainable CT has committed $495,000 as a match to more than $575,000 in donations from 3,450 community members and local businesses. Sustainable CT is independently funded and the Community Match Fund is supported by the Smart Seed Fund, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Connecticut Green Bank.
"The most impactful aspect of this program is that each donation represents a person who is now involved with and committed to the project," said Lynn Stoddard, executive director of Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy. "When neighbors vote with their dollars in support of these projects they are literally buying in, which creates a sense of community ownership that wouldn't otherwise exist."
Across Connecticut, Community Match projects are making towns and cities more inclusive, resilient and vibrant, as community members work together on pocket parks, murals and energy-efficient lighting; green-jobs and bicycle programs; giving gardens and food forests; climate change education sessions; river cleanup and habitat restoration efforts; and more.
Unlike traditional funding programs, the Community Match Fund is open to anyone; prospective project leaders don't need the backing of a formal organization, there's no application to submit, no deadlines, and no review and scoring process. Rather, anyone who has an idea for a public project is welcome to reach out to Sustainable CT at any time, and if their work aligns with Sustainable CT, they will quickly be approved and moved forward. Once approved, projects run crowdfunding campaigns to raise half of their project's budget, and once they've reached their fundraising goal and have brought in at least 20 donors, Sustainable CT provides a dollar-for-dollar match to everything raised, fully funding the project.
"Through this program, inspired residents have taken action and led the way in improving their communities one block, neighborhood and town at a time, demonstrating the power of neighbors working together to create change," said Abe Hilding Salorio, community outreach manager for Sustainable CT. "What's so exciting about this program is how it puts decision-making in the hands of the people who will be impacted by each project. Rather than Sustainable CT deciding what work has value and deserves to be funded, we're asking the local community to make that determination. If people rally behind these projects and support them, that lets us know that we should too."
The Community Match Fund is in full swing heading into 2021 and continues to accept and support new projects. Anyone with a great idea for a public, sustainability-related initiative is encouraged to reach out to Abe Hilding-Salorio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sustainable CT inspires, supports and recognizes sustainability achievements by Connecticut municipalities. Created by towns for towns, the free program includes a roadmap of sustainability actions, technical support and funding to help towns implement actions, and certification to showcase accomplishments. Currently 112 of Connecticut's 169 municipalities are participating in Sustainable CT (representing 80% of the state's population) and 61 municipalities have earned certification, demonstrating successful implementation of a broad range of sustainability actions that promote inclusive and equitable communities, thriving local economies, affordable and diverse housing, vibrant arts and culture, clean transportation choices, land and natural resource stewardship, and more. Sustainable CT's Community Match Fund has inspired investment of over $1 million in community-led sustainability projects across the state. Sustainable CT is independently funded and led and administered by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University. For more information: www.sustainablect.org.
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut's public liberal arts university, serving 5,000 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 162 of Connecticut's 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 34 other states and 19 countries. A residential campus offering 41 majors and 65 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked among the top 30 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2019 Best Colleges ratings, Eastern has also been awarded 'Green Campus' status by the Princeton Review 10 years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.