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Our Commitment to Equity

Elevate recognizes the painful and ongoing history of racism and anti-Blackness in our communities. As an organization, we strive to dismantle oppressive systems by developing internal and external policies, programs, and procedures that lead to racial equity. Understanding and addressing these systems is essential to creating climate solutions that benefit everyone.

Our Vision: Why We Do What We Do

Elevate seeks to create a world in which everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities — no matter who they are or where they live. Making the benefits and services of the clean energy economy accessible to everyone is how we fight climate change while supporting equity.

No matter who they are or where they live.

Race is one of the strongest predictors of life expectancy, economic outcome, and health disparities. Today, Black, Latino, and other communities and communities with lower incomes lack equitable access to clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their communities. Anti-Black policies have caused systemic disinvestment and concentrated poverty and pollution in Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities and communities with lower incomes, also known as environmental racism. This puts these communities at a higher exposure to pollution and environmental hazards.

Our research shows us is that nearly 90 percent of homeowners with lower incomes in Chicago report being energy insecure, which means they cannot pay their electric, gas, and water bills.

This issue is at the heart of what we do. We are fighting every day to break the link that denies equitable energy access to Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities and communities with lower incomes across the country.

Fighting climate change while supporting equity.

In the face of climate change, we must focus on making meaningful change that reflects the values, needs, and priorities of communities who are most affected by anti-Black policies.

Many of today’s climate solutions provide limited options for people who experience energy insecurity. As policy influencers and innovators, we are actively working with Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities and communities with lower incomes to inform decision makers of these challenges and influence climate solutions.

We believe that climate solutions that address the needs of our most impacted communities should include:

  • Prioritization (and incentivization) of clean energy projects that provide new technology and affordable, clean power to everyone;
  • Energy and water efficiency and affordability solutions that focus on the heating, cooling, and water needs of affordable housing and shared public buildings;
  • Job creation that reflects the diversity of local communities.

These solutions will only be effective and sustainable if power and resources are shifted to Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities and communities with lower incomes who are most affected by climate change.

Our Mission: What We Do to Make it Happen

We design and implement programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most. We do this by focusing on communities that are often left out of the clean energy conversation, including and homeowners and renters with lower incomes, multi-family building owners, nonprofit organizations, and distressed communities and municipalities.

Elevate’s Diversity, Racial Equity, and Inclusion (DREI) Committee

In 2019, Elevate worked with the Morton Group to hold a two-day Diversity, Racial Equity, and Inclusion (DREI) training for all Elevate staff members. This training set a foundation for our team about the importance of DREI education and awareness at our organization.

After the training, we continued working with the Morton Group to establish a DREI Committee made up of staff members who were committed to continuing DREI efforts at Elevate. Today, the committee is composed of 30 staff members who represent all parts of Elevate. We coordinate the following goals for the organization:

  • Integrate and systemize racial equity learning and education opportunities across the organization
  • Proactively integrate diversity, racial equity, and inclusion values into Elevate’s policies and procedures
  • Deepen and expand Elevate’s programs to improve equity in the communities we serve

The DREI committee has several subcommittees that work at every level of the organization to meet these goals. We measure our progress through regular meetings with our leadership team to assess if we are meeting these goals. In 2021, the DREI Committee led 21 engagement events and activities in 2021, reaching over 150 staff members. The DREI Committee has also established an action plan which will shape Elevate’s policies and procedures now and in the future.

Read more about the DREI committee in a Q&A blog with co-chairs Briana Parker and Erik Loarca.

Our Commitment to You

As a leader in the clean energy industry, it is our commitment to bring racial equity to the forefront of the conversation. Climate change and COVID-19 are just two examples of crises that expose again how white supremacy and racist values are deeply embedded in our society, making it necessary for us to be engaged in the challenging and essential work of unlearning and challenging the, often unconscious, beliefs and actions that perpetuate anti-blackness.

At Elevate, we are working hard to understand how we have perpetuated systems of oppression and adopt the tools necessary to learn and change. We are committed to building a culture of anti-racism and dialogue among colleagues.

We have work to do as an organization and as people. We invite you to be leaders in solution-oriented approaches that not only acknowledge the crimes against Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities and communities with lower incomes, but to work to dismantle systems of oppression that cause health, wealth, education, quality of life and other detrimental outcomes for these communities. This is how we can together show compassion and equity and justice towards each other and the planet.

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