The Cooperative launched the GVEC Power Up grants program in 2012. Since that time, we’ve awarded over $2.7 million to local nonprofit organizations working to make South Central Texas a better place to live.
The program is funded 100% by members of our electric Cooperative who agree to have their bills rounded up each month to the nearest dollar. A bill of $99.91, for instance, would be rounded up to $100, with the extra 9 cents allocated to fund GVEC Power Up grants. Whether the amount rounded up and donated is 1 cent, 99 cents or any amount in between, the generosity of our members makes Power Up possible. That relatively small amount of change—each single account is capped at $11.88 in yearly donations—has helped make a big difference in the communities we serve.
GVEC Power Up Grants Project Categories
Prospective applicants must operate a nonprofit or other organization with a tax-exempt status that supports GVEC’s service territory. Although we consider a variety of project types during each applications cycle, we primarily award funding to projects that involve the following:
- Community development
- Civic and community outreach
- Public safety and service
- Youth development
Power Up is a ‘Finishing Grant’
In applying for a Power Up, the project in question needs to have a definite completion date. Because we have designed Power Up as a “finishing grant,” day-to-day operational expenses for an ongoing project or program are generally not eligible to apply.
Eligible Versus Ineligible Expenses and Projects
Suppose you run a nonprofit organization that delivers meals to those who can’t otherwise provide for themselves. You wouldn’t be eligible to apply for a Power Up grant to pay for gas to fuel the cars you use to deliver the meals or to pay for the meals themselves. If you pay the drivers who deliver the meals or provide some other form of compensation, this expense wouldn’t be eligible, either.
However, suppose a walk-in freezer your nonprofit uses to store food breaks and proves unrepairable. You need a new freezer. This expense would be eligible to apply for funding through the GVEC Power Up grants program. Or maybe the engine explodes in one of the vehicles your organization owns and uses to deliver meals. The cost of purchasing a replacement delivery vehicle would be eligible for a grant, too.
Additionally, if you were about to launch a nonprofit meal-delivery service for those in need and needed to purchase a walk-in freezer to help get your program off the ground, you could apply for this expense, too. Keep in mind, though, that as part of the application process, you would need to demonstrate the long-term viability of your new service. We would want some degree of assurance that your new service will be sustainable. This way, if we award a grant, the community benefit of the money is less likely to be lost as a result of this new service proving untenable.
The key is to make sure that member donations to the GVEC Power grants program are used responsibly and as efficiently as possible.
How Are Power Up Grant Recipients Chosen?
Each completed application undergoes an initial screening upon receipt. Those meeting eligibility criteria are forwarded to the GVEC Scoring Committee, which is made up of Cooperative employees. This committee uses a set of weighted criteria to score each application. Those criteria consider the degree of
- Community impact
- Matching funds from other sources
- In-kind community partnerships
- Community support
After the Scoring Committee finishes, the applications are next forwarded for assessment by the Power Up Grant Review Committee. This external, non-GVEC-affiliated committee is made up seven members, each from a different area of the Cooperative’s service territory. These volunteers come from nonprofit backgrounds, are highly familiar with their communities and regularly do volunteer work.
The Review Committee contributes valuable insights to the application process regarding the needs of their areas. They carefully consider the project behind every application, along with the overall score. Based on these evaluations, they offer final recommendations regarding which projects to fund for the current cycle. The GVEC Charitable Board then receives the Review Committee’s recommendations. The Board motions to distribute the funds and finalizes each award.
GVEC Power Up Grants: Always Taking Applications
The deadline for Power Up’s two awards cycles in 2021 are Feb. 15 and Aug. 16. Award decisions will be announced in April and October. If your organization applies during any particular cycle, but doesn’t win, don’t be discouraged. The process has gotten progressively more competitive over the years, and we urge you to keep applying. We accept applications year-round. If you submit yours after a recent deadline, we’ll simply review it in the cycle covered by the next deadline.
To learn more about Power Up, to apply or to see a complete list of awardees, visit our Power Up application page at gvec.org.