PIN 2023 Cleantech Community Research Grant Winners Announced

Staff Report

Thursday, September 14th, 2023

While local communities are the ones directly impacted by global sustainability challenges, they are rarely consulted to be part of the solution. The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (Partnership) is on a quest to provide a multistakeholder approach to complex solutions at the local level by leveraging the strength of the public and private sectors, as well as the general public, civil society, educational institutions, and more. Reflecting the urgency of today’s environmental priorities, this year’s theme for their annual Community Research Grant Program is cleantech—an industry that holds promise for both climate resiliency and economic growth.

Today, the Partnership proudly announced the winners of the 2023 Community Research Grants. The winning projects will benefit from world-class research capabilities including multi-disciplinary research teams, program management tools, and strategic partnership opportunities. The winners will also receive grants of up to $150,000 in total funding. For the first time, the Partnership is collaborating with the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to provide additional grant funding to the team that includes its local K-12 school district for curriculum development.

In total the projects represented four communities, seven higher education institutions (Georgia State University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Georgia Southern University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia College & State University, Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC and Fayetteville State University, NC), three nonprofits (MARTA, PropelATL and Rebuilding Together Glynn County) and one private sector organization (Inman Solar).

Katie O’Connor, the Partnership’s Community Research Manager, added, “When we bring together diverse voices, perspectives, and insights, we pave the way for endless possibility. I can’t wait to see the profound impact that each of these winning projects will have as they unfold.”

The winners of the 2023 Community Research Grant Program are:

City of Atlanta: This project aims to eradicate barriers to Atlanta’s transportation network, with results that will inform policies incorporating smart transportation technology. The ultimate goal is to propel the city towards a safer, cleaner, and more interconnected future.

City of Brunswick:  This project aims to improve water quality, address environmental disparities, and contribute to long-term sustainable solutions for Glynn County with a people-first approach. Local citizens directly impacted by poor water quality will be trained to test their water and share the results with the broader community to ensure a holistic grassroots solution.

City of Milledgeville: The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Georgia State College & University is launching a solar power system certificate program, with a special focus on providing technical training to those from underserved communities. Within the program, participants will also receive business education opportunities to equip them with the skills they need to become the next generation of change agents.

City of Statesboro: This research will investigate indoor air quality in rural public buildings to enhance the working conditions of city employees who work in these structures daily. On the long-run, the overarching goal is for these findings to benefit countless others living or working in older, potentially dangerous buildings throughout the South.

Highlighting the real-world implications of this program, Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker remarked, “This grant opportunity builds the capacity of our community and empowers traditionally underserved Black and Brown neighborhoods in our community so that our families can improve their quality of life.”

Jonathan McCollar, Mayor of Statesboro, adds, “The well-being of our employees and visitors is of the utmost importance to our organization. It is our hope that this study will equip the City of Statesboro with the necessary tools and resources to improve air quality in city facilities. We are thankful to the Communities Research Grant for funding this opportunity and look forward to seeing the innovative solutions generated from this study.”

Beyond these grants, the Partnership’s commitment to building resilient communities is unwavering. The organization has championed other environmental-centric projects through collaborations with the Georgia Working Farm Fund to preserve farmland across the state and the Smart Sea Level Sensors initiative to improve emergency responses to coastal flooding, among other innovative projects.