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Alcoa Foundation Presents Initial Grant to Launch Program

April 4, 2006

Category: Academics, Environmental Science

Alcoa Check PresentationThe Catawba College Center for the Environment announced today the creation of the Sustainable Communities Leadership Institute with an initial grant from the Alcoa Foundation.

The foundation awarded the Center for the Environment $50,000 to help fund and promote the institute, which is designed to help participants gain a deeper understanding of specific issues related to sustainability, including the barriers to sustainable progress. It will also help participants develop potential solutions to these challenges through hands-on experiences.

"Alcoa Foundation is pleased to demonstrate its commitment to educating leaders about conservation and sustainability by contributing to Catawba College," said Tommy Gibson, Environmental & Community Relations Manager for Alcoa. "It is at the local level, through such programs as the new Sustainable Communities Leadership Institute at the Center for the Environment, that we can positively impact our environment."  

Through the institute, the Center for the Environment will provide education to a significant number of local leaders over the next several years.  Participants will work in groups to tackle challenging environmental issues.  Team-building and management exercises will foster each group's network of conservation and sustainability. 

Sustainability is defined as living in such a way that while we continuously improve our quality of life, we do not diminish our natural heritage for future generations.

"We are grateful for Alcoa's generosity and the foundation's commitment to environmental issues," said Dr. John Wear, who accepted the grant at a luncheon announcing the institute.  "This grant will help us fulfill our vision to educate communities about the powers of conservation and sustainability.  Thanks to the Alcoa Foundation, we have a strong base from which to build further support for this program, which will train leaders to promote positive change in their own communities."

The Sustainable Communities Leadership Institute will expose individuals to experts in sustainability and community collaborative leadership and will stimulate creative approaches to regional environmental issues. "It is important to encourage thinking in new ways," says Wear, the institute's director. "We are not alone in this; there is a movement in this country toward sustainability, and we want to capture that energy and focus it on North Carolina and the surrounding region to accelerate a transformation that is sorely needed." 

Alcoa is providing scholarships for 10 of the first participants in the program who will receive "Leader in Sustainable Communities" certification for their extensive commitment. Once leaders graduate from the program, they will remain engaged in the Institute through a fellows' program and through participation in an annual Regional Sustainability Conference hosted by the Center for the Environment. 

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