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CUB-Northwestern partnership yields new outreach materials 

A class of Northwestern undergraduate students worked with CUB over the spring semester to fill gaps in the utility watchdog’s outreach efforts.

Although COVID-19 and Illinois’ stay-at-home order caused the student teams to rethink aspects of their projects, CUB now has new and improved outreach materials, as well as new connections with community organizations. 

The course — Community Engagement — was taught by Matt Easterday, an associate professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern. Matt Harvey, CUB’s Program Coordinator, worked closely with the students and advised them on their projects. 

“It was informative, interesting, and a lot of fun working with the students,” Matt said. “CUB learned a lot, and now we have some new connections and resources thanks to the partnership. We hope the students will continue to have an interest in working with nonprofits like CUB. Who knows, maybe there’s a future consumer advocate or two among the students.”

Below are short descriptions of the student projects.

Gus, Ryley and Jasmin

This team coordinated a virtual town hall event to discuss Evanston’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan and vulnerable populations in the area. Coordinating with and inviting community organizations and local leaders, the three Northwestern students helped spark environmental dialogue and foster better collaboration in the community. The event also provided an opportunity for CUB to better engage with area residents and organizations as well.

Brenda and Meredith

One of the challenges CUB faces is convincing consumers that small changes around the home can add up to big savings on utility bills. This duo developed a scorecard to provide consumers with guidance on how to make their home more efficient. Consumers answer questions on the scorecard, which then gives them a score out of 100. The scorecard offers suggestions for improving their score through affordable efficiency products, behavioral changes, and free, smaller-scale adjustments that can save consumers hundreds of dollars.

Austin, Han and Gladis

To raise awareness about reducing your carbon footprint and the Clean Energy Jobs Act, this group was planning to set up a table on campus to hand out flyers on the two topics. Unfortunately, their on-campus tabeling efforts were thwarted by the pandemic, but they pivoted seamlessly to create a video instead. The 5-minute video explains CEJA and offers tips to cut carbon emissions. The team also created two flyers that can be used by CUB in the future.

Grace, Michelle, Nell, Julia and Isabel

This team also targeted younger audiences with their project. The students created a series of videos geared toward a younger demographic to demonstrate ways to be energy efficient at home during the pandemic. Each 30-second video offers a few easy-to-follow tips on a different room in the house.