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Sugar Bush Foundation joins national economic development initiative

Published: December 20, 2021 Author: Staff reports

The Sugar Bush Foundation, a supporting organization of The Ohio University Foundation, has been announced as part of a $100 million national initiative to invest in equitable economic development.

On Dec. 15, the Just Transition Fund (JTF) formally launched the initiative at a White House event attended by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, and community, business and labor leaders.

Over the next three years, the JTF will bring together national, regional and place-based partners such as the Sugar Bush Foundation to move forward new philanthropic investments for transitioning energy communities.

"The Just Transition Fund is thrilled to partner with the Sugar Bush Foundation to maximize our collective impact in support of community-led economic development solutions,” said Heidi Binko, co-founder and executive director of the Just Transition Fund. “There's never been a more important time for an initiative of this scale, and we're honored to develop this new campaign together."

The national and regional foundations involved have already made more than $18 million in new commitments toward the $100 million goal. Sugar Bush Foundation President Hylie Voss said that the organization is proud to be a part of the initiative.

“Appalachian Ohio is bursting with innovative opportunities in the new energy economy. The Sugar Bush Foundation is delighted and honored to join the Just Transition Fund and this team of extraordinary philanthropic investment partners to bring our asset-based, joint-design approach to economic development into this exciting initiative,” Voss said.

The Sugar Bush Foundation works closely with Ohio University and local communities to improve the quality of life in Appalachian Ohio by encouraging civic engagement and by fostering sustainable environmental and socioeconomic development.

“Ohio University is fortunate to have the Sugar Bush Foundation as an integral partner enabling collaboration between Appalachian communities and university faculty, professional staff, and students,” said Jen Bowman, director of environmental programs for Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service. “The Voinovich School has been central to these funded partnerships advancing critical environmental, economic, and social projects to improve lives. It is a crucial time to support coal communities in this time of energy transition and we are thrilled to see the Sugar Bush Foundation contributing to this new opportunity.”

The JTF is the only national philanthropic initiative focused solely on coal community economic transition, advancing solutions that are equitable, inclusive, and low carbon.

“We are delighted to see this enhanced opportunity for mission-driven, revenue-producing enterprise development advanced by Sugar Bush and their strong regional collaborators and highlighted at the highest level of policy-making,” added Faith Knutsen, director, social innovation and entrepreneurship for the Voinovich School.