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ICDC Receives Grant Money for Facility Improvement

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Dallas City Councilman Adam Bazaldua (from left), Innercity Development Corporation founder Diane Ragsdale, and ICDC Assistant Executive Director Billy Lane at a press conference to announce that Green Mountain Energy would help ICDC "flip the switch" and transition to solar. | Image by Stewart Curet/Texas Metro News

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The Innercity Development Corporation (ICDC) received over $130,000 to transition to solar power.

The donation came from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, an establishment that invests in nonprofits with the aim of advancing sustainability for the planet and the people in it.

Founded in 1986 by former Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Diane Ragsdale, ICDC claims that it aims to transform the South Dallas community. Some of its initiatives include the creation of a business incubator, the building of a health care facility, and the construction of over 250 homes and an office complex to foster commerce and retail. It also provides training through a partnership with Dallas College.

“The application of solar energy to our service areas represents a new facet of community development for ICDC,” said Ragsdale, who also serves as the group’s executive director.

The partnership between Green Mountain Energy and the ICDC will cover 78% of the building’s energy needs, Johnny Richardson explained. He is the program manager for Green Mountain Energy Sun Club.

With the money saved from the new solar arrangement, ICDC said it can build more energy-efficient affordable housing in the community. It can also provide homeownership counseling and a business incubation program for community members.

Richardson estimates that the energy savings will also allow over 360 people access to free financial counseling.

“We believe in solutions that not only benefit the planet but benefit the people in the communities we serve,” said Richardson.

Dallas City Councilmember Adam Bazaldua, who was present at the press conference where the donation was announced, said that the transition to solar is “incredible for the southern sector.” Speaking on Dallas’ previous history of power outages, he said he is happy that the community can have a more reliable power source.

While ICDC promises to use the funds to the benefit of District 7 in South Dallas, there have been doubts surrounding Ragsdale and her organization’s use of funds. In 2017, Kevin Felder, who had just been elected city council member at the time, challenged the trust fund Ragsdale set up during her seven years on the city council.

The trust fund was set up to generate money from event tickets at Fair Park and channel it into a nonprofit so the money could ostensibly be used to revitalize the community. However, Felder said the fund had become a “piggy bank.”

According to the Dallas Observer, a 2014 federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) investigation identifies funds it labels misspent as associated with ICDC. Councilmember Lee Kleinman also cast doubts over the fund’s integrity as he wondered why there was not any evidence of the fund doing any good in South Dallas.

“Has this organization put together an annual report or maybe at this point a 30-year report that says, ‘Here’s where we were, and here’s where we are today’? In 30 years of funding this, has it moved the needle in South Dallas?” Kleinman asked of the organization, which was about 30 years old at the time.

Felder alleged at the time that the fund had long transitioned from boosting new business development to sharing funds gotten from its grants to the same churches and charities over and over again.

June was the last time the ICDC received a grant before this recent donation by Green Mountain Energy. On June 15, it was announced that Goldman Sachs’ Black Women Impact program donated $250,000 to the organization. The grant, which Ragsdale said would aid the ICDC’s work to improve South Dallas’ living conditions, will be paid out over the course of two years.

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