Today marks an important anniversary for Cokethea Hill, Arletha Manlove, Shontrice Patillo and me (Jermaine Reed) – our one-year anniversary here at the Green Impact Zone of Missouri!

We came in the door with bright eyes and excitement about the work ahead to transform the 150-square blocks of the Zone into a thriving, sustainable community. Many of us grew up in these very neighborhoods. We’ve spent the last year working together and with many community partners to increase the quality of life for every resident in the zone.

At this same time last year, I had just flown home after working in Washington, D.C., and the very next day I started working at the zone. It has been an exciting year and I look forward to our work ahead.

It has been amazing to see how you can transform a dis-invested community one block at a time once you refocus, reinvest, and reengage residents in an effort to increase the quality of life within their respective neighborhoods. In my lifetime, I am honored to be a part of an effort that WILL transform neighborhoods east of Troost by coordinating partnerships, nonprofits and for-profit organizations, neighborhood residents and concerned individuals, both inside and outside of the Green Impact Zone.

When you renew the empowerment and engagement in neighborhoods; you have sown the seed of sustainability for generations to come!!!!!!

Yours in service,
Jermaine Reed

We are working hard every day to help build a brighter and cleaner community that our residents are proud to live, work and play.

This past weekend the Historic Manheim Park Neighborhood Association hosted its semi-annual Neighborhood Cleanup. The cleanup was followed by a community cookout. Manheim Park residents were joined by over 25 members of the Hyde Park neighborhood, Rockhill neighborhoods, University of Kansas students and members of the Immanuel Lutheran Church.

As summer approaches, residents in Manheim Park took action to improve and beautify their neighborhood by cleaning up vacant lots, removing tires and planting in the neighborhood community garden. The Green Impact Zone worked in partnership with Kansas City, Mo., Neighborhood Housing Services to provide dumpsters for the neighborhood clean-up event.

Helping people and neighborhoods build their own capacity to make a difference is a key strategy in the Green Impact Zone. Historic Manheim Park plans to have their next neighborhood clean-up in July 2010.

The Green Impact Zone will host a rain garden workshop and demonstration this Saturday at 48th & Volker Blvd. http://bit.ly/cw3qE3

On Wednesday, April 21, Vice-President Joe Biden announced a $20 million grant that is expected to help many homeowners and business owners manage energy costs, in the Green Impact Zone and several other Kansas City neighborhoods. The grant funds will come from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The grant will support EnergyWorks KC, a partnership between the city of Kansas City, Mo.; the Metropolitan Energy Center; the Mid-America Regional Council; Kansas City Power & Light; and Missouri Gas Energy. Metropolitan Energy Center will serve as the single point of contact for building owners and contractors who want to access or provide services through EnergyWorks KC.

Building on innovative work already underway in Kansas City, including the Green Impact Zone initiative and KCP&L’s Smart Grid demonstration project, EnergyWorks KC will focus on energy efficiency in homes and businesses over the next two years. By conducting energy audits and retrofitting existing buildings — for example, with energy-efficient furnaces, heat pumps, doors and windows — EnergyWorks KC can help building owners substantially reduce energy use and utility costs. The project is also designed to create jobs, by hiring and training people to do the audit and retrofit work.

For more information, see the city of Kansas City’s news release and the Department of Energy’s web story.  And be sure to watch our blog for more details about the program in the coming weeks.

The Green Impact Zone congratulates students at the Paseo Academy on the opening of their new store, “Urban Edge.” The students are taking entrepreneurship to a new level with this store, which will feature clothing and art created by the students and operate under a business plan they developed. (Read more about the store in this Kansas City Star article.)

Helping young people develop their entrepreneurial skills is one of the strategies we’re using to transform the Green Impact Zone into a thriving, sustainable community. We’re getting ready to launch our “NEXUS of Excellence” program for young people ages 13-18 who dream of starting their own businesses. To learn more, see our flier, or contact Jermaine Reed, 816.936.8805 or Cokethea Hill, 816.936.8807.

TIGER Funding Announcement

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signs a $50 million check for TIGER funding

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Kansas City Wednesday to announce $1.5 billion in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants across the nation — including $50 million for the Kansas City region, with a portion going to projects in the Green Impact Zone.

The grants are funded by federal stimulus dollars as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. MARC coordinated a regional grant application for the TIGER funds. Partners included the city of Kansas City, Mo.; Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas; the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority; and others.

See more photos from Wednesday’s press conference»

Read the press release from MARC»