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April 2020 Network Newsletter

Greetings RE-AMPers!

This past month our lives have been turned upside down and while we’re all adjusting to cope with COVID-19, our Network is committed to helping you feel grounded and connected during this time. A great way to stay connected is to introduce yourself to one of our newest Network members, Eco-Justice Collaborative and Clean Energy Works and you can find out more about them in the Connections Section. We’re also collecting and sharing resources to help you adapt your practices. Under Collective Strategy, connect with fellow RE-AMPers on a conversation about Access to Energy in Times of Pandemic.

The biggest question on staff’s mind is, how can we best support you during this time? Under the Capacity Section we also have information about the Rapid Response Fund and Just Transition Fund. We are postponing the Annual Meeting but we do have other opportunities for you to connect with others at upcoming RE-AMP events.

Have a story? Share it with the Network by contacting Sarah Ann Shanahan at sarah@reamp.org

Connections

Annual Meeting Postponed
Based on conversations among staff, Steering Committee, and members of the Host Committee we’ve come to the difficult decision to postpone the Annual Meeting. Even though our meeting isn’t planned until late June, there is a lot of uncertainty over how long the situation will persist and we have a moral and ethical obligation to maintain social distancing. We do hope to be able to still hold the meeting this fall, but at this time we are not setting dates until we have more clarity.

Welcome our newest members to the RE-AMP Network!

Eco-Justice Collaborative, Ally Member

“Eco-Justice Collaborative advocates just solutions to climate change, including a just transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable sources of energy. We operate through collaboration, and have experienced the power of working collaboratively to bring about successful outcomes. Pam Richart currently serves on the leadership team of the Downstate Caucus of the Illinois Climate Table (DSC). The DSC brings together member organizations who work on energy transformation and transportation; natural climate solutions; and climate equity. One of our key goals is to provide worker and community transition as we attempt to stabilize our climate through energy transformation and electrifying the transportation system. Another is to create new economic opportunities by creating a clean energy economy and fostering natural climate solutions, including afforestation / reforestation and regenerative agriculture, which can contribute to local food economies. EJC recognizes the importance of equity, inclusiveness, and follows principles that foster bottom-up organizing, ensuring all voices are heard. We know and appreciate that REAMP has networks, resources and expertise that can help our organization continue to grow, helping us more effectively participate and lead in equitable climate and energy policy in Illinois. That’s why we believe it is time to step up our participation with REAMP, and participate in strategic planning, goal setting, and leadership training that will support our work in Illinois.”

Equitable Deep Decarbonization Focus:

Decarbonizing the power sector with clean and affordable resources

Equitably electrifying transportation

Changing current transportation priorities (transit, non motorized, etc.) ,

Natural climate solutions that create carbon sinks and offer other, tangible, environmental benefits

Connect with them by reaching out to Primary Contact Pam Richart at prichart@ecojusticecollaborative.org

Clean Energy Works, Ally Member

“Many members of the RE-AMP Network which whom we’ve collaborated have engaged us on the application and approach to widespread adoption of inclusive finance (tariffed on-bill finance) in the service of advancing appropriately ambitious goals, encountering upfront cost barriers and the inequity of current financing solutions due of the deep level of engagement and dedication to scale. We have seen RE-AMP’s impact supporting a set of dedicated and engaged organizations across the Midwest, and want to provide support for continued fluent engagement with solutions that bring us all closer to that North Star goal.”

Equitable Deep Decarbonization Focus:

Decarbonizing the power sector

Equitably electrifying transportation

Electrifying buildings with affordable heating, cooling, and appliances, making buildings more efficient

Connect with them by reaching out to Primary Contact Max Toth at max.toth@cleanenergyworks.org

 

Collective Strategy

Access to Energy in Times of Pandemic
More than 45 RE-AMP members and others from across the country joined a strategy session facilitated by Nathan SheperdNathan Shepherd and Gail Francis on April 2 to talk about utility shut-offs. The conversation focused on how to protect the most vulnerable from utility shutoffs and debt, and how to change the paradigm to one where shutting off basic services under any circumstances is unthinkable.

Members updated each other on the current situations in their state and shared ideas such as “percent of income payment plans,” extending regulatory authority to rural electric co-ops and munis for the purpose of shutoffs, altering application criteria for energy assistance, and restoring service to those previously disconnected. We also heard about national efforts to build relief into upcoming stimulus packages.

