In February 2010, The Sprout Fund put out a special call for proposals. Organizations all over Pittsburgh were encouraged to submit project proposals for sustainable energy initiatives. The winning proposals would be funded by PurBlu Beverages, a Pittsburgh-based purveyor of bottled waterand energy drinks. The grand prize: Ten thousand dollars.
PurBlu Beverages promises its consumers that a dime out of every purchase will go to supporting local charities and causes. Its main product, GIVE Water, comes in a variety of colored labels, with each color corresponding to a cause. The pink bottle, GIVE Hope, contributes to breast cancer, while the green bottle, GIVE Love, contributes to environmental causes. PurBlu also sells an energy drink, GIVE Energy. Ten cents of every purchase of GIVE Energy goes to supporting local initiatives for sustainable energy. After about a year of collecting dimes, PurBlu was ready to start making good on their promise. Founded in Pittsburgh, PurBlu looked to pilot their giving program in the company’s hometown by awarding one grand prize of ten thousand dollars and five organizational sponsorships of one thousand dollars. To make sure their money was put to good use, PurBlu turned to The Sprout Fund to find the best way to award the prizes.
The Sprout Fund put the word about the GIVE Energy Pittsburgh Prize out to the public through posters, postcards, and their large network of grassroots organizations working for change in Pittsburgh. Using their experience awarding grants to hundreds of local projects big and small, Sprout put together and managed a juried contest to decide which of the 21 applications received would be funded. The Sprout Fund also provided PurBlu with the tools, recommendations, and strategies needed to replicate a similar corporate giving program in the future.
In consultation with Sprout, PurBlu awarded five organizational sponsorships to Bike Pittsburgh to promote biking as an alternate mode of transport, East Liberty Development, Inc to support sustainability via home energy efficiency, the Green Building Alliance to promote the Higher Education Consortium of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, New Sun Rising to kick start their projects in renewable energy, and PennFuture for their work promoting solar energy.
The Grand Prize winner was Growth Through Energy + Community Health (GTECH) for their citywide project ReFuel Pittsburgh. ReFuel Pittsburgh seeks to expand efforts to collect used cooking oil in order to provide feedstock for biodiesel production. The project’s ambitious goals to increase awareness of biodiesel as an alternative energy and to create a national model for the reuse of what would otherwise be wasted grease depend on community participation. Everyone can help this vision grow by donating their used cooking oil at local collection centers including Construction Junction, 214 North Lexington Street in Point Breeze and at Whole Foods Market, 5880 Centre Ave in East Liberty.