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Two Memphis schools receive $500k in grant money for HVAC overhaul, STEM investments

The grant, given to Power Center Academy Elementary and High Schools in Memphis, is a part of the Tennessee Valley Authority's School Uplift program.
Credit: WATN/Janice Bridges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gestalt Community Schools held a celebratory event Wednesday to announce the $500,000 grant the charter school network received through Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) School Uplift program for its two Hickory Hill schools – Power Center Academy High School and Power Center Academy Elementary. 

While the grant will help the two charter schools complete energy upgrades, the network will also use funds to invest in robotics and STEM materials.

The School Uplift program is TVA's initiative to invest in schools' energy systems, like lights, air conditioning and electrical output, in order to reduce their energy output and save money. 

PCA High School received $400,000, the maximum grant amount for a single school, for lighting and HVAC upgrades to improve energy efficiency but also to make the space more conducive to learning. 

“It means so much to us, to our families, to know that our schools won’t only be energy efficient, but safer," said Gestalt Community Schools CEO Yetta Lewis. "It’s a better learning environment for our students."

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According to TVA, the upgraded energy efficiency through their School Uplift program saves schools an average of $11,000 per year in energy savings and sees their yearly energy output reduced by 13%. 

The program involves 90,000 students and faculty, awarding 24 energy grants to schools that have completed the program to date. 

TVA said they are training 160 schools in implementing strategic energy management and TVA is investing $7.3 million in School Uplift over the next three years.

“We focus on schools because they are the heartbeat of the community," said Cindy Herron, TVA's vice president of energy services. "We’re serving the future generation, and we want to make a difference."

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PCA Elementary School received $100,000, which will go toward updating the facility to become more energy efficient, while 50% of the grant will go toward creating unique learning environments for scholars. 

This upcoming fall, a committee that includes scholars, parents and teachers will determine what updates they would like to see in or outside of the school.

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