We then talked about the challenges that exist beyond the immediate crisis of shut-offs. A central question was how to prevent a situation in which utility bills accumulate for hard-hit families, who then become ineligible for assistance or cold weather rules as a result of being behind on their bills. Further, if utilities do absorb that loss, how can we ensure that the loss isn’t simply made up in rate cases, but rather borne by shareholders or CEO salary cuts or other more equitable mechanisms? We broke into state based groups to discuss the most powerful ways of acting.

Key emerging themes include: expanding the use of percent of income payment plans both within states where they exist and to states where they do not; building outreach to sign people up for existing assistance and expanding the pool of funds available; doubling down on efforts to restore services (and making those efforts “opt-out” rather than “opt-in”); working at the federal level on a better stimulus that meets the need; piloting new rate structures; and leaning on distributed energy as one form of resilience.

The conversation will keep moving forward with a combination of state-level and regional conversations. Want to be involved? Reach out to gail@reamp.org.

Share Resources for Adapting Practices with COVID-19
As you know, our Network is no stranger to virtual conversations. In this time of social distancing where we are all leaning on technology in a greater way, we wanted to share a few tips that we have to help you make your virtual calls a warm and welcoming space. Check out our tip sheet for Running Excellent Virtual Conversations! We’ve been aggregating resources and best practices to address COVID-19. We encourage you to add your own and periodically we’re going to be highlighting a few.

50 Environmental Activities To Do With Kids (Thanks Megan Severson!)

Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

What to Do if Your Fundraising Event is Cancelled Due to Coronavirus

Equitable Decarbonization and COVID-19

Earlier this month, the Network hosted a conversation around COVID-19, energy, and transportation. We have a resource link where we’ve collected information and action alerts that were shared during the conversation.

Please send updates, corrections, examples, or other thoughts, and we will continue to update this document and foster connections to move this work forward. Also, let us know what you most need from our RE-AMP Network right now to help you succeed. Contact Gail Franics at gail@reamp.org.

Network Webinars You Might Have Missed

Blueprint for Energy Democracy | March 2020 | Video Recording

Supported by a RE-AMP Action Team, a community in Highland Park, Michigan, developed principles for energy democracy. They relied on extensive surveys, interviews, and community discussions to reach some surprising conclusions about how to support durable community-based energy solutions.

People’s Power Plan Action Team Webinar | January 2020 | Video Recording

Watch this webinar to find out more about the RE-AMP People’s Power Plan Action Team! Learn about the progress they made as a team and lessons taken from a trial run of Empower Michigan’s planning and hosting of a “dinner and dialog” in Detroit back in September 2019 which has the potential to lead to more action and stronger outcomes! Slides can be viewed here.

RE-AMP Lunch & Learn Webinar Series #8: Transit, Equity, and Climate Webinar | December 2019 | Video Recording

Transit is a critical focus of our Equitable Deep Decarbonization framework to ensure the rapid transition to a more equitable and cleaner economy. During this Lunch & Learn webinar we will discuss how changes made to our transit systems can make it easier for more people to get around without having to drive while significantly reduce GHG emissions.

Join Susan Hurley of Chicago Jobs with Justice, Renard Monczunski with Detroit People’s Platform, Jamie Junior from Warriors on Wheels Detroit, Peter Skopec of WISPIRG, and RE-AMP’s Strategic Director, Gail Francis, to learn more about the barriers and opportunities that exist for transforming transit systems in different parts of the Midwest to become more accessible, connected, and clean! Slides can be viewed here.

 

Capacity Building

What Do You Need Now?

RE-AMP is trying to understand the extent to which coronavirus is impacting the Midwest climate in real time. Many of our members have had to cancel major fundraising events, stop canvassing, or invest in new technology to support virtual communications that had not been in their budget. If this sounds familiar, please tell us how this situation is affecting your ability to carry out your mission today. We’ll use this information to inform how we might reallocate funds and other resources to support the climate movement and help members weather the storm. Please reach out to RE-AMP’s Chief Network Officer Melissa Gavin about your situation at melissa@reamp.org or (608) 630-1878.

RE-AMP Funding Opportunity: Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Rapid Response Fund
We are interested in supporting non-profit organizations that encounter unexpected needs or changed circumstances in the course of ongoing campaigns or multi-state initiatives. Grants from the fund will be prioritized for needs that require rapid turnaround. The fund is not intended to cover core operating budgets or to address shortfalls in annual fundraising efforts. The fund may only be used for non-lobbying expenses of 501(c)(3) organizations.

Key Areas of Interest

Defend against emerging attempts to weaken or eliminate existing Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) or other utility sector clean energy policies.

