Building community and making a difference in the lives of young people are guiding principles of the Ohio-based nonprofit organization How Do We Sustain – principles with roots at Chaminade Julienne.
“The Marianist value I hold closest to my heart is community building,” said Philip Hewitt ‘07, How Do We Sustain Board president.
Hewitt is just one of the organization’s five board members – all of whom are CJ alumni. John McDermott, ’07, is the executive director while Blake McCroskey, ’07 is the director. Sean Gleason, ’07, and Rachel Byrd, ’08, serve as the board secretary and treasurer, respectively.
“We believe that now is the time to educate frontline communities and increase access to green solutions to the climate change crisis,” Hewitt said. “We believe in STEM education and trade skills training for young people. We create programs where they consider solutions to seemingly impossible challenges through hands-on experience.”
The organization – founded less than a year ago – is putting those words into action with the recent creation of the MET Lab in Cleveland, a solar and battery-powered environmental laboratory introducing inner-city kids to careers in engineering and the skilled trades.
After establishing a solar energy and environmental sciences summer internship in the St. Clair Superior Cleveland neighborhood, they were funded by the Ohio EPA for their first permanent solar installation in 2019. They guided a teenage crew through the installation of a solar-powered micro-grid, or self-contained electrical system, on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland.
“While our first project is in Cleveland, we are eager to connect with the CJ network and career institutions across the state,” Hewitt said.
How Do We Sustain is currently working with the City of Cleveland Department of Air Quality on a program that guides young people in assembling air monitors that were designed by Case Western University engineering students. After a November workshop, the MET lab air monitor will record real-time air quality data on www.PurpleAir.com. This STEM program connects inner-city kids to vital career paths while also collecting data related to the issue of air quality in Cleveland.
While their current projects will be impactful, it’s just the beginning for this group of Eagle alumni. For updates, follow the organization on Instagram @HowDoWeSustainMidwest.
--This story was published on January 6, 2022.