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Recharge MN Spotlight: Mankato Area Foundation

By May 26, 2021 February 24th, 2023 No Comments

Electric vehicles (EVs) align well with the mission of The Mankato Area Foundation, whose purpose is to improve the livability in Greater Mankato through philanthropy. The Foundation’s support of EV education and awareness programs has helped establish Mankato as an EV leader among smaller communities in Minnesota and the nation.  

 In 2018, the Mankato Area Foundation (with the Olseth Family Foundation, an organization working to improve community through support of the arts, education, the environment and the underserved, and the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Minnesota State University, Mankato) launched Recharge Mankato, a community initiative aimed at improving the health and vitality of the Greater Mankato region through the use of emerging transportation technologies, including EVs. 

“We planned our first Recharge Mankato event at Minnesota State University Mankato in 2018 with hopes of getting 100 people there to try electric vehicles. In fact, 161 people attended and we were thrilled,” says Mankato Area Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Zallek. 

The next year, Recharge Mankato hosted nearly 1,000 people at another test drive event, with over 500 attendees having an electric vehicle experience. According to Nancy, the impact of in-person events has a disproportionate impact on increasing EV adoption in smaller communities like Mankato, where people tend to know each other. 

“A few key stakeholders ended up buying EVs after being introduced to the idea at our events, and that created momentum for others to consider doing the same,” Nancy reports. 

The Foundation notes a beneficial trickle-down EV infrastructure effect, with Mankato now offering residents and visitors 19 public charging stations: 16 Level 2 and three Level 3 DC fast chargers: an impressive number for a community of just over 42,000 residents. Over 60% of the chargers are free to the public. The Foundation itself hosts a dual port Level 3 DC fast charger in Downtown Mankato that is open to the public 24/7 and is listed on PlugShare. It was the result of collaboration between the Mankato Foundation, the Olseth Family Foundation, and Neubau Holdings, with money generated from the chargers going toward community EV initiatives. 

The Foundation hopes to support ride and drives and EV educational events as soon as conditions permit. It is also exploring ways, either virtually, in-person, or a combination of both, for promoting electric school buses. Local municipalities and school districts are beginning to realize the potential of electric buses, but tend to have more questions than answers. The foundation has discovered through Recharge Mankato that educational initiatives can serve as a catalyst for bringing these ideas to fruition.Learn more about the Mankato Area Foundation. To download the complete Recharge Minnesota Mankato Area Foundation case study, click here.