Take advantage of unexpected opportunities to expand or strengthen those policies.

Intervene in rate cases that present new opportunities to incentivize energy efficiency or renewable energy including vigorously opposing increases in fixed charges.

For more information go to the Commons —-> Activity ——> Funding—–> Rapid Response

Just Transition Fund
In 2020, the Just Transition Fund will hold two, distinct grantmaking cycles that align with Fund’s high-level, organizational goals and strategies. Proposals will be accepted from organizations working to create economic opportunity and strengthen local economies through community economic development strategies, workforce programs, policy, and long-term community transition planning. Competitive proposals include projects, located in the Fund’s current geographic priority areas, that are scalable, replicable, and have national or regional significance.

Cycle 1: Community Economic and Workforce Development

Projects considered during this cycle will stimulate entrepreneurship, connect rural and urban markets, and develop human capital. Examples of eligible projects include entrepreneurial training programs, wrap-around workforce training programs, food corridors, etc.

Project outcomes include: creating jobs, training workers and entrepreneurs, developing entrepreneurial projects, establishing corporate partnerships and/or remote work opportunities, and increased job readiness of workers.

Timeline

Early March: RFP issued

Early April: Step 1 LOI applications due

Early June: Full proposals due (when invited)

August: Decisions announced

CYCLE 2: Policy and Planning

Projects considered during this cycle will advance key federal, state, and local transition-related policies OR support nascent transition planning efforts, where work to address closures and engage diverse stakeholders is just starting. Examples of eligible policy projects include policies that create state funds, advocate for reclamation, and support energy efficiency. Examples of eligible planning projects include community transition planning processes, capacity building, and access to experts.

Policy project outcomes include: influencing key policy decision-makers, increased public support for policies, changes in public attitudes, and the introduction of meaningful legislation.

Planning project outcomes include: increased capacity of stakeholders, transition roadmaps/plans produced, and an increased knowledge and awareness within transitioning a community.

Timeline

Early August: RFP issued

Late August: Step 1 LOI applications due

Late October: Full proposals due (when invited)

December: Decisions announced

Process

The Fund will issue the request for proposal (RFP) and Step 1 LOI application link via email for each cycle. Each applicant must first submit a Step 1 LOI application. The JTF team will then review inquiries and invite a small number of applicants to submit a full proposal. If your organization is not invited to submit a proposal in Cycle 1, you can reapply in the second cycle of the year.

How to Receive Our RFP

If you are on JTF’s RFP list, you may have received this information directly to your email. If you are a member of a network and you think your organization would be a good fit for our grantmaking program, please submit this online form.

If you have questions about your project, or you need help determining the cycle for which your project will be most competitive, please contact JTF’s Partnerships Director, Mandy Bridenhagen at abridenhagen@justtransitionfund.org.

Jobs
Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy: National Coordinator for EJCF

Clean Wisconsin: Director of Climate Solutions

Iowa Interfaith Power & Light: Multi-issue Organizer

Climate Generation: Development Director

NRDC: Michigan Clean Energy Senior Advocate

Events
RE-AMP Happy Hour | April 9th from 4:30-5:30 p.m. CT | https://zoom.us/j/332675888

Level Two and Level 3 Action Team Applications Due | May 29th

Organizing Hub Webinar | April 28th

As part of the network’s priority of building power through the 2020 elections, the Organizing Hub is hosting an upcoming webinar: 501(c)3 Advocacy and Elections: Rules, Guidelines, and Resources presented by Bolder Advocacy. Register to join us on Tuesday, April 28th from 11:00-12:30 CT (12:00-1:30 ET).

Election years provide a great opportunity for 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations to highlight issues and engage with candidates and voters. We’ll discuss all the ways organizations can encourage civic engagement in a nonpartisan manner, safe ways to interact with candidates, how the rules apply to social media, and traps to avoid. This webinar will highlight some common pitfalls and provide suggestions and tips for avoiding them.

501(c)3 Advocacy and Elections: Rules, Guidelines, and Resources

Tuesday, April 28th from 11:00-12:30 CT (12:00-1:30 ET)

Presented by: Leslie Barnes, Senior Counsel, Bolder Advocacy

Bolder Advocacy provides nonprofits and foundations with accessible information, resources and tools to help them navigate complex advocacy rules and regulations. Bolder Advocacy is a program of the Alliance for Justice – a national association of 130 organizations that are united by a commitment to a fair, just, and free America where everyone has equal access to justice and can fully participate in our democracy.

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