Community POWER was created in 2001 by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB). The SWMCB is a joint powers board comprised of two county commissioners from the counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington.
The Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board set a goal to contain waste generation rates at the 1999 levels, or 1.28 tons per capita. In order to reach this goal, the SWMCB proposed to partner with local community groups to engage local citizens in waste and toxicity reduction messages and activities.
Susan Cairn and Erin Bowley (Cairn & Associates) were hired in 2000 to identify community groups interested in piloting community educationprojects and to hold focus groups to identify possible projects.
Exploratory conversations and/or meetings were held with over fifty community organizations regarding participation in this project. Groups were chosen for diverse attributes such as representation from the six counties, size, audience, and interest level in this project. From the initial contact, thirty community groups were invited to participate in focus groups. Four focus groups were held to determine community groups' project ideas, motivations, resources and challenges. Follow-up interviews helped further refine and clarify project ideas.
Hundreds of ideas were generated by the groups engaged in the study. Some projects were simple and required few resources - only technical information and encouragement to do the project. For example, inserting waste reduction messages into existing websites and newsletters. Other projects were more involved, requiring staff time, training, andmaterials, such as creating a summer youth employment program focused on waste and toxicity reduction.
Cairn & Associates, in their final report to the SWMCB, recommended making grants available to support organizations implementing waste and toxicity reduction projects. The first grants were made in October, 2001. Grants have been made each winter or spring since 2002.
In 2014, the SWMCB contracted the Improve Group to conduct an evaluation of the Community POWER grant program. The purpose of the evaluation was to measure the outcomes of the program and identify ways in which the effectiveness of the program could be improved. A primary recommendation of the evaluation was to develope a logic model for the Community POWER Program. The evaluation report was presented to the SWMCB in July 2014 and the approved logic model was finalized in December 2014.
Community POWER: Follow-up Sustainability Reports
As part of grant projects, grantees are asked to sustain a portion of the project after the completion of the grant period. About one year after a grant round, the grant manager contacts each grantee to interview them about what has been sustained and to obtain feedback. The Follow-up Sustainability Reports summarize those interviews, which are listed below.
Community POWER: Final Summary Reports
Each year, the Community POWER grant manager prepares a report which summarizes the grant activities based on the final reports submitted by each grantee. Click on the titles below to view final summary reports from past years. To view the final summary reports from Round 1-5, please email CommunityPOWER@RethinkRecycling.com.
The SWMCB decided to discontinue the Community POWER grant program at the end of Round 15. Grants for Round 15 were awarded in August 2015, with grant-related activities wrapping up in September 2016. During its 13 years of investment, SWMCB distributed $2.1 million to 159 individual county and 40 multi-county grantees.