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VICARS Community Center at the Community Church of God in Atlanta

A resilience hub serving the neighborhoods surrounding the VICARS (Volunteers in Community and Related Services) Community Center at the Community Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia, will begin serving the surrounding Atlanta residents in 2024 thanks to committed local leadership. This community resilience hub will support the church’s ongoing service to area residents including ongoing local outreach through its soup kitchen and food pantry.

The resilience hub at the Community Church of God will be powered by a 34.1 kW DC solar installation connected to 320 kWh of battery storage. This facility is a centralized, trusted organization 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. Community Church of God and the VICARS community center provide meals every week to 300-400 families and serve as a meeting place for various local organizations, including the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta and Neighborhood Planning Unit S (NPU-S).

As the developer for this community resilience hub, Groundswell worked with leaders from the Community Church of God to meet the greatest needs within the neighborhood while building off the groundwork laid by the Breaking Barriers project. Breaking Barriers was part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Solar Energy Innovation Network. Focused on developing a resilience hub design serving the Atlanta University Complex, the project was led by Groundswell working alongside local partners including Partnership for Southern Equity, Spelman College, and Morehouse College, Morehouse College of Medicine, Clark Atlanta University, and Georgia Power with additional technical support from Georgia Tech.

This community resilience hub will be owned by the Community Church of God thanks to the dedicated efforts of the church's leaders in partnership with Groundswell and funding support from the GM Foundation, a donation by Stryten Energy, and the“direct pay” solar tax credit provision of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

This community resilience hub is being funded with support from the GM Foundation. InterUrban Solar — a Black-owned business — is leading engineering, procurement, and construction for this project alongside SunCatch Energy — a fourth-generation, Black-owned business with a track record of successful solar installations. Stryten Energy, a Georgia-based company, is procuring and installing the battery, which will allow the resilience hub to provide three days of backup power for critical uses during power outages. The Wells Fargo Foundation is providing ongoing support to advance community ownership of resilience hubs like the one at the Community Church of God in Atlanta.

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