It is an exciting time for Green New Deal Housing. We are still the “new kids on the block” but we have achieved a lot in the last two years, in all three of our program areas: housing development, workforce development and engagement. No one in the region is doing what we’re doing: creating innovative and effective integrated programming at the intersections of affordable housing, workforce development, community resilience, and social justice.
We’ve trained more than 20 incoming and experienced builders with our introductory green curriculum, and are now offering more in-depth training to a 5-person cohort from the Community Action Duluth (CAD) construction program. The demographics of our trainees show the success of our efforts toward equity and opportunity: more than 25% of people trained are female and BIPOC.
Just this week, Rachel Wagner, our interim executive director and lead trainer gave a presentation and participated in a panel discussion on our workforce development program at the Upper Midwest Building Performance Conference in Minneapolis. She shared the stage with two other leaders in the green building movement: Rebecca Olson of MNCEE and Robert Blake of Solar Bear. The public and industry response to our green training program is encouraging, and many have asked for pdfs of our “How to Speak and Read Building” resource packet for education and training.
Construction on the pilot home is going smoothly and on budget. We now host small group tours at the project and interest grows every day. Weekly site visits to the job site with our current cohort of CAD construction trainees dramatically assists their education and training in green construction.
One home is just a start, and by itself cannot lead to transformative change. However, we see this first build as the seed of opportunity and we are now preparing to move from this single change to systems change. We hope to start 5 additional homes in the next year: two in Duluth and three in Superior, but are unable to pursue the necessary pre-development work without dedicated resources for these activities. In order to meet both the opportunities and the challenges at our doorstep, we need to build the capacity of our organization.
We recognize that to build a sustainable organizational model, we have to create a strong and diverse funding stream. We’re hiring a consultant to provide an organizational assessment, assist with our budget development, and also work with us to define the structure and goals for four streams of revenue: grants and foundational support; government funding; business, industry and private donations; and fees for services. However, this process will take months and we have some immediate gaps to fill in order to continue our current work.
This fall we’re embarking on several fundraising campaigns. Through GiveMN we’re conducting a 6-month effort to raise $100,000.00. We’re scheduling special invitation house tours with compelling co-hosts who will make an ask at each tour. When our outreach documentary project is complete next spring, we’ll host multiple movie screenings as fundraisers. And, of course, we continue to write grants.