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Cleveland Climate Action Fund relaunches, prospects for glocal climate projects this week

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/04/15 @ 3:00pm

Cleveland has earned accolades for its sustainability program and its decidedly grassroots approach to glocal climate change. The latest incarnation is actually a re-incarnation of the Cleveland Climate Action Fund. Launched as the Cleveland Carbon Fund in 2008 with philanthropic and corporate support, the Fund is for anyone wanting to mitigate their carbon emissions and seed local projects. (Disclosure: GreenCityBlueLake and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History are founding and continuing members).

<br />A rain garden workshop in Cleveland. The Cleveland Climate Action Fund wants to support more of this activity.

The fund lay dormant until project partners including the city, Cleveland and Gund foundations, and new corporate members made a link between it and the city’s vision of empowering people to change their neighborhood—one start up project at a time. The Fund and SC2019 are converging at workshops happening this week in Detroit-Shoreway and Kinsman—a road show to introduce aspiring social entrepreneurs looking to pitch an idea that reduces Cleveland’s carbon footprint and builds up its local, green economy.

“The main thing we talk to residents about is improving our relationship to the environment improves our own lives, health, and even job opportunities,” the Fund's Lyndy Wertman says about hers and Michele Kilroy's work.

At Mather House in Glenville last month, for example, residents came forward to pitch ideas such as a natural landscape/sidewalk snow removal business and a Rockefeller Park beautification business both aimed at employing young adults.

The Fund will be looking for similar pitches tonight (March 4) at Detroit-Shoreway’s community space at 6516 Detroit Avenue and this Thursday (March 5) at CornUcopia, 7201 Kinsman Road. If you can’t make the public events, the Fund is accepting applications for green, neighborhood projects: just download the RFP posted on its website, clevelandclimateaction.org and submit it online or by mail before April 3. A second round of community workshops will be held in April (dates TBD) in St. Clair-Superior, Slavic Village and Old Brooklyn. Non-Cleveland residents can also apply so long as the project is in Cleveland and has impact on Cleveland’s goals to mitigate or adapt to climate change as laid out in its Climate Action Plan.

Thanks to philanthropic support, winning proposals will be selected for all six neighborhoods in the range of $500-$5,000 each. There is capacity to support up to ten projects at the maximum level, Wertman said. After that, it will take community donations—individuals or corporations offsetting carbon emission from travel—to fund more projects.

If you have an idea, but aren’t sure if it has carbon reductions as an outcome, the Fund will assist you in thinking through and finding the carbon reduction link, says Wertman, who’s not on the jury and is therefore able to provide assistance.

“I would tell (applicants) demonstrate the ripple effects in the near or long term because it might not be obvious to the voting board.”

Even if you currently are running a project, you can apply to expand it.

“I was speaking to the (bike composting) Rust Belt Riders guys who had an idea to expand into other areas and encouraged them to apply,” Wertman says. “I try to get people excited about what could be.”

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