10 Wichita non-profits recieve $10K each through Evergy Community Response Fund for local COVID-19 recovery and racial equity work

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Evergy has continued to work with The Wichita Community Foundation in what the electric utility company said is a commitment to the community through its Evergy Community Response Fund.

The Wichita Community Foundation recently awarded 10 Wichita nonprofits $10,000 each from the Evergy grant to support efforts that close gaps in services created by COVID-19 in some northeast Wichita neighborhoods and promote solutions to racial injustice.

“There’s a variety of benefits that are going to go along with these grants, whether it’s going to be medical supplies, equipment, or exams,” said Jeff Beasley, Evergy Vice President, Customer Operations. “There are also educational programs that go along with it they help address racial equality or injustices in our society.”

These ten recipients will use the grant to develop or continue programs that benefit adults and children in these neighborhoods with zip codes 67208, 67214, and 67219.

“At a time in our lives when there is much uncertainty, it’s refreshing to have WCF fundholders like Evergy modify their philanthropic plans to meet immediate needs,” said Shelly Prichard, WCF President and CEO.

“COVID, I think we’re just stuck with and it’s going to be here for a while. Racial injustice has been here for quite some time,” James Woods of the Wichita Community Foundation told KSN. “We have got to make some progress and headway, so I’m thrilled that Evergy has agreed to fund these things and I’m thrilled that the community rallied around it.”

“We are so incredibly grateful for this generous grant from Evergy,” said Angela Perez, executive director of Urban League of Kansas, one of the grant recipients. “This is the first year that Urban League of Kansas serves as voter registration and polling site for the Wichita community. This grant will allow us to reach many of our neighbors and help them make their voices heard in the election this year.”

“These 10 organizations are providing vital programs to northeast Wichita as the community and nation work to address the pandemic and racial injustice,” said Jeff Beasley, Evergy vice president, customer operations. “Evergy is grateful to be able to support their work.”

Applications were scored by the Evergy Community Investment Advisory Board, consisting of 11 individuals who live, work and serve in Wichita’s District 1. These efforts coincide with upcoming modifications to power transmission lines after dozens of new poles and high voltage lines were built near homes in the predominantly low-income and historically black neighborhoods by then Westar Energy in 2018, which caused outcry and complaints from residents.

The community response led to an apology by Evergy, who launched the $1 million community fund from which the recent wave of grants came. $250,000 was reserved for a scholarship program to serve northeast Wichita residents. The controversy also resulted in approved legislation by The Kansas House that restricted Evergy and other utilities from stringing transmission lines through urban areas.

The 10 grants of $10,000 each will support the following projects:

  • Art That Touches Your Heart | Assist with community and family-building efforts to address racial injustice, inequality, and marginalization.
  • Black AllianceCreate COVID-19 walkable testing opportunities and education about access to health care within the community.
  • Create Campaign | Continue exterior home and property improvements through the Prosper Community Contractor Collective.
  • HealthCore Clinic | Purchase medical devices to support positive health outcomes within the patient population.
  • McAdams Academy | Support for current programming working to disrupt the “school to prison pipeline” and reduce recidivism.
  • Newman University | Expand Newman’s Ignite program to address disproportionate racial achievement gaps in 67208, 67214, and 67219.
  • Power CDC | Install a modern, state-of-the-art smart building lighting system in the Historic Dunbar Theatre.
  • The Kansas African American Museum | Fund programming designed to promote solutions and address racial injustice.
  • Urban League of Kansas | Inform citizens that the organization will serve as a polling site during this year’s election.
  • WSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion | Produce local civil rights history programming to students that reside in 67208, 67214, 67219.

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