Central Community College-Hastings students and employees will be able to get some exercise on campus while reducing their carbon footprint through a Bike Share program being launched with help from a much-sought grant.

Central Community College announced recently that Second Nature, a nongovernmental organization headquartered in Boston, had awarded the college funding for a new solar-powered Bluetooth docking station on the Hastings campus.

The new docking station will accommodate four bicycles individuals can borrow to make their way around campus without moving their motor vehicles.

Central Community College, which has a 25-county service area, has campuses at Hastings, Grand Island and Columbus. The Grand Island and Columbus campuses already have Bike Share docking stations, which now run on lithium batteries but are being converted to solar power with dollars from the Second Nature grant.

CCC was one of just 10 colleges and universities across the United States to win one of the grants from the Second Nature Climate Solutions Acceleration Fund this spring. More than 50 proposals had been submitted.

CCC was the only institution in the Midwest, and the only community college anywhere, to receive one of the grants.

Ben Newton, CCC environmental sustainability director, said the college appreciates the grant and what it will do for the Hastings campus.

“CCC has Bike Share programs at its Columbus and Grand Island campuses, and because of the grant, our Hastings students and staff will be able to benefit from a free and healthy alternative form of transportation,” Newton said.

Other institutions receiving grants in this round of funding are located in Georgia, New York, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, respectively.

In addition, six other institutions in the United States and Mexico received honorable mention for their applications. They include the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Second Nature’s mission is to accelerate climate action in and through higher education. The Acceleration Fund was created with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of a larger project to accelerate higher education’s leadership in “cross-sector, place-based climate action.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of the charitable giving of founder Michael R. Bloomberg, an entrepreneur and former mayor of New York City who ran for a time in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses resources on the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education.

Antha Williams, head of environmental programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said in a Second Nature news release that the Climate Acceleration Fund grant applications were heartening.

“Local leaders are at the forefront of climate action because they see the vast benefits to their communities, from cutting energy bills to protecting public health,” Williams said. “It’s fantastic to see these forward-thinking colleges and universities advance their bold climate solutions, ensuring continued progress in our fight against the climate crisis.”

According to the Second Nature news release, colleges and universities that are signatories to the Climate Leadership Network and/or members of the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) were eligible to apply for funding. Projects eligible for funding included those in which the funding would be used for implementation or to support climate action planning activities. The projects needed to be able to advance cross-sector climate action (involving campus and external stakeholders) in some way.

Priority was given to institutions that would foster long-term campus-community partnerships, have potential to scale their work beyond the one-year grant term, and promote climate action that would be inclusive for all segments of the population and promote “equitable and just” outcomes.

Tim Carter, president of Second Nature, added his praise for the pool of applicants who took the time and effort to submit proposals this spring, even amid the turmoil created by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, public health crisis.

“We were positively overwhelmed and impressed with the quantity and quality of submitted proposals,” Carter said. “It emphasized that even in the midst of a global pandemic, the higher education sector not only understands how crucial it is to continue to accelerate climate action, but is committed to doing so.”

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