Dear Michigan Saves partners,
I think we all can agree that 2020 was a year we won’t soon forget. At Michigan Saves, our hearts were broken by the suffering so many endured as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—families who lost loved ones, those who lost their jobs, business owners who had to close their doors for good, children who quickly had to adapt to virtual learning, and the list goes on. I’d be remiss to not acknowledge those who put the needs of others before their own—especially essential healthcare workers and those within our industry who immediately addressed indoor air quality issues to develop safety protocols for working indoors during the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic helped us to realize just how vital our efforts are, but it also gave us clear visibility into inequities in low-income communities and in communities of color.
The summer of 2020 brought the nation’s biggest protests for racial justice and civil rights in a generation. Last June, I released a statement addressing racial injustice and took responsibility for falling short in identifying and implementing enduring solutions, recommitting to our efforts condemning racism and taking an active role in ensuring communities of color can access energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. Internally, we hired social change agent Yodit Mesfin Johnson, president and CEO of Nonprofit Enterprise at Work to work with our board and staff on our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Our board and staff participated in a five-day equity challenge to raise awareness, change understanding and shift behavior around DEI. Additionally, under Yodit’s leadership, we conducted a survey, which is informing the work of a newly created change team within Michigan Saves to examine every aspect of the work we do and how we do it. We understand this is a lifelong journey, and we are excited about how our work will evolve over the next few years as a result of our commitment.
While 2020 was deeply challenging and painful, we also saw so much resilience. This resilience, whether in the face of racial inequity or a global pandemic, inspires us to dig deep as the nation’s first nonprofit green bank to expand our programs so that everyone—no exceptions—has access to the benefits of clean energy. One way we executed on this was with the launch of a new, accessible residential on-bill financing program in Traverse City. Similar to the program we helped the City of Holland launch back in 2016, the on-bill program uses on-time bill payment history as the primary underwriting to approve the loans. This allowed so many more Michiganders to benefit from the comfort, safety, and cost savings of energy improvements.
Despite the challenges, we also hit some major milestones in 2020. We celebrated ten years of energy financing with our Toast to Ten virtual event and we surpassed $300 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy financing in Michigan’s homes and businesses. In the fall, we unveiled a bold new brand and logo that provides a clear focus on access and inclusivity and positions Michigan Saves as an expert in clean energy financing.
While we have a lot more to do to ensure that every Michigander has access to the benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy, our 2020 annual report details the steps we have taken to ensure we advance clean energy solutions for all.
On behalf of the Michigan Saves team, I offer my sincere gratitude to all our partners for your continued support.