Building a Path to Resilience in Baltimore

In June, Groundswell was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to analyze the expansion of community Resiliency Hubs in Baltimore City. This Resilient Maryland Program award allows us to determine the feasibility of installing solar and storage for up to 30 frontline non-profit community organizations throughout Baltimore’s most climate-vulnerable communities.

Resiliency Hubs are powerful, community-oriented resources that enable communities to take more control of their resiliency and energy futures. Resiliency Hubs are centralized, trusted community organizations, such as local faith or service-based non-profits, who partner with the City of Baltimore to provide essential resources to community members when natural disasters, emergencies, or crises arise. One of the program’s main objectives is for Resiliency Hubs to be outfitted with emergency supplies like snow blowers, two-way radios, first-aid kits, and refrigeration for medicine. When equipped with solar installations and battery storage, these Hubs can continue to provide the electricity needed to power certain critical devices and essential services in the most uncertain of times.

These funds will make it possible for Groundswell and our partners — the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, A.F. Mensah, and Suncatch Energy — to strategically determine ideal locations for installing solar and storage based on installation feasibility, community need, and desire to participate in the Hub Program. Ultimately, a subset of candidate organizations will be selected to become official Resiliency Hubs. 

Right now, Baltimore is vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, including coastal storms, sea-level rise, flooding, extreme heat, and high winds. These types of extreme events have already increased in frequency and magnitude over recent years and will continue to be exacerbated by climate change moving forward. The effects of these hazard events are already disproportionately impacting low-income communities of color. When heat waves, extreme weather events, and power outages occur, they place communities of color and low-income communities at greater risk. A lack of electricity means no refrigeration for food and medicine, no heating or cooling, no internet connection for receiving emergency updates or for remote working or learning, as well as a heightened sense of stress and uncertainty. We’re using this $300,000 to begin changing this dynamic for some of Baltimore’s neighborhoods. 

We believe that by working in close contact with community leaders and collaborating with our partners in developing community-focused projects like these, our work can lead to more cohesive and resilient neighborhoods for Baltimore residents. We’ve spent years building deep relationships and infrastructure that economically empower the communities we serve in DC and Georgia, and we’re excited to embark on a new adventure supporting Baltimore residents so they can not just survive but thrive — even in the face of adversity. 

Groundswell is honored to be selected by MEA to build out resiliency in Baltimore. Even though COVID-19 is creating new challenges in spreading the word about this new opportunity, we’ve already begun the analysis and outreach necessary to identify the top Resiliency Hub candidate sites by summer 2021.