Congratulations to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor!
BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF BENTON HARBOR AWARDED INAUGURAL $5,000 “HEART OF COOK” EARTH DAY ENVIRONMENTAL GRANT
Bridgman, Mich., April 22, 2020 – Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant “Heart of Cook” grant committee announced today that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor will be the recipient of its first annual $5,000 Earth Day Environmental Grant Award.
The Heart of Cook is a corporate advised fund held by the Berrien Community Foundation that has provided almost $1 million to nonprofit organizations over the last 16 years. However, unlike the traditional Heart of Cook grants that were awarded last week to 35 nonprofit organizations totaling more than $58,000, the new Earth Day Environmental Grant is a single $5,000 award set aside to help fund a program or special project that promotes environmental science, education and sustainability.
“We wanted to introduce this new award in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day,” said Blair Zordell, Cook Plant Environmental Specialist and chair of the newly formed Earth Day Environmental Grant Committee. “It just so happened that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor had a fantastic project in mind that brings three organizations together to help give kids an ongoing, hands-on learning experience with nature.”
The project was set to kick off around an Earth Day event which will now be moved forward to a to-be-determined date due to the coronavirus outbreak. The event will include environmental science stations presented by environmental consulting group PhycoTech, Inc. and the Curious Kids’ Museum. Elements from this event will then be incorporated into a permanent water quality exhibit at the CKM Discovery Zone, where grant funds will be used to purchase museum quality, robust microscopes. Funds will also be used for raised garden beds that support the Positive Sprouts project, a BGCBH program where Club members manage gardens to provide fresh produce, apply STEM learning opportunities, and increase their knowledge and awareness of environmental stewardship. Finally, funds will help purchase a trailcam for the newly installed Eagle Scout project that incorporated 11 bird and bat boxes and native shrubs/trees along the back edge of the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Nate Wells campus.
“We’re thrilled to receive the inaugural Heart of Cook Earth Day Environmental Grant despite having to postpone the scheduled Earth Day project,” said Brian Saxton, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor. “It’s just a temporary setback, however, because the overall benefits will be long term. The garden provides our younger members experience planting, nurturing, and eventually eating vegetables grown each summer. It’s also one of several on-site locations developing around the Youth Campus as fun, hands-on STEM activities to learn more about plants, soils, and the natural environment.”
The excitement is mutual for the project partners as well, including PhycoTech, Inc. President, Dr. Ann St. Amand, and Curious Kids’ Museum Executive Director, Lori Marciniak.
“I'm so thankful we could install the new metal planters on the Nate Wells Campus for the kids so that they can safely garden for the long term,” St. Amand said. “I'm also excited to be able to help add more permanent STEM learning opportunities not only for just the Boys Girls Club, but the larger community as well through new the Curious Kids’ exhibit. Continuity is key to teaching the natural sciences, and the Heart of Cook Earth Day Environmental Grant will allow us to create permanent activities and projects that we've wanted to do for several years.”
“It’s fantastic being able to collaborate with PhycoTech and the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Marciniak added. “Through the great creativity of Ann’s group, we’ll soon have a new permanent water quality exhibit at the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone that utilizes kids’ artwork. It will also include museum quality, robust microscopes, appropriate for K-8 level museum goers to use to look at pre-created slides of organisms that can be found in Lake Michigan which is just steps away from the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone.”
The $5,000 Heart of Cook Earth Day Environmental Grant opportunity will be awarded again in 2021. Other non-profit organizations who want to make a positive impact on our environment will be eligible to apply. Beginning in mid-November, 2020, the grant application will be available through the Berrien Community Foundation website. A team of Cook employees will review the applications, select a winner, and publicly announce the award on Earth Day, 2021.
Successful applicants will demonstrate how they can use the $5,000 grant to benefit the environment or raise environmental awareness. Projects that have STEM involvement and can demonstrate a lasting sustainability component will get special consideration. The grant will be available to organizations in all of the Indiana Michigan Power service territory with preference given to Berrien County, MI.
Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and its 2,370 employees serve more than 597,000 customers. More than half of its generation is emission-free, including 2,278 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan, 450 MW of purchased wind generation from Indiana, 22 MW of hydro generation in both states and approximately 15 MW of large-scale solar generation in both states. The company’s generation portfolio also includes 2,600 MW of coal-fueled generation in Indiana. For more information visit www.indianamichiganpower.com or www.cookinfo.com.
The goal of the Berrien Community Foundation is to connect needs with resources in our community. Working with individuals, corporations and other foundations, BCF creates endowments and other funds that support the ever-changing needs of Berrien County. For more information about BCF and how you can create your own legacy of giving, visit their website at www.BerrienCommunity.org or call (269) 983-3304.