Earlier this year, the Wells Fargo Foundation announced that it had teamed up with Elevate, a climate justice nonprofit, to provide Chicago residents with access to “clean, low-cost energy and inclusive workforce development opportunities while helping to lower carbon emissions in underserved neighborhoods,” according to a joint statement released in October.
The two-year initiative is supported by $3.15 million in grants from the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Katherine Parks, an Austin homeowner, was among those who benefited from the new program, which aims to decarbonize approximately 100 homes for low-income homeowners.
“My furnace wasn’t working very well and I was looking to repair it, but I felt a little apprehensive about electrification in the beginning,” she said. “Now, I’m so pleased with the upgrades.”
Parks runs a small daycare out of her home and the upgrades, which include new hot water tanks, new air conditioning units and new thermostats, will help improve indoor air quality and make the space more comfortable for her and the children she cares for.
“I heard about the grant through Elevate Energy,” Parks said. “They did lead testing in my home a couple of years ago and I just stayed in touch with one of the ladies from the lead testing program and when [Wells Fargo Foundation initiative] came about she contacted me and asked if I would be interested.”
Contractors installed “energy efficiency improvements and replaced all of the natural gas equipment with efficient electrical versions that are compatible with solar energy,” Wells Fargo Foundation officials explained in the October statement. Parks said the conversion took about five weeks.
“The Wells Fargo-Elevate Initiative is multifaceted and comprehensive,” said Elevate CEO Anne Evans. “This investment will allow us to address climate change and the disparities facing diverse communities in Chicago in this space as we provide solutions to develop clean, renewable sources of energy.”