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Level Up Youth Center at the City of Refuge Baltimore

A Resiliency Hub in Baltimore, Maryland, began making a transformative impact on the community around the City of Refuge Baltimore’s Level up Youth Center soon after it was installed in 2021, supporting the nonprofit’s community outreach during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, the City of Refuge met a community need for prepared meals that exploded from 250-300 prepared meals a week to 4,000 prepared meals a week (largely due to job loss and school closures). Rev. Billy Humphrey, the organization’s Executive Director, credited the location’s status as a Resiliency Hub as one of the reasons why the City of Refuge was able to meet those needs.

The Resiliency Hub at the City of Refuge is powered by a 36 kW solar installation connected to 40 kWh of battery storage. This location was selected for its ability to provide a centralized, trusted community location where community members can access reliable power for their essential devices, continue to receive information as emergency situations develop, store medications sensitive to temperature, and safely gather in the aftermath of an emergency or severe weather event to allow the community to recover safely and effectively.

As a developer of the project, Groundswell worked with community leaders and project partners to ensure that this Resiliency Hub could meet the greatest needs within the neighborhood while building on City of Refuge’s ongoing work in the midst of one of Baltimore’s most struggling and industrial neighborhoods where nearly 40% of the residents live below the Federal Poverty Level. This Resiliency Hub is possible thanks to the committed leadership at the City of Refuge Baltimore and Groundswell, in partnership with the City of Baltimore and the Maryland Energy Administration.

This Resiliency Hub was funded through a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration, and this work was made possible through ongoing support from the Baltimore Office of Sustainability. A.F Mensah — a minority-led solar battery storage company — oversaw engineering, procurement, and construction for this project with support from SunCatch Energy — a fourth-generation, Black-owned business with a track record of successful solar installations in the District and Maryland.

  • Celebrating a Milestone for Community-Owned Energy Resilience
    This month we celebrate a significant milestone for the City of Refuge of Baltimore, as they will be the first resilience hub in Maryland that will receive the benefits of a solar and storage project allowing them to expand its work. These benefits are made possible by the Direct Pay provision of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
  • Rural Resilience: EV Fleets & Rural Communities
    In April, Groundswell hosted Keith Dennis, President of the Beneficial Electrification League, and Margarita Parra, Director of Transportation Decarbonization at Clean Energy Works, for an interactive webinar about opportunities and challenges facing rural communities working to take advantage of funding opportunities to electrify fleets in their communities.
  • Taking the (EV) School Bus
    I took the bus to and from school until I was old enough to drive. When the bell rang, and we’d pour out of school, dozens of yellow school buses would be lined up waiting for us with their engines idling. Particularly on hot and humid days, the diesel fumes would be suffocating, and I’d often end up with a headache by the time we pulled out of the school’s drive. If you rode the bus, you may have similar memories, too.