Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) Announced as 2021 Force for Positive Change Award Recipient
Stevens Point, WI — Marquette University and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) have announced the winners of the 2021 Force for Positive Change awards. This year’s awards were the fourth time this statewide competition recognized social entrepreneurship as a model for solving social or environmental challenges in a way that is sustainable, just, and generates impactful change in Wisconsin. A total of $83,000 in prize money was awarded to 20 organizations, including the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.
“We are honored and humbled to be recognized for our work helping homes, businesses, communities, and workers access the benefits of local clean energy development,” said Nick Hylla, MREA Executive Director. “We were inspired by the many great applicants and all of the important work they are doing in Wisconsin. We have a lot of work to do, and the award and recognition increases our motivation and our efforts.”
MREA was recognized for its accomplishments from the past year, which include:
- Hosted 8 Solar Group Buy programs working with 46 community partners to offer 126 free (virtual) info sessions, which were attended by 1,586 people, and helped 282 homes and businesses go solar
- Helped 10 schools install 1.74 MW of solar through MREA’s Solar on Schools program
- Helped 10 Wisconsin organizations install more than 1 MW of solar through their Solar for Non-Profits program
- Placed 14 Wisconsin technical college students in 160-hour internships with solar contractors
- Trained 575 students, helping 128 of them earn their NABCEP Associate Exam, beginning their path to professional certification
- Developed partnerships with 4 community organizations serving under-resourced communities and raised over $30,000 for 30 scholarships to fund solar training and internships.
“This year’s applicants took the competition to a new level. We are thrilled that such high caliber social enterprises, both for-profit and nonprofit, throughout Wisconsin are creating so much impact to benefit our state,” noted event co-producer Laura Heisler, from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
This year’s seven winners, each receiving a cash prize of $10,000, were:
- From Custer, Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)
- From Eau Claire, Earthbound Environmental Solutions LLC
- From Fitchburg, Little John’s Kitchens
- From Madison, CEOs of Tomorrow
- From Milwaukee, Islands of Brilliance and Public Allies
- From Spring Valley, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service
In addition, the following organizations received honorable mentions and a $1,000 cash prize:
- Bloom360 Learning Community, East Troy
- Build-A-Bow, Racine
- Common Wealth Development, Madison
- Fifth Season Cooperative, Viroqua
- Giant Jones Brewing LLC, Madison
- Harambee Village Doulas, Madison
- Madison-area Urban Ministry dba Just Dane, Madison
- Maydm, Madison
- New-Life Community Development, Milwaukee
- New Leaf Foods Inc., Green Bay
- Operation Fresh Start, Madison
- Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville
- Rosenholm Dairy LLP, Cochrane
The winners were selected from 174 initial applications that were then narrowed to 20 finalists by an expert panel of judges from industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector.
Award winners were announced at the end of the virtual Force for Positive Change event. The event featured a keynote from internationally renowned journalist and social entrepreneur David Bornstein, speakers from for-profit and nonprofit organizations across Wisconsin, and a discussion between philanthropists John and Tashia Morgridge and WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes. The program also included special topic sessions focused on pandemic pivots, rural revitalization, and racial equity.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations remain incredibly committed to creating social impact in Wisconsin. Holding a virtual event gave us the opportunity to still celebrate social entrepreneurship statewide and highlight standouts that contributed to rural resiliency, racial equity, and remarkable pivots during the pandemic,” remarked Kelsey Otero of Marquette, co-producer of this year’s event.
Marquette University and WARF spearheaded the competition, in conjunction with John and Tashia Morgridge, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, American Family Insurance, Promega, Cardinal Stritch University, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Ashoka, gener8tor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Discovery 2 Product and Division of Continuing Studies, and Wisconsin Microfinance.
For more information visit warf.org/PositiveChange.
Contact Heisler at (608) 316-4392 or Otero at (414) 288-4990 with questions regarding the award.
The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization. Founded in 1990, the MREA promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. To learn more, call 715-592-6595 or visit www.midwestrenew.org.