Celebrating 20 years

That's a wrap on our CERTsiversary!

January 2024

Phew. What a year!

2023 was exciting to say the very least — from staffing and leadership changes, to new funding, and launching a new program. That’s NOT even mentioning seed grants! Maybe that’s what a 20th year should look like? 

Diana at Metro CERT event
Diana and Metro CERT staff
Imani, Diana, Joel

We started celebrating our CERTsiversary with “Top 20” lists about past projects, former staff, and fun photos from over the years to highlight how communities can engage with us about clean energy transition in this incredible moment. 

Quickly, the pace and volume of our work picked up.

By the middle of January, we realized it was time to seek additional funding to support the opportunities we saw coming down the pike: helping communities navigate the new clean energy incentives from federal legislation, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the barely 6-month-old Inflation Reduction Act — the single largest investment in clean energy, ever. 

As we moved forward with our funding request, our State Director — the very first CERTs staff person and 20-year veteran — Lissa Pawlisch, left CERTs and took on an exciting new role at the Department of Commerce. That set off a leadership transition (codified this fall) with a new structure of three CERTs Co-Directors, Joel Haskard and Melissa Birch at the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships at the University of Minnesota Extension, and me at the Great Plains Institute. 

The Minnesota Legislature passed an energy omnibus finance bill with our first “raise” in 12 years included, which allowed us to build capacity across the state. This fall we welcomed full-time Regional Coordinators across the state for the first time in CERTs history, a new Evaluation Coordinator, and a dozen Sustainability Project Coordinators who volunteer with us through AmeriCorps’ Climate Impact Corps — a program CERTs helped pilot in 2022.

We’re also proud to include nearly 800 Inflation Reduction Act Ambassadors in our effort to help communities navigate and access the clean energy incentives available from federal bills, state programs, and utility rebates. We launched the ambassador program in May to help us meet the growing number of requests for presentations about the incentives. We continue to be overjoyed by Minnesotans’ enthusiasm to learn more about clean energy and to help their communities save money and energy. (Find out how you can become an Ambassador!) 

As we look towards the next 20 years, now with a bit more capacity, we are even more eager to support community-based, community-determined clean energy projects across the state, with an emphasis on communities that have been historically marginalized with a lack of equitable access to the clean energy economy.


So, what’s your community’s clean energy journey?

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