Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS)

Learn and Serve America Community-Based Research Innovation Grant

From 2007 until 2009, CELTS received a Learn and Serve America innovation grant for “Energy and Empowerment in an Appalachian County,” which served as an initiative to study energy needs and assets in Madison County. The integrated three-year community-based research project helped bring together multiple community partner organizations and multiple academic departments with their specific expertise. This collaborative and coalition-based approach produced data focused toward the goals of improving financial security of low-income families in Madison County; benefiting the environment by reducing demand for coal-based electricity; and empowering community members to become actively involved in transforming the policies, infrastructure, assumptions and behaviors that drive energy use in Kentucky today. One of the goals of the project was to establish a model for a long-term, interdisciplinary CBR focus that involves multiple community partner organizations, faculty, and students all working on issues of energy and empowerment. To this end, the grant strove to cultivate and support such projects alongside Energy and Empowerment Community-Based Research Grants (E&E Grants).

Energy and Empowerment Community Networking

Another goal of the project was to support communication among community groups working on energy and empowerment issues in Madison County. This goal was worked on through co-organizing community gatherings among active and interested individuals and groups. For links to the Web sites of organizations who participated, please visit the Energy and Empowerment Yahoo Group Page.

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Energy and Empowerment Project Dissemination

In additional to improved communication, another goal of the project was to disseminate information gathered through CBR projects and community networking gatherings to members of the community as well as individuals working on similar issues in other locations. In working towards this goal, students presented and/or tabled about the Energy and Empowerment at the following local locations and dates: Madison County Fiscal Court (shown on Madison County Government Access Channel 46), Berea First Christian Church, Berea College Networking Lunches, 2009 Madison County Home Energy Expo, and Berea College Service-Learning Expos. In addition, they presented at the following conferences: Just Connections March 2009, Energizing Kentucky April 2009, Campus Community Partnerships for Sustainability April 2009.

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