( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) The HBCU Green Fund Organization Offers Training, Mentorships, and Fellowships for Aspiring Climate Activist Students
ENSPIRE Contributor: Megan Sydow
The HBCU Green Fund has made history with its recent partnership with the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) in Atlanta. The HBCU Green Fund is a non-profit organization that works to improve campus-wide sustainability on historically Black college campuses. The non-profit connects upcoming HBCU students with leaders in the STEM and sustainability fields through this partnership. By doing so, students gain hands-on training in renewable energy technologies. Schools taking part in this fellowship include Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University.
Felicia Davis, climate activist and founder of the HBCU Green Fund, says the leaders are clean energy entrepreneurs who train and mentor students by preparing them to enter the clean energy economy. Many of these leaders are HBCU graduates themselves. Along with training and mentorship, students receive access to internships and fellowships that expand their skills. Some of these skills include an introduction to the energy landscape, energy audits, and solar energy.
“The HBCU Green Fund AUC Energy Fellows were trained across the energy landscape including wind, solar, energy efficiency, and entrepreneurial opportunities installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations,” says Davis. “After completing Energy Audit training, the fellows contributed to an investment-grade audit on the campuses of Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University.”
Students are also able to attend conferences and other events pertaining to sustainability and clean energy. Fellows previously attended the annual BIPOC Climate Justice Dialogue. This conference promoted discussion between climate justice scholars, organizers, and academics on the opportunities available through President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.
One of the upcoming events they can participate in is the HBCU Green Fund PreCOP27 Virtual Summit. This conference brings together young leaders to highlight the local climate solutions underway throughout Africa and the Black Diaspora. It will take place from September 19 to 23 of this year, prior to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt.
Though a relatively new partnership, the HBCU Green Fund’s impact has already been seen. Davis says students have taken the skills they’ve learned to apply in other aspects of their lives. This program will also expand the pipeline of skills professionals required to achieve US energy independence.
“Many of the students learned how they could apply what they have learned in college courses to careers in the clean energy sector,” says Davis. “They also learned how they can help non-college youth understand the various opportunities in the green economy.”
This partnership was inspired by the growing importance of clean, renewable energy in the world today. Though climate change affects the physical, economic, and social well-being of everyone across the world, minorities, in particular, are disproportionately affected.
“Black people remain more likely to live in poverty, making them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including storms, floods, fires, and health issues,” says Davis. “Teaching young people about sustainability and energy conservation exposes them to a new era of opportunity for Black America to participate fully in the transition to a low-carbon, clean energy economy, creating healthier and more prosperous communities.”
The partnership between the HBCU Green Fund and RICE has helped students gain experience in the clean energy field, get connected with a mentor, and learn skills they can take with them into their future careers. A partnership like this helps minorities who are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change. Programs like these will increase the number of Black students and adults involved in the sustainability field, thus working to create a cleaner America for Black people.