GreenSpaces is partnering with the city of Chattanooga’s Office of Economic and Community Development to expand the work of its Empower program.

Empower has been operating for a little more than two years and has provided classes that teach simple, low-cost and no-cost ways to lower utility bills to more than 1,000 renters and homeowners.

They are expanding the program with $12,000 in grants.


“[The grants] are a new expansion for this year,” GreenSpaces Director of Development Dawn Hjelseth said.

This spring, Empower will fund 12 community projects up to $1,000 each to help residents implement community energy-efficiency ideas.

“Residents have amazing ideas on ways they can help solve the issue of high utility bills in their neighborhoods,” Empower coordinator Sam Fulbright said in a prepared statement.

Project Porch Light
Last summer, Highland Park residents started a community outreach program called Project Porch Light. Residents went door to door handing out free LED light bulbs for people to put in their porch lights. The idea was that having more lights on 24/7 would reduce crime in the neighborhood while only increasing a resident’s annual utility bill by $1.

With each light bulb, residents also handed out information on other low-cost energy-efficiency tips and upcoming Empower workshops. To date, more than 125 residents have signed up to participate in Project Porch Light. A second round of the project is planned for this spring.

“The idea of the grant was inspired by Project Porch Light,” Fulbright said.

Grant applications
Grant applications will open March 6 and will be due March 31 at 5 p.m.

Applicants must reside in the 37404, 37406, 37407 or 37410 ZIP codes and can be an individual or part of a neighborhood association.

Applicants are encouraged to participate inNeighborhood University, hosted by the Office of Economic and Community Development, March 3-4.

Grant winners will be announced at the end of April.

Those selected will be connected with a mentor from EPB and additional resources to help them complete their projects by November.

Here’s a recent story aboutGreenSpaces and Empower.

For more information about GreenSpaces, click here. For more information about Empower, click here.

Eric Wise is a contributing writer. He is currently attending UTC, where he is a staff writer for the school newspaper, The University Echo. He also serves as the alumni relations chairman for his fraternity.