Coldwater Solar Grants Awarded to Eight Branch Counry Organizations

Apex Clean Energy has awarded a new round of funding to area non-profits as part of the Coldwater Solar Community Grant Program. Through the program, the local clean energy project supports organizations across Branch County working to build safe and healthy communities, foster economic development, support environmental sustainability, and promote education.

Eight local organizations received funding during this grant cycle, including Junior Achievement of Southwest Michigan, Branch Area Careers Center, Eby-Klein Youth & Family Center, Coldwater Fire Department, Branch District Library, Branch Area Rescue Coalition, Coldwater Community Center, and the Cultivating Community Task Force.

“As Coldwater Solar advances towards construction this year, taking on a long-term presence within the community, we are proud to support many of the important organizations that make the Coldwater area both a great place to live and a great place to generate clean, Michigan-made energy,” said Connor Podkul, development manager for Apex Clean Energy.

Junior Achievement of Southwest Michigan received a grant to improve financial literacy among Branch County students. Junior Achievement’s financial empowerment program offers multiple approaches for school districts and teachers, with 37 classrooms across Branch County interested in the program during the 2023-2024 academic year.

“We at JA are honored to receive this grant from Coldwater Solar,” said Laura Lutterbeck, District Director for Junior Achievement of Southwest Michigan. “Junior Achievement’s unique approach to programs involves business professionals interacting with students, relating professional experience to the school curriculum, and making the information relevant to real-life situations. JA helps students understand the relationship between school learning and successful participation in the economy.”

A grant awarded to the Branch Area Career Center will help educate approximately 30 health profession students each year in life-saving techniques through the “Stop the Bleed” program, which empowers individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to respond effectively in the critical minutes following a traumatic injury.

Funding for the Coach Eby-Klein Youth & Family Center will support their monthly fresh food distributions. Since 2021, the Center has partnered with South Michigan Food Bank to provide families in need with fresh food such as apples, potatoes, beans, milk, eggs, breads, meats, and sweet treats. The monthly distribution has grown from 60 boxes per month to over 100 boxes per month to support the growing need in the community.

"Our Fresh Food Distribution is so important as it equips families with nutritious ingredients. Food insecurity is a major issue with youth and families in our community,” said Melissa Austin, the Center’s grant coordinator. “You may know someone that has gone a day or days without a nutritious meal, which is why it is so important that we are able to provide these programs in our community. Whether the family has chronic, transitional, or seasonal food insecurity, we want families to know we are here to help."

A grant to the Branch District Library will help purchase new books and materials to stock the library’s new bookmobile. The bookmobile will help expand the reach of the library in rural townships and other underserved communities, providing easier access to the free services offered by the library.

“Branch District Library's new bookmobile will extend the library's reach beyond the walls of the 6 branch locations," said Cheryl Lawrence, Outreach Manager for Branch District Library. "It will bring everything the library offers in materials and services directly to the rural parts of Branch County with regular stops at several locations. In preparation for its arrival, the library has already started hosting a pop-up library at a few locations which will serve as regular bookmobile stops: Coldwater Lake, Kinderhook Township Hall, and California Township Hall. We're grateful for the grant that will help us fill the bookmobile with books and other materials for our patrons.” 

The Coldwater Fire Department will soon have a new automated external defibrillator (AED) in its inventory thanks to a Coldwater Solar community grant. The department responded to 693 medical emergencies in 2022, of which 24 were for cardiac arrests. Early defibrillation has been shown to improve the chances of survival during a cardiac event, which is why department fire trucks and staff cars carry (AEDs). Unfortunately, some of the department’s AEDs are no longer in production, meaning that they can't be serviced, repaired, or have their batteries replaced.

The Branch Area Rescue Coalition (BARC) is receiving a grant to help restock their pet food pantry, helping low-income Branch County residents keep their pets in their homes and avoid pet abandonment.

“Thank you to Coldwater Solar for supporting our effort to help animals in our community this winter,” said BARC President Cathy Schaupp. “Costs have risen, and many people have found they cannot afford to feed their animals. This is another way we can assist them and recognize their good decision to spay/neuter their animals, helping reduce pet overpopulation.”

A grant to the Coldwater Community Center will help outfit new volunteer offices that will provide translation services and support for English as a second language residents who need support accessing city and county services. “This award from Coldwater Solar will help us achieve the Coldwater Community Center’s mission to create a multicultural community center that brings people together through educational and social opportunities,” said Coldwater Community Center President Kathie Bappert.

The Cultivating Community Task Force received a grant to support this year’s Cultural Jubilee, a one-day, family-friendly event to be held on May 18, 2024, on South Hanchett Street and Tibbits Plaza in downtown Coldwater. The event will celebrate the Coldwater region’s cultural diversity through art, food, entertainment, exhibits, and presentations.

These eight grant awards total nearly $10,000 for the program's winter grant cycle. Since its launch in 2021, the program has provided more than $35,000 in funding to eighteen different community organizations.

In addition to its ongoing support of local non-profits, Coldwater Solar will generate more than $30 million of new tax revenue to support Coldwater area school districts, county services, and township governments, as well as significant local spending, employment, and investment during project construction and operations.